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History, within history.


The oldest historical café in Florence


“La Bottega dei pani dolci”

t is 1733, and the industrial revolution is in its infancy. But here we are talking about know-how, working hands, craftsmanship. While the Medici were still in charge of the city, the Gilli family - of Swiss origin - moved to Florence, the pearl of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, and was enchanted. The Gilli opened their Bottega dei pani dolci in Via dei Calzaiuoli. The Duomo is a stone's throw away, the extraordinary beauty of the city blends with the fragrance of the hot and fragrant specialities prepared every day. It is the beginning of a very long love story.

Via dei Calzaiuoli

n 1843 Via dei Calzaiuoli was extended. Gilli does the same. The large room overlooking the Florentine promenade street is no longer sufficient, the spaces are enlarged. The carriages stop copiously on their return from a tour of the Cascine. The Café begins to be the place where curious and intellectuals, gourmets and scholars, people and personalities meet and compare notes. The historical and intellectual moment is vibrant, intense, alive. The real and conceptual liveliness of this historical moment is tangible. The city grows, Gilli grows.

Maison Gilli

In 1893, Palazzo Levi - designed by the architect Boccini and a symbolic building in Piazza Vittorio Emanuele - became the headquarters of Fondiaria, Florence's largest insurance company. In the same year, Gilli moved closer to what was to become his home and obtained a licence to sell liquor. On 22 December, La Nazione headlines: Maison Gilli. In Piazza Vittorio Emanuele, in the elegant palazzo of the Chiari family, a splendid new shop has been opened selling patisseries, liqueurs and other fine goods. The shop window bears the inscription 'Pasticceria, Confettureria e Liquori'. Nothing is missing, points out La Nazione. And it is true.

Piazza della Repubblica

It was 1917 when Gilli moved to the place that for more than a century has been the sweet destination of those who love haute patisserie, chocolate and quality sweet treats. The early 1900s saw the birth of a great invention: the espresso machine. Gilli became a Caffetteria and what was then called Piazza Vittorio Emanuele became a unique and unmistakable meeting place. These were years of great ferment and Gilli was the salon where painters such as Ardengo Soffici, men of literature such as Marinetti, and artists of all kinds met. And people, many of them, who choose to come back and return to the only Florentine Art Nouveau café, enjoying the beauty of Florence, immersed in the beauty of Gilli amidst Murano crystal chandeliers, precious marbles and charming frescoes.

American girl in Italy

A few decades later, Caffè Gilli is the setting for the most famous photo taken by Ruth Orkin for her project 'Don't Be Afraid To Travel Alone'. A young girl walks alone through the city, passing a group of men who look at her admiringly. There are those who observe her, those who probably let slip a compliment and those who smile at her whilst seated on a Lambretta, one of the first ones produced. An iconographic image, taken in front of an iconographic venue.

The coffee of the Florentines

In 1990 a new ownership chooses Caffè Gilli and the objective is immediately clear. Caffè Gilli must once again become the café of the Florentines, a fundamental cornerstone of the city's social and interpersonal life. This is the spirit with which the Valenza family takes over the café, with the intention of restoring the place so dear to Florence and its citizens, returning it to its original splendor.

Gilli, a cultural and environmental landmark

The undeniable heritage of Caffè Gilli meant that in 1991, after already being recognized as a historical café and part of the Association of Historical Italian Cafés, it was declared a cultural landmark. Indeed, whoever crosses its threshold remains in awe in the presence of the wooden paneling, the marvelous clock still cared for by one of the best Florentine watchmakers, and the majestic walnut and marble counter. And also in front of the shop window displays overflowing with goodness.

The avant-garde of the new millennium

A new millennium, new goals, new achievements. Driving the path of Caffè Gilli: top quality. Unmistakable, unmissable, unequalled. A value carried forward with pride and commitment, always choosing and pursuing high craftsmanship. Caffè Gilli strongly affirms its essence: a historical avant-garde establishment, where the past and the contemporary find a unique dimension.
In 2019, the Gambero Rosso guide dedicated to the Bars of Italy confirms Caffè Gilli among the best venues at national level, the highest acknowledgement, sealed by the awarding of the “Tre Chicchi and the Tre Tazzine”. The award celebrates those who know how to distinguish themselves for the cafeteria offer and for the gastronomic and beverage proposal. An award that is confirmed and reconfirmed every year, from 2020 to 2023. Because Caffè Gilli is undoubtedly beautiful, but also and above all is good.

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