Most gelateria shops in Florence close for the winter months, leaving those of us with a massive sweet tooth with something to be desired. A common treat that Florentines enjoy when they can’t get their gelato fix is none other than a hot chocolate- cioccolata calda. Italians don’t joke around with it, either.
They usually melt down real chocolate- not that powdered swiss miss gunk. No, when Italians say hot chocolate- they mean it. And here are our top 5 picks on where you can get a delicious and decadent hot chocolate in Florence.
1. Hemingway Cioccolateria. Hours: Mon-Thu 4:30 pm – 1 am Fri-Sat 4:30 pm – 2 am Sun 3:30 pm – 1 am; ADDRESS: Piazza Piattellina 9r, Florence, Italy. Reviews on Restaurant in Florence.com
This little chocolate shop and cafe is chic and modern with world-award-winning chocolate. They serve high-class hot chocolate with fresh cream and dark chocolate spoons. No joke. Located in the Oltrarno district, across the Arno River near Piazza Delle Carmine, it buzzes with locals every night. It is a bit of a splurge, but worth the experience. Watch our video to see what I mean: Hemingway Chocolate Shop by Studentsville Italia
2. Vestri Cioccolateria
Hours: Mon-Sat 10am-7pm; Address: Borgo degli Albizi 11/R, Florence, Italy. Vestri is rated favorable as one of the best chocolate shops in Florence on Tripadvisor. Located in the historical center with a view of the duomo from one of the nearby side streets, chocolate at this Florentine-familiy-run shop is handmade – probably served up by one of founder’s sons who work there today. During the summer, they are one of my favorite gelato spots. Now in the winter, they are melting some of their silky smooth handcraft chocolate into a cup of hot chocolate bliss. You can, however make your hot chocolate affogato-style with a tiny scoop as they do churn gelato year round. Vestri owns and operates a chocolate plantation in the Dominican Republic. Talk about a farm to table movement! This liquid heaven comes in various sizes (as low as 1€!) and the staff here may be ask if you would like to add rum to your hot chocolate. Say yes, if you can:) You do not want to miss a gem of sweet heaven from Vestri in Florence.
3. Venchi. Hours: Daily 10:30am-11pm; This chocolate shop and gelateria has two locations in Florence: Vicolo Calimaruzza 18 and Piazza del Mercato Nuovo, Florence,Italy Reviews on Restaurants in Florence.com
Albeit more commercial and mainstream, Venchi is a staple for what concerns artisan chocolate in Italy. When I say “commercial,” it’s because there are Venchi shops all over Italy and even chocolate stands in some train stations. However, it doesn’t mean that they lack quality. They have been producing delicious chocolates, pralines, gelato and hot chocolates since 1878! Venchi is most famous for its Gianduja chocolates and gelati; which is a sweet chocolate with a high percentage of hazelnut paste. Gianduja was invented in Turin (the capital of Piedmont, a northern Italian region) during Napoléon’s regency and is still famous throughout Italy today. When you visit Venchi in Florence, you will see the hot chocolate fountain flowing in the front windows. You can get one of these hot chocolates for as low at 1.50€! Since they are made of pure chocolate and in some cases cream, it is advised that you stick with a small cup – it doesn’t take much to satisfy even the strongest sweet tooth.
4. Rivoire Hours: Tue-Sun 8am-Midnight; Address: Piazza delle Signoria 5R, historical center of Florence. http://www.rivoire.it/ Also ranked favorably on Tripadvisor, Rivoire is a Florentine tradition for all things chocolate and considered by many the BEST in town. I personally don’t hold that opinion, because it is hard to pick a best, but it is for sure one of the most consistent venues in terms of quality, tradition and sheer chocolate joy. I find it very hard, and at times a gamble, to indulge in any sort of food, coffee or dessert in the piazzas located blatantly in the historical like Piazza della Signoria, but Rivoire is where you can place your bet safely and enjoyably. If you’re craving goes beyond just chocolate, you can grab a dessert cocktail instead. Why not have it all? The service is a bit on the posh side and you are guaranteed to enjoy one of the most elegant hot chocolates- perhaps after a Sunday afternoon passeggiata in the historical center.
5. La Bottega del Cioccolato. Hours: Mon-Sat 8am-8pm; Address: Via De’ Macci 53. http://www.andreabianchini.net This chocolate shop is small, intimate and definitely off the beaten tourist path, although it is wedged in between Piazza Santa Croce and the historic Mercato Sant’Ambrogio on Via De’ Macci. La Bottega has a good rep in the foodie world and has been praised by the travel writers at The New York Times. The founder, Andrea Bianchini, is here with fellow master chocolatiers combining fantasy, technical skill and gastronomic expertise to create little sweet masterpieces everyday in this little chocolate paradise. Hot sweet decadent drinks are indeed a specialty besides the little decadent gems of heaven. Why not have a small hand-crafted praline with a hot chocolate? They also make sweet desserts and pastries on site, you may have a near-diabetic shock after visiting this little bottega….
(Article written by Coral: Gourmet food blogger for Restaurants in Florence and www.curiousappetite.wordpress.com)