Cultural Experience | Florence

Oltrarno: Discovering ‘the Other Side’ of Florence

Everyone recognizes Florence for the Duomo, the Ponte Vecchio, and Piazza della Reppublica. Tourists typically stay on this side of Florence. However, one of Florence’s best kept secrets is that some of the best restaurants and hottest spots are on the ‘Oltrarno,’ the other side of the river. Instead of just taking pictures on the Ponte Vecchio and heading back to the Duomo, take a walk across the bridge to discover all that Oltrarno has to offer.

1. Ditta Artigianale

This is the perfect cafe to grab your morning cornetto (croissant) and cappuccino. They have both small and big cappuccinos, so if you’re someone who needs a bigger cappuccino than what is typically served, this is the place for you. The atmosphere is great and they also serve food and drinks (their gin selection is huge!). In addition, this is a cafe where you can sit and do some work on your laptop if you have a few hours to kill.

Ditta Artigianale has three locations in Florence — Via Dei Neri 32R, Via Della Sprone 5R (Oltrarno location!), and Via Cavour 50R.

2. Osteria di Santo Spirito

Head to Piazza Santo Spirito to find this perfect lunch or dinner spot. If you aren’t super hungry or are on a tight budget, you can opt for the ‘piccolo’ size to get a smaller portion for a cheaper price. Get the chitarra con pomodori datterini e basilico for a pasta dish that’s out of this world. Think thick noodles, juicy tomatoes, and fresh basil.

Location — Piazza Santo Spirito, 16

More: 10 Must See’s in Florence, Italy

3. Tameró

Tameró looks like a small, hole-in-the-wall joint (ironically, there is actually a hole in one of the back walls), but it’s chic atmosphere and delicious drinks make it the perfect apertivo spot. An apertivo is when you buy a drink for about $9 and get access to an all-you-can-eat buffet! This is a wonderful money saver. If you’re not into the apertivo, Tameró has a full menu loaded with dishes you’ll want to keep coming back to try. Tameró is just across Piazza Santo Spirito from Osteria di Santo Spirito.

Location — Piazza di Santo Spirito, 11R

4. La Strega Nocciola: Gelateria Artigianale

This creamy, to-die-for gelato is waiting for you just as you cross the Ponte Vecchio. Everything from the flavor to the presentation is everything you’ve been looking for in gelato. It’s served with a waffle cone circle to top off some of the best gelato you’ll ever have.

Location — Via de Bardi, 51

5. 4 Leoni

This restaurant might be a little pricy, but it’s worth it. You might want to be dressed a little better if you make the trip to this one (think black jeans instead of ripped blue jeans). You will want to literally lick your plate if you order the pear ravioli. With that being said, you’ll probably want to lick your plate after any dish you order at this famous restaurant.

Location — Via de Vellutini 1R

MoreEating Your Way Through Florentine Cuisine

6. Albero Cafe

Need a detox from all the pizza and gelato? Head to Albero Cafe for fresh juices, smoothies, salads and more! The juices are made from fresh fruits that they blend together right in front of you. Definitely stop here if you’re in need of a break from all the carb consuming.

Location — Borgo S. Jacopo, 7

7. Gustapizza

You may have already heard of this before, but Gustapizza makes one of the best pizzas in Florence. You can’t go wrong with the variety of flavors they offer. You can grab a table or grab it to-go and enjoy it outside or on Ponte Santa Trinta (with a spectacular view of the Ponte Vecchio).

Location — Via Maggio, 46

8. I Toscani

I Toscani is a great spot to buy meats, cheeses or treats. The workers are extremely friendly and always willing to help you choose the best food for your mood! Sometimes they even let you taste-test. Another plus? They are patient as they encourage you to practice your Italian with them. They also have a restaurant attached if you’re in the mood to sit and enjoy a meal with a glass of wine.

Location — Via Maggio, 1

9. Olivia

This restaurant has anything you could imagine involving olive oil and fried food. Right in Piazza Pitti, this restaurant is in a great location and is great for lunch or even a late afternoon snack. The comfortable, laid back atmosphere makes enjoying your food that much easier.

Location — Piazza Pitti, 14R

Morale of the story? Don’t be afraid to venture to the other side of the river.

Meghan Reinhardt

Penn State | 2 stories

Hey! My name is Meghan Reinhardt and I am spending my spring semester studying in Florence (Firenze), Italy. I've never been to Europe before so this is definitely a challenge, but I've been loving it so far. Firenze has the feel of a big city, which I love, but it's small enough that I can really make it my home away from home. At Penn State, I study public relations. While I will miss being away from Happy Valley for a semester, I can't wait to share my adventures with you all!

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