Piazza Risorgimento, 6, Zona Risorgimento
If you have time in the morning for more than a café at a bar (the Italian version of breakfast), come to this charming little spot in the Porta Monforte area. You’re here mainly for the prosciutto-filled brioche, a specialty of the house, which is so good that even busy Milanese locals will break their no-breakfast rule to sit down and have one (or two) of these freshly baked treats.
Il Massimo del Gelato
Via Lodovico Castelvetro, 18, Bullona
In a city with so many gelato choices, it’s worth doing some research before committing. One of our favorites is Il Massimo, just north of Chinatown. It’s a bit off the beaten path, but once you try it, you’ll understand why it’s worth the trek. All forty flavors are made fresh every day—including several variations on chocolate (dark chocolate, chocolate cherry, chocolate with cinnamon, etc).
Via Spadari, 9, Cinque Vie
One of Europe’s finest food emporiums, Peck has been offering all manner of quality prepared foods, produce, meats, pastas, and cheeses since opening in 1883. Even if you don’t come to shop, take a walk around to see what the best Italian ingredients look like. Afterward, head upstairs to the on-site restaurant and bar for some risotto and osso bucco.
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Centro Storico
At this historic, nineteenth-century bakery, cakes, cornetto, biscotti, chocolates, and tarts are displayed like jewelry behind glass-covered casing. And the sense of history is strong—the bakery has operated continuously here since 1824. A second location opened a few years ago in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, outfitted in green jacquard silk floral wallpaper and velvet armchairs and sofas that feel both welcoming and opulent.
Largo Isarco 2, San Luigi
Since opening in 2015 in Fondazione Prada, this Wes Anderson-–designed café has almost become synonymous with Milan—at least, for those in the worlds of fashion and design. Stepping through its doors feels like walking onto one of Anderson’s film sets, with jukeboxes, Steve Zissou (a character from The Life Aquatic)–themed pinball machines, pastel Formica chairs, and terrazzo floors that all give off a kind of retro, 1950s sense of nostalgia. It’s certainly one of the prettiest spots you’ll find for a biscotti and espresso break.
Gelateria La Carraia
Piazza Nazario Sauro, 25/r, Palazzo Pitti
There are no artificial flavorings or colorings in the gelato at La Carraia, just the concentrated nectar of the best fruits, nuts, and herbs of the season. La Carraia’s display is enough to lure you in, with its creamy mounds of colorful options. Go for a more unusual one, like torta della nonna (“grandma’s cake,” a regional pine nut dessert), or the best one, ricotta. Best of all, the small degustazione (taster cones) are a steal at only one euro.
Piazza Lorenzo Ghiberti, Santa Croce
If you’ve enjoyed dinner at one of Florence’s better restaurants, there’s a good chance the produce came from this market. Ten minutes from Piazza del Duomo, Mercato Sant’Ambrogio is open daily and is the ideal spot to fill up on vegetables and fruit—or a panino from Semel, which we heartily recommend—if you’ve maxed out on pasta but not on carbs in general. The nearby Enoteca Sant’Ambrogio is a wonderful spot to taste some bold Tuscan reds or spend the late afternoon after browsing the market.
Piazza della Signoria, 5/R, Duomo
Breakfast your local café in Italy is a ritual as social as it is caffeinating. The centuries-old habit has led to the proliferation of especially beautiful ones, as well as grand salons all across the country. In Florence, no spot is more elegant than Rivoire. The feeling is very old-world, with a mahogany bar, white tablecloths, and suited-up waiters flying around with silver platters held high above their heads. Take a seat in front and settle in among the elderly Florentines with their newspapers and machiattos, or sip a café standing at the bar as most locals do. In the colder months, wrap up and brave the outdoors with a view of the statue of David (disclaimer: The statue outside is a stand-in for the real deal, which is safely inside the museum) and the Accademia while savoring Rivoire’s ridiculously indulgent hot chocolate.
Piazza Lorenzo Ghiberti, 44, Santa Croce
A hole-in-the-wall hatch in a corner of the Sant’Ambrogio market, Semel’s proprietor—the very dapper and thoroughly Florentine Marco Paparozzi—turns out hundreds of perfect panini (the perfect late lunch). Don’t go expecting a sliver of prosciutto and some cheese wedged between two slices of bread. Paparozzi’s panini are the most sophisticated combinations of Tuscan ingredients: Wild boar (cinghiale) and broccoli, sweet pear and truffled Pecorino…you get the idea. Order off the blackboard then settle in to watch the theater of Florence’s busiest market from your curbside seat.
Via Giuseppe Verdi, 36//R, Santa Croce
Salumeria Verdi is the Florentine equivalent of a deli. But this is a city with high gastronomic standards, and what you get here are no ordinary sandwiches. Italy in general and Tuscany in particular have an extremely varied bread tradition and this Salumeria showcases close to all of them. There’s schiacciata (a type of squashed, doughy Tuscan flatbread), piadina (an even flatter bread that you almost treat as a wrap), and the ubiquitous ciabatta (a very airy, white loaf); all are stuffed full of the region’s best meat and cheese by proprietor Pino and his family.
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