Culture by Day. Parties by Night. This Is Florence After DarkBy Lavinia Pisani
In a city jam-packed with cultural activities that keep visitors busy during the day, nightlife can easily slip to an afterthought. This is a mistake. Florence keeps differentiating itself after dark, as these are the magic hours when some of the best mixology players start to shake spirits and live music and DJs set the atmosphere.
Night owls, take notes because the city is about to surprise you, once again.
Winter Garden Bar
Before hitting the town, opt in for a cocktail at Winter Garden Bar, tucked beneath dramatic arches in the St. Regis Florence. Be sure to visit during the traditional evening sabering of a champagne bottle (yup, they really do open the bottle with a dramatic display of swordsmanship), and enjoy an apertivo — either wine from their lengthy list, or a craft cocktail
Located in the heart of the city, Caffè Gilli has been a social gathering spot for more than two centuries. The authentic interior re-creates the retro vibe of eras gone by, when intellectuals like Marinetti, Carrà and Boccioni used to meet here.
Luca Picchi, a mixologist at the historic bar, recently won an award for gently stirring the city’s best Negroni — no small feat, as Florence is said to be where the Negroni was born, and Italians have been drinking this beloved aperitivo since at least 1920. Served on the rocks in an Old-Fashioned glass and garnished with an orange slice and lemon peel, a Negroni is made with gin, vermouth and Campari.
The coolest kid in Florence has no sign outside — natch. Situated in the city’s Santo Spirito neighborhood, the first speakeasy in Florence is now something of a well-known secret.
Look for its tiny entrance, adorned by a wooden pew, hanging crosses and a brass bell to ring as you enter. Once the door opens, you will feel as though you’ve time traveled to the 1920s.
Period furnishings, animal skulls, candlelight and an old piano create the perfect background for tasting reinterpretations of Prohibition-era cocktails that mainly focus on whiskey.
For one of the most exotic and caliente experiences in town, head to Sabor Cubano, the San Lorenzo–based cocktail bar that takes you straight to Cuba. The bar is known for Caribbean-influenced cocktails, often featuring tequila and mixed with fresh ingredients like tamarind, papaya and Batida de Coco liqueur.
After sipping your taste of Havana, head upstairs to wander the bar’s store, which showcases a mishmash of artisanal and vintage goods, including clothes, bow ties and roller skates.
Il Trip per Tre
If vermouth-based cocktails and exotic bric-a-brac are not really your thing, a pub probably is. At Il Trip per Tre, the atmosphere is rock ‘n’ roll casual. Enter with the idea of enjoying one pint of good Irish beer, and leave having had a few more. Don’t be shy to look at the food menu because their juicy pub grub is delicious.
Jazz Club Firenze
As your night wears on, head to Jazz Club Firenze. This music club is an institution that promises to entertain with an evening full of captivating swing and blues notes.
Housed in a brick-walled basement, with low lighting and few tables, Jazz Club Firenze has a cozy and casual atmosphere. Come to this off-the-beaten-track club after 10 p.m. to chat and chill, and wait till midnight for the party to kick off and last until 5 a.m., Tuesdays through Sundays.
Boisterous and crazy: These are the two words that best describe Hangar. Possibly the most eclectic bar in town, creatives love to hang here as they exchange ideas and get inspired.
Interiors feature an unusual collection of colors, styles and objects that join two different worlds (hippie and Asian-inspired). Come here to experience a more local side of Florence’s nightlife.
Dance the night away at Tenax. Open since 1981, this club is frequented by regulars looking to shake things off to the beat of the latest tunes. Tenax’s Saturday parties are a must-do, thanks to talented DJs.