Italy always has been known for its savory cuisine: spaghetti, pizza and pasta galore. Their sweeter side runs a close race, as a trip to Italy is not complete without tiramisu and gelato.
But many people don’t know about one of Italy’s best-kept culinary traditions, the secret night bakeries. I was unaware of these bakeries till recently, despite the fact that there is one a few doors down from my apartment in Milan.
For the past eight weeks, I have walked by a little hole-in-the wall place with old wooden doors and chipped paint with words that read, “Casa Della Brioches.” The lights were always off, and it was surely shut down, or so I thought.
But at night the sweet aroma of pastries filled my street. I became curious one day and walked around the block to see if I could find where the smell was coming from but no luck.
After connecting with one of the previous apartment residents, they asked if we had been to the secret bakery on our street and proceeded to tell us about it. Everything clicked as I put the pieces together in my head.
Secret night bakeries are most famous in Florence, Italy, but most cities in Italy have a few. Although the bakeries are called “secret” they are far from it. Secret night bakeries provide pastries to many of the cafes throughout its local city. Because of this, they bake throughout the night and deliver pastries before the sun rises. Locals can come to the bakery doors at night to buy pastries for a small price.
My roommate and I decided to see what we were missing and continue to return. We walk down to the bakery, knock on the door and a man opens and asks what we would like. I answer with my broken Italian, “due cioccolata,” two chocolate. We pay one euro for each chocolate filled brioche and walk back home eating our night time snack before going to sleep.
Secret night bakeries are a fun and inexpensive way to taste another delicacy of Italy. These bakeries are not advertised or on the map. You must use your nose and smell your way to to the treats.