Guide to the Best Bars in Florence

Guide to the Best Bars in Florence All the top bars in Florence have been deeply studied by our resident nightlife expert: Helen Kershaw from Manchester! Angels, Zoe, Blog, Negroni, Kitsch, Caffé Sant'Ambrogio, Rex, Moyo, Twice, The Lion's Fountain...

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Kitsch

Piazza Beccaria Area
V.le A.Gramsci 5R | Tel: 055 2343890

This quirky "sophist-artistic" tribute to the finer details which make for an intriguing evening retreat is a gem of a bar offering a kaleidoscopic plethora of delicious cocktails and a famed aperitivo to match the variety of its’ drinks menu.

Situated just inside the centro storico on the angle of Piazza Beccaria, there is no doubt that this already over-patronised bar would be even more rammed if it was positioned more centrally. Aperitivo here is unmatchable in Florence for quality and quantity with a range of cold and hot dishes (served by the in-house chef!), and for the few remaining smokers in Florence, there is a covered (and in winter, heated) seating area located directly outside where you can sit to enjoy your food.

The big shame about Kitsch is that as a venue for later in the evening, it all too frequently gets overlooked, probably owing to its location being just that little bit further away than more central venues like Moyo and Noir. However, unlike these ‘en vogue’ venues, Kitsch does not suffer from swarms of the self-dubbed chic of the city. All in all, a great place to start an evening out with a fabulous drink - a definite “must-go.”

Café Sant’Ambrogio

Sant'Ambrogio District
Piazza Sant'Ambrogio, 7r | Tel: 055 2477277


Characterised by the many local Florentines who spill out onto the outdoor tables adjacent to the bar in summer, this bar has a special place in the writer’s heart after many an evening spent falling asleep to the droning tones of the spontaneous guitarists and carefree chatter which filtered through her window from the steps outside the church which accompanies Café Sant’Ambrogio in the small piazza of the self-same name. The striking thing about this place is that there is always something interesting to observe, be it one of the odd, local ‘celebrities’ or general goings-on.

The bar itself offers a wide range good wines in generous size glasses and at great prices. The bar staff are very efficient and friendly, a rarity in other unnamed venues, and the aperitivo, whilst limited and seldom varied, is tasty and replenished frequently. Unlikely to be a destination bar for those who live outside of the Santa Croce zone, it remains the type of bar which has accrued a loyal fan base over the years owing to its open amicability, and will continue to amass more regulars over the years to come.

Café Sant’Ambrogio is also open daily and offers snacks, and wireless internet upon production of identification.

REX Café

Sant'Ambrogio District
Via Fiesolana, 25 - 50122 Florence, Italy | Tel: +39 055 2480331

REX is currently celebrating 15 years of success and it is easy to see why. This place boasts some of the finest bar staff in Florence whose experience and skill pay credence to the exceptional drinks they serve. With a wide range of ‘nights’ including live music and the like to complement the Gaudi-inspired interior, there is such an easy, comfortable atmosphere, thankfully as yet unspoilt by grimy sycophants.

The main selling feature of REX has to be its interior. Paintings by local artists cover the two side walls and are on sale, whilst the intriguing back wall is an exposed contorted iron masterpiece map of the world. The bar is a beautiful circular mosaic island and truly is the heart of this great place.

Aperitivo here, like most bars is limited to small snacky bits, but on some nights of the week, these same small bites evolve exotically and it would not be unusual to find oysters laid out ever-so-casually on the bar.

Please don’t go to this bar if you are in the slightest bit poncey. You’ll enjoy it, but you’ll ruin the great atmosphere. Good conversation and a good laugh with good friends are order of the day at REX.

Moyo

Santa Croce District
Via de' Benci, 23 | Tel: +39 055 2479738

Moyo has unfortunately suffered of late, owing to Florence’s increasingly austere drinking regulations, however the stringent policing being operated in the vicinity have not deterred Moyo fans from going back and doing what they do best: be seen.

