When coming to Florence for the first time, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the vast selection of food and fall into the tourist traps quite quickly. You’re in a new city, probably tired from travelling and willing to fork out whatever it costs just to tame your hunger—we’ve all been there. While that can suffice in the short term, nobody wants to spend more than they have to, especially not students on a budget. Here are five of the best cheap eats for students in Florence.
1. Pizzeria O’Vesuvio
It wouldn’t be a true Italian list without pizza. Located between Palazzo Vecchio and piazza della Repubblica, O’Vesuvio serves classic Neapolitan-style pizzas in a relaxed, no-frills setting. Their Margherita costs only 7 euro, and they’re often playful with their designs too—I once received a heart-shaped Diavola and was flattered. But their prices aren’t the only interesting thing about this place: they have an open kitchen that features a large wood-fired oven under a washing line of underwear (bear with me on this), which actually belongs to the cast of Jersey Shore. Yes, this once humble pizzeria is where Snooki and Pauly D rolled up their sleeves back in 2011 for the show’s fourth season in Italy. Normally any place associated with reality TV would be considered far from authentic, but for O’Vesuvio we’ll make an exception.
Any sushi lover living in Florence needs to visit Sushinami. As you walk in, you’re instantly greeted and seated with a smile—it’s probably best to book in advance though, since it’s quite a popular spot. A quick Google search of this restaurant might make 25 euro per head (15 euro at lunchtime) seem expensive, but with their all-you-can-eat concept, you will definitely get your money’s worth. The Sushinami Mix platter, for example, holds 18 pieces of freshly made sushi that can be ordered again and again to your heart’s content! There’s also many more dishes to choose from, including vegetarian options, such as the Mango or Avocado Maki or Misoshiru. Whatever you choose and however many times you choose them, I can guarantee you won’t be left disappointed.
3. Osteria de’ Peccatori
There’s two main reasons to love this restaurant, one being their extensive menu of tasty Tuscan dishes and, two, the student discount! If you’re studying in Florence, you can ask for their Student Card, which allows you to receive 10 per cent off food and 2 euro off their 7 euro cocktail list. Still not convinced? Right beside the Bargello museum in piazza di San Firenze, Osteria de’ Peccatori is in the perfect location for some casual dining before a night out with your friends, with popular cocktail bars l’Margaritaio and Naima just around the corner. The staff are friendly and offer a speedy service, so whether it’s for a lunchtime bite or a comforting meal to start off your evening, Osteria de’ Peccatori will definitely cater to your stomach-rumbling needs.
4. Salumeria Verdi – Pino’s Sandwiches
Nothing says Florence more than a family-run sandwich shop in the heart of the historic centre. However, have you ever found yourself craving some schiacciata, but been put off by the long lines and extortionate prices? Pino’s Sandwiches prides itself on serving quality Tuscan food at a great price, with their paninis starting from only 4.50 euro. (The “Finocchiona” is my personal favourite, but you can also create your own, made by Pino himself!) The quaint salumeria on via Verdi provides a home-away-from-home atmosphere with both indoor and outdoor seating, but you can also take your sandwich to-go and admire the city’s beautiful sights while you eat. They also offer a selection of wines and authentic pasta dishes alongside their famous schiacciata creations—their food is that good, even celebrities like Rebel Wilson and Ross Butler came to try it out for themselves. With gluten-free and vegan/vegetarian options also available, there’s no reason not to love Pino’s.
5. Gelateria dei Neri
There’s only one thing missing from this list so far—gelato! After a long day of studying (or procrastinating in coffee shops), there’s no better feeling than ending your day with some ice cream. But if you’re still going to those tourist-catered gelaterias that charge over 5 euro per scoop, I have some news for you. Gelateria dei Neri is only a short walk from the Uffizi, opposite the famous Berberè pizzeria, and charges only 2 euro for two scoops of delicious gelato. Unlike most ice-cream bars, it also has indoor seating in a vintage Florentine-style setting, meaning you can enjoy gelato even when it’s raining. From mango to stracciatella, pistachio to strawberry cheesecake, the possible combinations are endless and everybody is welcome, even if you’re only a vanilla kind of person.