5 great cafes you can't miss in Florence
There's a bookstore, a library, a colonial style bistrot, a place that's very old and another place that's even older.
Coffee is a religion in Italy. It's not important or relevant or significant. It's everything. Espresso is the metronome, the chronograph and calendar of Italian people who use it to keep track of time and date and things to do. If days were a wristwatch, espresso would be the mechanical movement.
Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash
Next time you're in Florence, finding good coffee is going to be a priority. It's hard to go wrong because even when it's not very good, it is still rather nice (kinda like pizza). Anyway, since I drink 7 or 8 espressos a day what I thought I'd do is list 5 coffee spots you might wanna consider when you're here.
Caffè Gilli is one of the oldest bars in Italy, and the oldest in Florence by a considerable margin. It opened in 1733, originally designed as a bakery by the Swiss family that founded it, back when Italy wasn't even a country and Florence was run by the House of Medici and the capital of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany monarchy.
Today it is a high-end establishment and its clientele is a mixture of wealthy locals over 60 years of age and tourists. Honestly? There are other, better places you might want to check out if you're looking for food or drinks but, if you ever go to Florence, you must pay a visit for a quick espresso. This is a piece of history.
Caffè Concerto Paszkowski
Were it not for Caffè Gilli next door, you'd probably call Caffè Concerto Paszkowski "an old bar". It originally opened in 1846, it was actually a brewery back then, and it was later acquired by a Polish-born Florentine family that re-opened it and changed a few things in 1903.
Over the years, Paszkowski has successfully managed to stay relevant and in tune with the times. It still attracts locals, both young and old, as well as tourists. It can do a bit of everything. There are live shows with piano and live bands, and you can eat lunch at the supremely expensive dehor restaurant outside but you can also have a simple and delicious €3 euro croissant+coffee breakfast or a €10 happy hour aperitif at the counter.
I can quite openly admit that La Ménagère , yeah I know the name isn't exactly Italian or Florentine, owes its popularity to its decor and design. It is one of the most "instagrammable" spots in Italy but this is actually irrelevant because it's a fine establishment serving good food and brewing nice coffee with "locally-sourced" beans. And that's what matters.
La Ménagère is an old brick warehouse that's been converted into a garden and a restaurant and it's open more or less around the clock. You can have breakfast, lunch, dinner and drinks until 2 in the morning.
La Cité - Libreria Caffè
La Cité is a book library that's also a cafe, or maybe a cafe that's also a book library. It is designed as a library, and it serves the purpose of a library. You can sit on the wooden chairs or the vintage leather sofas and couch and have a drink and read a book.
Like many other similar venues, La Cité is a hybrid, meaning it's both a daytime cafe when you can have espresso and a nighttime place for drinks.
Feltrinelli is an Italian publishing company founded in 1954. They also own several stores and locations in Italy and they've recently started opening up cafes inside the bookstore itself. These spaces are usually called RED Feltrinelli.
It's a no-nonsense place in terms of decor and lighting but is has gourmet-style menus. It serves drinks and food and it is mostly utilized by people who just want to have a coffee while also reading a book or a newspaper. And because Feltrinellis are modern and proper bookstores, you'll find anything from travel guides to best-selling novels. It is a lovely atmosphere in a great location because RED is located in Piazza della Repubblica, one of the oldest and most iconic squares in Florence.