As a bar, it is, in fact, very good. During the day, it is the perfect central location to check your email or study online (free wireless). It has a flawless interior and layout making it an obvious choice for those who are concerned with their peripheries, yet offers more substance beneath the surface in terms of quality of service and a comprehensive albeit simplistic aperitivo. Music is also very fitting to the mood of the night, and consistently remains crowd-pleasing stuff.

As with most places, there is a downside, and Moyo’s is that it gets ridiculously crowded. If you can get a table early in the night, fantastic. Otherwise, you may be in for an uncomfortable squash between the herds of guys who flock here looking to pick up chicks, and the girls who are people watching wanting to be picked up. That said, definitely worth a visit if only to put your face on the map.

Twice

Santa Croce District
Via Verdi 57/r | Tel: +39 055 2476356

...is nice. Or is it? Contentiously, I have pondered over this bar/discotheque since its opening in 2006. As a concept, I think it's great. It offers an aperitivo, but its real strength is its ability to attract a large crowd from 10pm onwards, where it is a free-entry bar/club playing popular music from a range of genres; of note is its' weekly Hip Hop night which is always hot and sweaty and full of guys and gals who are there to really dance and have fun.

As they say, it's the people that make a place, and this is most certainly one of those places. On the right night, you don’t want to leave. On others, you stay ten minutes, find it dull and then try again later to find it unchanged. One thing that is consistent though is the perfect blend between young Florentines and foreign students. Violence is obsolete, and security and management are friendly and efficient.

Twice can also be hired as a venue for anything from small parties to full blown fashion shows (which it works very well for). It is good fun and safe, but I think this writer is getting a little old to cope with the young movers and shakers until all hours nowadays.

The Lion’s Fountain

Santa Croce District
Borgo degli Albizi, 34 - 50123 Florence, Italy | Tel: 055 2344412

Exceptionally popular with foreigners and locals alike, you, like I, will love this pub if you are looking for that homely feel that only an Irish pub can give. The bar staff are a team of legends who are always chatty and plugging you with their very own “Upload” shots (beware: these shots are lethal). Hosting karaoke nights and showing more or less EVERY world sports event, it’s a great place to knock back a few pints either by day or by night in good company.

It’s location is perfect for stumbling on to anywhere, owing to its central position in the Santa Croce zone. A real easy-come, easy-go pub, it has an addictive charm that you will fall for time and again.

Zoe

San Niccolò district
Via dei Renai, 13 | Tel: 055 243111

Zoe seems to have earned a reputation amongst some Florentines as a bar attracting a somewhat supercilious clientele, yet I would argue that whilst it is certainly not overrun by drunken foreigners causing unwanted havoc, it doesn’t carry the pretentious air that some would have you believe.

Located on the Oltrarno in the vicinity of San Niccolo, Zoe is in fact a very cool bar attracting patrons who prefer to mingle with a choicer crowd without the affectation of air found in the regulars of some other “it” bars. The neon red Zoe sign is clearly visible from far away and glows beacon-like alluringly, and upon arrival, the venue itself will not disappoint. Chrome furnishings give it a sleek, defined modernity, whilst the quirky touches (the loos here are not only refreshingly clean for Italy, but designed- a real rarity) set it apart. It is a charming place to pass an evening indulging in a good Mojito or a well-selected wine chosen from an extensive list, aperitivo here is amongst the best on offer in terms of quality and variety, although it can tend to run out fairly quickly without sufficient replenishment to cope with the number of people.

Open all week, early evening till late, you can find good music, a great crowd and excellent service.

Negroni

San Niccolò District
Via dei Renai, 17r | Tel: 055 243647

Directly next-door to Zoe, one would not be surprised if one outweighed the other by a huge margin. However, rather than compromise one another, they instead act as mutual complements. Whilst Zoe may be justly considered to be more “hip”, Negroni maintains a certain esteem amongst Italians as a tasteful retreat to mix with like-minded sophistocrats.

Also sporting an outdoor seating area, a more organic feel is emulated here through the use of natural materials in it’s décor. There are always people spilling out and around, but it would be nay on impossible to see brazen displays of drunkenness. It’s just not that kind of place.

