You know, I often see”al fresco” advertising places outside but is this what Italians actually say to describe eating outside?

In case I’m wrong (and this often happens) it is to my understanding that it actually literally means “being in the cool air”. The correct terminology instead for eating outside or declaring you want to is using the phrase “all’aperto,” but no one will judge you (I hope) if you say Al Fresco, just some food for thought (pun intended).

With that said, Italians love to eat outside as well as anyone else does. When the weather turns warm you’ll see families, groups of friends, and couples enjoying three hour lunches on shaded terraces as everyone embraces the return of the “outdoor season” and yes, I’m one of those. You still may see a few jackets at night though the puffy ones have been packed neatly into cupboards with the seasonal “cambia di stagione” or changing-of-the-wardrobe. I have yet to do this.

This past week, I have noticed how quickly the weather has heated up, to the point where my “pinguino” (portable air-conditioner) has already been put to good use. With temperatures souring into 26 degrees celsius, it’s a wonder we don’t hang at home naked (well maybe we do) , in any case the dog always does.

Here, you never know what is going to last more than a season. Places open, they host big inaugurations and then sometimes drop off the face of the planet after a year or two. Let’s just say there ate a lot of restaurants in Florence.

Only the strong survive.

That’s why it makes sense to get an idea of what is relevant for the year itself, and in my comprehensive eats list, I constantly update it according to closures/openings and if a place just doesn’t measure up anymore (personal tastes). Hence why I am creating this fun list of local favorites both for myself and for you guys on where to eat outside in Florence, organized by neighborhood.

In addition (I left out most restaurant terraces because this list would be a heck of a lot longer- you can find plenty of that in Florence) two of my favorite squares for eating outside are of course Piazza della Passera and especially nice in the summer, Piazza Tasso (also they have one of the best gelateria in town, La Sorbettiera). My top choices there would be a pre-dinner drink at Aurora Circolo bar followed by a terrace table at Culinaria Bistrot by De Gustibus.

Also notable is the well-cultivated Giardino Dell’Arte’Cultura at the city’s horticulture garden not far from Piazza della Liberta: the exact address is Via Vittorio Emanule II n.4. It’s a large green space which plays host to live music concerts, aperitivo, night markets and much more. Follow their FB page for more details.

2021 editions***

Some notable mentions that you might be interested in 

Oltrarno – San Frediano

Santarosa Bistrot. My all-around favorite for its simple, yet tasty cuisine (I love their toast toppings, daily pickings for pasta and well, their cheesecake). They also make a great club sandwiches this girl has ever had in Italy, and the wine list is curated by Enoteca Pitti Gola e Cantina, a great sign. A huge plus is that they are open all day, from breakfast to dinner with continuous hours which makes basing there with a good book a fine idea when you need a bit of a break. reservations recommended. address: Lungarno santa rosa


Quinoa. A gluten-free hideaway with a picturesque courtyard, the first time you visit is almost surprisingly that such a glorious outdoor space exists so close to the Duomo. They specialize in healthier options, so expect plenty of salads (but not only), Thai influenced dishes and a creative daily menu. Prices are medium (around 14€ for one plate). address: Vicolo di Santa Maria Maggiore, 1, 50123 Firenze, Italy. 

Serre Torrigiani in Piazzetta. A cool urban garden that just opened on May 18th for the second year in a row, you’ll find it sandwiched between building across from Orsanmichele (close to Piazza della Repubblica) in Piazza dei Tre Re. Open 10-24 daily, it’s perfect for breakfast, a light lunch or aperitivo (check out their menu here or below). They offer a simple selection of sandwhiches  crostoni, light first courses like farro salad and carpaccio along with beers, wines and cocktails. Be sure to check out their cultural events (readings, concerts etc).

Irene Firenze: For a fancier lunch, dinner or afternoon snack, Irene in Piazza della Repubblica has you covered for one of the most prestigious outdoor dining spots (and people-watching spots) in the city with Fulvio Pierangelini’s mark on the menu. Plus if you’re not looking to break the bank, don’t be scared that its part of a five star hotel. Just check out their “uno, due, tre” (one, two, three course) lunch menu which ranges from 15, 20 to 25 euros a course (beverages excluded).  I am very partial to the fried calamari, beef tartare and monkfish with asparagus. They also have a special afternoon menu daily from 3:30-7pm. Ask about their wine list. address: Piazza della Repubblica, 7. 

Santa Maria Novella | Station 

Photo credit: Braciere Malatesta (FB)


San Niccolo 



Honorable mention also goes to Easy Living, the Arno river “beach” by San Niccolo with an outdoor bar serving simple cocktails and ok pizzas (and more). It is a great place to watch the sunset..

Outside of Florence (but still reachable by bus/taxi)

For a list of places for an amazing view and a drink, I invite you to check out my June article of what’s on around Florence as I’ve included a list of rooftop bars in the center of Florence that are definitely worth visiting. 

4 Responses

  1. All of these places look fantastic! I love the photo of your pup at the spa! Two of the things that make me the most nervous about our move is getting our two dogs there safely and how they will behave once they are. Off-leash in our yard or at their kennel, they’re great with other dogs. But on-leash they bark and act like terrors whenever they see another dog. (Same whenever anyone rings our doorbell.) It’s immensely embarrassing. I think mine are part beagle, but yours looks so calm! Mine are nearing 10-years-old, and I’m wondering if they/we are past the point of help, or if it’s worth it to try to squeeze some training in before we move in October/November.

    1. I truly believe anyone can train a dog. Ginger is very good with others but she has a ton of energy and wants to jump and eat off the table. What I’ve noticed is that if we neglect to take her out she acts absolutely insane when she finally does after 6 months. So we start slow, first coffee outside then lunch etc. So she kind of “gets” what to expect. I wish you luck and hey I’m sure some training couldn’t hurt!

  2. Hello, I am Gian from Bologna Internations.
    I am looking for a convenient and romantic venue in/closby Florence, in order to share beverage and have some quiet stars gazing and upcoming lunar eclipse while sitting and having dinner,
    Can you help me please? I have no hints for the whereabouts in F.

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