You're in luck. I was in Florence in early July and discovered a fabulous vegetarian restaurant. It's called Il Vegetariano (or something close to that). It was entirely locals the few times we ate there. The food was very good and the desserts were delicious. It's located on Villa delle Route near the Hotel Royal. There's also an excellent eatery called Ristoro in Vinolio on the corner of Villa delle Route and Via San Zanobi
126/R right across the street. We had a couple of wonderful pasta dishes there--one was vegetarian--as well as terrific well priced wine. Enjoy.
Here are a couple of useful phrases for your friends:
I am vegetarian: Sono vegetariano (m) / vegetariana (f)
Phonetically: SOH-noh veh-jeh-tahr-YAH-no / veh-jeh-tahr-YAH-nah
Is this dish meatless? È questo piatto senza carne?
Phonetically: eh KWEH-stoh pee-AHT-toh SEHN-tsah KAHR-neh?
A nice vegan appetizer is bruschetta (broo-SKET-tah), grilled bread with olive oil, garlic and salt. It comes with a variety of toppings, including:tomato (bruschetta con pomodoro, broo-SKET-tah kohn poh-moh-DOH-roh) and mushroom (bruschetta con funghi, broo-SKET-tah kohn FOON-ghee).
Salad is a safe bet, including mixed salad (insalata mista, een-sah-LAH-tah MEE-stah) or insalata Caprese (een-sah-LAH-tah kah-PREH-seh), basil and tomato slices with fresh mozzarella cheese.
As already mentioned, pappa el pomodoro (PAH-pah ahl poh-moh-DOH-roh) is tomato soup, and ribollita (ree-boh-LEE-tah) is a fabulous Tuscan vegetable soup, both thickened with day-old bread. Last December, I had superb ribollita in Florence at Buca dell'Orafo, Volta dei Girolami 28R, in an arched alley between the Uffizi and the Ponte Vecchio bridge. Phone 055-213619. A buca is a cellar joint. This trattoria once housed a goldsmith. Locals and visitors share a half dozen crowded tables and good Tuscan food.
Pastas can be ordered with tomato sauce (al pomodoro, ahl poh-moh-DOH-roh) or mushrooms (ai funghi, AH-ee FOON-ghee) or dressed with garlic and olive oil (con aglio e olio, kohn AH-lyoh eh OH-lyoh).
Two vegetarian main courses are grilled porcini mushrooms (funghi porcini alla griglia, FOON-ghee pohr-CHEE-nee AHL-lah GREE-lyah) and vegetable tart (sformato di verdure, sfohr-MAH-toh dee vehr-DOO-reh).
Your friends can select a variety of vegetables from the menu of side dishes (contorni, kohn-TOR-nee), including roasted potatoes (patate arrosto, pah-TAH-teh ah-ROH-stoh) and sautéed spinach (spinaci saltati, spee-NAH-chee sahl-TAH-tee).
And of course they can order whatever they want from wine and dessert lists!
you can eat like a king as a veg in Firenze. i recommend going immediately to Cibreo Tratoria (the cheaper side of the amazing Cibreo with virtually the same menu) and getting the magic polenta- i have never had polenta so creamy, with the "super" butter and olive oil. so good we ordered a second plate of it- ridiculous. then get the a split plate of Ribolito (tuscan bread vegetable soup) and pappa al pomodoro (tomato bread stew)- you will be king! and crazy everything at Cibreo. beyond that, there is fantastic pizza, pastas, and focaccio (pizza at Focaccieria Puggi near the train station was recently some of the best pizza i've ever had- anchovie and capers with fresh mozz hot out of the oven- oh my...). you will do great in firenze, but don't miss Cibreo Tratt... it is so special... enjoy fb p.s. for the non-vegetarians, you must eat Fiorentina- the florentine dry aged porterhouse! and a perfect carbonara can be had in firenze if you look... enjoy... and please report back on where you ate and how it went...
Il Latini may be fun and festive, but it's hardly a happy choice for a vegetarian. Read any review on the web. The focus is consistently on the meat dishes. Lacking a menu on the Il Latini web site, I'm not certain the restaurant even serves enough dishes to constitute a meal for vegetarians.
re: Indy 67
all I remember of a vegetable nature, other than meat and bread was the fairly mediocre ribollita or minestrone soup they served. That and the tourists packed elbow to elbow, it seemed. There is wild disagreement on this site about this restaurant - we found it awful, others still ove it. I think La Giostra is a more upscale offshoot (weve not tried)
re: jen kalb
Frankly, we've never been to Il Latini. We've heard great things about the meat, but standing in line for a turn at one of the communal tables and being pressured to order communal choices has no appeal.
We have been to La Giostra and loved both our meal and the experience.
I just looked at the menu for La Giostra and I can see quite a few appealing vegetarian-friendly antipasti that sound delish. I eat meat but the thought of either carpaccio of eggplant, tomatoes, and Parmesan Reggiano and carpaccio of zucchini and tomatoes with pine nuts and Parmesan Reggiano is enough to make my mouth water. The number of vegetarian-friendly pasta dishes is huge. Contorni and dessert possibilities would cap off a hugely successful meal. Throw in the effusive prince and your friends can't go wrong.