Florence’s Coolest Summer Spots, Part 1

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La Corte Reale, burgers by La Toraia

Florence is famous for its traditional trattorias and hole-in-the-wall bars. But during the hotter months, crowded cafés and indoor restaurants don’t always fit the bill. From a pop-up city beach to a trendy station-side bar, here are a few ways to survive Florence’s sizzling streets.

Corte Reale, Piazza della Stazione.

Right next to Santa Maria Novella train station seems like an unusual place for a bar. But its sophisticated blend of music, high quality food and contemporary architecture makes Corte Reale one of Florence’s most exciting new summer venues.

The style is a fusion of classic, Mediterranean and modern: 600 square metres (2000 ft.) of white Carrara and green Verde Alpi marble frame the courtyard, and white seats and beanbags surround pools of glowing water.

This classy outdoor space comes alive at night with DJ sets, live music and entertainment. But it’s the street food that takes centre stage. Eight stalls line the area offering a cross-section of Italian cuisine: fresh fish from the Adriatic Sea, arrosticini (mutton skewers) from Abruzzo, Roman-style tomato-less white pizza (pizza bianca), Sicilian arancini (stuffed rice balls), traditional piadina (flatbread) from Emilia-Romagna, buffalo mozzarella from Campania, authentic Tuscan Chianina beef burgers (pictured) from La Toraia and artisanal Florentine ice cream.

Open only during the summer, Corte Reale (www.corte.realefirenze.it/en) combines stylish décor, music and traditional Italian cooking to create a unique street food festival atmosphere every evening from 5 pm – 2 am.

Serre Torrigiani in Piazzetta, Piazza dei Tre Re.

Tucked away off one of the city’s busiest streets, Serre Torrigiani in Piazzetta offers an oasis of calm away from the throngs of tourists.

This garden refuge, given its central location, should be a tourist trap. But unless you happen to spot one of the small white signs pointing out “Urban Garden, Street Food & Free Wifi,” you would hardly know it’s there.

Venturing down a tiny alleyway off Via dei Calzaiuoli, you’ll find a hidden piazza decorated with quaint garden furniture and an array of plants and greenery. This little courtyard makes for a wonderfully serene spot to while away the hours during the summer months in Florence.

For those wanting a bite to eat, a food hut offers a menu based on traditional Tuscan cuisine, including panini and bruschetta, or stay later to enjoy aperitivo in this shady summer venue.

Food for thought is also on the menu at Serre Torrigani in Piazzetta (www.serretorrigianiinpiazzetta.it): two cultural events are scheduled each week, spanning literature, theatre, music and art.

Le Murate, Piazza delle Murate, via Ghibellina.

Le Murate is an artsy café-bar located in a former convent-turned-prison. About a 15-minute walk from the Duomo, this address attracts a colourful local crowd. It hosts regular cultural events from readings and interviews with authors, to film screenings, debates, live music and art exhibitions (www.lemurate.it).

During summer, the action moves outside into the spacious courtyard. Equipped with colourful tables and chairs ready for breakfast, lunch and dinner, this is an ideal space to relax during Florence’s hotter months. A large aperitivo buffet is also on offer between 6:30 and 9:30 pm.

Le Murate is open from 9 am to 1 am.

Easy Living Beach Bar, Piazza Poggi.

Located just below the Easy Living bar in Florence’s San Niccolò area, this urban beach bar (www.easylivingfirenze.it/en) has offered a seaside atmosphere since 2010. The Beach Bar is hidden away at the quieter end of the Arno River, far from the bustle of tourists, making it the perfect summer escape.

The sandy area on the banks of the river is decked out with lounge chairs, wooden tables, crates and cabanas, giving this summer spot a real holiday vibe. Bring along a blanket to relax on the sand, order a cocktail and enjoy the aperitivo buffet served each evening.

Open from 10 am to 1:30 am, the beach can be enjoyed all day long. Soak up the morning sun or enjoy a drink with friends in the evening; either way this riverside venue is a must for summertime in Florence. (poppy jackson)