Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Gelato, Chocolate, and Panini Walking tour in Florence

In Situ: Gelato, Chocolate, and Panini Walking Tour of Florence

The Gelato, Chocolate, and Panini Walking Tour of Florence features the best of the best for gelato, chocolate, and Panini in Bella Firenze. 

If you aren’t’ coming to Italy anytime soon I suggest heading over to your favorite ice cream shop at home and listening as you enjoy a little ice cream.   If you are coming to Florence get ready for one of the best and tastiest walking tours of your life.

I recommend this tour for two people to share the goodness along the way.  We’ll be hitting 3 gelaterias, 3 chocolaterias, and 2 panini places.  I won’t tell you what to order, but I’ll let you know my favorites.

I’ll stress getting one small cup or cone of gelato and sharing.  At the first 2 chocolaterias get a piece or two and sharing.  Both Panini places get one panino and share, and finally at the last chocolateria, well, no holds barred…dive in, go nuts, order a bunch, take it back to your hotel, it is amazing.

1.     Starting at the Duomo our first stop is going to be the gelateria Grom.  Start the tour looking at the duomo on the campanile side with your back right up against the posts on Via Campanile.  The Campanile will be right in front of you and the baptistery just to your left.

2.     Turn around and walk one block up Via Campanile to the T intersection of Via Campanile and Via Dell’Oche.  Grom will be on your left at the corner.  It has a blue sign and there will likely be a line of locals and tourists waiting to order that goes around the corner.  Try any flavor you like.  At Grom I prefer their granita, but that is only in season during the summer.  If you are there any other time try their pistachio…it is heavenly.

3.     Take note of something.  Artisan gelato is places in little bins and isn’t overflowing into the glass case with fruit jammed into it.  The artisans are masters at creating gelato and keep it at exactly the right temperature to be enjoyed.  Like most food in Italy it is about the taste, not the appearance.  In the US food is marketed like the monster bowls of pasta you get at many Italian restaurants.  In Italy food is tasted and enjoyed.

4.     Now with you back to Grom and standing on Via Dell’Oche you are going to go right to Via dei Calzaiuoli.  At Via Calzaiuoli you’ll go left.

5.     Pass all those other people that didn’t take the time to listen to the How to Tour Italy Gelato, Chocolate, and Panini walking tour eating their sub-par gelato.  There are lots of gelateria on Via dei Calzaiuoli that will be filled with people.  Notice the overflowing tubs of mountainous gelato.  Smile, nod your head, snap a picture, and walk right by.

6.     OrsanMichelle will come up on your right.  As you walk by you’ll see a little door with a ticket window.  This is where you can buy same day tickets for the Uffizi and Academia I told you about last week.  The ticket window is right between Saint John the Baptist and Doubting Thomas.

7.     Look to your left.  You’ll see Via dei Cimatori.  3 doors down on the left side of Cimatori is one of Florence’s best Panini shops named I Fratellini.  You walk up, order your Panini and wine, and eat in the street.  There are no seats and you can place your wine on the little racks they provide against the wall in front of the shop.  Try anything here.  It’s all delicious.

8.     Head back towards Orsanmichelle and go left back onto Via Calzaiuoli and walk into Piazza Signoria.  Stop, take it in, even if you’ve seen it a hundred times the view from here is fantastic.  You will talk diagonally toward David and the corner of Palazzo Vecchio.  Check out my videos on the Loggio, and my other In Situ walking tours for lots of great information on all the great things you see in Piazza Signoria.

9.     At the corner where Palazzo Vacchio, The Loggia, and The Uffizi are you are going to go left onto Via di Ninna.  That puts the side of Palazzo Vecchio on your immediate left.

10. As you walk you’ll see a café and tabaccheria with a white sign on your left and a little non-descript Loggia on your left.  On the corner, on the loggia side you see a little fountain that is a face with a man sticking out his tongue with the water dripping from his tongue.  Walk straight between the café and Fountain now your are on Via dei Neri.  It twists and turns a bit, but the next Gelateria and chocolate shop are on Via dei Neri.  Stay the course and before you know it at Via dei Neri 22 on your left is my favorite Gelateria in Florence Gelaterian dei Neri.  Here I love the Fiori dei Latte and Chocolate Messicana (hot peppers, pistachio, and chocolate).  They have around 6 cups sizes to choose from.  Remember go small so you can enjoy the entire tour.  Share.

