Discovering the True Essence of Tuscany
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Posted on September 22, 2016 in Places to Eat


Although I was born and raised in New York and am a true New Yorker at heart, I most times feel like a local in my small town tucked away in Tuscany. I've been living here for 20 years now and am so fully emerged in Italian life and culture, that I sometimes forget I've been adopted by this country!

So through my "local" eyes, I thought I'd begin recommending my favorite food places that aren't necessarily on the main tourist path. When I visit a new city or country, I know I usually like to hunt down those hideaways where you don't find tourists, where just the regulars go to hang out and unwind and enjoy great food.

So I'll start from my town, Montelupo Fiorentino, which is totally off the beaten track even if it is just a 15 minute drive from Florence. If you want to know more about this village famous for its ceramics since pre-Roman times, here's some quick info.

My daily stop in town after dropping the kids off at school, where I soak up the chaotic morning Italian espresso-downing frenzy in hopes of gathering up the energy to face another workday, is Caffé Centofiori. This is the go-to place in Montelupo where you will find crowds of locals gathered at 8:30am for a quick breakfast pitstop.

Amore is everywhere in #Italy...#morningcappuccino #italyiloveyou

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The 3 essentials of a proper Italian breakfast #Italy #cappuccino #GoodMorning

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Pino, the owner and barista who is originally from the south thus is Tuscan by adoption (like me!), opened up about 10 years ago as this sleepy town was on the cusp of an urban revival and now Caffé Centofiori is by far the best coffee shop in the area as you can tell by the crowds that gather for breakfast and lunch (they're closed after 9pm and Sundays). Their pastries in the morning are homemade, fresh and delicious. Pino makes the perfect cappuccino and coffees: he rarely trusts any of his employees to work the coffee machine, not because they aren't capable, but because he insists on perfection. The staff is coordinated, organized, efficient and offer impeccable service. At lunchtime they offer a menu that changes daily according to what's fresh and in season. There are usually about 5 first courses and 5 second courses to choose from as well as several salads. But whatever it is you pick, it is always SO GOOD, restaurant quality dining with an informal atmosphere. The portions are generous and the prices are excellent (about ¤6 for a very filling pasta dish!).

During the afternoons I like to stop by for a coffee and quick snack. They make wonderful pastries, sandwiches, snack pizzas, cookies and desserts. Any time of day you stop by, there's always some goodie waiting for you! In the evening after 6:30pm it's aperitivo (cocktail) hour where there are several little snacks decking the counter with which to accompany your drink. The ambience is very pleasant - bright interiors, stylish but not overly, always very clean and comfortable. Two thumbs up for this small town coffee shop!

The melt-in-your-mouth Florentine #Carnival treat divine! #tuscany #florence #food

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Viale Centofiori 39, Montelupo Fiorentino - ITALY
Tel: +39-055-519-500

See our other recommendations for what and where to eat in Tuscany!