Modern Florence

FLORENTINES like to socialize. Three or four nights a week they’ll stay out until three in the morning, yet arrive at the office by 9 a.m. The key to their stamina: lots of espresso.

Nightlife tends to break down this way: English-style pubs cater to drunken study-abroad students watching soccer and rugby games. Cafés typically offer wine, aperitivi, and late-night digestivi, along with food. Cantine, or wine bars, serve both by the bottle and by the glass. And American-style bars offer “long drinks,” a.k.a. cocktails. Italians aren’t big drinkers. Typically they’ll have just a few glasses over the course of an evening.
Some Florentines graze during the evening rather than eat a full meal, because many bars offer a free happy hour buffet. Expect to find tasty finger foods like focaccie, salumi, and even sushi. Florentines, mostly wine drinkers, have relatively recently developed a taste for Caipirinhas, Mojitos, and simple American cocktails like vodka tonics. The bar scene is sedate by American standards: people talking while a DJ spins, and rarely anybody busting a move. If you want to dance, you’ll have to head to the discoteche (Florentines do about once a week), which are usually closed on Mondays and in some cases are only open during the warmer months.


Via dei Magazzini, 2/4r
Tel. 055 284724

Operated by one of Italy’s biggest wine companies, this small, rather stately cantina offers plenty of by-the-glass vino from all around the country. It’s a great spot at which to stop before the night really gets going. Although there is a dining room serving full meals, stick to the seats by the bar and nibble on preserved artichokes and pizzette.


Via del Proconsolo, 29/31r
Tel. 055 2398762


(based on average price without wine for one person)
= less than €25
€€ = €25–€35
€€€ = €35+
Address Note: The r refers to the red color of the address number, which designates businesses. Residences may have the same number, but theirs will be blue.

Phone Number Note: To reach Italy from the United States, dial 011 39 before all phone numbers listed.

Ask a young Florentine which is the “it” bar, and there’s a good chance he or she will say Angels. In a boutique hotel, it’s dubbed an “American bar” by its owners because it serves cocktails. With minimalist, dark gray, metal, almost jaillike décor and a see-and-be-seen early-20s crowd, it can be a little much. But the drinks are well made, and the location, near many good restaurants, makes it worth stopping by in the early evening before it gets too crowded. Hit it after visiting the Bargello National Museum or the duomo—it’s within striking distance of both.


Lungarno Corsini, 12/14r
Tel. 055 210751

Originally operating under another name, this café and bar has been a popular local hangout since it first opened more than five years ago. Located on the Arno River in a high-end shopping district near many law firms and banks, it offers a good brunch and lunch by day and a hoppin’ scene at night. Particularly in the summer, Noir’s patrons will double-park in the street and sit on the waist-high walls that flank the river, until shooed off by the police (only to reassume their positions moments later). The food is consistently good, and the bar’s décor (dark gray, silver, black—noir, get it?) strikes the delicate balance between chic and cheesy.


Piazza del Carmine, 6r
Tel. 055 284595

University students and older revelers all have a fondness for Dolce Vita, a favorite for more than 20 years. On the otherwise quiet Piazza del Carmine, it offers two bars in one: cocktails in one room, wines by the glass in another. It’s a great place to get a drink while waiting for a table at the nearby Trattoria Pizzeria Napoleone (see Restaurants), but it warrants a trek in its own right. During aperitivo, or happy hour, you’ll have to elbow locals out of the way in order to get a few bites of the food, which is very good. If you can’t deal with crowds, go late at night, when there are plenty of tables—and live music ranging from flamenco to rock when the weather’s good.


Piazza Strozzi, 5r
Tel. 055 283156
A newer place owned by the wine company Colle Bereto, this is the bar of choice for local fashionistas who work at area stores Fendi, Pucci, and Gucci. On a closed-off piazza, with floor-to-ceiling glass windows built into Renaissance arches, wood floors, and two levels (upstairs is for VIPs only), you can walk back and forth between here and Noir, and people do.
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