Life is taken at a more leisurely pace in Italy, so when you are visiting, slip into the Italian way of spending an evening and chill out for an hour or so with an aperitivo before dinner. The idea of an aperitif is to work up your appetite, get together with friends, and relax while you decide on where to eat some great Tuscan food.
Just off the Piazza Santa Maria Novella is the bar of the Hotel L’Orologio, cool and airy with contemporary luxurious fittings in mahogany and leather. The name of the hotel means ‘the clock’ and you can see the design throughout has been inspired by fine timepieces. Interesting morsels are served to compliment your drinks and help stimulate your appetite for later, whether you choose a glass of wine, a cocktail or one of the artisan bottled beers. There are also some tables outside if you prefer to watch the world passing by.
For a simple but traditional Florentine aperitif you could try the unaltered nineteenth century Procacci café. This is the place to go for a cold refreshing glass of prosecco, a perfect pre-dinner drink and a tiny bread roll with the pungent crema di tartufo (truffle paste). There are some small tables along with standing room at the marble bar for this popular after work meeting place, set between the famous fashion houses of the Via Tornabuoni. As well as the traditional sparkling prosecco, other wines are available by the glass but the most traditional drink to accompany the truffle roll is in fact lightly spiced tomato juice!
For lovers of cocktails and followers of fashion there is Caffè Giacosa which is part of Florentine designer Roberto Cavalli’s shop at the top of Vai della Spada. The legendary Negroni cocktail was invented at Giacosa a century ago when the Count Negroni regularly propped up the bar and asked the barman to sharpen up his cocktail of Campari and vermouth with a shot of gin. There is a small terrace with waiter service outside or you can enjoy your cocktail at the bar.