Streetsmart: Borgo San Frediano

Streetsmart: Borgo San Frediano

Tue 07 Mar 2017 2:54 PM

*Editorial update, September 2, 2017: Lonely Planet has named borgo San Frediano one of the world’s coolest neighborhoods to explore right now! View the full list here.

Via Pisana’s geographic predecessor is big on history and short on snootiness. The pre-porta walk could keep a dedicated window shopper wandering for hours. Critics call it increasingly Brooklyn-ized, but borgo San Frediano is the type of Florentine street where international intrigue and neighborhood institutions peacefully meet. Keep its soul alive by stopping in at stellar spots old and new.

I Riusi

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To get a sense of I Riusi’s vibe, visualize a traditional pizzeria with some bizarre beatnik touches. Young dilettante types mix with a regular-restaurant crowd, cramming inside for the jazz concerts every Thursday. Lighting is low, staff is smiling and on non-jazz nights, the pizza will taste just as good. The well-built beer menu has a healthy mix of the craft and the draft.

Twisted Jazz Shop

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“How much is that doggie in the window?” Charismatic pup Ivan, the face of this neighborhood record shop, sadly isn’t for sale, but his master stocks a treasure trove of CDs, vinyl and memorabilia for music junkies—wowing customers with his extensive knowledge of every album in his arsenal. Twisted splashed on the scene in 2002 and remains a go-to gem for Duke Ellington discs, Beatles box sets and vintage vinyl you never knew you needed.

Il Paralume

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Owners Luana and Piero have a shared Fiorino d’Oro—Florence’s highest civilian honor—in addition to their TF-approved title, Oltrarno’s Cutest Couple. In an area where artisan numbers are dwindling, Il Paralume’s lights shine bright: the company crafts fine chandeliers, flambeux and table lamps and has lured in famous local families—think Frescobaldi, Ricasoli and loads of lungarno namesakes. Housed in a converted convent, the deceptively tiny storefront opens on room after room, with a covetable corner office, hidden hallways, a workspace and secret garden to boot.


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Wake up your palate with a jolt of Japanese punch. Kawaii is one of Italy’s first sake bars, better defined as an “Izakaya”—casual after-work watering holes where Irish pub ciders are switched out for rice wine. Same bull-shooting, different sauce? Hardly: the gourmet bites here are what set Kawaii apart—snack on sashimi, tofu, miso soup and other delicacies. Stop by before they open their warm-weather courtyard and become the busiest spot in town.

Mad Souls & Spirits

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Bartending wizards Julian Biondi and Neri Fantechi, formerly of Florian Firenze, recently teamed up with Rivalta recruit Lorenzo Forzoni to create the borgo’s coolest new cocktail haunt—complete with a catering service bringing drinks to your doorstep. Cocktail vocabulary a bit dire? Don’t despair: tell the guys your favorite classic and they’ll suggest one of their more creative concoctions. Order a vodka Red Bull, though, and you risk being booted out.

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