…in Florence, my sister is keeping her finger on the pulse of the Italian cappuccino for me. Granted, she said I need to give her some sort of grading system for the cappuccino. But she has pretty great taste, so I think we can trust her.
Gilli Cafe has been in the Piazza Repubblica since 1733. It quickly gained popularity among the well of of Florence. But it is most famously known as the cafe in the background of the picture “American Girl in Italy” from 1951.
Gilli dolls itself up from the outside in, the windows always a showcase for the seasonal chocolates available. The outside seating area has tables set for the arrival of customers. Inside the almost 300 year old space is like walking into the hay-day of the 18th century. High arched ceilings, elegant décor and a wait staff to match, some dressed in crisp white shirts, black pants, vests and ties and others in suits.
A large marble bar greets you upon entrance into the café, if you merely want to cozy on up for a quick coffee and a glance around. And if you’re going to look around, might as well take in the enticing case of pastries. A glorious network of attractive partners for any coffee you order.
There is a dining area filled with small round tables and a menu that boasts several years of fame and glory and Hollywood star sightings at the establishment.
All of it…smoke and mirrors my sister claimed. She’s lived in Italy for ten years now, she’s made the rounds to the famous café’s and the local neighborhood café’s. She knows what the real thing is and what is a show for tourists.
The wait staff of Gilli are as pretentious as their prices. Many reviews online talk about the snobby glares and the long flippant waits. One reviewer actually never got to try the coffee or pastries at Gilli as after 30 minutes, she was never waited on. No matter how many times she made eye contact with the waiter or approached him and asked him to wait on her. There are some decent reviews as well, but the bad outweigh the good.
My sister’s overall impression was that it was a great place in respect of ambiance. As far as the service, it was not very good. (My sister’s party was finally approached after they’d finished their coffee and pastries by a waiter who asked if they needed anything. My sister’s husband is Italian and knows how to work the system in such situations.) The pastries were overpriced and nothing special. The people watching as life twirled around the Piazza Repubblica was excellent. And the cappuccino? Excellent.
So will I visit Gilli on my next visit? I might cozy up to the bar for a quick capu, but it sounds like it’s the history Gilli is basing it’s popularity on, not so much what they have to offer.
(This post is written by Nicole Sharp, as reported to me in detail by Kathleen Sharp.)