The good ice cream of Florence,
with Medici flavours
The Badiani pastry shop and ice cream parlour has become famous in Florence and around the world with the inimitable Buontalenti flavour, created in memory of the famous Florentine architect. Cream, milk, sugar and eggs are the ingredients of happiness.
According to some accounts, the first in the world to produce real ice cream – creamy and icy – were the Florentines in the sixteenth century. In the court of Cosimo I de' Medici to be precise. Cosimo had asked Bernardo Buontalenti, an architect, to organise festivities in honour of the King of Spain. Buontalenti excited the Iberian delegation with shows and banquets, at the end of which he served an iced cream to which he had added a spice that came from the Americas: sugar. It was then thanks to Catherine de' Medici, at that time also regent of France, that ice cream spread across Europe in the second half of the century.
The ancient Florentine ice cream tradition was crystallised in the inviting refrigerated counters of Badiani, a restaurant on Viale dei Mille in Florence, now managed by the Pomposi family. Paolo, the current owner, was just 5 years old when his father decided to move to Florence. It was the late ‘50s. The Pomposi family moved to the Tuscan capital from quiet Pistoia and acquired a small shop downtown. But it had been Paolo’s father Orazio’s dream to become an ice cream maker ever since he had watched the classic ice cream carts pass on the street back home in Pistoia, and he remained enchanted by seeing the happiness and enthusiasm it brought to people. The dream became reality in 1961 when he opened his first ice cream shop in Florence. The 1996 floods, however, swept away everything. With much sacrifice, he managed to relaunch the business he had recently created. He became a well-known ice cream maker and he dedicated his life to protecting and promoting the traditions and craftsmanship of this product.
“After many years of business in the ice cream shop, we decided to acquire Badiani. It's been ours since 1993. Today we are in the third generation of ice cream makers because my son Niccolò, who lives and works in London, also creates and sells this typical Italian delicacy. I grew up with ice cream. It's been with me all my life. For four years we had two shops, Dad’s and this one.” Badiani is an institution in Florence and is known throughout the region. Tourists and visitors ask taxi drivers to "go to Badiani" without even specifying the address.
Over the years, the restaurant inherited the legacy of Buontalenti. At the end of the 1960s, a competition was held to commemorate the Florentine architect who had created the ante litteram ice cream. The title was won by the Badiani ice cream parlour with its own personal flavour called Buontalenti: cream, milk, sugar and eggs. A few simple ingredients, those of happiness. Since then, this flavour has conquered the palate of Florentines and all lovers of good ice cream. “Customers often ask us for the "Badiani" flavour instead of Buontalenti; by now they identify us with our product.” And that’s not the only prize they’ve ever won! Over the years, the Pomposi family has won many prestigious awards. The latest is the "Maestri gelatieri 2019" award, presented by Longarone Fiere Dolomiti to honour persons who have made a concrete contribution to the enhancement of the product, showing entrepreneurial skills and high professional qualities.
The shop has 4 macro-sectors: the café and pastry section which are busiest in the winter months, the lunch area, which was a successful initiative, and finally, the heart of the business, the ice cream. Excellent service, space to sit and relax, elegance, comfort, cheerfulness, and a pleasant atmosphere.
"We opened the first ice cream shop in London in 2016 and the most popular flavours are the classics, hazelnut and chocolate, but also Buontalenti. Another one of our creations called Dolcevita is also in great demand."
“We met Aba in the '90s on the occasion of the renovation of the store in Viale dei Mille. I contacted Massimo and Roberto Giaccherini to start to have some new ideas,” Paolo emphasised. “I visited the shops that they had already furnished in this sector, and I was very impressed. And in 1994, we started working on the project. We wanted something elegant. Massimo was then with us during the design and construction of 5 locales, all with different aesthetic characteristics: with great charm and equal attention to functionality. We have important, demanding customers and we wanted furnishings to meet their standards.”
The future projects are all in London, where, again with the Giaccherini family of Aba by their side, the Pomposi family had already built 4 outlets. “We started there in 2016 and the most popular flavours are the classics, hazelnut and chocolate, but also Buontalenti. Another one of our creations called Dolcevita is also in great demand.”
From the attention to the ingredients, put together by personally knowing the work of the suppliers, to excellence achieved through experience in the field, Badiani's ice cream doesn’t have any particular secret. Paolo Pomposi is someone who gets right to the point and lets his cones, cups and toppings speak for themselves: “Ice cream is a pleasure and it must first conquer the palate. If it's not good, what pleasure is that?”
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WORK IN PROGRESS
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