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Caffe, food, and books. List of “nerd-havens” in Florence

After an un-eventful weekend including being sick, working and loads of cleaning, T-man and I were more than happy to meet with some good friends of mine, Kate and Rob, to catch up over un caffe. ( By the way , their blog is kinda awesome so if you haven’t already seen it, check it asap http://www.lavitaebellablog.com/).

Sundays can always be a little tricky in Italy, even for someone who has lived in the city “as long” as I have ( 5 years ) or someone who grew up here ( t-man ); we never seem to know/remember what is actually open. Not looking to spend 5 euros to sit down and sip a caffe in the center’s gorgeous (but overpriced) piazza’s, we decided to head over to Caffeteria Oblate which is a caffe located on the 2nd floor of a local library with a stunning view of the Duomo.

Coffee with a (really awesome view) 

Well-known in the Florentine circles as a place to meet-up, Oblate has really embraced its now trendy image and has on offer special concerts, themed apertivi (happy hour) and even brunch. Prices are minimal ( no need to worry about sitting down to enjoy your cappuccino ) and almost screamingly cheap especially for the location. I was so excited to show our friends this cool place only to arrive and it be closed! Figures, since this was clearly not MY weekend. Nevertheless it was an over sight of my usually anal-retentive self when it comes to checking opening times and days. Oblate is open every day but Sunday ( which I will never forget again..)

Caffetteria delle Oblate
via dell’Oriuolo, 26
50122 Firenze
tel. 055/2639685
info@caffetteriadelleoblate.it
Hours: Monday 14.00-19.00
Tues-Saturday 9.00-24.00

Foto di Dimitri Lomartire (site of oblate)

So after that debacle and my hurry to remedy the situation, I first thought about heading to Moyo, and yet changed my mind again after suddenly remembering this fabulous place I used to go with a Dutch friend. Another library-cafe-contemporary art space, Libreria Brac is located in a somewhat isolated street steps from Via di Benci close to Ponte alle Grazie.

Like a Garden Oasis, Libreria Brac

pic from http://www.libreriabrac.net/brac/nggallery/page-19/album-1/gallery-1/

 

They serve delicious seasonal vegetarian and vegan food as well as coffee, soy cappuccino’s , wines, and delicious cakes.

Libreria di arte contemporanea, caffè e cucina aka Libreria Brac, via dei vagellai 18r, 50122 firenze ( off of the street via dei benci, it can be a little tough to find the first time) www.libreriabrac.net,  info@libreriabrac.net, Tel: +39 055/0944877. Make reservations for dinner or happy hour because they are almost always full, locals love it! Open Monday to Saturday, 11am – 24:00, Sunday from 12pm – 20:00.

La Cite, the almost never was

I can’t mention great library coffee bars without mentioning the famous La Cite in the Oltrarno area of Florence. This place is a really neat place to sip a coffee/ have a beer/ watch a band, and many local Florentines go there. It was almost closed down for good for noise violations in the neighborhoods but recently has gotten their license back. I would tell you the times but quite frankly they change so often, I would just walk by and see for yourself.

taken from http://www.lacitelibreria.info/galleria/

  • Libreria La Cite, Via dei Vagellai, 18/r, TEL 055/0944877, www.libreriabrac.net             

 

Cool Cuculia, an Oltraro

Another vegetarian library caffe bar option in addition to Brac is also on the Oltrarno side of the river located on via dei serragli. They have a great aperitivo and their drinks are pretty good. They also do a Sunday brunch that I haven’t tried yet but I really want to. Cuculia – Libreria con Cucina, Via Serragli 3R e 1R, 50124 Firenze, Italy.

Mama’s Bakery: Feels Like Home

If you are looking for an American-type of brunch/coffee place that serves hot coffee and great desserts. You probably already knows about Mama’s Bakery on via della chiesa. Check out their site here. Whenever I really need a good chat with some friends and a club sandwich – this is where you will find me. They tend to close on the earlier side – 5pm, 3pm on Saturday and now open on Sunday so make it a lunch date. and invite me, ok? Mama’s Bakery can be found at via della Chiesa, 34/r. 

The Diner

Another diner close to Piazza Santa Croce is actually just called.. the diner. This place has been open for a few years and the owner also manages Aqua al Due and the Blob Club. They have a great website and really good brunch and prices. They recently underwent a renovation and their space is even bigger and brighter than before. I was really impressed when I stopped by a few weeks ago. I would dare say their pancakes and omelettes are some of the best I’ve had in Florence. If you only want a coffee and a chat, that’s ok with them too, they won’t make you feel uncomfortable for not ordering food. The Diner is located on Via dell’Acqua, 2.

