La dolce Firenze

Sweet alternatives for the post-gelato season

Tricia Manzanero
January 21, 2010

There is life beyond gelato. Even though many of my friends-devotees to chapels like Carraia that offer this creamy, frozen treat-would be appalled by this statement. In fact, they are probably now planning to force me on one of their daily pilgrimages so I can repent. I do not mean to suggest any substitute idols, but the reality is, baby, it's cold outside. Although this does leave you free to eat gelato without fear of it melting, here are a few more winter friendly alternatives that you can enjoy without tempting frostbite.


A cup of Rivoire's cioccolata calda is likely the easiest transition. Open since 1872, the famous café located in Piazza della Signoria is evidently doing something right and their hot chocolate is no exception. Watery, powdered varieties need not apply: Rivoire's hot chocolate, like the shop itself, is rich and decadent. Whether sipped or spooned, its thick, velvety goodness warms your body as it makes its way down. Enjoy it with a pouf of fresh panna (whipped cream) on top for a bit of sweet perfection.  For those feeling a bit unfaithful, just pretend it's your favorite fudge gelato in melted form.


If just one cup just isn't enough, you can head across the Arno to Hemmingway, at Piazza Piattelina 9r, for a bowl of their chocolate soup. When paired with your choice of pistachio, hot pepper, or cinnamon wafer, the creamy concoction is just the remedy to chase away the winter chill. Or, for a little more fork-friendly indulgence, you can dig into a scrumptious piece of carrot cake or cheesecake flavored with raspberry, hazelnut, or grapefruit.


Craving something other than cake? Then Mama's Bakery at Via della Chiesa 34r on the same side of the Arno is the place for you. At this cozy shop, classic sweets like gooey, homemade chocolate-chip cookies and brownies fill the air with that buttery, fresh-baked aroma. If you head over now you can savor a slice of pumpkin pie. Dense yet fluffy with just the perfect amount of spice, it is truly a seasonal treat.


More local favorites include Pasticceria Minni on Via Antonio Giacomini 16r and Pasticceria Marisa on Via Circondaria 24r. Keep your eyes open for bongo, a cream-filled, puff pastry for the discerning sweet tooth.


But then there's that worst-case scenario. What happens at that hour when you need your sweet fix, but these fine establishments-as well as all the gelaterie-are closed?  After calming yourself down and taking a needed deep breath, head over to the secret bakery tucked away on Via del Canto Rivolto 2r.  These robust bakers are already at work during the wee hours crafting delicious creations for the coming day. Staying quiet and asking nicely could earn you a pastry straight from the oven as your late-night snack.


So, though risking my friends' wrath, I maintain there are other winter-friendly options to gelato.  It's just a matter of channeling your sweet tooth to decide which tempting treat to try first. Have no fear-each can be enjoyed with a scoop of gelato on the side. Who says we can't live in harmony?

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