I Ghibellini Cafè | My Best Florence Morning
My last day in Florence was filled with activities, so I wanted to have more than just pastries for breakfast. Of my search results (including a location called, “American Diner”), I selected a cafe that offered brunch-items, and followed my GPS to its location.
A Hidden Square | The Best Breakfast Spot
I was planning on visiting The Rooster Café, but I passed it without realizing and ended up in a small plaza. Four roads met in the square with outdoor restaurant seating available.
I stood in this square, checking my GPS to see where I made a wrong turn. Rather than back-tracking to the Rooster Café, I saw a patio chalkboard sign that read: “American Breakfast: Bacon and Eggs.”
Yassssss – this must be fate! Bacon and eggs would be perfect. I didn’t think twice as I walked toward their open glass doors.
I Ghibellini Cafè
Wooden folding tables and chairs took up I Ghibellini’s patio space. I held my breath as I walked through cigarette smoke and into the cafe.
Its size reminded me of Panini & Vini. A couple leaned on the built-in counter to my right. They had a little white dog on a pink leash who sat in the center of the floor. A TV in the corner played the Italian news.
There was one barista behind the counter which stretched down the left-hand side of the room. She was ringing up a man who ordered a coffee. His empty cup sat on the top of the counter, like at La Milkeria.
When it was my turn to order, I asked: “Can I have the eggs and bacon?”
“Sure, how would you like the eggs cooked?”
“A croissant and cappuccino. Can I eat outside?”
“Yes, I’ll bring it to you.”
I went outside past the smokers and claimed a table on the right.
The morning sun was brightening the quiet plaza. Restaurants were just opening. White-aproned chefs smoked against the restaurant doorways. A market stand of fresh produce was directly across the street with a vegetable truck in front, unloading plastic crates. A soda truck idled to my right, its driver texting.
I wrote in my notebook while I waited. This was how I imagined Italy: the occasional biker rolling by, runners trotting across the cobblestones, Italian sentences strung from the men handing cases of greens and bright fruit. Fat sparrows sat at my feet, picking at crumbs. The smokers behind me packed up and went on their way.
It wasn’t long until my plate of food arrived.
I was shocked and thrilled with breakfast. My breakfast plate was as large as a pizza tray – it took up the majority of my table.
This was exactly what I needed for breakfast, and was excited to dig in!
Scrambled Eggs with “Bacon”
The Star(s) of the Dish
Two-to-three eggs scrambled fluffy with butter and cheese created an omelet effect. A generous amount of black pepper was the first time I had a meal with that amount of seasoning (which I prefer).
The “bacon” was actually ham. There was at least two cups of the sliced ham. It wasn’t crisped or golden, just heated in butter. It was a delicious protein that I hadn’t had in over a week.
Pan-fried Toast with Olive Oil
A nice treat with the American breakfast was golden Italian bread. This bread reminded me more of the Italian bread we get on the East Coast of the U.S., so it felt familiar and homey to me.
Rather than smeared with butter, it was dipped in olive oil, which was an interesting experience for breakfast.
Fresh Greens and a Mystery Vegetable
The breakfast came with a small salad, which helped the meal feel like brunch. The fresh greens lightened the protein-heavy dish.
The best part of the salad was (what I thought to be) raw onion. It was actually some type of vegetable that tasted like licorice and had the texture of a cucumber. I’m assuming that’s a regional vegetable. (If any of you know what it is comment below!)
A Perfect Florence Breakfast
I ate the entire plate. It was hilarious to see people’s faces passing by. They couldn’t believe how much food I had on my table, let alone that I ate it all.
My breakfast also came with hand-squeeze orange juice, which was the best of my life. It was bright and naturally sweet, with hardly any pulp.
Croissants and Coffee
When I finished my eggs and bacon, I moved the dish to the side and continued writing. I had a few hours before I needed to be back at the Duomo. This was the first morning that I truly felt at peace, and I wanted to make the most of it and catch up on my writings.
Ghibellini’s blackberry croissant was delicious. Crispy, brown layers with air pockets and blackberry jam. Sprinkled with sugar – amazing. A decent sized cappuccino with frothy layers and decorative designs was also a great after-breakfast treat.