 

Honestly I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love a library-caffe bar, I first fell in love with this concept as a poor student in Los Angeles, looking for a quiet nice place to study. When I’m inside, I feel like I am in a 2012 version of a Fellini film, impossibly cool without having to spend a cent. Ok perhaps a few euros but at the very least, these places are not expensive as I try to be pretty good about sharing “budget-friendly” places that I really enjoy in Florence since it can be quite expensive in the historical center. We all need a great place to decompress, sip a prosecco or tea with a friend where we can chat for hours and not get glared at by impatient staff, so go ahead and visit one of these local places and let me know what you think or of I missed something.

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  1. bundleofbooks

    These places look great. Honestly, I wish I had discovered this blog when I lived in Italy a few years ago! I definitely would have made use of your suggestions. I’ve enjoyed having a look through your past posts too! I’ll remember this post when I next go to Florence. For some reason I always have trouble finding somewhere to eat/drink that isn’t overly touristy when I’m in Florence, so thanks for the tips!

  2. ggnitaly84

    grazie~! part of the reason I revived this blog was after being around town and hearing people’s frustrations about decently priced places to eat, chat with a friend or just chill. A lot of these places are on tiny side streets or just aren’t that advertised so hopefully people can enjoy some of the reasons I love this city. Anyone can google search but its not easy finding up-to-date relevant info in Italy ( in english ), I see some famous sites advertising places that closed down years ago. Florence is very touristy and obv many businesses cater to that community but there are so many cool places for locals :) , I am always looking for an excuse to chat away the afternoon with friends or just have a huge coffee while reading.. ( and not have to stand at the bar.. ).

  3. Marlow Travels

    These tips are amazing. Whenever I get to go back to Italy (and I definately hope that will be SOON!) I will try to keep these in mind . I have never been to Florence, or Tuscany for that matter, but it’s on my ‘to-do-within-3-years-list’. So if you have any more tips, they’re most welcome :). Keep up the blogging, I’ve read a few and they’re fun to keep up with!. – Daphne -.

    • ggnitaly84

      Thanks Daphne, I have been here since 2007 and have loved every minute, its a very special (and small city). I try to blog fromt he perspective of a normal young person working and living in the city (no under the tuscan sun presumptions ;-). I also like to blog about traveling around Europe, Italy and of course about all of the awesome food in these parts. thanks for stopping by!

      • Marlow Travels

        If Under the Tuscan Sun was at all realistic, we’d all be living in romantic cottages surprisingly found but ‘just’ hopping of a bus. But it does leave space for dreaming ;-). I’m actually hoping to make my way around all of Europe over the next couple of year, which should be doable since I’m a Dutchie. So far it’s just mainly the West with England or better yet, London, as all time favorite. If you’d like any tips for this side of Europe, I’ve got some blogposts as well.

        • ggnitaly84

          I will absolutely check out your blog, I love reading about people’s travels, especially in Europe since I’m here. I too love London town, too much to do there. Where in Holland are you from?

      • Marlow Travels

        I’m from Zoetermeer, which is a totally uninteresting city about 15 km east of The Hague (Den Haag). So pretty strategic between The Hague, Rotterdam and close to Amsterdam. What kinda work do you do besides blogging : )?

        • ggnitaly84

          no city can be that uninteresting ;-). I’ve only been to Amsterdam and Utrecht, great places! I work as a social media consultant and manager for a start up in Florence called Attrakt and I also work as a sales manager for a tourist site operating from America called http://www.insidersabroad.com :)

  4. Raquel

    This article is EXACTLY what I was looking for. I just moved here for a semester abroad. Thank you for sharing!

  5. Rhonna

    Heading to florence in a month, thank you so much for the recommendations! I am glad that you noted a vegan caffe as well, I was worried I might not find much.

  6. Alexandra

    I’m an Erasmus student in Florence for a semester, so your blog is pure gold to me :)
    I just wanted to point out that the Meykahedh Cafe has unfortunately closed. Which is a pity, it looked really nice!
    Anyway, thank you so much for your lists, they are incredibly helpful!
    Would you by any chance have some advice to meet new people? I’m quite shy and live alone, with few lectures to speak off so my opportunities for social interactions are quite limited for the moment :P

    • GirlInFlorence

      Alexandra, thank you! I just updated the list and I am sorry about the closure, that was a nice place :(. As for meeting people, I highly recommend checking out the Yelp Firenze events (good mingling opportunities for both International and local contacts). Also I would think about joining a class (yoga or dance) which might be a fun way to meet people. I wrote a list of various groups in the city here


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