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Strolling through cafes, tea houses and artisan chocolate shops in Florentine city center

Florence in winter seems a lady from old times: nestled between squares and historical courses like in a cashmere shawl, it smiles at the most freezing season of the year. The solemnity of the monuments does not seem touched by the icy breath of the wind, the soft lights of the historic center light up every street with a family warmth.

Walking in Florence is a pleasure even in winter, peeking through the windows waiting for Christmas gifts, closer each day.

On colder days, we suggest to alternate museum tours and unrestrained shopping with a warm cuddle: between historic cafés and artisan chocolate shops, every moment is the right one for a break. A sweet break, of course.


Historic cafes


In Piazza della Repubblica there are some of my favorite places ever. I’m a lover of well-made coffee, craft roasted and served in pretty porcelain coffee cups. And if I can combine it with a just baked sweet, my break becomes a real pleasure.

When you desire a special espresso or a creamy cappuccino in Florence city center, reach the Caffé Paszkowski, a café-concert with a charming allure, born in 1846. A daily stop for D'Annunzio and Prezzolini, the café survived the flood of Florence in 1966, earning the status of a national monument. The distinctive features here are the excellent pastries, an airy dehors and a melodious piano cheering up the hours of tourists and Florentines.

A short distance away, on the same side, you will find a Florence “parlor” since 1733. The Caffè Gilli, inaugurated in Via de Calzaiuoli, moved in Piazza della Repubblica in 1920, from there it radiates a magnetic charm even today. A friendly staff serves quality coffee and pastries on the original wooden counter decorated with bronzes, all around you can breathe a refined Liberty style ... a real dream!

The third vertex of Piazza della Repubblica is the Giubbe Rosse, the most prestigious literary café in Florence. Born in 1896, at the beginning of the twentieth century it became a favorite place for Futurists. Artists and writers such as Montale and Pratolini elected it the seat of cultural gatherings and heated debates. If you love literature, sit at the tables overlooking the square and start your day with a steaming cappuccino, wrapped in an atmosphere of times gone by.


The tea temples


If you prefer tea and fragrant infusions to coffee, in Florence you will can fulfil your British nature all year round. Florian, in via del Parione, is a refined bar of Venetian origin where you can spend pleasant moments comforted by a cup of tea or chocolate. All accompanied by sweet and savory delicacies: from sandwiches and English scones to more traditional pastries.

Proudly Florentine, instead, is La Via del té, a company producing blends with international flavors. The brand has also two nice tea rooms, a little one in the area of Sant’Ambrogio, a wide one, hosted in the Palazzo Frescobaldi in Santo Spirito district. Both seem catched from Victorian-era English novels and enchant travelers from all over the world. Here are many blends to choose from, to combine with butter scones and finger food with chutney and cheese.

If you have the opportunity to move from the historic center, reach Dolci Pensieri in Cure district, a pastry shop smelling of home and family hugs, open even after dinner. The convivial atmosphere and the extreme kindness of the owner invite you to linger in chatting in front of a steaming cup and a slice of cake.


Artisan chocolate shops


Rivoire stands in Piazza della Signoria and, in my opinion, offers the best hot chocolate in Florence. Maybe for the refined environment, maybe for the wonderful view of Palazzo Vecchio enjoyed from the dehors, this is an unmissable stop of my winter in Florence. When I want to spoil myself, I also add abundant whipped cream: an irresistible gluttony.

A few steps from the Duomo, in a sheltered and precious corner, discover the Arte del Cioccolato. Roberto Catinari, master chocolatier from Pistoia, offers innovative chocolate and sweet wine tastings in this cocoa boutique. Guided by another chocolate genius, Vestri, located along Borgo Albizi, is worth a visit. In summer, you can try tasty ice creams, in winter instead creamy pralines and an infinite variety of chocolate. All strictly handmade.

A few steps from our 4-star hotel, I recommend the Cioccolateria Ballerini, in Borgo Ognissanti, as last, delicious, break before coming back to your room. Here you can taste creamy hot chocolates, pralines from special cocoa blends and the most famous Tuscan sweets, different depending on the time of year.


Between a cup of tea and a hot chocolate, satisfy also your eyes: at the Rivoli Boutique Hotel the nativity scenes by the artist Claudio Ladurini are on display, awaited by the great public as in the past editions. The free exhibition, open from 8 December 2019 to 6 January 2020, intends to collect donations in favour of the Tommasino Bacciotti Foundation. Each nativity scene is an original creation, making people reflecting through the combination of actuality and tradition. Do not miss the room dedicated to Santa Claus Village, set up by Salvo Sciuto.


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