FLORENTINES like to socialize. Three or four nights a week they’ll stay out until three in the morning, yet arrive at the office by 9 a.m. The key to their stamina: lots of espresso.Nightlife tends to break down this way: English-style pubs cater to drunken study-abroad students watching soccer and rugby games. Cafés typically offer wine, aperitivi, and late-night digestivi, along with food. Cantine, or wine bars, serve both by the bottle and by the glass. And American-style bars offer “long drinks,” a.k.a. cocktails. Italians aren’t big drinkers. Typically they’ll have just a few glasses over the course of an evening.
Tel. 055 284724
Operated by one of Italy’s biggest wine companies, this small, rather stately cantina offers plenty of by-the-glass vino from all around the country. It’s a great spot at which to stop before the night really gets going. Although there is a dining room serving full meals, stick to the seats by the bar and nibble on preserved artichokes and pizzette.
Tel. 055 2398762
PRICE LEGEND(based on average price without wine for one person)
€ = less than €25
€€ = €25–€35
€€€ = €35+
Phone Number Note: To reach Italy from the United States, dial 011 39 before all phone numbers listed.
Tel. 055 210751
Originally operating under another name, this café and bar has been a popular local hangout since it first opened more than five years ago. Located on the Arno River in a high-end shopping district near many law firms and banks, it offers a good brunch and lunch by day and a hoppin’ scene at night. Particularly in the summer, Noir’s patrons will double-park in the street and sit on the waist-high walls that flank the river, until shooed off by the police (only to reassume their positions moments later). The food is consistently good, and the bar’s décor (dark gray, silver, black—noir, get it?) strikes the delicate balance between chic and cheesy.
Tel. 055 284595
University students and older revelers all have a fondness for Dolce Vita, a favorite for more than 20 years. On the otherwise quiet Piazza del Carmine, it offers two bars in one: cocktails in one room, wines by the glass in another. It’s a great place to get a drink while waiting for a table at the nearby Trattoria Pizzeria Napoleone (see Restaurants), but it warrants a trek in its own right. During aperitivo, or happy hour, you’ll have to elbow locals out of the way in order to get a few bites of the food, which is very good. If you can’t deal with crowds, go late at night, when there are plenty of tables—and live music ranging from flamenco to rock when the weather’s good.
Tel. 055 283156
A newer place owned by the wine company Colle Bereto, this is the bar of choice for local fashionistas who work at area stores Fendi, Pucci, and Gucci. On a closed-off piazza, with floor-to-ceiling glass windows built into Renaissance arches, wood floors, and two levels (upstairs is for VIPs only), you can walk back and forth between here and Noir, and people do.