11. Directly across the street from Gelateria Neri is a little chocolatieria.  Pop in and buy a little something nice.  Lots to choose from here.  Go small…save room.

12. When you walk out of the chocolateria with Gelateria Neri in front of you you’ll go left back the way you came.  At the corner where you see the crazy little fountain you can cross the street and sit on the funky little bench in the small piazza.  This is actually the exit for the Uffizi.  You can sit and enjoy the goods from Neri and the chocolate shop.

13. OK.  With the bench you sat on to enjoy the best gelato in Florence you’ll go left and walk up Via dei Leone.  The loggia and crazy fountain will be on your right, then you’ll cross over Via dei Neri and the little café will be on your right.  Walk a couple blocks.  In the distance you’ll see a building on your right with some cool white statues above the doors.  Cross over to the right side of the street if you haven’t already.  You will soon see a bunch of Vespas parked, and the Bargello.  Walk right past the Bargello which will be on your right.  By the way the street name changed from Leone to Proconsolo.  Welcome to Italy.  That is why it’s tough to drive here.

14. Just after the Bargello you’ll pass café Rum and Pere (pear) and right next door Gusto Leo the restaurant.  Keep walking and just up the street from there is a little magazine/newspaper stand La Nazione.  That corner, the corner with the stand La Nazione is Via Borgo Degli Albizi.  Go right.

15. Walk up Via Borgo Degli Albizi until you come to a small piazza.  You’ll see the Lion’s Fountain Irish Pub on your left.  Just after that will be small archway.  Turn left into the archway and ½ way down on your right you’ll see in big red letters the word Vino.  That is the Panini shop named Antico Noe.  You’ve come the next Panini stop.  They offer 25 types of Panini, fresh made as you order.  I love number 14.   You can sit on the small tables out front in the shade from the archway.  This is a good stop to catch your breath. 

16. After you eat your Panini from Noe with Noe at your back go left back to the piazza.  Go left and just on your right about 20 feet is Vestri.  My second favorite gelateria in Florence.  Here I love the melon and white peach gelato.  They also make handmade chocolates.  Try the orange dipped in chocolate.  Crazy good. 

17. Sit on the little bench in front of Vestri.  After you enjoy the chocolate and gelato you’ll get up and go right.  You’ll pass a little flower stand in the piazza immediately on your left.  Stay straight and cross the street onto Via Pietrapiana.

18. As you look down up Via Pietrapiana you’ll see a pharmacy / farmacia.  Walk to the right of it.  After the pharmacy the street changes to Via dei Martiri del Popolo.  Stay on Martiri del Popolo until the streets ends at a T intersection.  There will be a little park on your right.  You’ll take a right at the park and T intersection onto Borgo Allegri.

19. Go up one block and on your left across the street you’ll see a store named Pepe Rosa.  It is pink.  You go left at this corner onto via dell Agnolo.  We are almost at the last stop.  Go up on block to Via Macci and take a right.

20. Look up the street about ½ down the block on your left.  You will see La Bottega del Cioccolato owned by the chef and dolci master Andrea Bianchini.  Slide the door open and let the wonderful aroma seep into your nose.  He’ll greet you warmly and describe his wonderful creations to you.  Pick one or two or three, he’ll wrap them up, and head to your hotel or favorite spot in Florence and enjoy.

21. Oh to get back to the city center from the Santa Croce area where you are now simply go left out of La Bottega del Cioccolato to Via Ghibellina which is the very next street.  Go right and keep walking until you get to the Bargello on Via del Proconsolo in the city center.

I hope you enjoyed the tour.  Best to walk it off a bit after you’ve enjoyed all the tastiest treats in Florence.  The best part of this tour is you can do it again and again or do a segment per day until you get through it.  I say dive in and do the whole thing in one walk.  Lots of great photo opps along the way and this tour will help you get your bearings in Florence too.

Don’t forget to look me up if you're here.  Shoot me an email at, and remember…Feed your soul.

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