I am not a hipster. I’m a former sorority girl from the Midwest. That, however, doesn’t mean I don’t admire the hipster lifestyle. Small venue live music, quirky vintage clothing, witty sarcasm always on the tip of the tongue, the BEST Instagrams. What I wouldn’t give! So occasionally, when the mood strikes, I break out my faux (shhh) retro glasses, pair them with my Converse All Stars and attempt to blend in with the ironic, yet oh-so-breezy hipster crowd that I can’t help but admire. In Anywhere, USA we have to look no farther than the corner coffee shop in the local arts district when we need our hipster fix. In the already artsy, but also very traditional Florence, the scene is a bit less concentrated, calling for your very own guide on how to be a hipster in Florence.
So today I’m taking you on a spin around the city through the eyes behind those wannabe vintage glasses of mine. We’ll hit up all of the best hipster hangouts in Florence that are sure to have you queuing up Radiohead on your iPod faster than you can say, “I liked them before they were cool.”
Hang Like a Hipster
Piazza Santo Spirito | Oltrarno
Let’s cut to the heart of the Florentine hipster culture – Piazza Santo Spirito. Considered the epicenter of the traditionally artisan Oltrarno, Piazza Santo Spirito reigns supreme as hipster haven in Florence.
The stoop of the church of Santo Spirito (or as I call it, the Alamo of Florence) is where our guide begins. Hipsters from far and wide have journeyed to this very stoop this afternoon to bask in the sun, discuss music and politics, exchange witty, sarcastic banter and roll homemade cigarettes.
The kitschy cafes in the piazza gladly welcome the stoop overflow onto their sunny patios. Dreds are the only requirement to land a job as a barista at these cafes and an attitude of gratitude is the only requirement to land yourself a table. And which cafe patio can you find Meg and I sunning on when the hipster mood strikes?
Volume | Piazza Santo Spirito
Located on the northeast corner of the Piazza (a hop and a skip from the church steps). The cafe/museum/library (as it calls itself) displays works of art from local artists, a smattering of thought-provoking literature, and boasts a calendar stacked with small venue live music. This hipster fantasy isn’t complete however, until you spend a sunny afternoon on the Volume patio. With a perfect view of the Santo Spirito steps, the people watching is truly priceless. Impromptu poetry readings, jugglers, break dancers, a man walking his baby goat on a leash. Does it get more delightful than that?
Easy Living | Lungarno Cellini, across from the Torre San Niccolò, open 10 Am – 10 PM summer months
Time to head to the beach! Beach in Florence? That seems ironic right? The name alone draws in hipsters old and young to the Arno beach/bar. Sure the Arno doesn’t exactly offer the white sands and crystal blue water of the Amalfi (quite the opposite as a matter of fact). But who cares right? The dingy but lovable beach sports sand volleyball courts, cabanas, lounge chairs, showers, the most chillaxed bunch of hipsters you’ll ever meet, and even a bar with a FREE aperitivo. Entrance is free as well! This is our kind of beach (well for today). The program PiazzArt adds a dash of culture to the dingy hangout by hosting art installations, shows, and workshops all summer long.
Piazza Santissima Annunziata | North of the Duomo
Piazza Santissima Annunziata is an artistic and historic gem in and of itself. But for the purposes of this post, it is the hipster piazza of choice if you find yourself north of the Arno. Historically, farmers, artisans, and artists from the countryside came (and still come) to Piazza Santissima Annunizata to sell their wares (as celebrated every September during the Festa della Rificolona). The Piazza has also become a hotspot for movements and protests. Occupy Florence – yes Occupy Florence – set up camp in the Piazza for months in the Spring of 2012. Even when the piazza is not abuzz with artisan markets or peaceful protests, it always hosts a cast of quirky characters in search of la vita alternativa.
Sip Coffee With a Book in Hand Like a Hipster
Biblioteca delle Oblate | Via dell’Oriuolo 26
Hipsters love mind-opening experiences while sipping on their complicated coffee orders. To slip into that scene we recommend a few library cafes around town. The most obvious option is the Bibliotecca delle Oblate. The Oblate is a library first. However, beautiful terraces with knockout views of the Duomo, a delightful rooftop cafe, and a live music line up make the Oblate much more alluring to the hipster searching out a relaxing afternoon than the student in need of an intense study session. So grab a latte, grab a seat, and grab a book (no prob if you don’t plan on cracking it) and simply chill the heck out.
