Favourite study spots in Florence

Study and the city

Kate Mani
February 6, 2017 - 18:25

Reality has to hit eventually. You have spent days wandering Florence in awe of Santa Croce’s frescoes and Ghiberti’s golden gates, snapping pictures of the Vasari Corridor and Botticelli’s Primavera. Then suddenly it is essay time, with due dates hanging over your head, while your mind is really still somewhere between the Ponte Vecchio and Palazzo Pitti. Study does not have to be a bore, however, as Florence’s cosy and quirky literary cafes can make even the driest of Renaissance reading a memorable experience, all for the price of your favourite coffee. If cramming with hot chocolate in hand becomes too distracting, the libraries below provide the silence you need to click submit.


La Cité | Ph. via blog.uniplaces.com

La Cité
Borgo San Frediano 20R / Website
This San Frediano favourite describes itself as “a small, cultural island, a city in the city”. Spread over two levels, 
La Cité will help you escape distractions and procrastination with enough comfy couches to accommodate your entire research group. Book-lined walls ease you into the study zone, while free Wi-Fi and organic foods give you no reason to leave. When it is time for a pausa, La Cité regularly hosts book launches and literary talks as well as live music. Open Monday to Saturday, 9pm to 2am; Sundays, 3pm to midnight.


Libreria Brac
Via dei Vagellai 18R / Website
During the day, quietness is almost guaranteed at this art café and restaurant. Pass by the bar through the courtyard garden and into the light-filled back room for a dose of tranquillity. Brac also hosts live music, offers vegan 
and vegetarian meal options and boasts an extensive tea menu, providing calming cures to study stress. 
Open Monday to Saturday, noon to midnight; Sundays, noon to 8pm.


Todo Modo
Via dei Fossi 15R / Website
Independent bookstore, café and theatre merge in this eclectic space. If the book and meal of the day fail to tickle your fancy, check out the 150,000 new, secondhand and recommended titles as well as the dishes ranging from polenta to cheesecake. As far as study goes, among the indoor plants dangling from the ceiling and the volumes that line shelves, seats and stairs, you will find yourself transported to a calmer place. Open Mondays, noon to 8pm; Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday, 10am to 8pm; Thursday to Saturday, 10am to 9pm.

Le Murate
Piazza delle Murate (off via Ghibellina) /  Website
Le Murate is much-frequented by Florentine students: you see them swapping exam notes, discussing Manzoni in the café’s various rooms and making the most of the student prices. Housed in Florence’s former prison, Le Murate also hosts readings, debates, music, art and photography exhibitions and children’s activities. Open Monday to Friday, 9am to 1am; Saturday, 11am to 1am; Sunday and holidays, noon to 3pm.


Via San Gallo 21R / Website
At Sit’N’Breakfast you pay for your seat but it is a seat that will serve you well. S’N’B welcomes “lovers of the written word” and makes it easy and practical for the bookish to pursue their passion. Among the art exhibitions, study spaces, bookstore and café you can access printers, scanners and Wi-Fi. For more hands-on assignments, video cameras, webcams, microphones and other technological tools are available. Prices range from 4 euro an hour to 100 euro a month, with 30 per cent off for students and teachers. Open Monday to Saturday, 10am to 8pm.


Palazzo Giovani
Vicolo di Santa Maria Maggiore 1 
/ Website 
Students in Florence should get to know the Palazzo Giovani, a free city service that provides information on education, work and free time. They offer a free student discount card as well as a café and Wi-Fi. Open Monday, Tuesday and Thursday 1pm to 5pm; Wednesday and Friday, 10am to 2pm.


Harold Acton Library at the British Institute

Biblioteca delle Oblate
Via dell’Oriuolo 24 / Website
In summer it is not just students who flock to the Oblate cafeteria and loggia, with drinks on the balcony and free jazz nights. In winter the library and café move at a quieter pace, providing plenty of study spots, free Wi-Fi for limited hours and uncrowded views of the Duomo when you are twitching for an Instagram break. Make sure you bring some photo ID to sign up for a library card. Open Tuesday to Saturday, 9am to midnight; Mondays 2pm to 10pm; closed Sundays and holidays.


Biblioteca Pietro Thouar
Piazza Torquato Tasso 3 / Website
Like the Oblate, this is one of 13 city-run libraries that are scattered around Florence’s historical and residential areas. Located in the Oltrarno’s quiet piazza Tasso, 
the library is housed inside the former church and convent of San Salvatore a Camaldoli. It dates back to the 11th century when it hosted the Abbot of Camaldoli and played an important role in the religious life of the Oltrarno. As with the Oblate, you will need to sign up for a library card with some photo ID. Opening times vary but are listed on the website.


Harold Acton Library
Lungarno Guicciardini 9 / Website
The British Institute’s Harold Acton Library has been an Anglo-Florentine cultural institution since 1917. Your membership fee (see website for details) will allow you to peruse its collection of English books on Italy and art and receive internet access. You will also be able to attend lectures, concerts and participate in cultural activities, details of which are available online. Open Monday to Friday, 10am to 6:30pm.


Biblioteca Nazionale
Piazza dei Cavalleggeri 1 / Website
Pretend you are a PhD student in one of the big leather chairs at the Biblioteca Nazionale. Its range of Italian books is extensive, boasting every volume published since the unification of Italy. You can access the library and complete in-library loans (provided you are over 18) by signing up. Do not forget your passport and note that Wi-Fi is available. Open Monday to Friday, 8:15am to 7pm; Saturday, 8:15am to 1:30pm.

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