The walls of the Dolce Emporio have been dusted in sugar for the past four centuries. For over two-hundred years, between 1531 and 1748, the nuns of the Monastery of Archangel Raffaello kneaded flour, spices, dried fruit and honey in the space that currently houses the oldest candy shop in the city. Their sweets, simple and delicious, were offered to the parents of the congregation, those visiting the convent, and, on religious holidays, to the people of the neighborhood.
When the monastery closed, the Franciscan nuns of the Third Order entrusted their precious book of recipes to a family of pastry chefs who became famous throughout the city for their cantuccini baked soft on the inside with almonds, and caramelized on the outside. During World War II, the space was abandoned. When life returned to normal, the cookie factory was transformed into a shop that sold lupini beans and pumpkin seeds “by the needle” (the little sacks were skewered to a pin supported by an iron stand) and were distributed in movie theaters across Florence.
In 1961, Lidia and Franco Marchionni bought the store and named it the Dolce Emporio. Next to the lupini beans there were now liquorice fish, ginevrine (candy drops), strawberry gummies, and carrarmato chocolate bars. The Dolce Emporio soon became an obligatory stop for many children passing through the Oltarno in the Sixties and the Seventies.
In the early 2000’s, Lidia and Franco left the Dolce Emporio to be full time grandparents.
The Marchionnis passed the torch to Alfredo Cozzi who has been running the shop ever since. Today, the Dolce Emporio is a candy shop known throughout the city for its jars full of chocolate, candies and sugared almonds, its jam-packed shelves of cookies, jams, and wines and spirits, and its retro tins imported from Britain.
In 2013, the long-standing confectionary tradition of the store was formally recognized by the city of Florence which included the Dolce Emporio in the Register of Historic Florentine Shops. To celebrate this important event, Alfredo decided to create a line of cookies inspired by the neighborhood that forever shaped their store’s history: San Frediano. The Biscotti delle Nonne di San Frediano (the San Frediano Grandmas’ Cookies) are handmade shortbread cookies made with extra virgin olive oil, available in various delis and wine shops in Florence, New York and Boston.