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The Five-Point Weekend Escape Plan

Discover Fresh Fashion in Florence

2. Where to Eat

Peruse the gourmet food stalls at the revamped Il Mercato Centrale.  

Spend the afternoon sampling Italian food culture at Il Mercato Centrale. The hip second floor of Florence’s ornate 140-year-old, iron-and-glass-clad central market opened in April, and while the traditional meat and produce market still operates downstairs, private investors have transformed the upper floor, formerly used for events, into a stylish space encompassing a cooking school, wine bar and gourmet food stalls with fedora and suspender-wearing purveyors selected from all over the country. Try a Caprese salad ($10) with melt-in-your-mouth, salty buffalo mozzarella at La Mozzarella di Bufala; wood-fired Napoli pizza with basil and anchovies from Pizzaria Sud ($13); and a plank of sliced prosciutto (from $12) made from Tuscan free-range pigs at the Savigni family’s salumi counter. Then head to Ristorante Tosca on the mezzanine for a caffe and seasonal desserts, like peaches cooked in olive oil with vanilla gelato ($8).

Taste Italian minimalism at Borgo San Jacopo. Chef Beatrice Segoni left a career in fashion design behind to cook seasonal (and now much-praised) Tuscan food, but her past is still present in the fashion illustrations lining the walls (some by native son Emilio Pucci). Order the Top 5 tasting menu ($161) for the best sampling of Segoni’s dishes, like poppy seed lamb with eggplant scented mint; house-made gnocchi with lobster; and sage tagliolini with chicken liver ragout. Reserve one of the four tables on the intimate terrace perched over the Arno River for gorgeous views of the Ponte Vecchio and Ponte Santa Trinita bridges.

Sip a negroni ($11)—the classic cocktail is thought to have been invented in Florence—at Rivalta. Covered sidewalk seating facing the river, a DJ spinning Euro lounge tunes, and eccentric touches like plastic toys on tables make this a popular aperitivo spot with young, fashionable Florentines. Inside, grab a plate and join the crowd in line for the buffet (included in the cost of a drink) with nibbles like barley salad, bruschetta, and finger sandwiches, or opt for a light dinner of dishes like garganelli pasta with zucchini, cherry tomatoes and basil ($13), pork carpaccio ($11), and gazpacho with buffalo mozzarella cream ($3.50). If the coveted outdoor tables are taken, simply join the rest of the beautiful people overflowing across the street, perched on the stone wall along the Arno River looking like a casting call for a Prada ad.

Published on Sep 18, 2014 as a web exclusive.