Starting off a new Italy series all about Food in Florence that I’m calling…wait for it…Food in Florence! Yay, you guessed it!
I’ve been getting enough requests this past year from friends and friends for friends visiting Florence that I think it’s time to start compiling some helpful and easily accessible lists and tips of what to do/where to eat in this adopted city of mine, Florence. Creating custom “to do” and “to eat” lists is not very time efficient I find…or maybe I just give an overwhelming amount of information…nah, that couldn’t possibly be it. :)
It’s great fun to create lists that help people get the most out of their time in Florence. My favorite way to see a new city is exploring and wandering without any tour guides (with certain exceptions), while having read up a ton beforehand and bookmarked things to see, places to shop, and foods to try and where to try them. The biggest problem I always run into while preparing for a trip is knowing which lists are authentic and whose opinion I should trust. The lists in this new “Food in Florence” series would have saved me quite a bit of time before I came to Florence for the first time. I hope they will be useful to you and help you decide where you want to dine around Florence without falling for the tourist traps, specifically in this list where you can find the most scrumptious breakfasts.
As a disclaimer, these lists will probably be ever evolving because 1. Florence has a million and one places to try, 2. New places are always opening, 3. I’ve only lived here just over 2 consecutive years and 4. I probably don’t eat out nearly as much as you would expect for someone who lives in Italy. (Whaaat I don’t eat pasta for lunch and pizza for dinner everyday?! Lame.) Just remember, I’m a real person with a real budget. :)
What is a typical Italian breakfast?
You’re going out to breakfast, but what can you expect to find on the menu? What do Italians typically eat for breakfast?
Italians don’t go to a sit-down type restaurant for breakfast, which is usually what entails if you go out to breakfast in America. Instead, most Italians have their favorite local bar that they go to several, if not every, morning of the week. A cappuccino is usually eaten with a pastry, and just as often eaten standing and chatting as it is sitting down and reading the morning newspaper. At just over 2euro for a cappuccino and pastry, it makes for a very affordable breakfast out. If there is a menu, it’s probably a coffee menu on the wall. The pastries are chosen through the display case. It’s common to ask what they’re filled with, if one is unsure. You can expect varying croissants and sugary puff pastries filled with the classics: cream, chocolate, Nutella, jam (usually apricot or blackberry) and apple, along with more specialty fillings that will vary by place, such as cream and orange, whole wheat with honey, pistachio, etc.
What is the best time to go out for breakfast?
Whatever time you want. Really. Most pasticcerie and bars open between 5:30-7:00am, but pastries will be served until they’re gone, which is often into the afternoon. Of course, some busy places will run out by noon, so my only word of advice would be to go before then. You can manage that, right?
Or, if you’re like me and like to eat right away, have some fruit and snacks to eat first thing in the morning, and then eat a leisurely second breakfast or elevensies at a caffè once you’re out and about.
You’ll find people eating breakfast anywhere from the early morning hours to late morning, and it is socially acceptable to eat a pastry and a cappuccino in the afternoon as a snack, or a cappuccino by itself, contrary to popular American belief. See #12 on this blog post if you want to know why. So have at it! Just don’t drink a cappuccino with any food item other than pastries/cookies, k? Cappuccino and pizza taste gross together anyway.
As a general rule, it’s best to pay at the cash register before ordering your pastry and drink at the bar. Many places don’t care if you eat or pay first, even if they have signs up asking you to pay first, however…some places DO care and if you’re not familiar with that particular locale, pay first to be safe.
It’s also advisable to ask before you sit down as some places up-charge for the “sit-down service.” Ya know, paying up to twice the price for your drink for the luxury of sitting down and usually them bringing you your order. Don’t think that carrying your own drink to your table is going to get you any discounts. You’re really paying for occupying the table, the service I like to think of as bonus so you might as well enjoy it!
The only place on the list below that should have an up-charge is Gilli and possibly Bottega di Pasticceria. Since they are classy and all about the experience anyway, I think we can forgive them.
