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Ditta Artigianale Oltrarno – A New Side To Italian Coffee Culture

I never thought I would see the day when a known coffee expert in Italy has defended the entity that is Starbucks. Especially after an onslaught of negative news all over the internet regarding the coffee giant set to open its first Italy branch in Milan in 2017. But this is another reason I like Francesco Sanapo, award-winning barista and creator of ‘Ditta Artiginale’On news about Starbucks, Francesco said in defense of the move  “I think that it’ s a positive fact, it’s something new and the world of the italian caffetteria needs novelties, to develop and move forward.”

Moving onto actually good contemporary coffee, Ditta Artigianale is an excellent coffee bar/micro-roastary offering special coffee on via dei neri and a brand-new location boasting 220 square meters of space on via dello sprone in the oltrarno neighborhood in Florence which Francesco opened in collaboration with Daniele Palladini.

Location is everything and they were smart enough to see the gap in the oltrarno for places like this, the new location is in between piazza della passera and Palazzo Pitti museum, about a 2 minute walk from the Ponte Vecchio (see map below).

He says what he thinks, and he often has a damn good point. Italian coffee culture had been stagnant for some time. While some would say ‘you can’t reinvent the wheel’ others might claim you could invent another new mode of transportation entirely, and why not? That’s how I see places like Ditta in Italy, it isn’t there to replace your quick shot of espresso in the morning from your local (mine being the nearby Caffe’ degli Artigiani), but instead a place to linger over an innovative filtered coffee brew with a friend, or an opportunity to sneak in a second ‘flat white’ after 11am. There is a market for these sorts of places, and it isn’t just Berlin or NYC.

Outside of the brand new Ditta Artigianale Oltrarno on via dello sprone 5r. Hipsters welcome

Outside of the brand new Ditta Artigianale Oltrarno on via dello sprone 5r. Hipsters welcome

ditta artigianale oltrarno

Photo credit: Ditta Artigianale

Photo credit: Ditta Artigianale

I went to the press opening last Thursday, where I got to see the new space, bright and shiny in all of its hipster glory with a few friends. Nico had been providing me regular updates on his morning walks with Ginger, he was worried they wouldn’t be ready after seeing the construction and move in first hand on a daily basis.

Lucky for me, this new coffee spot is just down the street from my house, in a building that had been empty for over 20 years, built in the 1950s by Giovanni Michelucci, one of Italy’s leading architects of the twentieth century. You might have seen another building he did – the Florence Santa Maria Novella train station. Inside the Q-bic architecture studio of brothers Luca and Marco Baldini created an aesthetic that is both design friendly with sleek wood, glass and metal chandeliers and comfort. A spiral staircase takes you to the second floor (restaurant) which overlooks the coffee bar. Many of the materials used were made specifically from salvaged materials and have picked to make the space as harmonious as possible.  You can plug in your laptop and work with a view of via dello sprone in your face or choose to chat with people at the bar instead.

I consider it a welcome addition to a neighborhood not overly known for its amazing coffee. Now we will be able to order tea infusions,  cappuccinos with almond milk, flat whites, or coffee made using aeropress or V60 filtering techniques. They source their coffee beans from small, local producers from all over the world and roast them in Tuscany, on the menu you’ll find varieties such as Geisha from Panama or  Finca Catalan from the company Las Mercedes of Guatemala. If Francesco is there, ask him about the coffee, what makes this place special is just how exuberant and happy he is to talk about it, not aloof by any means — he is the face and heart behind the brand that has started to revolutionize coffee culture in Italy.

The one and only Francesco Sanapo

The one and only Francesco Sanapo

At the press opening Francesco said “I can finally see a growing interest in the customers to discover new tastes of coffee, to try to experience the caffetteria in a different way, not only as an “instant pleasure” “At Ditta Artigianale, we tried to give the best answers because our first goal is to let people understand what’s behind their beloved cup.”

dittablog4

What’s new about this new location? Plenty. In addition to the coffee bar and desserts they are so well-known for, plus the sleek design and WiFi friendly attitudes, this new location will also have a full-fledged restaurant, curated by chef Arturo Dori. You can still get your brunch featuring favorites like pancakes and ‘eggs in purgatory’ (quick dish of eggs cooked in a fiery tomato sauce) but also your avocado on toast, croque monsieur, club sandwiches and lobster rolls. Emphasis will be on whats in season and of course, Arturo’s electric taste.

