Caffe Gilli is always full or tempting treats but none as much as during Christmas!
Celebrating aperitivo with the classic Florentine Negroni in Gilli Firenze
How to spend a relaxed summer day in the heart of the Renaissance with a balance of culture, cafes, and a little bit of shopping…
8AM Waking up in my room with a view at the Savoy right on Piazza della Repubblica. My extra comfortable bed makes for a good night sleep and after a shower I have a bit of fruit from the breakfast buffet. I hold off having coffee so as to have it at Gilli across the street.
9:15AM Quick caffe at the counter at Gilli before heading out for some exploration. Lots of options, but I start with a visit to Santa Maria Novella to take in important Early Renaissance art work without the crowds. Masaccio’s Holy Trinity marks the beginning of the Renaissance, and the extensive work of the Tornabouni Chapel has work by Ghirlandaio, Da Vinci’s teacher, and showcases meticulously painted frescos on the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Some of the best examples if Italian painting of the era are in this bejeweled church and without the long queues like at the Uffizzi gallery.
11:30AM No trip to Florence is complete without a stop in the Farmacia de Santa Maria Novella to pick up some of their one of a kind forest scented potpourri and a bottle of their Acqua Colonia fragrance, the original perfume made for Catherine de Medici.
1PM A leisurely walk over to the Mercato Centrale where the upper floor has many lunch options on offer. Several different food counters, wine bars, food shops are temptations for the best of Italian food choices. A nice truffle panini or a slice of pizza, salad, fresh cooked vegetables or plates of pasta.
2:30PM A bit of shopping starting at the Via Tornabuoni and surroundings. Scarves at Faliero Sarti and decorative paper gifts at Il Papiro make great souvenirs.
4:30PM When the heat and crowds gets to be too much, sitting on the terrace of Rivoire with views over the Piazza della Signoria to have and iced coffee or an iconic Negroni makes for a great tonic. Linger a while and take in La Dolce Vita.
6PM A spiritual visit to San Miniato al Monte to listen to the monks chant vespers is a rare and moving experience. After the service, take the short walk to Piazzale Michelangelo to look over one of the best views over Florence in the entire city.
7:3oPM Time for a glass of fine wine aperitivo at Le Volpe e l’uva in Oltrarno, one of the best wine bars in Florence before walking down the road to have Tuscan cuisine at the lively Santo Bevitore.
10PM A short and easy walk across the river I make my way back to the Savoy. Pausing briefly on the Ponte Santa Trinity to observe the Ponte Vecchio. Back at the Savoy I enjoy a nightcap glass of grappa at Irene before tumbling back into my cloud like bed and the enjoy the sweetest of dreams.
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.
The classic Negroni is making a comeback as the chic drink to be imbibing.
There is something about ordering a Negroni that announces the fact that you are a connoisseur of the finer things in life. Bartenders respect you when you order it and it exudes sophistication.
Made from 3 equal parts of Campari, Sweet Vermouth, and Gin it was created in Florence in 1919 at the Caffe Casoni (now Caffe Giacosa by Cavalli). As the story goes, Count Camillo Negroni wanted something a bit stronger than the then popular Americano drink and so the bartender substituted the soda water of the Americano with gin and a legend was born.
These days the torch of where to find the Negroni ‘originale’ has been passed on to Caffe Rivoire on Piazza della Signoria and there are some very good ones at Gilli on Piazza della Republica. Bartenders in the know will direct you to the St. Regis hotel where they have prepared vats of negronis ready to pour. There are also variations on the classic theme with a Negroni Sbagliato being quite popular, substituting the gin with prosecco. Whatever your choice, enjoying one is the height of fashionable cocktails.