October 10, 2011

The {SECRET} Secret Bakeries of Florence

If you've spent any length of time in Florence you've probably heard the whisperings about the secret bakeries. A few are not so secret but still remain out of the tourist's eye so the hunt for them late into the night is a popular excursion for students and Italians alike. These industrial bakeries turn up the oven in the middle of the night to cook the pastries for the next day that fill the shelves of the city's cafes. Some will let a hot, fresh pastry or two slide off the bakery sheet if in return you allow them to slide a euro into their apron. It may be illegal but the police like their bombolone here too so they may be standing in line with you too...

After enjoying dinner and dancing at YAB, my friends and I set out a little past two a.m. in search of Pasticceria Vinci & Bongini. Set in the heart of Florence's bar district off Via dei Benci, this well-known secret bakery receives quite the diverse crowd. When you turn into the quiet neighborhood surrounding Piazza Peruzzi, you'll follow the smell into the dimly-lit side streets until you reach Via del Canto Rivolto, 2. We found a small group crowded around a sliding glass door with a simple sign that read "Please be quiet". Contrary to most stories, the baker smiled at my broken Italian, letting me change the group's order three times before retreating back into the bakery for ten minutes to fill two fresh canoli shells and stuff two steaming nutella cornette.

Four euros later and we were on our way! My cornetta oozed melted nutella down my hands. We unanimously agreed the nutella cornette hit the spot and while the canoli is delicious, Florentines simply aren't known for their canoli.

On a sugar high, we excitedly decided the bakery on the corner near our house  must hold it's own secret bakery and started wandering back in search of more tantalizing aromas. As we headed down Via dei Pepi from Santa Croce the smell resurfaced. We turned left, it disappeared. We reversed our direction and stumbled upon another side street with a huddled group of Italians around a brightly lit open door. Yep, we smelled our way to a truly secret bakery! My nose guided but I think we were somewhere off of Via del Fico.

No Americans in sight, the Italians ushered us up the steps to the door so we could watch the bakers produce their craft. This bakery offered five mini pizzas for 1.50 Euro but we chose to devour {HUGE} cornette con cioccolati over conversation about more unpublished secret bakeries. What a night! Snug in my bed {a little past 3:30 am}, visions of sugarplums danced in my head...

Florence's Secret Bakeries:
  1. Pasticceria Vinci & Bongini {Santa Croce}-Walk down Via dei Benci towards the river, making a right onto Pizza Peluzzi. Quiet down as you make the first left then first right onto Via del Canto Rivalto. You'll know you arrived when you see the post-bar crowd crowded around a sliding glass door that reads "Please be quiet". If you're the first one there knock softly on the door until a {most likely gruff} baker appears and order in Italian {try a Cornetta con Nutella}.
  2. Laboratoria di Pasticceria Arrighi {Pizza dell'Indipendenza/SMN Train Station}-On the corner of via delle Ruote and via San Gallo. Read the review on Studentsville.
  3. Il Re della Foresta {Piazza Giorgini}-Outside the city center, this hole in the wall supposedly serves up some of the best bombolone in Florence. Read the review on Studentsville.
  4. The {Truly Secret} Bakery {Santa Croce}-Facing the Santa Croce, take the street directly to the left of the church and make the first left onto Via delle Pinzochere. The bakery will be on your right but be extremely quiet and respectful or they will not serve you.
  5. The {Truly Secret} Family Bakery {Santa Croce}- Facing Santa Croce, take the street directly to the left of the church and make the third left onto Via de' Macci. The bakery will be on your left and the door is covered by caged bars. You can see into the back where they bake and after a wave or two they'll come open the door. Again be extremely quiet and respectful or they won't serve you.
Photos Courtesy of A Room with a View

1 comment:

Gabriella Mary Angela said...

I just stumbled upon this post and I am hoping to indulge in some of Florence's secret bakeries in a few weeks! Thanks for the recommendations!