Italians love their food, and so do tourists visiting Italy. If Florence wasn’t totally jam packed with beautiful outdoor sculptures, buzzing piazzas (squares), river views, famous museums and churches, we would have probably eaten the city out of ice cream and pizza. Despite the welcomed distractions, we managed to make a good dent. Our Couch Surfing host was vegan, and had a real sweet tooth. As soon as we arrived in the city, she directed us to her favourite ice cream parlor, Perche No!. I’m known for choosing soy milk gelato, for the creaminess, but on this rare occasion opted for a scoop of fruity fig and peach, because you just don’t see these flavours everyday. They were fresh, light and oh so satisfying.
Vegan Gelato from Perche No! in Florence, Italy
John decided to try the two soy milk flavours and got a scoop of vanilla and chocolate. The chocolate was super dark and rich, and the vanilla nice and creamy.
Perche No! has two large, glass cases filled with options. The front case (pictured above), which you see as you come in the door, contains fruit flavours made without dairy or eggs. The soy milk options are in the other case, and clearly labeled. They also offer a vegan cone, you just have to ask.
According to the Frommer’s guide, Preche No! was the first ice cream parlor to open in the city’s center back in 1946. They are credited with introducing the novelty glass display case, which is now a standard around Italy, and the world. One last crazy fact: During World War II, the power grid was specially reconnected to Perche No! so they could continue making gelato for the people of Florence. How amazing!
Via dei Tavolini 19r, off Via del Calzaiuoli
Vegan Pizza in Florence, Italy
In typical Italian style, we had a pizza a day while in Florence. Except, unlike the locals, we shared each pizza. It absolutely amazes me to watch locals eat a full pizza all by themselves. We ordered this pizza marinara, with tomato sauce, garlic, and oregano, for €5.40 Euros ($7.35 USD) from Gusto Leo. We considered eating inside the restaurant but ended up taking it to the park after we noticed the note on the menu about a €1.50 Euro ($2.04 USD) fee for splitting a pizza. I guess that’s how they can tell the locals from the tourists. Locals eat it all.
Via del Proconsolo, 8-red
Tel: 055 285217
Pizzas can make for a very affordable meal, especially if you’re sharing, but it’s kind of annoying that the difference in price between a marinara, with just sauce and spices, and a pizza with some vegetables is about €3.00 or €4.00 Euros ($4.08-5.44 USD). I wouldn’t mind the additional fee if it got us more than a few paper thin slices of vegetables. This pizza from Birrificio Mostodolce, which cost about €9.00 Euros ($12.25 USD), came with a decent amount of veg (we’ve had a lot less), but was lacking in the sauce department. I guess we confused the staff with our request for no cheese. Oops! The lack of sauce left the pizza quite dry but we ate it up anyway.
Via Frà Bartolomeo, 211
Tel. +39 0574 57.70.30
Il Vegetariano, Florence, Italy
With all of the vegetarian restaurants closed for August, we were left to eat pizza and ice cream while in Florence. How awful, right? I’m sure your heart is breaking for us. Okay but in all seriousness, if you make it to Florence in the spring or summer, you should have no problem finding vegetarian fare at restaurants like Il Vegetariano.
Via delle Ruote, 30 r
La Raccolta, Florence, Italy
There’s also La Raccolta restaurant and health food store, which a very good friend of mine, Valerie, ate at when she visited Florence in 2008. She enjoyed some tofu and asparagus ravioli with pesto, pine nuts and garlic.
And, like any good vegan, she didn’t pass up the chance to try some cappuccino and vanilla gelato, with chocolate sauce, for dessert.
Via Giacomo Leopardi, 2r
Firenze, Italy (50121)
Festival del Gelato, Florence, Italy
Can you handle one more scoop? Yea? OK good. Festival del Gelato, which is located in the center of Florence and easily spotted by its neon signs, has a selection of rice milk gelato, with flavours like frutti di bosco (forest fruit or mixed berries), hazelnut and cappuccino. If you have any appetite left, check them out.
Festival del Gelato
Via del Corso 75r
Tel:+39 055 239 4386