Once a grain store, then an army barracks and now a thriving co-working hub, conference centre, bar and restaurant, Florence’s Granaio dell’Abbondanza is abuzz with ideas and innovation managed by the Nana Bianca network.
The fort-like building perched on piazza di Cestello and lungarno Soderini was built in 1695 by architect Giovan Battista Foggini, according to the wishes of Tuscan Grand Duke Cosimo III to store grain in times of hardship. Indeed, the Medici coat of arms remains on the exterior, while the ballsiness continues inside the painstakingly restored old walls due to a sizeable investment by non-profit Fondazione CR Firenze. The aim? To establish a centre of innovation aimed at a new digital renaissance.
Step inside and a spacey vibe hits home: a long table is topped with a goldfish bowl and words of inspiration appear on a video screen. To the left stands The Stellar, a galactic cocktail bar and restaurant that serves snacks as well as gourmet dishes in the glamorous lounge and outdoor courtyard. Digital natives grow side by side in the ground-floor co-working space (this part’s free, on a first-come-first-settled basis) with its light-filled cross vaults, colourful soft seating and potted plants. Business ventures fill the upper floors with up to 400 workspaces in total, bookable meeting rooms, recording booths and inspiring views over the Arno and the terracotta dome of San Frediano in Cestello church.
The basement reveals a respectful restoration with slashes strategically showing archaeological relics through the perfected stuccowork. Events of all shapes and sizes can be arranged in the crypt-like, 250-seater auditorium and the array of meeting rooms that vaunt variable layouts.
If you’re on the lookout for ideas, the Granaio dell’Abbondanza is a galaxy of inspiration, right in the core of the Oltrarno. Don’t miss it.