There are a few truths in life, one is that a girl should never sacrifice precious time with her girlfriends, and the mere concept of ‘brunch,’ the fun playful medley of ‘breakfast and lunch’ shall remain sacred. While you could say that I am not the church-going type, one thing I do religiously adhere too, is any excuse to enjoy a bloody mary on a sleepy Sunday afternoon.
In Florence, you have some decent options, some of which I have named here, on my ever-evolving eats page. But one spot deserved a post of its very own, and it all started in a cafe who’s roots were born in the canals of Venice, the oldest cafe in Europe opened by Floriano Francesconi in 1720, known for its opulent look and exceptional coffee. It could only be Florian. Apparently at the time, it was one of the only spots admitting women, thus becoming a well-known spot for famed lover Casanova’s conquests in Venezia. These are the kinds of stories where I wish I could go back in time, to see all of the (literal and figurative) action up close & personal.
The funny thing about it is, not many know that there is a second location in Florence, despite is having been here since 2006. I often get a ‘oh really’ when talking about the location locally on via del parione, close to the fashionable via tornabuoni. In fact, it has been here for some time, on a quiet side street frequented mostly by locals in the know, who seek an elegant and quite refuge from the buzz of Florentine life outside.
I often take friends here for an espresso with mint creme, or more often of late, a cocktail — mainly because of barman Julian Biondi who is as serious as a heart attack when it comes to drink mixology. Attention to detail here is optimum, even the ice is cute specifically for the glass, and many syrups and infusions are made in house by Julian himself – who’s spirits, vermouth and bitters are like works of art. In fact, my moscow mule here has always been extremely excellent, and served in the proper coffee mug, made only with ginger beer. Served along with finger foods or the occasional cheeky macaroon, I love this place. It was even recently mentioned by my friend Coral as one of the best places for a drink in town on the famed gastromag, Eater.
And the fun doesn’t stop there. Next door (and connecting from the inside), is a ‘new’ restaurant that behests a much more contemporary vibe. This reality in the Florian world has actually existed since 1893, via a “fil rouge” connecting the Caffè Florian to the art world first in Venice and now in Florence – who now hosts contemporary artists in the larger space next door.
Regarding brunch, this is something I have only heard about as of late, and surely I needed to try this new ‘bloody mary brunch buffet’ and see for myself if Italy has finally gotten that cocktails on Sunday late-mornings are not as scandalous as its seems. Together with a few friends who came to Florence for a special worldwide instameet, we decided to try it out for myself. And I might never be the same again.
Far from the crowded lines and bottomless mimosas that I have experienced in America, this was a more elegant affair. Our table set up in full Florian regalia, waiters suddenly appearing to furnish my sleepy self with a strong cappuccino and an explanation on how everything worked. For a grand total of 35 euros, we had access to the hot and cold buffet — which included oysters, crustaceans, egg baskets, mini-pancakes, stuffed vegetables, a dessert buffet. Am I forgetting something? Oh yeah, hot dishes you can order from the kitchen (in our case a seafood pasta) or beef tagliata, and all the drinks you want – including bloody marys a go-go and coffee.
In fact, rather than ramble on about how utterly awesome this brunch was, let me just show you in a series of photos that I wish I would have taken with my proper camera).
Needless to say, I’m a convert. In addition to having a go at the buffet like a wild boar in heat, the bloody mary’s that Julian made, cocktail master dejour, were excellent. I asked for a spicy version, and he made me one ‘thai’ style with his own infused pepper vodka, adding plenty of ginger both as a garnish and ingredient (my hero!). Julian puts on a fun show as he whips them up, like a surgeon with his trusty instruments, this was Julian’s land — mixing each cup with an expert twist of the wrist and pouring from heights that if I would have tried doing, would likely result in a very ‘bloody’ accident on the beautiful Florian interiors.
For the non-drinkers out there — there were a few in our group, he can make excellent ‘mocktails’ that are just as tasty without the vodka or dill-infused tequila. Or you can just order cup after cup of excellent espresso, which I might have done too.
To have something as good as this is really unique in Florence. While you have places like Le Vespe (which I adore) — this serves as a great middle-ground from the more student-friendly brunch spots in town, and the very expensive hotel brunches that none of us can afford. Service is excellent and though I thought about it, I could hardly keep this place a secret to myself.
Florian, Via di Parione, 32/red, 50123 Firenze
055 284291. Website.
Florian brunch is available every Sunday from 12:00 am to 3:00 pm, — 42,00€ per person, All beverages include.
*I should note that when I wrote this post the price was 35 euros, while now it is 42 in total. Still a great deal though!