Gualtieri’s Panettone & Grand Reopening

Panettone, an Italian holiday treat

Gualtieri, one of Florence’s most historic and well-known pasticcerie, ensures that everyone can enjoy their favorite Christmas dessert this year by offering various classical as well as vegan and gluten-free versions of the traditional Christmas dessert, panettone.

Gualtieri’s artisanal panettone is leavened twice for about 12 hours at a constant temperature and controlled humidity until its volume increases by four times. Though complicated to bake, its delicious flavor makes it a tempting treat. For their traditional panettone, Gualtieri uses candied fruit from a small Sicilian company, butter from Normandy, and organic eggs, and can be filled with Chantilly cream, chocolate, or pistacchio.

Gluten-free and vegan panettone utilizes a similar process as the traditional one, but the use of brewer’s yeast, corn flour dough, and rice starch makes it simpler, and it tastes just as delicious. In 2013, Gualtieri began the process of creating vegan and gluten-free equivalents for all of their classic pastries. Through meticulous commitment by and determination of Ginerva’s father, who worked for over a year in a pastry laboratory, they have ensured the alternatives have the same quality and taste as the originals. Gualtieri is one of the first pastry shops to offer vegan and gluten-free alternatives in Florence.

On September 11, 2023, Gualtieri had a grand inauguration open to the public for its 90th anniversary. The event also revealed the shop’s new look, as they renovated it to look like it was straight out of the 1930s when Gualtieri was first opened. Filled with family, friends, live music, and plenty of delicious food, the reopening was hugely successful, exemplifying and celebrating just how important this pastry shop is to the people of Florence.

Gualtieri began in the early 1930s when Alfredo Gualtieri and his soon-to-be wife, Lina Cennini, met inside Lina’s family’s pastry shop. Together, they opened a shop of their own at Porta Romana, where, 90 years and four generations later, the shop still stands today. Renovations of antique mirrors, brass chandeliers, terrazzo tiles, and boiserie, all made by local Florentine and Tuscan artisans, pay homage to the rich history of the shop by transporting the customer back to the 1930s. The shop is currently owned by Alfredo and Lina Gualtieri’s great-grandchild, Ginerva Gualtieri, and her partner Giulio Fiorentini. Each generation of the shop has managed to innovate the shop while still honoring tradition.

In addition to their panettone, Gualtieri offers Christmas twists on their dessert offerings. This year, the bakery and café have cupcakes based on their iconic Iris Cake, a tribute to Florence, as the city symbol is an iris. This cake, invented by Alfredo Gualtieri, does not have any flour, but instead uses a pinch of powder from the bulb of the iris. This powder is made in the countryside outside Florence and exported to France where it is popular in perfumery. In addition to this special ingredient, the particular process used to ground the almonds and candied fruit in the cake combined with a perfectly sweet white icing makes the Iris cake – and cupcakes – the icons of Gualtieri.

Other Christmas specials include the Yule log, which is presented in an shell of flambéed Italian meringue, the Montblanc, with meringue, chestnuts, cream, and decorated with edible gold leaf, gingerbread houses, marron glacé, Sacher cake, macarons, and more. All of Gualtieri’s specialties can be shipped throughout Italy, which makes for the perfect Christmas gift for your loved ones.

With a treat for everyone, Pasticceria Gualtieri on via Senese 18/r is open on Sunday from 8 am-1 pm, and Tuesday-Saturday from 7:30 am-1:30 pm and 4 -8 pm. Stop by to get into the Christmas spirit and discover your new favorite pastry in Florence. (Abigail Dawson)