Florence – Oltrarno bars & cafés


Caffè Ricchi
Piazza Santo Spirito 9r
Phone: 055 215 864
Open: Summer 7am-1am Mon-Sat. Winter 7am-8pm Mon-Sat. Closed 1st 2wks. Jan

One of the most pleasant settings for ‘al fresco’ drinking in Florence (it’s on a traffic-free piazza), this has been a popular local hangout for years and is central to life in the area. The lunch menu, which changes daily, runs from sandwiches to meaty pasta dishes and speciality sformati (hot vegetable terrines) in the restaurant room next to the bar. From 6pm an ‘aperitivo’ or nibbles are served which is not to be missed.

Caffè degli Artigiani
Via dello Sprone 16r
Phone: 055 287 141
Open 10am-midnight Tue-Sun. Closed 2wks Sept.

On the corner of one of Florence’s least-known piazzas, this charming and laid-back rustic-chic café is well worth seeking out for its back room, complete wiht fraying, but nevertheless beautifully carved antique chairs.

Dolce Vita
Piazza del Carmine
Phone: 055 284 595
Open 10am-2am Mon-Sat; 6pm-2am Sun.

Though Dolce Vita is known mainly as the supreme pre-club bar, a lunchtime or evening aperitif sipped outside in the square, shaded from the sun at the canopied tables, is a definite favourite among the locals.

Piazza Piattellina 9r
Phone: 055 284 781
Open 4.30pm-1am Tue-Thur; 4.30pm-2am Fri, Sat; 11am-8pm Sun (brunch noon-2.15pm Sun). Closed Aug.

This beautiful non-smoking café has an extensive menu, with a huge selection of teas, at least 20 types of coffee and stunning tea cocktails. Proprietor Monica Meschini is the secretary of the Chocolate Appreciation Society, so her cakes and chocolates are to die for – the sette veli chocolate cake won the World Cake Championship in 1997. Hemingway high tea (6-7.30pm) includes ten different nibbles. There’s also a Sunday brunch, although booking is advisable.

Il Rifrullo
Via San Niccolò 53/57
Phone: 055 234 2621
Open 8am-2am daily. Closed 2wks Aug.

Set in peaceful San Niccolò, this bar has a variety of newspapers to linger over as you sip your morning cappuccino. Things liven up later, when music comes on and the cocktail barman begin performing tricks. From 6pm till 9.30pm the counter is ladened with dips and appetisers, included in the price of drinks.

Chalet Fontana
Via S Leonardo 8r
Phone: 055 221 187
Open 7am-2am Tue-Sun. No credit cards.

Enjoy the view of cypress trees on hills in the distance from this wonderful, charming wooden chalet (on the bus route to Piazza Michelangelo from the station or 15 minutes on foot from the Forte Belvedere). Snack lunches include quiche, salads and sandwiches and the home-made succulent pear and chocolate cake is not to be missed. The Chalet also stays open till late and turns into a lively piano bar.

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