The comforting waft of coffee or tea in the morning is one of life’s simple pleasures. Nothing is more Italian then a cappuccino or espresso. But cafe society, Tuscans are not. Il café (or a cappuccino with a brioche first thing in the morning) is not lingered on or gossiped over; the caffeine is shot back, the next best thing to going intravenous. But cafes do exist mostly in the form of bars. They serve superb fresh pastries, just-ground coffee, and freshly-squeezed—as you watch—orange juice, as well as any other ingestible liquid imaginable. Apart from Tuscan cafes offering some of the world’s best caffeine breaks from daily stresses, most offer salty bites of small sandwiches or pizza. You can order at the bar if you want to make like a local—and pay less—or sit at a table and be served —and pay more—for people watching and sipping your drink of choice paired with delicious eats. These listed cafes are must-see options at Tuscany’s major hubs; some are off the beaten path, but worth the hunt to find them.
Ditta Artigianale (Florence)
A modern, hip shop near Florence’s Ponte alle Grazie, Ditta Artigianale is the new kid on the block, founded in 2013 by an Italian barista champion. In addition to espresso-based drinks, this café serves up a mean pour-over, single-origin brew for those travelers searching for a Northern European/American fix. Come for the coffee or espresso and enjoy the morning-afternoon menu including pancakes, a croquet monsieur, or salads and a range of tapas dishes in the evening.
La Cité Libreriacafè (Florence)
This unique Florentine café, as per the name, is part bookshop, part coffee shop. They also serve wine and cocktails so be prepared to relax and stay to read; choose from their selection of classic and new titles. This venue is a great spot to linger and engage in conversation. Live music and other events are par for the course in the evenings and weekends.
Dolce Pisa (Pisa)
Oy oy, leave your calorie counter at home. Clear, well-lit pastry shop that will turn your arteries into solids, Dolce Pisa is a stone’s throw from the University of Pisa’s botanical gardens and near the Tower of Pisa. Here is a quaint and affordable lunch spot while exploring the city. Grab a quick snack or meal with a menu that includes sandwiches, pastries, and of course hits of caffeine. If you’re lucky enough to be in Pisa November 22 and 23, waddle down to Dolcemente Pisa, the annual pastry fair.
Tea Room (Siena)
As cozy and welcoming a setting as you can ask for, with vaulted ceilings and even a fireplace. While clearly not serving espresso, Tea Room is a Siena staple. Relax with friends, and enjoy live music, desserts to die for, or a cup of one of their unique tea blends. They’re open late, and they also serve alcohol, if you’re looking for a nightcap.
One of Lucca’s oldest, well-known bakeries/cafes nestled by the Piazza San Michele, Taddeucci offers the buccellato, a traditional sweet cake developed by the Taddeucci family. This café is perfect for candied fruits, nougats, chocolates, classic Tuscan panforte, biscotti, and of course, espresso. (You can tell I have a sweet tooth the size of a werewolf fang, right?)