Anthony Bourdain in Florence:
Where Tony Ate & Would Have Loved
In the whole wide world, there is perhaps no place on earth that people are more curious to know where Anthony Bourdain ate than in Florence, Italy. You see, Anthony Bourdain visited Florence one, filming one of the final episodes of his career for Parts Unknown. But, it’s the only filmed location in Season 12 of the show that was not aired by CNN after Tony’s death.
While the reasons for withholidng this episode aren’t known, it’s likely due to the fact that he traveled there with his then-girlfriend Asia Argento (as he did in several other Italy episodes like Rome and Puglia). Given the controversy around his personal life leading up to his suicide, my personal hypothesis is that CNN didn’t want to deal with Argento regarding the rights and final cut, and thus may never release even an uncut or incomplete version of this episode.
In any case, Florence is one of the most requested destinations people ask me about on this site, and I want to honor that interest and encourage people to visit – even if we’re not going to ever know exactly every place visited by Anthony Bourdain in Florence.
With the help of the Reddit community of Anthony Bourdain fans and a good amount of internet research, I’ve put together this guide to eating in Florence – both the places we know Tony did eat, and the places we think he might have enjoyed. I hope that, though this is quite difference than my other guides which are strictly focused on restaurants Anthony Bourdain visited, you are still inspired to visit and eat your way through Florence with the same enthusiasm Tony did.
Reddit user Allan_gaskin tipped me off to Al Tranvai, which they reported was a spot Tony ate while filming the unseen Florence episode. A bit of research verified this (source), though I’ll be the first to admit it’s not the strongest evidence – and I’m not sure exactly what he ate.
Back in 2013, food blogger Elizabeth Minchilli spoke highly of this Florence restaurant, saying “Al Tranvai serves some of the best – and often creative food – in Florence, at an extremely reasonable price with some of the friendliest service around.” (source) It’s no surprise then that it ended up on Bourdain’s hit list during his visit a few years later.
Vini e Vecchi Sapori
Allan_gaskin also reports that they saw a tweet that said Bourdain ate at Vini e Vecchi Sapori during his visit; this osteria is known for its pasta dishes and local wine list. I did some serious digging to discover that Italian actress (and Argento’s mother) Daria Nicolodi, whom Tony thanked after filming, replied deeper in the thread (source) to share that Tony had tripe (Trippa Fiorentina).
Given that their Facebook page suggests they use hand-written menus with notes like “No pizza, no ice, no cappuccino, no spritz, no ketchup, fuck cancer,” this seems like a place Tony would have enjoyed.
If you can’t tell, researching this post was a series of purposely falling down the rabbit hole researching places that were recommended or reported as spots where Tony ate – or would have loved to eat.
Dolce Emporio is one that I was able to verify through a very deep rabbit hole. First, Allan_gaskin gave another tip that there was a photo of Tony filming here. I found this tweet from Georgette Jupe who did some fixing for the Parts Unknown crew in Florence, which includes a photo of filming inside Dolce Emporio (compared to this photo, which it matches) though Tony’s not in the picture. Nevertheless, I think it’s safe to say that Tony did visit this wine bar.
Doing a bit more internet sleuthing and comparing photos helped me identify another spot that we know Anthony Bourdain ate in Florence: Trattoria Sabatino. The confirmation comes by way of a Tripadvisor review (source) and two of Georgette’s photos that match those left by reviewers.
The most we can be sure that Tony had here is a nice Italian wine (on the table in the photo); the menu at Trattoria Sabatino changes daily according to their website, so you’ll likely enjoy something different than Tony did, even if we ever find out what he ate.
(I haven’t been able to trace the final in Georgette’s tweet, so if you know Florence well and are open to sharing, I’d love to add them!)
Here’s another tip from a Reddit user on a place Anthony Bourdain might have liked in Florence, if you need more options. User hhyyerr recommended Mercato Centrale. This central market harkens back to Tony’s earlier days of travel when markets were an essential spot to visit in every city to get a sense of the ingredients and dishes that define the culture.
