Be quiet, please. Because you are about to read something beautiful. Something that will change your life forever.
So pause your Ke$ha playlist on Spotify. Turn off The Real Houseswives of New Jersey on your TV. Stop munching through that box of Cheez-Its. And listen to me.
There exists a place in this world called the secret bakery. And I have been there.
It exists in Florence, Italy—a jaw-droppingly beautiful city in which Ella and I both happened to have friends spending the fall abroad. A few weeks ago we decided to take a weekend trip to the charmingly grand Tuscan city to visit them. Little did we know that we would be getting into the adventure of a lifetime.
On our first night, we met up with Ella’s friend Annabelle. After enjoying a few glasses of wine and a drink or two at one of the bars in town, Annabelle let us in on a little secret: “There’s a bakery in Florence that starts baking croissants at 2 or 3 in the morning, and then they sell them to people who wait outside,” she whispered. “It’s technically illegal, though, so they have to do it in secret. I don’t know where it is, but … do you guys want to find it with me?”
I’ve never heard a question more beautiful in my entire life.
We left the bar around 2 AM, and the adventure began. “I think it’s around this area,” Annabelle murmured to us as we scuttled through the cobblestone streets. Walking aimlessly around corners and through alleyways, we almost gave up until Annabelle asked some kids on the street if they knew where it was. They pointed us discreetly in the direction, and so we quietly creeped down a small winding street where we came across a group of university-aged kids huddled next to a big door.
“This is it, this is it!” Annabelle whispered. “But we have to be quiet!”
So there we stood for 20 minutes, just like little wide-eyed puppy dogs waiting by the front door for their masters to come home. Except in this case, our master was the employee of the bakery who stuck his head out every so often and muttered, “What do you want?” to each person waiting by the door. When it came to be our turn, Annabelle ordered a chocolate and a cream-filled croissant for each of us at the delicious price of €1 each.
The second he gave the bag to Annabelle, the three of us giddily ran to the other side of the street where we ripped open the bag, grabbed our croissants, and started stuffing our faces full of the stuff. Hot, steaming, and unbelievably fresh—I’ve never tasted anything more heavenly in my entire life. Even if I wasn’t a few drinks in, I would’ve thought the same thing. So buttery, so soft, so creamy that each morsel melted in my mouth the second it touched my tongue.
So if you ever go to Florence, do not leave without finding the secret bakery and spending a measly €2 on the best croissants you will ever have in your entire life. Hey, this means a lot coming from the girl who lives in Paris and considers croissants a weekly dietary staple. So take my word for it.
Oh, and don’t forget to get gelato. Because I guarantee you it will look just like this…
… and it will be delicious. But, hey—that’s no secret.
Photography by Ella Pennington.