Gin sommeliers, sandwiches laced with truffle cream and black sesame seed gelato are changing the landscape of Tuscany’s food hub...

1. In the family Mother and son, Giuseppina and Alberto Navari, serve fresh spring flavours at Zeb Gastronomia, their small 21-seat space in the quaint San Niccolò district. Take a pew at the gallery table and enjoy plates such as pecorino cheese and pear ravioli (€10) made to old family recipes. zebgastronomia.com

2. Champion coffee Redolent of cafes in New York and Melbourne Ditta Artigianale serves rare coffee blends (from €1.50) by world championship barista Francesco Sanapo. By night, gin sommelier Cecilia creates sublime cocktails (try the Gin Mule, €8) to go with the free Tuscan tapas. Via dei Neri, 32 (00 39 055 274 1541)

3. Shoppers’ delight The recently opened food hall upstairs at Il Mercato Centrale is a worthy addition to Florence’s burgeoning culinary scene. Head to SUD for perfect southern-style pizza (from €8) or go for the local delicacy, a tripe sandwich (€5) at Il Lamprodotto. mercatocentrale.it

4. Food trippin’ Tour some of the best food spots in town by joining one of Taste Florence’s morning walks (9.30am – 2pm, €79). Along the way you’ll discover San Lorenzo’s renowned food market plus hole-in-the-wall, family run shops and tastings of fresh cornetti, strong café, truffle and grappa. tasteflorence.com 

5. A quick bite Panini are a must when exploring Florence, an ideal quick bite between galleries. At La Prosciutteria choose from freshly sliced meats in salty ciabatta bread, and rows of other toppings including truffle cream and marinated aubergine. The wine box shelving houses condiments you can buy to take home (panini from €3.85, wine from €2.60 a glass). laprosciutteria.com

6. Vine times Wine lovers should head to Enoteca Pitti Gola e Cantina where brothers Eduardo and Zeno Fioravanti have curated an extensive list of Tuscan wines, from bold Brunello to softer Chianti Classico (glasses from €6). Resident chef, Donatella, cooks delicious Tuscan fare to compliment the booze. pittigolaecantina.com

7. Star cooking Riverside restaurant La Bottega del Buon Caffè has just received its first Michelin star, and rightly so. Chef Antonello Sardi creates delicate dishes from the finest Tuscan produce, much of which is grown at their country farm just outside Florence. Tasting menus from €80. labottegadelbuoncaffe.com

8. Ice ice baby No Italian trip is complete without sampling the local gelato. Gelateria Santa Trinita hand makes their selection every morning. Try sesamo nero (black sesame seed) or cioccolata fondente (dark chocolate) for a sweet taste sensation (from €1.80 a scoop). gelateriasantatrinita.it

9. Al fresco For a Florentine experience, and view, to remember, enjoy an aperitivo on the terrace of Se.sto at the Westin Excelsior hotel (cocktails from €15) and, from 7pm, enjoy the free snack buffet. sestoonarno.com

10. Meat lovers Meat features heavily in Tuscan cuisine with bistecca alla Fiorentina famous in Florence. Sit with the locals at I'Brindellone to enjoy a three-fingers thick T-bone steak (€4 per 100g) served one-way only – bloody; simply seared on the outside then lightly seasoned with salt and olive oil. Piazza Piattellina, 10 (00 39 055 217879) 

11. Cocktail hour Head to amblé near Ponte Vecchio to enjoy a cocktail hour Spritz (€5) surrounded by vintage furniture; you can buy everything you see, from your chair to your cocktail glass. amble.it

12. Food finds For take-home goodies, head to Eataly. The local branch of the famed chain opened in 2013 and houses thousands of Italian-made food brands. You’ll find condiments, cookbooks and fresh food - plus a café bar - on the ground floor and a fine dining restaurant and wine cellar upstairs. eataly.com 

13. Cook school Take a class in Tuscan cookery at Desinare. Set upstairs in the unique workshop and interiors showroom of Riccardo Barthel, this bespoke kitchen and dining room offers courses covering meats to bread making as well as traditional Tuscan dishes (courses from €80). desinare.it

14. Gluten free Recently opened Quinoa offers innovative gluten-free dishes in a secluded palazzo courtyard just a skip from the Duomo. Porcini mushroom pie with Parmesan fondue (€10) or aubergine and almond ‘meatballs’ (€14) feature on the menu alongside hearty meat and fish dishes. ristorantequinoa.it

15. Seasonal menus For traditional Italian food with a modern twist Il Santo Bevitore serves a seasonal menu in a converted carriage hall. Its dolce (desserts) are addictive with salted caramel chocolate mousse or pineapple with basil sorbet two recent additions (mains from €13, desserts around €5). ilsantobevitore.com

This feature first appeared in olivemagazine.com (March 2015)