Drink a cocktail, head to the country, enjoy a meal, lounge on a beach or poolside… TF style!
For our last print issue before summer vacation, The Florentine staff shares their personal picks for enjoying Florence and Tuscany over the summer months. Here you’ll find our favorite places to cool down, a place to enjoy a traditional meal outdoors or just simply a way to pass the time while the weather is hot and Florence is empty. Some of us enjoy summer in the city; others like to escape the heat and head to the beach or to the hills surrounding Florence.
And don’t forget: while we continue to publish news and material online until we’re back in print on September 9, we hope you’ll tip off the TF community and share your own picks on our Facebook fan page throughout the summer!
Marco Badiani, executive editor
Cool-down spot: Catch a flick at one of the cineplexes in or around Florence. Believe it or not, Florentines stop going to the movies during the bella stagione, so you can pick a seat smack dab in the middle of the sala and enjoy a film … and the air conditioning!
Dining: If you have a car, escape to the hills of Sesto Fiorentino (go up from the roundabout near Careggi hospital). If you’re in the area when the sun goes down, head to via di Serpiolle, which has a stunning villa with breathtaking views of Florence where you can enjoy a meal at the villa’s restaurant, Lo Strettoio (www.lostrettoio.com). Further up the hill try another eatery Trattoria i Ricchi (www.iricchi.it), famous for its frittura alla ragnatela (‘spider web’ fried mix-find out what it is when you get there). On the way home, take via Bolognese; when you begin the descent back into town, you’ll have Fiesole on your left and a panoramic view of Florence and its monuments on your right-its the classic view of Renaissance Florence, when travelers came into town from the north.
Brenda Dionisi,managing editor
Cool-down spot: Cala Violina is one of the most enchanting yet lesser-known beaches in the Tuscan Maremma. Boasting fine, white sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters, this small piece of paradise is located in a small bay protected by high ridges on each side. To get there, park your car and walk about 20 minutes along a path through the thick Mediterranean scrub. Because there is no bar or restroom area, it’s a good half-day excursion. To get there, take the SS322 from Follonica to Castiglione della Pescaia. The car park is located just after the town of Puntone. I go in the mornings, then drive to the marina of Scarlino for a tasty fish-based lunch. For a full day, go south to any beach in Castiglione della Pescaia and spend the rest of the afternoon there; stop in picturesque Castiglione for an aperitif.
Dining: Dance or sip a drink al fresco with Florence by night as your backdrop. Located in Piazzale Michelangelo, FLO Lounge bar (www.flofirenze.com) boasts great views and good times all summer long. Evenings feature live music or DJ sets, aperitifs with an outdoor buffet by candlelight.
Devin Tooma, features editor
Cool-down spot: There is an amazing swimming pool in Castagno at the Residence il Castagno (www.residencecastagno.com). On the terrace of a spectacular Tuscan villa atop a hill overlooking a stunning countryside valley and enclosed by bright green chestnut trees, it’s the perfect way to spend a peaceful summer day far away from the hustle and bustle of Florence. Get there early and pay 8 euro for a chair and umbrella for the whole day (10 euro on Sundays). To get there, take a train towards Pistoia from Santa Maria Novella. When you reach Pistoia, hop onto the local train towards Castagno (the stop is easy to miss, so ask!). The villa is right down the hill from the train station.
Dining: Caffe degli Artigiani in piazza della Passera is by far one of the Oltrarno’s most charming neighbourhood bars. Stop by for a coffee in the afternoon or have a pre-dinner drink and assorted aperitivo snacks. Grab an outdoor table as they go fast. If you stop in for a late-evening digestivo, you’ll likely catch a live concert being held in the square.
Giacomo Badiani, publicity and events manager
Cool-down spot: Get out of town and pick an agritourism with a pool! One of my favorites is Agriturismo La Borriana (www.agriturismolaborriana.it).
Event: I’m a jazz fanatic. With Esperanza Spalding coming to town, don’t miss Festival delle Colline (see Top Picks for more info).
Alexandra Lawrence, editor-at-large
Cool-down spot: A hilltop convent might not be your first thought when trying to stay cool during the Florentine summer, but trust me on this one! Just 40 minutes from downtown Florence, the Monte Senario sanctuary is the place to beat the heat-all while getting your religious/cultural time in, too. As you make your way up the wide tree-lined road leading up to the thirteenth-century convent, you’ll notice folks with beach chairs and card tables enjoying the cool shade. Pack a picnic lunch and do the same.
After lunch, head up to explore the large complex, which includes a church, convent, grottos and more. You won’t want to miss the elaborate Annigoni frescoes depicting the church founders on their journey up the mountain. Not to worry, just because you’re in God’s house doesn’t mean you can’t get gelato: a small bar sells all the Sammontana you’ll need to complete your summertime scampagnata. To get there, take the Statale Bolognese (65) towards San Piero a Sieve. Once in Pratolino, take the right turn for Monte Senario and follow the signs for the convent.
Dining: Summer is the time to subsist on the three p’s: proscecco, popone and prosciutto. For the best bubbly, freshest melon and nicest staff in town, head straight for Bevo Vino (Piazza San Niccolò, 59r; tel. 055/2001709) in San Niccolò. The tiny locale has outside tables where you can enjoy a great light meal while soaking in the very essence of Italian life: the piazza. Enjoy the strange but wonderful combination of lasagna and watermelon in Piazza San Lorenzo on August 10-better known as the ‘Night of the Shooting Stars’ or the Feast of St. Lawrence.