For smaller library cafes check out….
Libreria Cafe La Cite | Borgo San Frediano, 20
Meykadeh | Via dei Pepi 14/R
Shop Like a Hipster
Santo Spirito Flea Market | Second Sunday of the month | Piazza Santo Spirito
When it comes to pulling off the hipster lifestyle, looks are everything. A superficial reality that perhaps only a former sorority girl such as myself can admit. The fact of the matter is, that if you show up to one of the aforementioned hipster hangs in J. Crew, the glares alone will send you right back to the door. So when it comes to hipster fashion stick to the only adjective that matters – vintage. The flea market scene is a great place to start. In particular the flea market at Santo Spirito. The hodgepodge market sells everything from organic seeds, to woodwork, to vintage frocks. Nothing mainstream, mass-produced, or made in China can be found here. So dig in. You really can’t go wrong. For a list of more flea and vintage markets throughout the city check out Meg’s guide to Florence’s best markets.
Pitti Vintage | Borgo degli Albizi 72/r
If you prefer combing through neat racks to digging through bins in a market, we suggest exploring some of the city’s charming treasure trunks of vintage clothing. My personal favorite, Pitti Vintage, is perfect for the girly girl hipster who prefers flouncy and quirky frocks.
Can’t find your hipster style here? No worries! This capitol of fashion is overflowing with vintage duds of every style and decade. For the best breakdown of vintage shopping in Florence on the web look here!
Be Ironic Like a Hipster
The Jersey Shore Apartment | Via Vecchietti 6
I mean it’s ironic, right? Check it out.
Party Like a Hipster
Rosy’s (aka Secret Bar) | Piazza Savonarola
One evening in early summer, my roommate and I emerged from our black hole of studying at the local library. As we walked toward our apartment we felt the vibrations from pulsing Latino music and heard laughter echoing through our typically quiet residential neighborhood. Had our hours of studying transported us to a spicy Latino Narnia? As we approached Piazza Savonarola we noticed throngs of people congregating around the typically rolled up kiosk on the north end of the piazza. To our surprise the quiet, family friendly Piazza Savonarola by day was a SECRET BAR by night!
A few blocks north of Piazza Santissima Annunziata, just north of the Viale Giacomo Matteotti, lies this undercover party. The clientele here is largely comprised of baby Italian hipsters just embarking on their alternative careers. You might be a a hair out of your age range, but today you’re a hipster – so whatever, right? The kiosk turned party cabana is fondly called Rosy’s by locals, after its delightful Colombian ex-pat owner. However, to Meg and I, it will always simply be, Secret Bar.
The Blob Club | Via Vinegia 21
Crawling with American girls and 15-year-old Italian boys, a true Florentine hipster would never be caught dead in most discoteche. So where do hipsters go when they just need to kick off their shoes and dance? The Blob Club. Tucked on Via Vinegia, only the determined hipster, will find Blob. The club is a small two-story venue. During the day the club offers coffee, WiFi, video games and musical instruments for the free spirits who wander in. At night, Blob turns into a mosh pit of hipsters, twirling in their vintage frocks to live music or a DJ set. No smoke machine necessary as this is one of the few remaining venues in Florence that allows indoor smoking. Blob is a private club which means it is free for members and a cover for non. Soooo we suggest finding yourself a friend happy to cover that cover!
Le Murate | Between Via dell’Agnolo and Via Ghibellina
The former convent-turned-prison is an unexpected locale for a hipster hangout. But then again, isn’t that what hipsters are all about? Le Murate is a large complex situated between Via dell’Agnolo and Via Ghibellina, just east of all the action downtown. The complex is now comprised of shops, bars, apartments and most notably, the Caffé Letterario Le Murate. Just like the hip hangouts mentioned above, this cafe offers light reads, art, poetry readings and live music to enjoy while you sip your cappuccino. When the sun sets, the cafe brings the party, and often spills into the courtyard, with live music, DJ sets, dance performances, movie screenings, etc. Check out the schedule here.
Now that you’ve tackled the starter guide of how to hang like a true hipster in Florence , Instagram your heart out! The world is your vintage-filtered, quirky, ironic little burrito.