Rondinella & Santa Rosa Cool Summer Spots

Lounging at the Santa Rosa Bistrot

Two summer cool spots sit at the edge of city limits, close to the San Frediano gate–both are removed from city noise and offering more nature and shade than typically found in Florence.  Circolo Rondinella del Torrino and Santarosa Bistrot are located on Lungarno Soderini, right off the the Amerigo Vespucci bridge, and are open all day from morning to midnight. 

Circolo Rondinella del Torrino is a local “club” on Lungarno Soderini 2 that is most used as an outdoor bar/restaurant along the bank of the Arno River, the slight breezes perfect for cooling down on hot, summer evenings under the shade of large trees, similar to those of Siena. Only a €2 entry (which becomes a full-year membership, you can order a cappuccino and cornetto in the morning, or a cheap drink and full meal at the end of the day, while enjoying a panoramic view of the Arno as the sparrows circle above your rounded tree-trunk table. 

With all its rustic charm, this place attracts mostly locals, where older couples come to rest under the shade and families come to spend time together. It is as popular as it was prior to 2012, when the board of Rondinella del Torrino voted to remove poker machines from the venue and insisted on creating a more traditional and social club to offer recreational, cultural, and sporting activities for and by the public. The following years saw an increase of social activity. In a post-COVID world, some of these events have paused, but the summer of 2022 has shown large promise of the club’s future, with happenings starting up again, and the venue being a highly favored place for a cheap meal, spectacular view, and casual fun with the family. Being managed by an older staff, only cash is accepted, but the €5 Aperol Spritz make it worth it. 

Next up, Santarosa Bistrot, on Lungarno di Santa Rosa, is a restaurant that opened in 2016 which sits in the gardens dedicated to Henry Dunant, the founder of the Red Cross. Similar to Rondinella, outdoor dining can be enjoyed in this large garden, which is more like an outdoor greenhouse. Indoor dining is also offered, but it is more common to see the typical millennial crowd lounging in C-curved chairs on the lawn while playing card games and enjoying aperitivo.

The menu follows the seasons, being swapped out every three months in order to grab the best in-season ingredients and follow Florence’s weather. The prices reflect these changes, making it slightly more costly than a hole-in-the-wall restaurant, but this does not deter customers. To continue the evening in this lovely garden, a large, luxurious bar with well-trained mixologists behind glass doors offer not only cocktails and coffee, but herbal teas and fresh juices, making this an ideal place for all. (angie sanchez)