Getting to know Gavinana

Florence’s hidden treasure

Natalie Dale
October 2, 2008

A suburb where Jesus winks at you, the ice cream is divine and there are vintage finds to be had.


Along the banks of the Arno, past Piazzale Michelangelo, the Gavinana area is a trendy quartiere packed with locals. Take a stroll across the Ponte San Niccolò, head to the left and you'll discover a whole new world hidden on the outskirts of the historic centre.


The first treasure to uncover is coffee and pastries at Cafè Michelangelo in Piazza Ferrucci. Locals flock here in the morning to be greeted with warm smiles, strong coffee and some of the creamiest brioche in Florence. Breakfast will set you back less than two euro and you can either take it at the bar or sit leisurely on the terrace with the morning's paper. Make this a daily ritual and the barista will soon know your morning tipple by heart.


Another great coffee spot is Pasticceria Marcello in Piazza Gualfredotto da Milano. The counters are filled with sweet treats like creamy tarts piled high with glistening strawberries and raspberries. Marcello also boasts an outside seating area where you can watch local life pass by as you sip your cappuccino in delicate rose cups.


If it's gelato you crave, then this is the neighborhood for you. Indulge your sweet tooth at Gelateria Caminia on viale Giannotti-this colourful little shop has heavenly biscotti gelato and  low prices. Go by Gelateria Sorriso at any given hour and you will see the crowd spilling out onto via Erbosa-half of them are waiting to get in and the other half are outside happily enjoying some of the area's tastiest gelato.


When in need of a more substantial meal, head to one of the many pizzerias and trattorias hidden around the neighborhood. For a romantic evening out, try Trattoria Rocco e Antonio, where a glass of red wine and deliciously cheap pizza make for a perfect night. Reserve a table in the small enchanting garden for you and your love. If you're looking for something more lively on your Saturday night out, then head straight to La Greppia on Lungarno Ferrucci. With a view of the river, charming waiters and a buzzing atmosphere, this is definitely the place to come before a night out on the town. It's always packed and reservations are necessary for weekends, but the wait is often mitigated by a bubbling glass of prosecco.


For after-dinner drinks there are two main options in the area. Plasma, in Piazza Ferrucci, is so incredibly stylish it wouldn't be out of place in New York or London. With funky artwork and chilled-out music it's a great place to meet with friends. In front of Plasma is Check Point, where you will have to queue for a while to be served, but the wait is worthwhile. The clientele is very Italian chic-it's not unusual to spot a few Lamborghinis and Ferraris outside on Friday and Saturday nights. The bar staff also tend to throw in free shots on your first round and measures are strong!


Drinking aside, this suburb also posses some excellent shopping options. Try via Orsini for a spot of vintage at Velvet Goldmine. You'll find everything from blue and white polka dot high-waisted shorts from the 50s to customized men's t-shirts, retro books and cds. Once you have found your vintage gem, carry on the shopping at Joliette, where you can pick up Marc Jacobs and Costume National shoes, often at a good discount. Effe in Piazza Gualfredotto is a mix of traditional and modern clothing where you can get your hands on beautiful Audrey Hepburn-esque dresses, slinky caftans and a small selection of lingerie.


When food shopping calls, try Saccardi, with its fantastic selection of meat and fresh fruit. The service is good and there's a traditional air about the place. You can also find Bottega dei Sapori in Piazza Gavinana, which has one of the most enticing window displays in town. The bread is heavenly and all the items in the shop are presented so lovingly it is hard not to come out with more than you went in for.


After thoroughly exploring Gavinana, you'll probably want to pamper those tired tootsies, so check out L'incanto on via Orsini, where pedicures start at 22 euro and manicures at 12.

Oh, yes, the winking Jesus. You'll find him at the La Mecca design shop on via Poggio Bracciolini.





via Giampaolo Orsini, 125r

(corner of Piazza Francesco Ferrucci)




Piazza Gualfredotto da Milano, 14r




viale Donato Giannotti, 29r




via Erbosa, 70




Piazza Ravenna, 10

055/680376, 055/685802



Lungarno Ferrucci, 4




Piazza Francesco Ferrucci, 1r




Piazza Francesco Ferrucci




via Giampaolo Orsini, 87r




via Giampaolo Orsini, 67




Piazza Gualfredotto da Milano, 12a




via Orsini Giampaolo, 45b




Piazza Gavinana, 6




via Giampaolo Orsini, 6a




via Poggio Bracciolini, 8



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