Some of the most uber fashionable cocktails…
Some of the most uber fashionable cocktails…
The Telegraph’s quick guide on how to order “un caffè” in Italy with confidence…
Street life and cafe life in Rome…
Italian life is best captured in the local cafes…
First things first, when at an Italian caffe, if you choose to have your coffee at the bar or counter, you go to the cashier to put in your order and pay first. You then take the sales receipt to the counter and hand it to the barista and specify you coffee preference. Should you decide to sit at a table then the waiters come to you, but be aware it costs more to sit then to stand. Tipping for coffee is not required though most people leave the small change, the 10 cents and 20 cents coins, from what they paid for coffee, on the counter as a small thank you.
The iconic Caffe Gilli sits literally in the centre of Florence and is a beacon to local life in Florence. On the festive Piazza della Repubblica Gilli terrace life is popular and lively and inside the classic cafe of times gone by remains grand in its polished opulence. While the main counter is always popular it is completely buzzing during the morning rush hour with locals and tourists alike cozying up around the counter for a morning espresso or cappuccino. Then they all come back later for a bit of trendy aperitivo before heading home or out to dinner.
This historical caffe and pastry shop sits in the perfect spot on the elegant Piazza della Signoria. From the outdoor tables you have an amazing view of the Palazzo Vecchio, and in the summer months music plays on many nights making this cafe prime positioning. Rivoire began its life as a chocolatier and remains a purveyor of fine sweets and pastries, but it is a true cafe and most importantly it holds the certificate for serving the original negroni. Indeed Rivoire serves up some of the best Negroni in the city and makes it a great place for aperitivo and well as a morning coffee. Do not leave Florence without tasting their cantuccini (biscotti).
If having your coffee while listening to the church bells then Le Scuderie on the Piazza del Duomo should fit the bill. Another one of the old Florentine cafes, Scuderie, like Rivoire and Gilli serve excellent coffee with pastries and have pedigree.
Some hearty wine, white beans with a little sage, pasta topped with fluffy truffles, a chunky steak with sprigs of rosemary… Simple ingredients but all of the very best quality make up Tuscan cuisine. Eat like a Medici at many corner trattorias and small local restaurants throughout Florence. Good food and cheerful atmosphere can be found in every at every table. Here are a few of my haunts:
Caffe Pitti (Piazza Pitti) Right across from the Pitti Palace is this charming place with candle lights and agreeable comfortable furnishings. This stylish little place, showcases a splendid menu with truffles as it’s specialty. Alongside a regional menu of hearty dishes, is a knowledgeable wine list plus a tempting list of desserts such as a pistachio semi-fredo with berry sauce. The essence of the food can be summed up in the simplicity of the fettuccine topped with a generous portion of flaked white truffle. Along with a nice glass of wine and a laid back atmosphere make this a polished yet relaxed dining experience.
Truffles are everywhere at Caffe Pitti
Il Santo Bevitore (Via di Santo Spirito, 64/66) Located in the hip and happening area of Santo Spirito, this is a locals favourite. Dark, candlelit space, loud and bustling, with wood tables, and iron worked chandeliers makes it at once relaxed and lively. The menu is small but selective, highlighting seasonal local produce and offering a modern presentation on Tuscan dishes such as a Pasta with Rabbit Sausage and Chicken Livers with Rosemary. The clientele is varied from all ages and backgrounds, making the place not trendy yet not stuffy either but rather very much a cultivated neighbourhood gathering place. Of course the wine list is excellent and even the wines by the glass are first rate. This place is a bit special and the chef is going places. Exciting innovative food, while staying with traditional Tuscan cooking and proud of it.
Modern Tuscan Cooking at Il Santo Bevitore
Caffe Cibreo (Via Andrea del Verrocchio, 5r) Most foodies in the know will already have heard of the famous Cibreo, Florence’s most renowned chef with an equally regarded restaurant. Directly across the street from his exceptional eatery lies his less expensive yet as good caffe, offering a its own full Tuscan menu of Cibreo’s style of cooking. Great to stop in for breakfast before or after you explore the near by market. But lunch and dinner prove to be a real delight and Cibreo himself can often be found on the premises. The antipasti that is brought to the table (along with the bread basket) is a selection of true tuscan treats. And that is just to start! Not to mention everything on the menu is outstanding. A real feast and not to be missed.
A feast a Caffe Cibreo
All reviews are honest accounts of my personal experiences. I was not given anything at any of the restaurants, and the establishments had no idea I was reviewing them.
Sumptuous velvet banquets, polished dark wood, and 18th century painted walls and ceilings make for a decadent cup of coffee. Add chewy croissants filled with apricot jam and you will change your mind forever about a coffee on the run in a paper cup. So much nicer to have it in Venice at Florian in a porcelain cup like stylish people have been doing for hundreds of years.