Photo credit: Ditta Artigianale

Photo credit: Ditta Artigianale

dittablog3

I took a look at the menu and started drooling immediately, there is a decisive fusion ethnic twist there. They have ‘half portions’ ranging from 5- 8 euros a plate. Think Colombian empanadas, or a ‘millefoglie’ made with veal tongue, citrus fruits and salsa verde, there is something to please both Florentines and foreigners. Full courses include veggie curry in coconut milk (yes!), braised veal cheek with potato puree and artichoke pie. It’s an ambitious mix of a menu but I’m down with that as long as its good. I’ll keep you all posted on instagram and facebook.

herring with green apple, onion and yogurt. Photo credit: Ditta Artigianale

herring with green apple, onion and yogurt. Photo credit: Ditta Artigianale

Beginning at 6pm, the coffee culture trades cold brews for gin-based cocktails — ranging around 8-15 euros a pop. I am very excited that Kareem Bennett, formally of Fusion bar, will be coming here along with his mixology techniques — this man is a master! They are still very in-tuned to their wide variety of gin but at this location, other white spirits will have a home too.

I of course go for the ‘k-mule’ a blend of tanqueray ten gin, solerno, lime and ginger beer. Other drinks feature fun names like ‘barber shop or creole’, next time I plan on trying the cool ‘calavera’ with ocho tequila (finally someone has something other than Jose Cuervo), lime, agave syrup, caramel and salt.

While I don’t always go for fancy cocktails, I’m really happy to have something nearby. Recently I was pretty shocked to return to another cool place, Il Locale, by Santa Croce that raised the price of their fusion cocktails to a staggering 20 euros a pop, which seems a little more like NYC than Florence, Italy.

ditta

Whether you like filtered coffee or not, give this new location a visit. If anything to see a different take on Italian coffee culture that is just starting to rear its head. What I’ve learned from this entire Starbucks debacle, which quite frankly has nothing on Ditta, tradition is awesome but so is innovation. To sound like a true Texan native, and as my grandma used to say ‘Georgette, there is room for everybody in this world, and anyone who tells you differently just has a stick up their ass.” Just have the coffee ;-).

Ditta Artigianale Oltrarno, address: via dello sprone 5r, open every day from 8am – midnight. website. Email: info@dittaartigianale.it

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25 Comment

  1. Reply
    Lori
    07.03.2016 at 13:29

    Can’t wait to check this out in April, Georgette. BUT, not being a hipster, I am not familiar with the term “flat white”. Can you describe it? Grazie.

    1. Reply
      GirlInFlorence
      07.03.2016 at 13:58

      Ciao Lori, I have a feeling you’ll love this place :). HA on not being a hipster, I’m not either so no worries! A ‘flat white’ is like a stronger cappuccino. It’s made by pouring microfoam over a single shot or double ristretto shot of espresso. The perfect mid-morning pick-me-up!

  2. Reply
    alberto
    07.03.2016 at 14:02

    Artigianale in Via dei Neri is already one of my favorite spots (I was the first at school to discover it ) – now I’m looking forward trying the new one in Oltrarno …!

    1. Reply
      GirlInFlorence
      07.03.2016 at 18:29

      Ciao alberto! I’m sure you’ll enjoy the new space just as much!

  3. Reply
    Scordo
    07.03.2016 at 15:58

    Having a known “coffee expert” legitimize the arrival of an entity that is objectively known for producing an inferior product for the sake of novelty / newness is a tough pill to swallow.

    In my humble view, change for the sake of change isn’t necessarily a good thing (especially in the food / beverage world). Maybe the parallel is with Science ; the Philosopher of Science Kuhn once espoused about scientific revolutions that they don’t happen very often (there are big moments in science happening all the time, just nothing that will shake the foundation of science). I think the same thing can be said about food and beverage – major shifts don’t happen very often (and I think what Sanapo is advocating is trend but nothing that will shift the foundation of a coffee loving culture).

    My humble two cents,
    Vince from Scordo.com

    1. Reply
      GirlInFlorence
      07.03.2016 at 18:28

      I think he wasn’t saying that he was personally a fan of Starbucks (from what I gather) just that a new sort of coffee culture isn’t a horrible thing. The truth is, coffee has merged from the espressos and nespressos of yesterday and it makes sense that an international city like Florence would reflect that. Personally, I think there is room for both worlds, I certainly wouldn’t stop going to my local coffee bar because of specialty coffee shops, it really does feel like two different beings.

  4. Reply
    Jameson
    07.03.2016 at 16:16

    I love that quote from your grandma.

