Updated: Sep 3, 2020
Guest post by Mehek Punatar
So you’re traveling to Italy and you want the most authentic experience. But you’re also vegetarian! Italian cuisine is extremely vegetarian-friendly (probably the most vegetarian-friendly of all European cuisines).
You’ve got pizzas, pastas, paninis, gelato and coffee. Some spots even have vegan options! But you have to look in the right places if you want the authentic stuff.
Here are some pro tips and recommendations for exploring the best of vegetarian cuisine in Florence and Rome!
Take a food tour to dive deeper into Italy’s culinary scene.
If you’re visiting Italy’s main cities, joining a food tour can be an easy way to step off the beaten path and eat your way to some more authentic areas. In Rome, I decided to go with one in the Testaccio area, simply because I had plans to explore the other neighborhoods by myself anyway. Testaccio used to be the food capital of the city so that seemed appropriate.
We visited 7 food outlets and 12 tastings spread over 4 hours, so that I never feel too full to try out the next dish! They also took extra care of everyone’s dietary restrictions and made sure to have alternatives at every outlet so you wouldn’t miss out!
Try your hand at Italian cooking!
A great way to ensure access to vegetarian food while traveling is to take a cooking class. As an added bonus, you get to interact with locals and really sink into the culinary culture. You can try a cooking class set in a family’s home in the countryside where they probably grow the vegetables themselves or can take you to a local market!
Avoid eating in the main squares or beside any tourist attractions.
These spots are always overpriced and serving very commercialized food. If you’re looking for great local, vegetarian food, hit up some of these spots in Rome:
Pizzeria da Baffetto – a hole-in-the-wall pizzeria visited primarily by locals!
Amando al Pantheon – excellent Roman cuisine, right by the Pantheon
Pinsere – quick take out spot, serves a new selection of 15 types of pizza everyday
Roscioli – supposedly the best burrata in town
Try pizza al taglio – the Roman way of eating it.
Check out La Bocaccia in the Trastevere neighborhood in Rome – a tiny little spot serving 10-15 pizza varieties, with tons of vegetarian options, all baked on warm focaccia bread. Best part – it’s pizza al taglio (Roman speciality) meaning pizza by the slice (taglio means “cut”). You choose how big or small of a slice you want, so you can try lots of flavors!
Go for the paninis!
Since you can choose what to fill your panini with, they are a great option for vegetarians!
One of the best panini spots is I Due Fratellini in Florence. A hole-in-the-wall spot, right near the Duomo, that serves up 3 euro paninis in a deliciously crusty bread, with all-you-can-fill toppings! They have some gorgeous fillings like parsley oil, and truffle cream. Great for both vegetarians and meat-eaters.
Be careful though – their official closing time is 7pm but they shut shop whenever they run out of bread, which is generally by 6pm or earlier. So make sure you stop by for lunch!
Search for all-vegetarian restaurants.
Lots of European cities are picking up on the vegetarian and vegan scene. You’re bound to find some great all-vegetarian restaurants that do some great twists on local cuisine. Florence has an excellent all-vegetarian restaurant, Libreria Brac. Like a little garden oasis, this restaurant serves only vegetarian and vegan food, coffee and pastries. It’s a library café, a trend that’s all the rage in Florence these days. Make a reservation because they are usually full!
There you go! Have a great time exploring Italy’s vegetarian scene, and let us know your favorite way to be vegetarian in Italy in the comments below!
Mehek travels the world in search of adventure, unique experiences, and vegetarian food options. She strives to stay off the beaten path and is always looking for the hidden gems in each city that you wouldn’t find in a typical guide book.
Creative Edge Travel offers small group and custom trips to the lesser-known areas of Italy. Visit our Upcoming Trips page to see where we’re headed next!