If there’s one place to drink a negroni, it’s in the Italian city that invented this classic cocktail. Sip on the ice-cold blend of gin, vermouth rosso and Campari – as well as other cocktails – in one of these top Florence watering holes.
In Tuscany, no visit is complete without a visit to your local enoteca for a glass of Chianti. But in the region’s capital, Florence, it’s all about cocktails, served in swanky vintage bars as well as classic gilded cafés. Proud inventors of the negroni, lovers of both aperitivo and nightcap alike, Florentines will give you a newfound appreciation for savouring the good life in a glass.
Found in Piazza Repubblica, Gilli is a Florentine classic – and like all true classics, it seems to only get better with time. The crystal chandeliers, Art Nouveau interiors, gilded bar and immaculately dressed staff make a trip to the oldest café in Florence an absolute must. No one makes a negroni like legendary head barman and drink historian Luca Picchi – he literally wrote the book on it. Settle into the luxe outdoor lounge, sip slowly and enjoy one of Italy’s greatest pastimes: people-watching in the piazza.
Set in a quiet piazza just steps from the Uffizi, Fusion is that rare gem – a hotel cocktail bar so good it draws a regular crowd of city residents. Attached to the chic Gallery Hotel Art, this is the place to go if you’re an adventurous cocktail enthusiast. Here, you’ll find legendary drinks alongside new exotic creations, like the Latin-influenced, tequila-based Bebida de la Huerta and the chamomile-infused pisco-based creation El Florero de Nazca.
One of the city’s classiest grand-dame cafés, it’s well worth stopping into Rivoire for an elegant, expertly crafted pre-dinner Negroni. The setting is unbeatable and uniquely Florentine; it’s situated in the heart of Piazza della Signoria, with intimate outdoor tables facing Palazzo Vecchio. Their classic cocktails are some of the best in town. Before taking the helm at Gilli, Luca Picchi was head barman here; it was within this bar that he perfected the fine, delicately balanced art of the negroni. Today, his protégés still do Florence’s signature cocktail proud.
A few steps from Santo Spirito in the hidden Piazza della Passera, Bulli serves elegant cocktails in crystal goblets – and the star of the show is the spritz. Seven different creative and colourful varieties include classics such as the Campari or Aperol Spritz and more unusual concoctions with names such as the Mirto and the Hugo. Instead of the standard cocktail bowl of potato chips or peanuts, you can choose from an array of tasty tapas-style cicchetti, topped with everything from artisan cheese to spicy salami. Take an evening stroll afterward into nearby Santo Spirito to explore.
Locale is the spot for those seeking a combination of renaissance luxury and artfully crafted New York City-style cocktails. Choose from their artisanal cocktail menu and clink glasses beneath the vaulted arches of this ivy-covered, glass-topped atrium bar. Set in the restored 1500s palazzo of Bartolomeo Concini, Locale lets you play modern-day noble for a night. The opulent setting and creative cocktails here draw in connoisseurs, while the friendly service keeps them coming back. This is the kind of place where dry ice drinks smoulder like mini volcanoes; when in the company of the ghost of the Grand Duke of Tuscany, drink as lavishly as a Medici.
Florence’s enoteche are truly in a class of their own. These historic haunts, borne from old-fashioned wine shops-turned-tasting rooms, specialise in something Italy does effortlessly: wine. Nestled in a hidden piazza, just steps from Palazzo Pitti, here the ever-changing wine menu goes well beyond Chianti. On any given day, you might find wines from the Italian Alps, southern France and, of course, local Tuscan gems. A longtime Florentine favorite, this intimate bodega is always packed. It’s the perfect place to sample wines by the glass paired with artisan meats and cheeses.
This legendary speakeasy makes every Florentine’s best bar list. Hidden behind an unmarked door, it’s filled with the glamour of the prohibition era, all secrecy and low lighting, red velvet decor and utterly superb cocktails. Finding your way into the candlelit world of Rasputin may not be easy (although it is certainly doable – you just need to call ahead to book and get directions, but this is all part of its charm. In a fashion-focused city filled with vintage shops, it’s also fun to dress the part. If you’re a cocktail purist and prefer to skip the other stuff, this is the place to savour a martini or manhattan.
One of the best things about Florence is the spectacular historic skyline – and there’s no better way to enjoy it than on a rooftop terrace with a cocktail in hand. If you’re lucky enough to have a balcony in your hotel room – take full advantage. A small handful of classy hotels here offer even non-guests the chance to enjoy their panoramic terrace bars, though reservations are often required. To watch the sunset, visit Divina Terrazza (literally translating as “the divine terrace”) at the Grand Hotel Cavour. The rooftop bar here is open to visitors year-round in the evenings and offers excellent cocktails and views of the Duomo.
During your visit to the Tuscan capital, stay in one of the best boutique hotels or treat yourself to a luxury place to stay, now bookable via Culture Trip. Florence is an unmissable city, and here’s why.