Summer in Florence might be hot, but it makes for lovely long evenings of good food and drinks. Read on to learn where to escape the crowds with the best off-the-beaten-path Florentine outdoor venues that locals love to enjoy all summer long.
For family fun
Fico Bistro is one of the newer summer spots in town, having first opened mid 2020. Located in the Area Pettini Burresi park in the Le Cure neighborhood, it’s popular among all ages, from the children running around on the grass or swinging in the playground to big groups of friends enjoying a couple of beers and elderly couples sitting on benches, taking it all in. Visit this locale for dinner and drinks and the occasional live music performance. The menu features pinse (halfway between pizza and focaccia) with various toppings, as well as fried foods, fish sandwiches, burgers and vegetarian options. The restrooms are clean and spacious, and even include a diaper changing station. Fico Bistro also has a cool location in Pontassieve and occasionally hosts concerts and other events.
For breakfast, lunch or dinner
Located in the San Frediano district and open every day from morning to after dinner, visit Santarosa Bistrot in the gardens dedicated to Henry Durant, founder of the Red Cross, for a nice breakfast, lunch, aperitivo or dinner sitting outside on the patio, in the garden or in the greenhouse-style main room, filled with tall potted plants and with a view over one of the last relics of Florence’s historical walls. With its shabby-chic style and careful attention to detail, Santarosa Bistrot is arguably one of Florence’s lesser-known most “Instagrammable” locations. The lunch and dinner menu changes often and has an unexpected and much-appreciated focus on fish dishes, like orecchiette with broccoli rabe and octopus, or tagliatelle with tuna and pistachio. They also serve delicious salads and beers from one of my favorite woman-owned breweries, LA MI’ BIRRA. There’s free wi-fi, so you can work on your computer while enjoying your iced coffee or spritz. Reservations recommended.
For a new way of thinking about Florence
Manifattura Tabacchi on via delle Cascine is a sprawling industrial complex between Teatro Puccini and the Cascine Park that once housed a tobacco manufacturing plant. It’s an exciting and ambitious project in constant evolution, with plans to build a city within the city that already features shops, food and drink options, a small skate park, exhibition and performance spaces, and Polimoda fashion school. Next up: luxury apartments. Visit Manifattura Tabacchi for a glimpse into a new way of thinking about Florence, far from its Renaissance-full centro, and to enjoy drinks by Soul Kitchen, an aperitivo by Bulli e Balene, and gluten-free necci, chestnut flour crepes by Necciaio from the Garfagnana area. Expect movie nights, vintage clothes markets, book presentations, art exhibits and live performances, and more.
Parco delle Cascine has been Florence’s largest public green space since the 1800s. Extended over two miles long between the Arno river and the Mugnone torrent, it’s a great spot for a run, a bike ride, rollerblading, playing soccer or volleyball, hanging out in the sun, walking in the shade of the trees and more. The Cascine gets particularly lively during summertime with swimming at Le Pavoniere pool, concerts at Ultravox or Visarno Arena; weekly antiques and vintage market every Tuesday morning from viale Lincoln to piazzale Kennedy; and a weekly farmers’ market every Saturday in piazzale delle Cascine.
For summer snacks
Cocomeraio will fix that summer-specific craving for a cold, sweet slice of watermelon – and it only costs 2.50 euro! Visit this small wooden kiosk in a corner of the Costoli swimming pool parking lot (piazza Enrico Berlinguer) to get your fill of vitamins with fresh fruit and smoothies, or for an Italian summer classic: Nutella crêpes.
For rooftop dining (with a view)
Empireo Rooftop View American Bar & Pool at Plaza Hotel Lucchesi (lungarno della Zecca Vecchia, 38) is one of Florence’s most dazzling cocktail bars. The rooftop pool and gorgeous views over the historical center makes it the perfect spot for a sunset aperitivo and cute photos. The food comes from the team behind Simone Cipriani’s Essenziale, one of the city’s hottest restaurants. I highly recommend the corn tacos with baccalà mantecato and nduja mayo, roasted eggplant skewers with parmigiana sauce, and the beef tartare with plum and tomato.
A local’s tip
I recommend venturing out further than you usually would, especially if you feel like Florence is as “touristy” as ever and if you want to meet more locals. In my experience, bikes are one of the best ways to get around, with new cycle paths being added all the time. If you live in Florence, even if just for a couple of months, consider purchasing a cheap bike and an expensive lock (or two!) as bike theft is quite common; if you’re visiting, consider signing up to a bike sharing service.