Italy Bars & Nightlife
Via Corsico, 12, Navigli
In Navigli, Ugo is known for its aperitivo hour and gin-based cocktails, sipped while overlooking the ships sailing along the nearby canal from the outdoor seating. Inside, the speakeasy-style vibe is enhanced with quirky features like faux taxidermy, vintage oil paintings, and floral wallpaper.
Il Bar at the Bulgari Hotel
Via Privata Fratelli Gabba, Brera
Within the Bulgari Hotel’s scene-y garden, this is a pricey (but worth it) aperitivo spot for what is arguably the city’s best people-watching (this is the place to hang out during Milan fashion week and the Salone del Mobile furniture fair).
Via Angelo Fumagalli, 1, Navigli
Fresh, all natural-ingredients are what Rita is known for, and it’s a safe bet you probably haven’t had anything like the cocktails served at this Navigli bar. Take the Willy Wonka, for instance, which uses house-made fruit jam (made with whatever’s in season), ginger, honey, lime juice, and a drop of bergamot oil. The bartender then tops it off with a peel of orange and dark chocolate shavings—the effect is a decadent, not-too-sweet cocktail that doubles as dessert.
Via Ceresio, 7, Porta Volta
The main reason to visit Ceresio 7 is the setting—the rooftop of an office building. From here, the entire city is spread out before you, and it’s ideal, of course, to try and make it for a sunset aperitivo. As you’d expect from brothers Dan and Dean Caten of fashion label DSquared (they opened the place), the look is sleek and polished, with velvet seating, an Art Deco bar, and lacquered tables.
Via Plinio, 39, Citta Studi
Owner Mirko Stocchetto can be credited with inventing his own drink: the Negroni Sbagliato (Mistaken Negroni). It was created when Stocchetto accidentally added prosecco instead of gin to Campari and sweet vermouth, and this is definitely what you should order here. Served with a single, hand-carved cube of ice, it’s hard to stop at just one.
Via de' Bardi, 46/R, San Niccolo
Signor Vino is a wine-shop-meets-bar occupying prime real estate on the Arno, by the Ponte Vecchio. The space is modern, sophisticated, and as beloved by locals as it is by tourists. In the winter months, try to get a seat by the windows to take in the view as you enjoy your Brunello di Montalcino. Summertime is spent on the perpetually abuzz terrace. The beauty of Signor Vino is that you can try a few glasses, see what you like, and pick up your favorite bottle from the curated selection on the way out.
Piazza Santo Spirito, Santo Spirito
Rasputin is as close as Florence gets to a speakeasy. It’s in Santo Spirito, and to find it you have to rely either word-of-mouth or clues given over the phone. (It takes its secrecy seriously.) The name is a nod to the aesthetic—a moody, sumptuously decorated lair that feels a bit illicit, and the décor is a blend of over-the-top 1940s Italy with a hint of St. Petersburg thrown in (ruby-red walls, sloping brick ceilings, antique carpets, and a candelabra on each table). It’s the kind of bourgeois cave the owners imagined Rasputin must have frequented. The drinks are strong, and the candied citrus peel and dried fruit muddled into cocktails somehow tastes better here.
Via Tornabuoni, 64/R, Strozzi
Procacci, on Via dei Turnabuoni, was the truffle supplier to the Italian royal family until its dissolution. It’s the ideal stop for a glass of prosecco and a truffle panino slathered with the restaurant’s signature truffle spread. Other menu options include a truffle anchovy spread and even a truffle artichoke cream, which is truffle nirvana. The extensive wine list is generous with the by-the-glass options.
Piazza San Pancrazio 1R, Strozzi
In the little-known Piazza San Pancrazio, Manifattura is quietly shaking up Florence’s sleepy cocktail scene, under the expert direction of master mixologist Fabiano Buffolino. The aesthetic is that of a 1950s lounge, replete with lacquered tables, suited-up barmen, and an impressive inventory of nearly one hundred Italian Amari. The menu is an ode to Italy’s older drinking traditions, full of Italian sodas, vintage liqueurs, and several classic prosecco cocktails that go way beyond the Bellini.
La Terrazza at Hotel Continentale
Vicolo dell'Oro, 6, Ponte Vecchio
Florence at dusk is pure magic. And there’s no better observation point (other than perhaps Piazzale Michelangelo) to soak up the changing colors of the evening sky than at La Terrazza. The bar is (as the name suggests) a small terrace hovering over the Arno, buffered from the winter wind and summer scorch by stone walls on three sides. It’s small, chic, and cozy. Book a seat for sunset and prepare for the best view in town with a buzzy atmosphere to match.
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