How to: Go out like an American in Florence
by: Kate Sefton
As an American living, studying and working in Florence, I have noticed many cultural differences.
The nightlife culture is no exception.
The biggest difference I have noticed since coming to Florence is that there is something to do, somewhere to go, and someone to see, every night of the week. Due to the high amount of study abroad participants that choose to take their partying elsewhere on the weekend, the biggest days in Florence for nightlife are Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. The bars, pubs and clubs around Florence have definitely taken a noticing to the fact that there are 6,000 American students studying here, meaning that there are a plethora of American-tailored places to hang out. If you choose to stick to your American-roots, frequenting any of these spots will allow you to meet lots of other American students from all over the US, as well as those Italians who choose to partake in American drinking rituals. If you want a guaranteed good night in Florence, follow this guide.
Mondays are the new Thursdays, or something like that. The feeling of celebrating the end of the week (for those who don’t have class on Friday), getting together with your friends to blow off some steam, and tossing back one too many on a Thursday night is felt through-and-through on Mondays in Florence. Why celebrate another week passing when you can celebrate another week beginning here?
Rubaconte Mondays (shout out @SmartTripFlorence): SmartTrip puts on a Monday night dinner each week for 15 euro. You get a family-style appetizer as well as three different kinds of pasta, unlimited bread and bottomless wine. Looking for a great way to start off your night that doesn’t involved bars and tabs? FaceBook message any one of the SmartTrip reps that have inevitably tried to talk to you on the street and have absolutely already friended you.
Green Street Bar: Right down the street from Rubaconte, sits Green. It’s a tiny bar with a great staff, they take American currency on a $1-1 ratio, and there is a great lofted area from which you can view the debauchery going on below. Grab some Sangria for 3 euros (4 euros every other night of the week). They also offer a stamp to get into YAB for free if you arrive before midnight.
YAB (shown): If you’re still kickin’ after Rubicante and Green, I commend you. Your next stop will be YAB, an underground club close to Piazza Republica. Mondays are hip hop nights, meaning you’ll get all the best hip hop music from Tupac to Rae Sremmurd. Italian teenagers and 20-something Americans fill the crowd, but keep a look out for the 80-year-old man that makes his rounds at YAB every Monday.
Tuesdays are equivalent to Fridays. A little more lowkey, tired out from Thursday and wanting to be prepared for Saturday, Friday serves as the buffer; so in comes Tuesday to buffer out your wild Monday/Wednesday combo.
Start with aperitivo. If you don’t know what this Italian ritual is yet, you need to learn. Aperitivo is a beautiful tradition, that makes me sad I ever have to return to America, in which you buy your favorite drink at various locations and then you get access to an unlimited buffet of appetizer-style food. Each place offers a different kind of food, usually drinks range from 5-10 euro. Some honorable mentions are Oibo and Moyo. Both have great music, great drinks, and great food. Oibo will get mad at you if you stay too long, however. Moyo has a lounge room in the back corner, so if you travel in packs (like many Americans), Moyo will accommodate you willingly.
Rex Cafe: Go to Rex if you know what’s up. Live Jazz music every Tuesday at 10, great lounge seating and fantastic drinks. Much more of a relaxed vibe, so it’s a great place to bring a few friends, hang out and listen to live music.
Red Garter: If you felt so inspired by the music at Rex that you want to make your own, head to Red Garter next for karaoke. Whether you feel like embarrassing yourself, or you feel like watching other people embarrass themselves, Red Garter is a great place to go. It has a very American vibe, but they have great beer and will show you a good time.
Wednesdays have replaced Saturday Night in my heart. These tend to be the loudest night, and it seems like all 6,000 abroad kids decide to go out on Wednesdays. The streets are full of people and anywhere you choose to go will be fun.
Lion’s Fountain: 5 euro margaritas and 1.5 euro tacos starting at 6pm to kick off “Mexican Night” at Lion’s Fountain. Show your American ID to purchase a Livestrong style bracelet for 1 euro that will allow you to get a free shot with every drink you order. Lion’s has a sports-bar feel during any soccer or Rubgy game, and is a great place to have a beer while you watch. There is also karaoke here, so come hang out, have a margarita (or two) and listen to the greats being sung by the averages.
Atlantic Pub (shown): Next head to Wet N’ Wild Wednesdays at Atlantic. They have great drink deals including 5 shots for 5 euro, 5 euro cocktails, and 12 euro pitchers with a drink card. Upstairs they have beer pong, on the first floor they have darts, a great DJ and an area to dance and chat. There’s plenty of seating, so bring your friends. They also offer stamps for free admission to Space if you get to Space before 12:30.
Space: SpaceClub holds “College Night” every Wednesday, meaning that it will be chock-full of other American abroad students. They have a great VIP section as well as balconies that overlook the sea of people below. There is a bar on the ground floor as well as one in the main area of the club. Plenty of seating if your feet get tired from dancing your heart out, but expect long lines for the bars and bathrooms.
Late night food:
Doner Kebab (or any Kebab place): This place is awesome. The Kebabs are delicious and a great price. I recommend the chicken, and make sure to get American fries inside.
Mister Pizza (shown): Great pizza, open super late, and it delivers.
These recommendations will show you a good time and won’t push anyone too far out of their normal college lifestyle. If you want to do something different, I always find that the best nights happen at places that are very low key, a great place to get to know new people on your program, or to get a taste of real Italian nightlife culture. My real recommendation is to get a couple of your friends together and walk through an area that you like and know until you find a hole-in-the-wall place to sit. Pro tip: It’s very frowned upon in Italy to add anything into their wine (such as Sulfates), so almost every bottle of wine in Italy comes hangover free.
Kate Sefton (@katesefton): A third-year student at the University of Minnesota- Twin Cities, studying marketing and digital media. Currently living, studying and working in Florence, Italy, although she originally hails from Wilmette, Illinois. She is interning with DotFlorence, a digital marketing web agency, for the next few months. You can find her anywhere the sun is, with a book in one hand and a coffee in the other.