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Eating in Florence with a traditional summer recipe: panzanella

Eating in Florence during summertime means to try an unmissable traditional delicacy which will cool you down, the delicious and refreshing “Panzanella”. You can enjoy it while seated in front of the marvelous Duomo, or in the narrow and lively streets and squares of the city.

If you want to eat Panzanella in Florence, you should try our Florence food tour. It’s the best way to taste the best Tuscan dishes in one shot!


Most of the traditional Florentine recipes (such as ribollita or pappa al pomodoro), Panzanella included, are made with the famous Tuscan saltless bread.

Why Tuscan bread has no salt?

Let’s make a jump on the past.

The most famous theory goes back to the medieval period due to a rivalry between Florence and Pisa.

It seems that Pisa blocked the salt commerce to Florence.

In response the Florentine bakers kept producing it letting out the salt. Cool!

Another story tells that the price of the salt increased, so people couldn’t afford it, but they kept producing bread without salt.

Nowadays the bread is still saltless and has achieved an important role in the Tuscan kitchen; it matches perfectly with the salty taste of salami or ham, but also with the famous “pappa al pomodoro” or the refreshing Panzanella.


Panzanella is a fresh dish that goes back to the peasant habit of soaking Tuscan stale bread and mixing it with garden vegetables.

According to some, the term Panzanella comes from the combination of two words “pane” (bread) and “zanella” (soup bowl). According to others, the word would come from “panzana”, the original word for “soup”. A great dish that will help you to stay cool.

It seems that Bronzino, a famous painter of the Medici’s family, praised the Panzanella describing it as a salad with bread, onion, rocket and cucumbers. He didn’t talk about tomatoes because Italy didn’t get them till the 16th century.

Appreciation for Panzanella came also from Boccaccio, a famous Florentine Poet. In his masterpiece “The Decameron”, he mentioned the “pan lavato” (washed bread).

Nonna Patrizia, a 63 years old farmer from the city, shared with us the original Florence recipe for panzanella (4 people)


  • 250gr of Tuscan stale bread (soak for 10 minutes, squeeze it and cut in small pieces)
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 cucumber
  • Basil


dress with extra virgin olive oil and salt, mix everything together and set aside in the fridge for 30 minutes.

The traditional Florence recipe for Panzanella has changed throughout the years, some people add eggs and tomatoes. The recipe has spread out in other parts of Tuscany as well.

Panzanella is the best food in Florence during the summer, if you haven’t tasted it yet, you should definitely give it a try!

Check out our Florence food tour >>