“Un cappuccio e un brioche, per favore”
The words I said without fail, every day for a year when I lived in Italy. The simplest of breakfasts and less than €3 if you go to the right place.
A cappuccino after 11am is a big no for Italians. It’s a menu choice strictly for the mornings, the rest of the day fuelled by espressos (“un caffè”).
For us Londoners, we often resign ourselves to a Sainsbury’s croissant or a multipack of mini pain aux chocolat which are already dry by the time we open the pack.
Not in Italy.
Brioche is pretty much art, and if you want to make sure you get the best pastries in town whilst you’re in Florence, you have to go where the locals go, and order as the Fiorentini do.
During our stay in Florence, our AirBNB host gave us some local recommendations, including La Loggia degli Albizi.
La Loggia degli Albizi
La Loggia is tucked away, unassuming, on a corner of one of the most heavily trafficked areas of Florence.
Hundreds of pastries sit behind the glass, waiting to be picked. Brioche con crema, con cioccolato were our first picks, ordered with two cappuccini, and two freshly squeezed orange juices (“spremute”).
Two additions were an apricot pastry and a lemon brioche, which was citric but crumbly too.
The winner at La Loggia was no doubt the brioche con cioccolato – true, deep cioccolato fondente escaped from the pastry as we bit into them.
Eating pastries isn’t always (ever) elegant.
The cappuccino made with soya milk (“latte di soia”) was actually tastier than the regular cappuccino, mainly because it was a lot stronger than the regular one.
The cappuccino was very frothy, much more than half the cup was froth. So if you like it that way, la Loggia could be for you.
If you like your coffee a little stronger and want to be more adventurous with pastries, try Finisterrae.
We stumbled across Finisterrae, though not literally.
The other breakfast recommendation our host gave was – unsurprisingly – closed on the Sunday morning. Two years living outside of Italy and we were already forgetting that Sundays had a law of their own.
A quick Google led us to Finisterrae, a little place renowned for their pastries, right next to Santa Croce. The piazza was quietly getting busier on this Sunday morning.
The leather stores were opening their doors as we walked across to Finisterrae, and there are plenty, as Piazza Santa Croce is also home to the Scuola del Cuoio.
With a neighbour like this, it’s unsurprising that Finisterrae gets busy. Coupled with the charming uniforms the baristas wear, and the unending selection of pastries on offer, it’s easy to see why Finisterrae is a neighbourhood favourite for both Italians and visitors to Florence.
We chose from the smaller pastries (“piccoli pezzi”), mainly so we could try more of them.
Our selection: two fruit tarts, one with kiwi and strawberry and the other with mandarin slices. A glazed brioche, syrupy and sticky, topped with cream and raspberries.
One with chantilly cream topped with cocoa nibs, almost like a classic eclair. And our two favourites, pistachio with chocolate.
The brioche was filled with a deep, dark chocolate fondant and encased in a dark chocolate shell with pistachio crumble.
The pasticceria at Finisterrae really is something else, but it is also known as one of the best restaurants in the Santa Croce area, amplified by the unbeatable views of the church’s facade.
Buon colazione 🥐🇮🇹