It’s difficult, even for the most unsuspecting, not to notice, during their walks through the center of Florence, the great Caffè Gilli that dominates the entire Piazza della Repubblica with its windows and its dehors. Those who, intrigued by the plethora of desserts displayed in the shop window or by the usual coming and going that makes its doors open and close constantly, should decide to enter, would be catapulted into a world apart, where all the luxury of the Belle Époque still survives without having lost even a ray of its original light.
Entering you will find, on your right, the always crowded area of the counter, the central nucleus of the cafè, where every day hundreds of Florentines and not decide to take their coffee, enjoy a quick aperitif or order one of the delicious pastries to take away. But it’s on your left that the wonder is hidden: a large hall full of boiseries, stucco and crystal chandeliers, full of elegant details, that will make you look like the tea-room of some duchess of the past.
Gilli has a long story. It begins when the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Gian Gastone, the last of the Medici, commanded the city. In 1733, the Swiss family Gilli opened a bakery shop in via de’ Calzaiuoli, which immediately became a success among the Florentine aristocracy. Almost a hundred years later the shop moved to Via degli Speziali, while on the threshold of the 20th century it was installed in the current location of Piazza della Repubblica, where it still remains.
During its pluri-centennial life, Caffè Gilli has lost nothing of its original quality. Even today its confectionery production is considered among the best in Italy, if not in the world, with an offer that traces all the best of the rich Tuscan confectionery tradition, keeping steady and high the standards of craftsmanship and quality of raw ingredients, but without renouncing the most modern and contemporary methods offered by the recent evolution of gastronomic techniques.
In addition to the patisserie and cafè, there is also a restaurant, with seasonal menus rich in Italian and international specialties, which can be enjoyed in the sumptuous dining room or, on sunny days (even in winter!), in the large covered dehors that, even if doesn’t have the magnificent history and decorations of the interiors, will allow you to enjoy your lunch enjoying a magnificent view of the square. The offer of the restaurant, then, is added to the cellar, with a very select and really excellent wine list.
Thanks to the distinction of its Art Nouveau environments and the great results achieved by the team of professionals always working behind the counter and around the tables, the Caffè is also an excellent space for setting parties, receptions, institutional and corporate events. But the best way to enjoy it is simply to enter, looking beyond the throngs of tourists, and enjoy the feeling of a timeless style and a quality that for almost three centuries does not seem to set.