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Sipping on History: Florence Cafe’s with Rich Backgrounds

Gilli Cafe Pastry

Stepping into a Florentine cafe for the first time can be an intimidating experience to say the least. Ordering is different, customs are different, and the products themselves are different. So once again, we’re here to fill in the blanks.

First off, a few ground rules for your cafe endeavor …

  • When looking for a cafe (if you’re not taking our advice of where to go) then you should know that “bar” is the Italian word for “cafe”
  • You’re going to need to order at the register then bring your order slip to the bar for them to make your drink, not the other way around
  • It’s not typical in Italy to get a cappuccino after noon. You can likely find somewhere to help you if you’re dying for espresso, but this is not authentic to traditional Italian culture

So, you’ve got how to order, now you need the “where”. Being that Florence is full of rich history, it’s only right we found 3 bars that not only serve great espresso, they also have a history weaving through that of the rest of the city. Caffe Gilli, Caffe Le Giubbe Rosse, and Pasticceria Robiglio are three historical cafes in Florence with the past, location, and caffeine you’re on the hunt for.

Gilli Cafe PastryCaffe Gilli has been a staple in Florence since it’s opening in 1733. Over the years the cafe has been a meeting point for intellectuals, politicians, artists, writers, and is now a Florentine “must see”. Because of the passing of the last member of the Gilli Family, the cafe has new owners that relocated it to the popular Piazza Della Republica in the 1920’s.  Now, the stained glass, marble counter, and fresco covered cafe is a step into the past unlike any of the museums you ‘ll be seeing in Florence.

Across the square from Gilli is another Florentine staple, Gran Caffe Le Giubbe Rosse. Opened in 1896 by the Reininghaus brothers from Germany, this cafe also has a strong history of being a meeting place for intellectuals and artists alike. Over time, there’s been some debate as to whether the name originated from the red outfits worn by the waiters, or the mispronunciation of the original German name of the bar. Now the cafe and restaurant hosts cultural and artistic events and maintains its place as a cultural staple in Florence’s history. While sipping your cappuccino, be sure to take a look at the art and writings that cover the walls, giving you a look into the rich history of the business.

Having opened in 1928, Bar Pasticceria Robiglio has a little less history than the previous two. But, what they lack in roman numerals above the door, they make up for in quality traditional treats.Still owned by the original family, the Torta Campagnola can be found in the houses just as it was two generations ago. Though we suggest the original location on Via dei Servi 112r that has restored furnishings to replicate the original atmosphere, there are also two more locations at Via Tosinghi and Viale Lavagnini.

Once you’ve got that much needed caffeine in your system, it’s time to see the sights! Coming from the most historical cafe’s where all of Florence’s artists and intellectuals gathered back in the day, it’s only logical to then trace their footsteps to the art they produced after all that discussion and debating over their coffee. For a tour of the Academia, home to tons of Florence’s best art, click here!

Happy caffeinating!

Caroline Womack

Cafe Address Hours
Caffe Gilli Piazza della Repubblica 39R, 50123, Florence, Italy Wed – Mon 7:30 am – 1:30 am
Gran Caffe Le Giubbe Rosse Piazza della Repubblica 13-14r, Florence, Italy Sun – Sat 10:00am-1:00 am
Bar Pasticceria Robiglio Via de ‘Tosinghi 11 / r | Via de ‘Medici 16 / r, 50123, Florence, Italy Sun – Sat 8:00 am – 12:00 am