I think I just died and went to heaven.
For someone with arguably the world’s greatest sweet tooth and the cavity fillings to prove it, spending a semester abroad in Florence is a dream come true.
But this isn’t a recently developed fantasy. This dream has been in the works since the time I can remember going over to my grandma’s house and her sneaking me copious amounts of sugar – hard candies, chewy candies, cookies, cakes and gum. And now this dream is finally becoming a reality; it’s just that this version of sugar overload is more sophisticated.
Florence offers an abundance of flaky, buttery, mouth-watering pastries and, of course, gelato.
And when I say abundance, I mean abundance.
On my 20-minute walk to school, I counted a combination of 25 different pastry and gelato shops – I pass more than one place to stop and pick up a beautifully browned biscotti drizzled in chocolate or a cone of blushing pink fragola gelato every minute.
It’s not the easiest thing to do, to say the least.
And these sweet shops know the difficultly involved in just walking by. So, what do they do? They make it even harder for you to simply pass by by drawing you in like a fish on a reel.
Il Procopio, a popular gelato stop, implements glass windows and doors to allow the passersby the ability to see the eye-catching interior design of the strategically placed Barney-purple glass tiles leading up to the display of gelato – the Sunkist orange melone, the deep brown of the cioccolato that effortlessly conveys the rich flavor and the ever-classic stracciatella, a twist on chocolate-chip ice cream.
La Loggia Angelo isn’t even subtle about using their merchandise to lure people inside.
They place – no, stack – plates and platters of fist-sized biscotti, chocolate, vanilla and chocolate-vanilla swirly shells of mesmerizing meringhe and millegue nutella, a flaky bread laced with nutella and dowsed in powdered sugar.
Elaborate bread renditions of snakes, lambs, chickens and a 3-D turtle are cleverly used by the bread shop Antico Forno to attract people’s attention.
Almost impossible to resist in my mind is Savini. This 50-year-old establishment serving both pastries and breads takes the game of luring in potential customers to the next level.
They utilize the usual strategies of tempting sights and smells, but the element that sets them apart is giving people the illusion of not even having left the sidewalk upon entering their store.
The use of floor-to-ceiling glass doors and windows, which have been left open every time I pass by, lead people to believe it’s an extremely small diversion to walk a few quick steps to be able to see an array of scrumptious baked goods. The addition of a nearly black stone floor enhances the impression of not leaving the street by matching the sidewalk just outside its doors. Plus, various plants and flowers, the wood surfaces and natural color palette also add to the continuity of the outdoors.
My knowledge of Italian language is nearly nonexistent – thank goodness drooling as a sign for wanting a sweet treat is recognized internationally.