The Must-Have Travel Guide to Florence, Italy

March 4, 2015

The first thing I thought when I got my hands on the palm-sized The Cognoscenti's Guide to Florence: Shop and Eat Like a Florentine was, “Oh, if I’d only had this book back when I was student in Tuscany!” The tiny, but thoroughly comprehensive guide is a must-have for anyone traveling to the romantic Renaissance city. Shop, eat, and drink your way around the city with eight walks conveniently mapped out, each numbered location complete with a detailed description (see a sample map below). Discover textile and pottery artisans, rare books and vintage clothing, plus things you never knew you wanted to see or have but now must. And for the food-lover, there’s plenty to keep the palate pleasantly entertained! With more than seventy of the city’s most enticing shops and stops there truly is no need for any other guidebook. This one is it.  

Below is an excerpt from The Cognoscenti's Guide to Florence: Shop and Eat Like a Florentine by Louise Fili and Lise Apatoff, published by Princeton Architectural Press (2015). This is #62, one of the thirteen stops in Walk 6 of Sant'Ambrogio.

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Tue‒Sat 8:30am‒8pm; Sun 9am‒1pm & 4:30‒7:30pm; closed Mon

In the lovely, less tourist-traveled Piazza Beccaria, Dolci & Dolcezze is as arresting to the eye as it is to the palate. With an elegant mint-lacquered facade and strikingly beautiful interior of oil paintings, crystal chandeliers, and inlaid marble floor, this diminutive pasticceria presents a signature flourless chocolate cake and delicious fresh fruit tarts, along with a selection of equally intriguing savories.

Having had no professional training, just a passion for inventive baking, Ilaria Ballatresi started the shop with her husband, Giulio, thirty-three years ago. Since his death, she has maintained the business with her two children, exacting the same high standards: using traditional, time-honored recipes handed down from generations and only the best-quality artisan ingredients, in season. In more recent years, Balatresi has focused on organic and all-natural ingredients.

In winter, look for marrons glacés and chocolates, and in summer, magical confections made with all seasonal fruits. Stand at the bar and enjoy a cappuccino or hot chocolate served in a fine white china cup while contemplating the shelves of beautifully displayed marmellate, gianduja, and biscotti.

It would be difficult to leave Dolci & Dolcezze without taking note of the plaque that states, “Sono la torta alla cioccolata più buona del mondo.” (I am the world’s best chocolate cake.) This is no exaggeration. The cake can be “personalizzata” with whatever words or imagery that you fancy.

On weekdays, Dolci & Dolcezze is open all day to accommodate your sweet or savory craving.

Buy on here.