Aperitivo in Florence

Italy’s daily routine involves going to the bar for a coffee at least a couple of times a day however social meetings don’t end there. Another important part of an Italian’s social life involves meeting up for an aperitivo, or a pre-dinner drink and snack, after work.

In the early evenings before dinner, around 6-8pm, many bars provide delicious appetizers for those who buy a drink, normally a cocktail, and is designed to whet the appetite for the later evening meal. At the same time if offers the chance to relax and unwind after a stressful working day. Over the past few years, the ritual of the aperitivo has become so popular that many bars in Florence now offer a sophisticated choice of snacks and means much more than meeting up for a casual occasion as some people even go home first to get a bit more dressed up for the event!

The snacks are usually offered buffet style on the bar, though occasionally snacks are brought to your table. The deal is you can eat as much as you want – not bad if you are on a budget! Most often the bars and cafés provide freshly cooked/prepared hot and cold plates ranging from typical Tuscan dishes such as crostini and mini pizzas but you can usually find any of the following:

  • Sandwiches
  • Pasta and traditional rice dishes
  • Salads
  • Crisps and other little snacks
  • Dips and Salsas
  • Selection of cheeses
  • Olives and nuts
  • Fondue
  • Foccaccia
  • Crudités with olive oil dips
  • Sushi
  • Sweets and fruitsTypical apertivo drinks include wine, prosecco, and cocktails. Some even say that beer is even a natural aperitif. The bars also cater for teetotallers, who can choose from a wide range of non-alcoholic cocktails and drinks, and still take part in the action.

    The concept of the aperitif was first developed by the monks as medical elixirs. However as the cafe culture swept through Italy during the 19th century, the basic recipes of the past were refined by innovative barmen who would tempt customers by offering strange and elusive alcoholic concoctions.

    Gustav Campari perfected a sophisticated blend of 68 herbs, spices and barks in his bar in Milan’s fashionable Galleria and his unique recipe is in such demand even today, that there are still only two people who know the combination of ingredients that make up Campari (see cocktails).

    The aperitivo is certainly one of the most civilised customs to have recently swept Florence (indeed all of Italy) and a ‘must do’ for visitors to Florence. So before heading out for dinner, stop in at one of the bars listed below, order a cocktail and sample some of the delicious nibbles on offer. You find that you don’t make it to the restaurant!Angels
    Via del Proconsolo 29-31r
    Tel: 055 239 8762
    Website: Angels

    This newish bar provides classic Tuscan dishes of pappa al pomodoro and ribolita (broth), alongside crostini, rich patés and hot salads.

    Elliot Braun Bar
    Via Ponte alle Mosse, 117r
    Tel: 055 352 352
    Open: Mon to Fri 10 am – 4 pm, Mon to Sat 6 pm – 2 am Closed: Sunday. Aperitivo: 6 pm – 8 pm

    Situated just 10 minutes from Santa Maria Novella railway, this bar is famous for serving one of the best aperitivo in town with a fab buffet of pasta al ragù, olives, fish, and potato dumplings and antipasti. A 10% discount on the drinks is offered to all foreign students with proof of ID. During the spring and summer you can have a drink outside in the garden.

    Lungarno Corsini 12-14r
    Tel: 055 210 751
    Open: Tuesday to Sunday noon-2am

    This is one of Florence’s most desirable café-bars and serves up great food in beautiful surroundings. The aperitivo buffet of salads, hot pastas, risottos and desserts, including a sumptuous tiramisu, is served in the frescoed hall. There is a sushi buffet on Tuesdays. Get dressed up.

    Via del Parione, 26/r
    Tel:055 287 090
    Open: 8am-1.30 am, Lunch from 12.30pm-3pm.

    Rose’s was the first sushi bar in Florence and the aperitivo is a delectable spread of fusion-style nibbles. Rose’s is perfect for those who want to dip into a sophisticated non-studenty atmosphere with classical or jazz tunes.

    Viale Morgagni 1b
    Tel: 055 4369 381
    Open: daily from 6am till late. Closed: Sunday

    There are three floors decked out in West Coast style modern tables, comfy sofas and during the hour of aperitvo an extensive array of snacks.

    Astor Caffe
    Piazza del Duomo 20/r,
    Tel: 055 2399 000

    For an aperitivo in the shade of the pink and white marble Duomo in the very centre of Florence the Astor Bar is perfect.

    Via Porta Rossa 63
    Tel: 055 264 5354

    Right in the shopping district, Slowly is a dark cavernous, candle-lit bar that serves cocktails and very expensive glasses of wine with a huge spread of tasty nibbles.

    Dolce Vita
    Piazza del Carmine, 6r
    Tel: 055 284 595

    Dolce Vita is a classy bar with a large outdoor area and cosy inner rooms that seem right out of a Fellini film. Located in Piazza del Carmine, the cocktail service is available all day.

    Via dei Renai, 17r
    Tel: 055 243 647
    Website: Negroni

    The name of this modern bar comes from Signor Negroni who used to sit at the bar back in the 70s, which at that time was called Amici Miei, and muse over recipes for cocktails. He came up with the aptly named Negroni which though delicious is not the lightest of cocktails – equal parts gin, red vermouth and campari. Negroni the bar is as popular as the cocktail and aside from being a great bar it also hosts art and photography exhibitions. The aperitivo snack include Mediterranean dishes of cous-cous, grilled peppers and cold pastas, which during the summer can be enjoyed outside in the garden square.

    Café De Paris
    Piazza Dalmazia, 7r
    Tel: 055 4220 505
    Aperitivo: Every evening 6 – 9pm

    Set to the north west of the Florence city centre, this modern, elegantly furnished American style bar with friendly staff has tons of seating inside and outside for summer aperitivi. The aperitivo buffet is vast with salsas, hot and cold pastas, cheese, dips and other nibbles. On Friday and Saturday nights, the VIP room is open, with luxury interiors and private DJs that tempt you to stay beyond the aperitivo hour. On Sunday evenings the lower level floor turns into a piano bar.

    Via Fiesolana 25r
    Phone: 055 248 0331
    Open: 6pm – 3.30am daily
    Closed June to August
    Aperitive: 5 – 9.30 pm

    With more of a club than bar atmosphere, the funky music and Gaudí-like mosaiced walls, wrought iron lampshades and soft red lighting create the perfect environment to enjoy the delicious aperitivos with groups of friends rather than a romantic meeting. Tapas are served for aperitivo.

    Fusion Bar
    Vicolo dell’Oro 3
    Phone: 055 272 6987
    Open: noon-midnight daily

    The Fusion Bar is a popular among young people with its simple design of square leather sofas and dark wooden tables. It is in the ground floor of the Ferragamo Gallery Hotel Art, one street back from the Lungarno. The excellent aperitivo has an Oriental slant with snacks including sushi and tempura, beautifully presented on laquered black Japanese style plates.

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