Where to Eat the Most Scrumptious Breakfasts
Via de’ Neri, 8, right in the center by San Lorenzo and the Mercato Centrale
Open 8:00am - 2:30am every day
Large and uniquely beautiful space, each room is a little different. Very cool atmosphere. There is even an area where you can buy some merchandise and flowers. Lots of pretty plants! Indoor and outdoor seating. Great coffee. A bit on the pricier side.
Lungarno di Santa Rosa, on the south side of the river.
Open 8:00am - Midnight weekdays, 10:00am - Midnight Saturday and Sunday
Beautiful outdoor caffe where you can choose to sit outside among the greenery or in the main area with the roof if it rains. So cozy. I love this place when I want to get away from the hectic city life for a moment.
Caffetteria delle Oblate
Via dell’Oriuolo, 26, in the center not far from the Duomo.
Open 2:00pm - 7:00pm Monday, 9:00am - Midnight Tuesday through Friday, 10:00am - Midnight Saturday, closed on Sunday.
An old convent turned library with a third story caffè, this place is super cool and has spectacular views of the Duomo to boot. You can sit in the caffetteria or take your food to any of the 4 sided terrace overlooking in the inner open courtyard. There are seats and tables on most sides, but they are often occupied with studying students. When this happens I usually just sit on the floor, no one will mind. Note, the caffetteria will charge you 10 cents per person who eats outside of the caffetteria area. I find this ironically humorous as most bars will charge you if you sit down IN their area, not if you take away. Italy, the land of inconsistency.
Bottega di Pasticceria
Lungarno Francesco Ferrucci, 9c, south of the river on the edge of the city center
Open 7:00am - 10:00pm Tuesday through Sunday, closed Monday
This is a lovely open two story caffe that has an elegant feel to it, although don’t feel as though you need to dress up! Certain parts of the second story floor are made of glass, a warning to those who are wearing dresses and skirts! ;)
Caffetteria La Loggia
Via Pietrapiana, 12, not far from the church of Santa Croce
Open 7:00am - 8:30pm every day
A small little place but popular with the locals and me! A good variety of pastries and coffee, they even have some specialty drinks such as Hazelnut or Pistachio Coffee, very sweet but interesting to try! If there are no available places to sit, you can always drink your coffee and eat your pastry standing up at the bar, like the Italians do, or go and sit in the nearby Piazza della Loggia which the city of Florence recently redid.
Piazza della Libertà, 27r, at the top tip of the city center in Piazza della Libertà
Open 5:00am - 9:30pm every day
This caffe is home to probably some of my favorite pastries in all of Florence, and that’s just talking about the pastries. The desserts are mouth-watering as well. I personally recommend the apple filled pastry, but I know others who rave about the pistachio filled pastry. Indoor or outdoor seating.
Caffè Pasticceria Serafini
Via Gioberti, 168r, just outside the city center on the east side
Open 7:00am - 9:00am Monday through Saturday, closed Sunday
Serafini is located in a very local area and has wonderful pastries and desserts. It can get busy, but there is indoor and outdoor seating and always the option to eat at the bar or take away. They have a great chocolate and pear pastry.
Via Ghibellina, 116r, in the center near to Santa Croce
Open 6:00am - 8:00pm Monday through Saturday, closed Sunday
Another great local caffè with yummy pastries and coffee. There are a couple of baristas here who can make a mean cappuccino.
Via Roma, 1r, on Piazza della Repubblica
Open 7:30am - Midnight every day
Gilli is the oldest caffè in Florence, established more than 270 years ago by a Swiss family. Their hot chocolate is renowned and their sweets and chocolate beloved by many. Situated in a beautiful building with a large covered outdoor sitting area right on Piazza della Repubblica, this is the place to go if you’re looking for a high class and historic experience. Just remember you’ll be paying higher prices, i.e., a normal hot chocolate costs 3-3.50euro, Gilli will charge you somewhere around 7euro.
Want to see some of your favorite spots added to the list? Let me know in the comments below!