Where to Drink in Tuscany

As one of Italy’s (and the world’s) best-known wine regions, Tuscany has no shortage of varietals and vintages to explore. But along with all the enoteche (wine bars), there are plenty of places to sip an aperitivo before dinner or to savor a post-meal digestivo while listening to some live music. The retro cocktail craze has hit Florence, too, so you’ll also find hip spots celebrating the art of the handcrafted drink.

Piazza della Repubblica, 7, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy
Irene, a bright and colorful restaurant at the Hotel Savoy, is great for lunch on the sunny bistro terrace outside or for a nightcap sipped on a velvet banquette at the bar inside. The kitchen turns out traditional Tuscan cuisine with surprising modern touches: The classic tomato-and-bread pappa al pomodoro comes stuffed inside ravioli, and the vitello tonnato (veal with tuna-caper sauce) is topped with ribbons of shaved fennel and served with the sauce on the side. On Sundays, the popular “Lunch at Nonna’s” menu is a loving nod to the restaurant’s namesake. Pre- or post-dinner, grab a seat on the terrace, overlooking Piazza della Repubblica, to enjoy wines served in retro-style carafes and bubbly poured into 1950s coupe glasses.
Piazza dei Rossi, 1R, 50125 Firenze FI, Italy
Reserve an outside table at this popular enoteca, located on a quiet piazza around the corner from the crowded Ponte Vecchio. You can order a predinner snack or, better still, cobble together a full meal from the selection of crostini with delicious toppings like truffle sausage and melted cheese or spicy ‘nduja sausage. Other menu highlights include the antipasti platters of cheese and mixed cured meats. The staff can help you choose from the wine list, which focuses on small producers. (If you want to expand your wine expertise, guided tastings are also available here.)
Via Porta Giustizia, 11, 53100 Siena SI, Italy
Head to this perennial favorite near Piazza Del Campo to mingle with locals over a cup of tea—or, come evening, something a bit stiffer. There are close to 100 types of teas available, as well as infusions and hot chocolates, each served in a unique tea pot and matching cup; Ilario, the genial owner, can help you navigate all the choices. Pair your pick with a dessert or baked treat, then settle into one of the cushy armchairs or sofas, under one of the dimly lit space’s original stone archways, to pass a relaxing hour or so. This is also a great place for a pre- or post-dinner drink, thanks to a full bar and, a few times a week, live music.
Florence, Metropolitan City of Florence, Italy
Two Florentine brothers were inspired by the history of radio communication to name their cushy bar Mayday—and outfit it with vintage radios (set on the tables and hanging from the ceiling), black-and-white photographs, and tons of other vintage memorabilia. The drinks, too, feel of another time, with their focus on handcrafted preparations, small-batch liquors, and organic and locally grown ingredients. Sample everything from unfiltered brews made from Tuscan barley and wheat, to a rare Scottish whisky or a green tea–infused cocktail. The atmosphere is one of collaboration: There are nightly lively music performances, the walls are lined with art installations and exhibits, and patrons are encouraged to leave their own vintage mementos. Classes in mixology and infusion-making are also available, and are a fun way to hone your skills while mingling with locals.
Piazza delle Cantine, 6, 50022 Greve FI, Italy
An enomatic machine in the heart of wine country—what could be better? The largest enoteca in Chianti, this bar encourages experimentation and sampling, thanks to the card-operated, by-the-glass machines; just go slow, as there are over 140 wines available to taste. Pick a couple that stand out to you, or follow a guided “itinerary” through the 13 different tasting sections, which are grouped by type of wine, production region, and type of tasting (such as vertical tastings, or one of just Chianti Classicos by year). Olive oils and sweet wines are also available to sample.
Borgo S. Frediano, 36-38r, 50124 Firenze FI, Italy
If you’re looking for a classic martini or Aperol spritz, move along—this bar is all about taking the cocktail to unexpected places. In a tiny, spartan space (think red brick walls and lightly adorned wooden tables), noted booze alchemists Neri Fantechi and Julian Biondi, along with their team of Florence award-winning mixologists, whip up drinks with unique flavor profiles and combinations, like carrot jam with bourbon and egg whites. (The drinks also have names that will make you smile.) The menu is divided into three parts—Soul Warmers, A Fistful of Dollars, and Fabulous Spirits—and also includes a nice selection of mezcals and rye vodkas (Biondi serves as a brand ambassador for Russia’s Poulgar vodka.) The duo also hosts mixology classes and other drink-focused events for fellow enthusiasts and novices alike.
28r Via di Mezzo
Italy never had Prohibition (can you imagine the country going wine-free?), but this intimate bar, opened in 2017, brings a touch of that era’s speakeasy style to central Florence. Owner and veteran bartender Cristian Guitti places equal importance on taste and aesthetics, creating concoctions that both excite the palate—with a hint of smoke here, and some barrel aging there—and also do your Instagram proud. The menu is heavily inspired by ‘20s-era cocktails, with nods to both America and Italy, so you’ll find drinks like Old Sport (based on Wild Turkey 81 Bourbon), Coney Island (rum with popcorn, chili, dark chocolate, and more), and Aglio Olio & Peperoncino (tequila blanco with olive oil and the essential oils of orange and chili). Guitti considers this a “cocktail experience,” which means the multi-step drinks may take a while to be prepared, but you’ll have fun soaking up the retro atmosphere while waiting for them to arrive.
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