Hidden Treasures Revealed: The Sweetest Sweets and Cafes of Florence

[ 0 ] January 5, 2014 |

Florence is a whirlwind. A beautiful whirlwind, especially for the tourist on a time crunch. So how will you conquer it all? Frequent pitstops at the most charming of Florentine cafés, of course. There is nothing more rejuvenating than a periodic pausa at a local bar for a hot chocolate, pastry or espresso. Whether you are tackling a taunting to-do list, exploring Florence on limited time or simply need a shopping pick-me-up, it’s important to be armed with a basic café consciousness.

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Robiglio, by Libby Coulter

A few rules if you are new to the Euro-café scene:

  1. Order and pay the cashier first. You will be handed a small receipt.
  2. Go to the bar and wait for the barista to ask you what you ordered, or more likely simply take your receipt.
  3. Stay standing. Cafés are largely designed for the customer on the go. Remain standing at the bar to consume your drink and/or pastry. However, sometimes it’s nice to sit, relax and enjoy your cup of wonderful. If you choose a table, just don’t be surprised to see a slight service up-charge.

And without further ado, here are the most delightful and delicious cafés of Florence. For an interactive map, click the link below:  Map.

Bar Pasticceria Ruggeri, Viale Giacomo Matteotti, 2/r

Just across the Viale–that magical line that no tourist can seem to pass–Ruggeri is delightfully local. Pastry options are expansive, and the hot chocolate runs particularly rich!

Gran Caffè San Marco, Piazza San Marco, 11 R

On the northern side of the city center, Gran Caffè San Marco is good for a morning boost on your way into town from the north. Near the Accademia, it is also a solid choice for a pre-museum pick-me-up (no one wants sleepy eyes when they’re checkin’ out David). Speaking of works of art, we recommend trying the cappuccini. If you need something a bit more substantial, this café offers pastries, sandwiches, chocolates, tortes and gelato, as well.

Caffè Cibrèo, Via Andrea del Verrocchio, 5r

Allow Caffè Cibrèo to serve as your one-stop shop when in the Sant’ Ambrogio neighborhood. With a counterpart trattoria as well as ristorante, Caffè Cibrèo has your whole day covered. Many swear that Caffè Cibrèo brews the best coffee in the city. We’ll let you be the judge.

Bar Pasticceria Robiglio, Via dei Tosinghi, 11/R

Situated smack dab in the center of the city–between Piazza del Duomo, Piazza della Signoria AND Piazza della Repubblica–I couldn’t help but always find an excuse to bop into Robiglio for a cornetto con cioccolato and a cappuccino. Simple, beautiful, delightful and delicious.

Caffè Gilli, Via Roma 1r

To mix a dash of culture into your coffee, I recommend Gilli. As the said birthplace of the Futurism movement in Italy, I’m positive you will leave Gilli feeling both rejuvenated and inspired. Located in the posh Piazza della Repubblica, this famous café embodies a certain ritz that will add a dash of fabulous to your day.

La Rinascente, Piazza della Repubblica, 3-5

For coffee with a view, there is no better locale than the roof of La Rinascente, bordering the east side of Piazza del Repubblica. Catch the escalators to the top floor of this upscale department store. Follow signs and a small staircase that will lead you to a terrace that opens to magnificent eye-level views of the rooftops of Florence.

Caffè Giacosa, Palazzo Strozzi, Piazza Strozzi

Speaking of cafés in unexpected places, let’s head to the Palazzo Strozzi, just west of Piazza della Repubblica. In the courtyard of this Renaissance Palazzo, you’ll find Caffé Giacosa. Treat yourself after enjoying the current art show running at the Palazzo. Even if you didn’t go see a show, grab a drink and a seat and feel  just. so. classy.

ChiaroScuro, Via del Corso, 36

Like Robiglio, ChiaroScuro is so perfectly positioned in the city center, you couldn’t possibly be expected to avoid it – and why would you? Upon entering, artfully-displayed salads, sandwiches and pastries will hold your attention only until your eyes drift up to the menu behind the bar. The options! The glorious, torturous options!  While my friends indulge in the hazelnutty, carmelly, cinnamony masterpieces, I am weak before my chocolate addiction and most always cave to a cup of pure hot chocolate.

Rivoire, Piazza della Signoria, 5

Speaking of a hot chocolate, head to Piazza della Signoria for a life changing experience for the ultimate chocolate fantasy. Now, at this stop, I insist that you find yourself a seat on the patio. At Rivoire, the hot chocolate runs so thick that it’s easier to attack it with a spoon. Let the melted chocolate warm you from the inside out. As you float down from your chocolate cloud, fall blissfully into your lovely reality. The illuminated statues of the Loggia dei Lanzi dance before you on their stage and the imposing Palazzo Vecchio softens in the moonlight. Le sigh.

Gucci Caffè, Piazza della Signoria, 10

Drawn by the curious and hypnotizing facade projections, the Gucci Caffè is your next stop on the café crawl. As a part of the new Gucci Museum in Piazza della Signoria, many (including myself) venture into this café for the sheer novelty of it. With a delightful array of sweets, an encompassing coffee menu, Gucci-logo-shaped sugar cubes, and the best-looking staff you’ve ever seen – Gucci does not disappoint.

Hi Bar, Via dei Renai, 27

After all that class, it’s time to hit up an establishment where we can feel a little more comfortable slouching in our seats, relaxing and wearing our sensible shoes. Hi Bar in the San Niccolo neighborhood of the Oltrarno is just the place. With a relaxed crowd of mostly locals, welcoming seating, bookshelves full of brain candy and even a few neighborhood pets wandering in and out, you’re sure to unwind with something steamy to sip on here.

Pasticceria Giorgio,Via Duccio di Boninsegna, 36

For serious bonus points, venture to the Pasticceria Giorgio, a bit outside of the city center. The pastries, millefoglie in particular, are highly esteemed among Florentines. If you make the trek to the famous Pasticceria Giorgio, make sure to reward yourself by grabbing a seat and enjoying your cappuccino and pastry like a true local.

Cheat Code: For the hyperactive traveler, student setting up shop in the archives, or someone attempting to stay up his entire last night in Florence because he can’t bear the thought of wasting a second on sleep (not that I have done that five times or anything), just go straight for the Pocket Coffee

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Category: Europe, Florence, Italy, Sage Content

About the Author ()

Hannah Hartsig is a Midwest girl through and through, nursing passions for barbecue, tailgating and Kansas State University. However, after spending a combined two years studying and teaching Art History in Italy, her heart had no choice but to make room for vespa rides, gelato and cobblestone streets. She was lucky enough to call Florence her home, indulge her obsession with Rome on a monthly basis, and explore the country with her partner-in-crime and fellow Sage, Meg Dillon. Meg and Hannah now co-write the blog Florence for Free, revealing secrets to experiencing la vita bella on an empty wallet.

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