Lonely Planet Writer

Sweet sights, and bites, at new biscuit museum in Florence

The sights of the Tuscan capital has become a little sweeter as historic Italian biscuit makers, Antonio Mattei, have opened a museum-café in the centre of Florence to celebrate their 160th anniversary.

The Piccolo Museo Bottega in Florence. Image by Antonio Mattei

Piccolo Museo Bottega, as it is know – or small workshop museum, aims to showcase Mattei’s 16-decade long history since they began baking biscotti back in 1858. Renowned for making cantucci, a famed almond biscuit which is twice baked to form it’s unique hard, crunchy texture, the Prato-based producers have created a space ideal to pop in for a cultural coffee break between visiting the city’s many galleries and museums.

Historic Italian biscuit makers, Antonio Mattei have been making biscotti since 1858. Image by Antonio Mattei

The ground floor shop, lined with shelves of products for sale, also houses a gleaming glass counter displaying freshly made cakes to enjoy in the museum’s quaint, yet chic, café upstairs. It is here where visitors can delve into the highlights of the tastemaker’s history set amongst baking memorabilia on show. Divided into five sections, their archive includes work tools, photographs and antiquities such as notable documents plus packaging from the company’s rich past offering an immersive insight into this famed Biscottificio.

The ground floor shop also houses a gleaming glass counter displaying freshly made cakes to enjoy in the museum’s café . Image by Antonio Mattei

Also know to be paired with the Tuscan sweet wine, Vin Santo, created by drying grapes for six-month before fermentation, which then the biscuits are dipped into the sweet liquor before eating, it’s a typical way to end an Italian lunch, Tuscan style.

Mattei’s recipe for cantucci became award winning in the 19th century at the International Exposition of Paris in 1867. Their bakery still operates on the same location in Prato, a mere 30 kms from Florence and is considered the guardian of cantucci biscuit tradition. With famous names including chef Pellegrino Artusi and former US president, Bill Clinton, as fans of the biscuit, it is a delectable way to delve into this classic sweet treat from Tuscany and a worthy stop when in Florence.

By Nardia Plumridge