Italy After Hours: What they don’t tell you in your guidebook

Sunset over Florence. Via Wikimedia by Sherseydc,

Sunset over Florence. Via Wikimedia by Sherseydc,

Italy is a popular destination for many—and with the thousands of people that flock there, there are thousands of guidebooks that tell them where they should go and what they should do. Here’s what you WON’T find in those books.

Secret Drunk Food
There are bakeries around Florence called “secret bakeries” that illegally open in the middle of the night. They aren’t supposed to be open at these abnormal hours, so you won’t see signs, you’ll only hear about their location from word of mouth, and you must use cash. Most people go after a night out at the clubs, but you still have to be cautious to be quiet and not draw attention to the secret drunk food delicacy. I was hushed many times. Oops!

What to Drink
Aperol Spritz is a must-try at a Florentine apertivo (the Italian version of happy hour). The drink is aperol, prosecco, and soda water with an orange slice. After dinner, indulge in some grappa. This brandy made of grapes will give you just enough buzz before you hit the bars, while also being light on your stomach after a meal. And obviously, you have to drink a lot of wine. It wasn’t hard to scope out the market and find bottles of wine that were cheaper than water, but the two are totally interchangeable, right?

Where to Drink
Florence lacks any sort of open container law. You can get drinks anywhere, transfer to a plastic cup, and saunter around the city. You’ll often see people in the street drinking a beer or a bottle of wine. You can walk bar to bar with your drink, never having to worry about chugging it in order to head to your next destination. If you’re feeling adventurous, head to one of the many piazzas in Florence with a bottle of wine (or two) and watch the sunrise.

Piazza San Marco, Square view in Florence, Italy Firenze. Via Wikimedia by Sailko.

Piazza San Marco, Square view in Florence, Italy Firenze. Via Wikimedia by Sailko.

Lax Business Rules
Businesses in Florence open and close as they please. If the owner feels like taking the day off of work, then he takes the day off of work. I experienced an instance where I was bartering with an established business for a lower price when trying to print at a café. I wouldn’t recommend this at a nice restaurant, but many smaller businesses are simply laid back. This can be as great and hilarious as it can be frustrating.

Liquor in Your Coffee
Many espresso bars also double as convenience stores and carry high-proof liquor. This can do wonders to your afternoon pick-me-up! You can stop in for a Dopio with a side of Jameson, and no one has to know. Who said Irish coffee was just an Irish thing?

City of Many Things
I went to Florence to visit my best friend who was studying abroad there—but our plan to go to Venice for a day trip was canceled when she got food poisoning. Because I was only there for a week, I decided to spend the day wandering around alone. Eventually it got dark and I had no idea where I was. I had no idea what to do because I couldn’t speak Italian, but eventually a man approached me and in Hindi asked if I was okay. I was in disbelief. Here I was in Florence, Italy, talking in Hindi! I made my way back to my friend’s apartment by getting directions from multiple people—all in Hindi.

The city is small but it is full of many wonders. Get out there and discover some on your own!

Nupur Gambhir

About Nupur Gambhir

Nupur Gambhir is a World Travel Buzz Intern from Columbus, Ohio. Her wanderlust has taken her everywhere from Paris to Mexico, and her experiences have ignited in her the conviction to explore every corner of the world.