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Florence's historic cafes

20th-century intellectuals gathered around the same tables making the city unique today

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Elegance and quality are two constants in Florence's commercial world. The city's historic cafes are key players in Florence's more recent history: literary magazines, artistic movements, and great poetry emerged around the tables of the following locations, which gave rise to inspiration, collaboration and intellectual debates that deeply marked the city. Today these cafes are top stops for tourists hoping to truly understand Florence's every side. 
Caffé Bianchi

This cafe dates to 1920 when Pasquale Bianchi opened a mixed business selling tobacco, pharmaceuticals, liquors and coffee at piazza S. Felice, 8r. In 1929 his son Bruno moved the business a few doors down to 5r, adding wine and pastries to the product selection and upgrading the furnishings (many of which are conserved today). The new location even roasted its own beans, filling the neighborhood with its delightful aroma. In the 1960s, Bruno's son, Luciano, took over the business, which he and his son Jacopo still operate today. The "Caffé Bianchi" name was officialized in 1996 and the rooms were restored to their original style: the rose-marble bar, the door, the wrought iron sign and back room décor. 

Caffé Bianchi
Piazza San Felice, 5/r

Caffé Concerto Paszkowski

Inaugurated in 1846 as "Caffè Centrale," the cafe passed to the Polish Paskowski family in 1904, transforming it into a birreria. In the first decades of the 20th century it served as a meeting spot for scholars and artists involved in the La Voce, Lacerba and Il Selvaggio magazines. In 1947, in the years after the war, the space was redesigned and modernized, making it a favorite among intellectuals, including the poets of the Hermetic movement. Today Paszkowski is still one of Florence's most elegant cafes, known internationally for its evening music concerts. The beautiful, early 20th-century rooms also host conferences and fashion shows. The cafe was declared a National Monument in 1991.

Caffé Concerto Paszkowski
Piazza d. Repubblica, 31-35/r

Caffé Latteria Caffellatte
Having opened its doors in 1920, this old cafe was once a milk shop authorized to "mix coffee and milk" in a former butcher shop dating to 1840. The shelves, hooks, counter and marble walls and floor date to the original butchery. In 1984, a new owner, Vanna Casati, began serving classic Italian-style breakfast with bowls of caffè latte, bread, butter, marmalade and homemade cakes and pastries. The cafe still serves as the local milk shop, but has also become a destination for many thanks to its excellent organic, vegetarian products and lovely atmosphere, including students and faculty from the nearby University of Florence literature department.

Caffé Latteria Caffellatte
Via degli Alfani, 39/r
Caffé Le Giubbe Rosse
Founded as the “Birreria F.lli Reininghaus” in 1847, the Giubbe Rosse soon became a meeting point for Florence's German community, while the Florentines took to calling it the "giubbe rosse" (or "red jackets") thanks to the odd uniform worn by waiters. The international atmosphere, including dailies available for browsing, soon attracted Florence's young intellectuals, who spurred the creation of literary magazines and artistic movements in its rooms. Its regular visitors were the likes of Papini, Soffici, Palazzeschi, Gadda, Gatto, Pratolini, Vittorini, and Montale. When the cafe was reopened after the war in 1947, it suffered from the city's decline and progressive marginalization. In 1991 the cafe was taken over by the Smalzi brothers and is finally regaining its role in the city as a site for cultural exchange.

Caffé Le Giubbe Rosse
Piazza della Repubblica, 13/r
Gilli

In 1733, the Swiss Gilli family opened "The Sweet Bread Shop" in via Calzaiuoli, which later moved to via degli Speziali in 1860. The cafe was taken over by another Swiss family in 1890, the Frizzoni, while in the 1920s, it finally moved to its current location and became the meeting spot for the period's artists, including Marinetti, Soffici, Boccioni, Carrà and Palazzeschi. The furniture and decorations, conserved in their original form, date to this bustling time; Gilli is the only Belle-Époque cafe still around in Florence. Don't miss seeing the main bar, decorated with bronze neo-classical designs created by the famous Coppedè workshop.

Gilli
Piazza d. Repubblica, 36-39/r

Pasticceria Bar Ruggini

Giuseppe Ruggini began making biscuits and fresh pastries in via de' Neri in 1914; in no time at all, his business became one of the most popular in Florence. His skill and passion were passed down through generations until Riccardo, the third Ruggini pastry-maker who still offers fresh-baked pastries, refined pralines and chocolates to his customers today. The business was enlarged in 1989, located in a historic building covered by a brick vaulted ceiling. The oven dates to the 1960s and still produces excellent products.

Pasticceria Bar Ruggini
Via dei Neri 76/r

Rivoire

Enrico Rivoire, Torinese Royal chocolatier, opened his chocolate factory here in 1872, the spot where Florentines first learned how to taste chocolate and eat traditional Savoy "chocolate in a cup." The shop quickly became famous thanks to both its excellent chocolates and its premiere location. In 1977, Rivoire passed into the hands of the Bardelli brothers, maintaining all of the original features that characterized its production: from toasting cocoa beans to creating original products. The chocolatiers offer a variety of specialties made from original recipes with a high cocoa percentage guaranteed. The early 20th-century furnishings are beautiful, but are nothing compared to tasting one of their lip-smacking chocolates: don't miss enjoying your chocolate at a table facing Palazzo della Signoria tinted by the colors of Florence’s golden sunsets.

Rivoire
Piazza della Signoria, 5/r

Robiglio
After working as a baker and pastry chef in Milan and Verona, the Piemontese Knight, Pietro Robiglio, opened his first shop in Florence in 1928, quickly attracting a refined and loyal clientele. His son, Pier Luigi, maintained the original artisanal products and Pietro's grandson, Edoardo, continued the family tradition. Today Robiglio is a modern pastry store where you can still taste specialties of the past: the "Torta Campagnola," the "Fruttodoro" and the "Gallette al latte." Part of the original design was reconstructed using the original design as a base, which was unfortunately damaged in the 1966 flood. You'll find additional branches in via Tosinghi and viale Lavagnini.

Robiglio
Via dei Servi 112/r
Vivoli Piero Il Gelato

Serafino Vivoli founded his milk shop in 1929, which soon became a pleasant meeting spot for sipping coffee and buying whipped cream on Sundays. In 1932, the Vivoli brothers (Serafini enlisted the help of his brother, Raffaello) decided to move their talents to gelato making. The naturally-formed ice originally came from Saltino, above Vallombrosa, where it was produced in the winter and conserved until the summer in iceboxes, before being brought to Florence in the night to avoid melting in the sun. In the 1960s and '70s, Raffaello's son, Piero, brought the gelateria to the height of its fame, as it's been mentioned in guide books almost as much as Florence's Renaissance monuments. The gelateria is still run by the Vivoli family, which also opened an artisanal pastry bakery along with the gelateria.

Vivoli Piero Il Gelato
Via Isola delle Stinche, 7/r

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Food and Wine