Ever since the merchant Francesco Carletti introduced cocoa to the Medici court in 1606, Florence has boasted a long history of artisan chocolate making. Ahead of the 14th edition of the Fiera del Cioccolato in piazza Santissima Annunziata from March 2 to 11, we take a look at Florence’s finest cioccolaterie.
If indulging in guilt-free chocolate has been a lifelong fantasy, then a visit to Vestri might just be in order. This family-run business has been operating for over 30 years, producing creations from the finest specimens of cocoa beans directly sourced from their plantation in the Dominican Republic. Their Body & Soul range of chocolate bars claim an extensive series of beneficial properties from fighting fatigue to improving your memory, and even lowering cholesterol and preventing type 2 diabetes. The gelato is exquisite.
Open Monday to Saturday 10:30am to 7:30pm, closed on Sundays
Borgo degli Albizi 11R, Florence
For those not content with simply tasting chocolate, witness the production process firsthand as you enjoy a cup of cioccolata calda at the Cioccolateria Ballerini. Opened in 1936, this shop not far from Florence’s main train station has been dedicated to handcrafting artisan chocolate for almost 20 years, boasting over 50 types of pralines. Beyond the chocolates, crunch on the traditional Tuscan delicacies, including panforte, ricciarelli and cantuccini. The chocolate lab is visible from the store’s café, so you can comfortably observe the chocolatiers at work throughout the day.
Open Monday to Saturday 7:30am to 8pm, closed on Sundays
Borgo Ognissanti 132R, Florence
But why merely observe when you could be making sweet stuff yourself? Discover your inner chocolatier at Dona Malina’s shop-laboratory in the Le Cure neighbourhood, which has been running for over 10 years, experimenting new recipes on a daily basis and offering a variety of tailor-made courses. Named after the Aztec princess who allegedly introduced the conquistadors to the delights of cocoa, treat yourself to the Taste Box One di DonaMalinaTM for an astonishing chocolate experience. Plus, the gelato is worth the walk from the city centre.
Open Monday to Saturday 9:30am to 8pm, closed on Sundays
Via Antonio Pacinotti 14, Florence
Rivoire remains the most historic and renowned chocolatier establishment in Florence’s city centre. The decadent store was opened in 1872 in piazza della Signoria by Enrico Rivoire, the official chocolatier to the House of Savoy. To this day its master chocolatiers make traditional delicacies according to the original recipes of the time, offering an assortment of pralines and gift boxes as well as an array of chocolate pastries and desserts. Sipping a hedonistic hot chocolate topped with whipped cream while watching Florence happen is an unforgettable experience.
Open daily 7:30am to 9:30pm, closed on Mondays
Piazza della Signoria, Florence