Not a place for poseurs, yet ironically an excellent place to network and people watch. There are some faces you can’t help but see time and time again on the Florence circuit; this place is their kind of base.

Well recommended- just don’t ruin it by making a drunken fool of yourself

Angels

Duomo District
Via del Proconsolo, 29/31R | 055 2398762

Angels is a contemporary aesthetic treasure situated in the real heart of the city on Via del Proconsolo, directly facing the Bargello. Passing itself elegantly as an exquisite restaurant with regard the tastes of both the palate and the eye, the cocktails and aperitivo available from 6pm in the adjacent bar are a sumptuous delight (try the Sake Mojito - it’s divine).

If interior design spoke the words of a place, Angels would define itself in words deserving of its beatific name. A solemn romanticism is created through a fusion of white lightness, voile and frosting, and yet is fortified with strong angles and dimmed lighting, corrupting the purest of colours with the most devious of twists.

The writer particularly favours this bar owing to its antithetical poesy, and also because the generous potency and aesthetic perfection of their drinks help one along nicely in daydream allusions of movie-stardom, and sensations of the heart-racing sentiments of a doomed love affair, so perfect to envision whilst sipping one’s Kir Royal.

A fabulous variety of music brought by a variety of regular DJs, a chilled international crowd, an atmosphere of élan. This place cannot come recommended highly enough.

Savvy staff, decadent décor and an unparalleled easy atmosphere even when full are what make Angels unmissable.

Angie’s Pub

Santa Croce District
Via de Neri 33r | Tel: +39 055 283754

Angie’s is a popular hangout for anyone and everyone alike - anything goes.

A decorative and delightfully colourful façade concords with the evident weather-beaten character located within- a charming plethora of personages have patently passed through and left remnants of their drunken happiness here as they stumbled away into the night- the atmosphere created here makes it difficult to feel anything but pleasure.

It doesn’t proclaim itself to be a “cool bar”- there are more than enough of these dotted around everywhere else. Instead, what the punter will get is an honest, welcoming watering-hole, sports channels and lots of old bar stools on which to prop themselves and babble away whilst getting involved with another bevy or two.

I have never walked past Angie’s and found it closed, so one can presume it’s open all day…? (if I am wrong- please say!) Always buzzing with locals and foreigners alike, there is a harmony here which insists that this place will be one of the first, loyal friends you make in Florence.

The Blob Club

Santa Croce/Piazza Della Signoria District
Via Vinegia, 21/r Firenze | Tel: 055 211209

The writer could launch a polemic on the merits of Blob, but this place is best discovered and judged by the reader first hand. No words could ever put to justice the emotional roller coaster we all get taken on over the course of the year.

Chances are, you’ll only ever be able to find Blob whilst drunk - one develops a radar of sorts which guides you instinctively there. I know it took me a good few months of regular patronage to establish in daylight where exactly it was. Likewise, the magic bakery located (supposedly) on the same street, seems to vanish ‘magically’ into thin air, leaving you wondering whether you did actually drink about 17,000 red shots (a Blob staple, and always a great idea at the time), or whether you had dreamt a distorted version of the Wizard of Oz.

Nowhere in Florence can offer what Blob does. As a venue, I am yet to witness the refurbished version (Blob has recently undergone a bit of a facial), but so long as this update has not compromised the usual suspect characters who make the place what it is, then Blob will still be creating the same euphoric atmosphere it has done for so long.

Val, the owner, is a fantastically warm-hearted guy who teamed with his security A-Team despair no end with the incessant and frustrating chatter of his reveling, outdoor patrons. Don’t piss them off, and you’ll have friends for life.

The music variety is second-to-none with each night a different genre, such as open DJ Tuesdays, open-mic night on Wednesday and culminating spectacularly on a Saturday 360 Spin Around with Val, who never fails to get the eager punters throwing some classic shapes on the dance floor.

Drunkenness, random smooches, outrageous dancing, laughs, laughs and more laughs are order of every day here. A firm favourite for all time.


By: Helen Kershaw