Via de’ Guicciardini, 3/5
We were craving cake after our stroll around the wonderful Boboli Gardens. As luck would have it just before you get to the Ponte Vecchio a shop filled with the sweet stuff is just on the corner. Caffe Neri sells a variety of top rate Italian sugar creations with many traditional items. I really wanted to try a Sicilian favourite. The Cannoli – a ricotta and citrus cream filled fried pasta shell.
Missing the morning rush for espresso and pastries was fortunate as this place does both very well indeed. One thing that shocked me about Caffe Neri were the prices. Many places within spitting distance of the Ponte Vecchio and major other sights think nothing of charging you €3 (£2.76) for a can of fanta. Not so here at Neri where a Cannoli costs €3 (£2.76) elsewhere in the city you could be looking upwards in the region of €5 (£4.60).
The friendly service behind the counter was a nice touch as was their ability with English, helping out my poor Italian. The shop was quiet thankfully giving us time to narrow down our selection from the vast range of tempting cakes and pastries. We settled on the Cannoli and a Sfoglia at €1.20 (£1.10) – which I may have confused with Sfogliatella, the Neapolitan flakey pastry filled with ricotta and fruit.
We decided to take our sweet treats over to the waterside to gaze at the view of the Ponte Vecchio and have a decent background for our photos. Tucking into the Cannoli it was delicious. A slightly chalky texture from the ricotta but in no way unpleasant. The burst of orange and lemon in the cream was superb against the crisp pasta shell. We never really get Cannoli in the U.K. It’s a real shame. The Sfoglia was like a folded laminated pastry doughnut in many ways with a sugar coating and a custard filling. Absolutely delicious – possibly the go-to snack for any Italian ditching their diet plans.
Caffe Neri enjoys a prime position beside the Ponte Vecchio and is easily reached from most areas of central Florence. If your hotel doesn’t provide breakfast then this is definitely a great option to start your day of sightseeing in this great city. I would also include this as a budget option for lunch as they do a selection of filled sandwiches and drinks for a good price.
Me? Well i’ll be back for a Cannoli on my next fly-in visit to Florence but massive respect to the Sfoglia, a recipe I must make appear on these pages in the not too distant future. Caffe Neri may be a new addition to the food scene in Florence but it’s certainly a welcome one.
Opening times: Daily 0800-2030