“The meat and cheese on the bottom floor are to die for,” they shared. “He would definitely find some wild boar meat.” Sounds about right for our favorite food-focused traveler!
Osteria Tripperia il Magazzino
“The place that sticks out to me as somewhere Tony would like is Osteria Tripperia il Magazzino, which is offal-based,” writes Redditor Tracuivel. “I loved that place, and would happily go back. Not too costly, either.”
As their name suggests, Osteria Tripperia il Magazzino specializes in tripe; it’s a good bet that Bourdain would have eaten here, as we know he ate at restaurants that specialize in tripe.
Here’s one more tripe spot if that’s your thing like it was for Tony. I found one Tripadvisor review (source) that mentions Anthony Bourdain ate at this Florence restaurant, though I have no other evidence to back up that claim. If you’re looking to do a tripe trail across Florence, this place should be on your list!
Il Panino del Chianti
Adding my own suggestion to the list, Il Panino del Chianti is the hole-in-the-wall panini shop I visited during my own Florence trip that blew my mind and redefined my understanding of the sandwich; it struck me then – and strikes me now – as the kind of place Anthony Bourdain would have enjoyed eating, especially earlier in his career when he wanted to avoid crowds and the spotlight to seek out local food spots.
Great sandwiches are par for the course in Florence, so even if you don’t visit my recommendation, here’s another: “All’Antico Vinaio is probably the most popular sandwich spot [in Florence],” writes Reddit user going_swimmingly. “They have several locations throughout Italy (and I think a location in NYC?). “People might have other favorites, but you can’t go wrong by visiting. It’s a massive sandwich that could easily last two meals, and it was less than $8.”
Continuing: “We sort of stumbled upon it after a several-hour visit at the Uffizi. Starving, we exited the building around lunchtime, and everywhere you looked – sitting on curbs, leaning against pillars – people had these massive sandwiches. We eventually asked someone where they got it from, and they pointed us in the right direction.”
“I can imagine Bourdain’s commentary of the experience,” they conclude. “I think Bourdain would draw parallels between All’Antico Vinaio and any popular NYC deli during the lunch rush.”
Florence Food Tours to Try
As I’ll probably never have a complete, confirmed guide to everywhere visited by Anthony Bourdain in Florence, this post, the recommendations above, and the food tours below are the best I can offer. As usual, I want to include a few food tours since they are such a great way to sample a lot of different flavors of Florence as Tony did, but in your own way. Here are a few good ones to inspire you:
Have any other questions about the places visited by Anthony Bourdain in Florence, and the places we fans recommend? Or do you have your own recommendations you want me to add? Let me know in the comments below!
Michael Z - NYC
Excellent article, Valerie. The pictures and information are great.
I think you’re right on the mark about CNN not airing Tony’s last episode because they “didn’t want to deal with Argento regarding the rights and final cut.” It’s sad, the episode may never be aired – 😕.
So, I have some homework to do before our scheduled trip to Florence in March 2023.
ps: Gina and I used to live in the West Village on West 13th Street. It was before Boundaine started his travel films. We used to see him many times eating a few hot dogs at ‘Grey Papaya’ on West 8th Street & 6th Avenue, Manhattan.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Michael!
Hello! Great article :-). I was honored on May 23rd, 2018 to of dined on a terrace in Florence mere feet from Anthony and Asia. We were celebrating my sisters bachelorette and had a spa day with lunch at Il Salviatino. Our two tables were the only ones dining, and my group respected their privacy, so I did not meet him. He was not filming at the time. I just thought I’d share, he was truly a wonderful person. In regards to the restaurant, Il Salviatino is incredible and I recommend anyone to try it- it’s about 20 minutes outside of the city of Florence, with an incredible spa, hotel and city views.
Amazing story, Lurissa, and thank you for sharing! Your endorsment is also very helpful since this is an “unofficial” guide 🙂