    1. Reply
      GirlInFlorence
      07.03.2016 at 18:26

      Thanks Jameson, she is one cool lady..

  5. Reply
    Laurie
    07.03.2016 at 17:03

    I like his thoughts on Starbucks, too….

    1. Reply
      GirlInFlorence
      07.03.2016 at 18:25

      There has been such a crazy backlash on Starbucks and their arrival, it’s honestly over the top. I thought it was refreshing to see a different point of view for once.

  6. Reply
    Ed Parma
    09.03.2016 at 4:04

    Looks great ! we will definitely check it out in May- we wanted to stay at Dello Sprone 6 again so it would have been right across the street- we waited too long and the apartment was taken for our dates – anyway we will be close- staying on via dei Guicciardini this year!

    1. Reply
      GirlInFlorence
      15.03.2016 at 16:50

      You stay at via dello sprone 6, we are practically neighbors! guicciardini is very nice too 🙂

  7. Reply
    Lynn
    09.03.2016 at 11:42

    This place will definitely make my list of places to try When I Finally Get to Florence!

    1. Reply
      GirlInFlorence
      15.03.2016 at 16:47

      you’ll have to let me know what you think when you do try it!

  8. Reply
    L.
    11.03.2016 at 8:33

    I like the idea and I like to have a coffee and relax and not having to worry about people who try to skip the line or push me all the time, but honestly the average italian hate american coffee even without having never tried. This place gas success in the historical city center but you will never see something like this outside, where mosr of florentines live

    1. Reply
      GirlInFlorence
      13.03.2016 at 20:17

      You make a decent point there, especially regarding the fact that it probably would be different if outside the city center. I never thought about that. I think that many Italians think American coffee IS starbuck’s sweet lattes, they often haven’t ventured to the independent coffeeshops in many towns that serve pretty fabulous brews.

  9. Reply
    Alina
    12.03.2016 at 17:06

    I’ve always loved taking time to slowly sip and enjoy my coffee rather than taking a quick shot of espresso. I’m curious to see how this place fares – Francesco sounds lovely!

    1. Reply
      GirlInFlorence
      13.03.2016 at 20:12

      Ciao Alina :). I feel ya on the slow sip, I’m the same way, especially if I have a book or writing assignment to finish. Since it’s opening, it has been pretty full every single time I’ve passed by or visited, my guess is that it will be a raving success 🙂

  10. Reply
    Paola
    14.03.2016 at 12:18

    Next time I’m in Florence I have to go…never found an acceptable filtered coffee. (I’m one of those Italians that sometimes appreciates something differnet from espresso…)

  11. Reply
    Tony Staffaroni
    17.03.2016 at 13:56

    This place looks awesome! I would love to try it out when I am in Florence again. Wish there were some dessert pics! 😉

  12. Reply
    Alex Brown
    22.03.2016 at 0:07

    Gotta try it as long as the CAFFE’ is better and less sour (burnt) than the original spot in Via de’ Neri! Pastries and croissants are very good but not the best coffee in town for a cafè that prides itself on fancy, free trade caffeine enriched elixir.
    Working in the international ed environment, I can’t help but notice that MANY of the “soliti” (regulars) are North American females studying abroad and loving the TO GO CUP feature to keep on living their amazing (Eat Pray Love and Starbucks) life.

    BTW the cupcakes are insanely delicious!!

    1. Reply
      GirlInFlorence
      22.03.2016 at 7:52

      I typically get a flat white which they do very well. To be honest, to me, coffee is really a matter of taste. Everyone has their ‘spot’ (for example I get cappuccini elsewhere). I like Ditta for shaking things up a bit. I’m not surprised you see most North American females at the other location, and what’s wrong with that? Many people just like having a spot where they can chill for a few hours or read, which is another reason places like this would thrive. Ps. Agree on the cupcakes

  13. Reply
    Michael
    11.04.2016 at 2:11

    Hi Georgette, My wife & I are staying at the Caso Santo di Gesu at the end of this coming May. Any suggestions for vino & local spots close by?

    grazie

    1. Reply
      GirlInFlorence
      11.04.2016 at 9:52

      Yes absolutely! check out this guide I recently wrote for the nearby area 🙂 http://girlinflorence.com/2016/02/12/santo-spirito-neighborhood-guide/

  14. Reply
    Jana
    23.04.2016 at 16:36

    A friend introduced me to this place a couple of weeks ago and I’ve been back many times since.
    I love it. It’s about time Florence opened its arms to a new vibe. You feel like you are in London or NY. What’s great is that your actually in Florence!

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