Macellerie Vignoli Pollerie | Market and Butcher
Satisfied from breakfast, I carried my plates back inside and paid. I don’t remember the exact price but I think it was under €20. For the portions and quality of food, this was a steal! I highly recommend visiting I Ghibellini — especially if you like to have a well-rounded breakfast.
When I exited back onto the plaza, I decided to wander around the outdoor produce at the market across the street.
This was the type of market I expected The Central Market to offer. The high quality produce was amazing. I wish I had found it sooner, otherwise I would’ve had snacks for the apartment.
After perusing the stand, I selected a side-street and wandered around the nearby monuments. I also did some souvenir shopping before getting in line for the Duomo.
Climbing to the Top of the Duomo
This was by far, the best part of my trip (if we don’t take into consideration any meals).
I got in line at 11:00 am and waited until 1:00 pm to advance into the Duomo. We scanned our tickets and entered based on our ticket number.
After going through security, our group climbed up the spiral concrete steps coming to the top of a landing with religious statues.
On the Duomo’s website the ticket instructions told you not to buy a ticket if: you had heart or breathing troubles or were not in the physical condition to climb 463 steps without a break.
When I got to the statue’s platform I thought: This climb is no big deal.
The climb to the top hadn’t even begun.
Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore
After another concrete spiral staircase, we came to a platform over-top the cathedral. You could see the alter and pews through the safety glass.
Most people were looking up, as we were close to the Duomo’s painted ceiling, which features Giorgio Vasari's frescoes of the Last Judgment .
The ceiling was too large to get in one frame. It was so detailed, with so many characters, you could spend hours staring up at it.
However, the line forced us forward to the real climb. These steps were narrower, so only my tippy-toes touched the step before moving to the next one. It was a calf-workout.
Inclined hallways connected the different staircases. I ducked my head to avoid the slanted walls and archways. Small windows with metal grates occasionally offered a cool breeze.
The only time we stopped was to press our backs against the walls and let the exiting groups pass by. Logistically, you’d think there would be separate halls for exiting, but I guess when you’re climbing a structure from 1296, you can’t be too critical.
At one point, we reached a staircase that was literally straight up. It was like climbing a ladder. After two of those staircases, we made it to a built-in, stone slab of stairs. It led to a roof-exit. With this one, I held onto the metal frame of the opening to climb up the steps, out onto the roof, and over the lip to the top of the Duomo/Cupola.
The Best Views in Florence
By far, this was the best adventure I had in Florence. No matter what railing you stood at, you could see the entire city — the mountains in the distance, the river, the Spanish-style roof-tops, and the slanted architecture.
The afternoon couldn’t be any more beautiful. I circled the entire cupola taking photos and leaning out to catch the breeze. Even as I write it here, I cannot believe that I had the opportunity to see such a spectacular view.
As I mentioned before, you take the same path down to exit, as you did climbing up.
I wear glasses and am not the most coordinated, so I was trying to hold onto the dirty concrete walls as I heel-toed my way down the staircases. The shadowed steps tricked my depth-perception. I was nervous I would miss a step and smash into the people in front of me.
I was relieved when we finally made it to the ground-floor gift shop and outdoors to the open plaza.
Giotto's Bell Tower
The ticket I bought for the Duomo also allowed me to climb Giotto's Bell Tower. The Bell Tower is right next to the Duomo so I went from the Duomo into the Bell Tower, without waiting in line.
There were less people for the Bell Tower climb, which was surprising since it was a classic staircase without windy turns.
It was 414 steps in total. Each level had an open area with built-in stone benches to rest and look out from. Metal grates in the center floor allowed you to look down at the floors below you.
The Duomo was my favorite view from the Bell Tower. I kept thinking to myself: You were just there! You climbed that!
It was an all-around unbelievable experience. From the wonderful breakfast and local area to the adventure through historic architecture, my last morning in Florence was the best of my trip.
Are you ready for the Florence Lunch Review?
Of course I had a hearty lunch after climbing those steps! Stay tuned on the blog for the lunch review, and the next adventure I had on my last day in Florence.