Kids need their merenda hour, just like parents need their aperitivo! Or as I like to call it, “merendativo”, a happy-family-happy-hour that both parents and their offspring can enjoy.
Parents are well aware of how much of a struggle it is to find the right spot where they can meet up with their friends while making sure that the place is suitable for their kids as well. Here’s a list of 10 places where you can take your babes this summer. The criteria are that it can’t be crowded, must be no cars around, and there has to be lots of space for small humans to move around safely. Pluses are greenery and gelato nearby! In other words, a place where your kid will be content and entertained for long enough that you can finish your drink before the ice melts.
One last tip, bring some simple items such as bubbles, chalk, water balloons, or a small ball that will add to the fun while keeping them busy.
Enjoy an aperitivo with a local vibe under the historic loggia while the kids play on the steps and run in the new park area. Your food options range from delicious fried seafood or fresh pasta from Salsamenteria; pinsa (light Roman style pizza) from Biancazerozero; and vegan fare from Universo Vegano; as well as Gelato Festival winner gelateria, Procopio. Hidden gem right around the corner is College, for one of the best panini in town. On the other end of the piazza there’s a playground (closes around 7pm) with lounge chairs by the entrance from the Osteria del Calciante next door. There are also pop up markets, and live music most nights.
From lunch until 10pm on weekdays and midnight on weekends. Procopio and Salsamenteria closed on Mondays.
Via Faenza, first block from Medici Chapels
This tall and narrow pedestrian street is packed with small businesses with tables outside making it easy to try out different spots in this international area of town. One to check out is Brewdog Firenze, a local favorite for craft beer and burger lovers. Others include Acqua Dolce, a very authentic Hong Kong style dessert and boba tea house; and of course the Antica Gelateria Fiorentina that is sure to please the smaller members of your group, as well as a place to pick up a panino. Pick up some flying glow sticks at the 99¢ store around the corner and watch their smiles. You will feel the friendly vibe of the store vendors who interact with one another. Customers often hop around the different locali, very reminiscent of a street in a small Italian town.
Piazza Santo Spirito
Get a coffee and pastries from Volume, a refreshing cocktail and one dish combo from Tamerò, or my personal favorite: pizza to-go from Gustapizza and a spritz from one of the bars so you can sit on a bench while the little ones play with the water fountain or chase each other in this family-friendly piazza.
Giardino Artecultura at Orticoltura
Set in the beautiful garden, there’s a “kiosk” offering great drinks and a deliciously healthy selection of food. The playground is just a few meters away, but the best part is the vast green area surrounding it. The rich calendar of events in the park includes free yoga lessons, live music, soccer and pizza night, and storytime for kids.
Daily, 10am to midnight
Via Vittorio Emanuele II, Florence
Il Conventino Caffè Letterario
This magical place is aesthetic perfection, with private courtyard gardens and the most welcoming caffè bar with super tasty treats and food. The whole venue gives off positive vibes, as does the Conventino team. Live musical aperitivo on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturday.
Open 9am to 11pm, Tuesday through Saturday
via Giano della Bella, Florence
Le Murate Caffè Letterario
This former prison has a large courtyard with plenty of outdoor seating under large trees. It has a very low-key and laidback atmosphere with plenty of space for running and playing. Come by for a coffee, indulge in their inviting lunch or dinner menu, or have a “buffet” aperitivo with a drink for 10 euro. Live music on some evenings.
Open every day from 10am until midnight
piazza delle Murate, Florence
La Toraia Lungarno
Street food festival vibes! Chianina burgers, fried seafood, Sicilian specialties, pizza, pulled pork, and much more. There’s a small playground next to the tables and there’s also another playground right beside the venue. Every week “Cultural Wednesdays”events are held, also ones geared towards kids with storytelling, puppet shows, and arts and crafts night.
Open daily from 6pm to midnight
Lungarno del Tempio, Florence
Magnificent views, a caffè bar and plenty of space to explore. However, it’s not very stroller friendly. This 425-year-old beauty opens only for the summer season and this year you can visit the site for free until it closes on October 11. Keep an eye out for Ferragosto plans as there are talks of there being a cocomerata night (fun summer celebration involving eating lots of watermelon!).
Open Tuesday through Saturday from 3-10pm, Sundays from 3-8pm
via di S. Leonardo, 1, Florence
Santa Rosa Bistrot
Spacious enclosed garden, ample seating and fantastic drinks. Deal! There are always other kids to be seen, and a playground is conveniently right across the street from the Bistrot.
Open from 8am-midnight every day except August 15-16
Lungarno di Santa Rosa, Florence
Giardino di Borgo Allegri
This is one of the most pristine and well kept public playgrounds in the city center. It’s run by Lucia De Simone and volunteers who dedicate their time to maintain the grounds including the vegetable garden, beautiful flowers and fruit trees. Entry is free, however, the only source funding is solely by members (15euro a year per family), so everyone is encouraged to join. This garden is a haven for many, a place for the local nonni to gather and tweens to play in the soccer field. It doesn’t technically fall on this list as there isn’t aperitivo per se, but there’s gelato and a vending machine that has snacks and juice/water. Alternatively, you could bring your own snacks and sit at one of their 20 benches or 2 picnic tables. They are hoping to have their traditional Festa Acquatica for Ferragosto, check their Facebook page for updates.
Open every day from 9.30am to 12.30pm and 4-8pm
Borgo Allegri, 18, Florence