The Italy Diaries: Being Vegan in Florence

The Italy Diaries: Being Vegan in Florence

Day 3

It was time to leave Rome, and whilst we could have done with an extra day there, Florence was calling! I have always wanted to go to Florence, and learning how vegan-friendly it was made it even more important for me to visit it.

We grabbed a light lunch from Roma Termini station before getting on the train. Happily there was a ‘vegano’ sandwich at Chef Express (a chain cafe across Italy, which also sells vegan croissants, but sadly today they had sold out!). The lady who served me was so lovely and gave me a free drink because I ordered (probably badly!) in Italian!

The sandwich was a great size, and had some lovely roasted veg and olive oil, with some mixed herbs, as a filling. Perfecto!

Top tip – if you go up the escalators at the station, there’s a nice food court, where there’s plenty of room to sit and eat, check emails and wait for your train. Oh, and we found another place that sells vegan croissants up there – again sold out though! Ah, these little cheekies are popular!

I mentioned in my previous post in the Italy Diaries (Rome) that it’s best to book your train tickets in advance, which you can do at any of the machines in the station. We travelled in one of the ‘comfort’ coaches, which was spacious, clean and pretty cool! You can also see how fast the train is travelling on the screens, which is interesting. We got up to 300km/h.

We stayed at the simply beautiful Velona’s Jungle Suites, about 10-15 minutes walk from the train station, and about 20 minutes walk to the centre of Florence. Again, a full review will be up soon, but we had such a wonderful time staying here and meeting owner Veronica, who made us feel so welcome. Everything is vegetarian here, and we had the most fantastic vegan patisseries for breakfast each day. I’m excited to tell you more!

In contrast to fast-paced and slightly crazy Rome, Florence was much calmer, right from the beginning. Of course, it is much smaller, but it was great to see people going about their daily life on bikes, instead of driving (the fumes in Rome were a bit too much). Plus, the road-crossing anxiety was much better here too!

We strolled into the centre and went to a little wine spot called Le Volpi e l’Uva, recommended to us by Veronica. You might have read it about it on The Telegraph’s website, which describes it as follows:

“Florence’s best wine bar is hidden away in a little Oltrarno piazzetta within easy barrel-rolling distance of Ponte Vecchio. The selection of Italian wines by the bottle and the glass here is extraordinary: they specialise in winkling out smaller off-the-radar producers, and prices are more than reasonable”

We had a reservation at vegetarian restaurant Brac, so we slowly made our way back to the hotel until we saw… A VEGAN CROISSANT

I didn’t find any in Rome as they were always sold out, but I’m happy to say that in both Florence and Milan I made up for missing out on the croissant love for the past 2+ years. Most bakeries and supermarkets offer vegan pastries (how awesome is that?!) so you won’t struggle. The number of places in Belgium that moan about vegan croissants being too difficult to make (even places that are vegan-friendly), and then there’s Italy offering them in train stations, petrol stations, bakeries, supermarkets…

The food at Brac was veg-friendly authentic Tuscan food. It’s a resto/bookshop/creative space, and there’s certainly a cool vibe. For 14 euro we had a ‘piatto unico’ each, which consisted of:

A salad or carpaccio

A rice or pasta dish

& A wrap called a ‘carasau’ – a traditional flatbread from Sardinia, with the filling of your choice.

We. loved. the. food. The only criticism I could say about this place, is that the vegan options on the menu weren’t highlighted, which was quite frustrating for me, and yet something I imagine is easy to fix, especially when dealing with a vegetarian place. They do highlight vegan dishes on the website menu though.

Day 4

Our first full day in Florence started with the breakfast of all breakfasts, as you can see, we were spoilt for choice, and it was marvellous. I then had the oportunity to sit down with Veronica and learn all about the story behind the hotel, which you too will be able to read about next week!

Mike and I set off on our Florentine adventure as we admired the historical heart, and of course the accidentally vegan snacks en route. The bruschetta below was 50 cent and vegan.

This gelato was from #Raw , a raw vegan cafe which had some fabulous things on offer, including this cacao and basil gelato – healthy and delicious!

We walked over 20km on day 4, with wine and water breaks of course. I just love walking to explore cities and new surroundings, finding secret spots, away from tourists. One place in Florence I really wanted to go to was Gustapizza, the reputed king of pizzerias in the area. Apparently their pizzas are more like how you’d find them in Naples, a softer, thin base.

We queued up at 7pm (and we weren’t the only ones), but the wait was worth it, and in fact is wasn’t much of a wait actually. I ordered a marinara (a traditionally cheeseless pizza) in the shape of a heart (yas!), to take away, along with 2 glasses of wine. We sat round the corner on the steps of a building with various people enjoying dinner al fresco.

Although a simple evening, it’s one I look back on fondly – just enjoying our surroundings and each other’s company. We also found some own-brand vegan Cornetto-type treats in one of the supermarkets, to finish off the night.

Florence is stunning. Seriously, it’s beautiful. It has a much calmer vibe than Rome, and it’s definitely the kind of place you can slowly meander about without getting flustered.

The people are so warm and friendly here, and I’m going to let you into a little secret… we are seriously considering Tuscany as a potential new home – so watch this space!

My official vegan Florence guidebook will be published very soon, and it will be a complete guide full of everything you need to enjoy a vegan-friendly holiday there.

{Click here to receive exclusive updates about my vegan travel guides!}

Tomorrow it’s Milan’s turn kitty cats!










Rachida Brocklehurst

Rachida is Founding Editor-in-Chief of Green Vie Magazine, and has worked in editorial and publishing for over 10 years. She also runs a digital marketing agency for vegan-friendly businesses and the hospitality sector, and is publishing her first book this autumn. In her spare time, she enjoys international travel with her partner, creating different flavours of hummus and rescuing cats.

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