When it comes to a secret bakery, follow your nose.
When the sun sets on the Ponte Vecchio and the tourists retreat to their hotel rooms, the city lights of Firenze bring a new kind of life and vibrancy to the streets. The birthplace of the Renaissance becomes a center of nighttime revelry and international exchange. Graceful Florentine women glide over cobblestone roads in stilettos with perfectly calculated steps while throngs of students take to the streets in masses.
Of course, a fun night out on the town isn’t complete without a quest for late night food. No matter what hour of the night, there is likely an open gelato stand, kebab vendor, or my personal favorite, a “secret” night bakery.
The night bakeries are not “secret” in the sense that they are unknown. Instead, it is their location that makes them secret, tucked away into the maze of streets. They are inconspicuous and hard to find. Without a doubt, the best way to find them is to follow your nose. When I first arrived in Florence, I had only heard rumors about the night bakeries. I didn’t find one until my friends and I took our route home along a street by the name of Via de Neri. While we were walking, we were suddenly struck by a delicious savory scent emanating from a back alley. We followed the scent to the source at Via Del Canto Rivolto. Upon arriving, we encountered another group of students standing in front of a frosted sliding glass door. As soon as they heard us, they turned around and all raised a finger to their lips. There was a large white sign that said “BE QUIET PLEASE.” Apparently the neighbors are not particularly appreciative of loud foreign exchange students gushing over late night treats.
After lightly knocking on the door, an Italian man emerged in a white baker’s apron. The students in front of us handed him a couple Euros in exchange for three large white bags filled with pastries. When it was my turn, I asked the baker for “something with chocolate.” In exchange for one euro, I received a warm croissant with gooey chocolate filling.
Initially, I was curious why the bakeries don’t start working until two in the morning. When I had a chance to ask a local, I discovered that the night bakeries have to supply all of the cafés of Florence with pastries to be served the next morning. By buying the pastries straight from the source, you are essentially buying wholesale croissants. For that reason, you might occasionally encounter a botched pastry that is slightly misshapen or burnt around the edges. Regardless, whatever the pastries look like, they will be fresh, satisfying, and delicious.
Article written by Lauren Goerz.