A familiar Florentine refrain kept playing as we explored via Gioberti on our latest Streetsmart mission: “It’s not what it once was,” said many a shopkeeper. Chain stores notwithstanding, area business owners should keep their chins up for two reasons. First, they’re on the “other side” of Porta alla Croce in piazza Beccaria, and common wisdom says that the air feels fresher outside the Florentine gates. Second, the following stalwarts bring enough local flavor to offset the more generic strips of the street.
You know an enterprise is serious when it has its own mints. This friendly bar-pasticceria has plenty beyond the branded tins, however: fruit tarts and pastries, loyal neighborhood clientele and coffee to knock back at the counter or in the spacious sitting room. Perhaps its main punto di forza, however, is the generous spread set out at aperitivo hour—you’d never see such bounty in bars within a few minutes’ walking distance.
Pasquinucci’s entrance should probably have a warning sign—or a welcome mat—for those who’ve just moved houses. A kitchen could be stocked from floor to ceiling at this home goods hub, where the merchandise ranges from the essential to the mildly eccentric. Olive wood utensils, made-in-Italy chopping boards and Japanese-produced sushi trays are just a sampling of the kitchen treasures; cushions, garden accessories and objects from paperweights to wicker baskets are also on the menu.
EMPORIO DEL GIOCATTOLO
Mild-mannered Marco has managed this small toy shop since the ‘80s. To be sure, there’s no shortage of Barbies, PlayDoh, Legos and Uno decks, but the Pinocchios and miniature Moka pots quickly remind you you’re in Tuscany. In terms of trends, Marco’s noticed an encouraging one: every year he sees more and more boys buying play kitchens, pots and pans—he chalks it up to “more fathers at the fornelli.”
This lampredotto stand clings stubbornly to tradition in a shifting street, and lunching locals wouldn’t have it any other way. Its team-leading trippaio, who grew up in the San Frediano district—itself a respected area for the Renaissance city’s signature sandwich—calls it a historic spot on par with the one by the Porcellino market. Don’t bother dropping by if you’re not gutsy enough to go for the lampredotto: this dedicated artist is determined to stay a trippaio for the rest of his life, which means no compromising by serving substitutes.