Florence has incredible food (trust us, we’ll even take you to it) but if the visiting traveler has one go-to meal in this great city it’s definitely panini – Italy’s answer to the boring old “sandwich” that comes perfectly salted, maybe a bit crunchy and filled with fresh, local ingredients.
We especially like grabbing panini while sightseeing, since it’s a great way to eat a flavorful but brisk meal. Just remember that Italians prefer their panini relatively light on the filling (and usually with a maximum of two or three ingredients inside), compared to the versions you see elsewhere. So they’re not being stingy, they’re just serving you the Italian way; if you want extra toppings, ask!
And remember: one is a panino. Two or more are panini. So no, you’d never order “one panini, please!”. (Except outside of Italy). And many panini shops don’t take credit cards, so make sure to bring cash.
Here are our favorite panini restaurants in Florence to sweep you off your touring feet. Order and eat on the go, take your panino to a park or piazza, or sit down for a breather in an authentic panineria. (Looking for a full sit-down meal? Don’t miss our post on the best restaurants in Florence!).
You can never go wrong at All’Antico Vinaio. Welcoming you with a friendly atmosphere and tantalizing cured meats (part of why it’s listed on Tripadvisor as the best restaurant in Florence), it has tons of types of meats, veggies and spreads to overload on your panino.
Overwhelmed by all the choices? Tell the owners your preferences and they can build you a personalized sandwich. And let’s not forget a glass of wine, either. (Don’t miss our post on our favorite wine bars in Florence!).
All’Antico Vinaio is located on Via dei Neri 65, close to the Uffizi Gallery.
Semel—meaning a type of crunchy bread roll—is in the middle of the more “local” part of town, across from the Sant’Ambrogio food market.
And it offers some of the best, and most interesting, panini in town. Duck, donkey, pork… The menu changes often, but there’s always the guarantee that the sauce will be superb and the meat perfectly cooked. Vegetarian? Expect lots of appetizing veggie options, too!
Semel is located on Piazza Lorenzo Ghiberti 44/r, in the heart of Sant’Ambrogio.
Looking for that special panino that will just razzle and dazzle you, since 1885? Oh, and perhaps one with a hearty flavor of truffles? Yes, a truffled panino! These delicate little finger food bundles of gastronomic heaven are just perfect after a day cruising around the San Lorenzo market and even the high-end shops on Via de’ Tornabuoni.
Procacci is the closest feeling to tea time—in this case wine time—since the sandwiches are small allowing you to choose a plate full of 4, 5 or more. Taste a few combinations and go back for seconds. Don’t worry, we won’t judge!
Procacci is located at Via de’ Tornabuoni 64, close to Palazzo Strozzi.
I’Trippaio di San Frediano
Time to cross the Arno River to the Oltrarno (don’t miss our post on great reasons not to miss the Oltrarno district!) and get a taste of downtown Florence’s more “authentic” side. While you’re there, grab a sandwich at I’Trippaio di San Frediano, a stand-alone paninoteca serving up hot food at a great price.
Feeling adventurous? Order the lampredotto—cow stomach—and check out how the bread is soaked with the sauce the lampredotto is cooked in. Traditional… and delicious! If you’re looking for a savory sub, but want to stick to something more familiar, go for the spicy sausage with tons of veggies. Either way, you won’t go wrong!
I’Trippaio di San Frediano is located in the middle of Piazza de’ Nerli near Piazza Santo Spirito.
If you find yourself close to the soccer stadium, Stadio Artemio Franchi, in the Le Cure neighborhood, then do not pass up this paninoteca. Established in 1952, Scheggi is known for its delicious panini of all sizes, shapes and tastes.
They are also known for serving their hearty sandwiches to famous soccer players from the Florence soccer league Fiorentina. So don’t forget to wear purple to show your team pride when you order that panino!
Scheggi is located on the main street of Viale dei Mille 1/c/r.
If you are interested in learning more about the best food in Florence, take a look at our Florence Food Tour. In the meantime we would love to hear about your favorite panini toppings – share them in the comments below!