This past month we made a big decision and a big move out of the city center. We’re really only a 15-minute bike ride from Arno so it is hardly “far,” but it feels like a whole new city. While leaving the overcrowded centro has had a slew of advantages, it has also taken some adjusting. We’re so used to the luxury of having a place close-by to go when tired of wondering the city or after a three hour Uffizi tour. My latest goal, therefore, has been to find new and wonderful places closer to the city center to spend my free hours studying, reading or just relaxing. This post is dedicated to my favorite of these recent discoveries, Caffè Letterario. As with most items in this blog series, it has been around for ages and has just taken me ages to find. And as per usual, I wish I had found it so much sooner!
Caffè Letterario is tucked away in a very hidden piazza, really an interior courtyard, now called “Piazza delle Murate” (piazza of the walled). It’s so hidden that Google Maps doesn’t even know where it is. Once a monastery and then a prison, these series of buildings between via Ghibellina and via dell’Agnolo were later restored to make space for new apartments, restaurants, bars, stores, and the enclosed “piazza” that now houses Caffe Letterario. By night, the large courtyard hosts concerts, parties and a late-night crowd, while during the day the enormous space is quiet and peaceful – ideal for studying or enjoying your newspaper in silence with a cup of joe.
Luckily, there are more than just delicious cappuccinos and caffelattes. There is breakfast food, including brunch (vegetarian and “meat”) served on Saturdays and Sundays, as well as lunch, dinner, and a buffet aperitivo from 6:30pm – 9:30pm. Note: the key word here is “Sunday” (well, yes, also “brunch”). This is always a hard day to maneuver with more frequent closures and simultaneously more crowds in the city. However, Letterario – which services an almost exclusively local crowd – is a breath of fresh air when it comes to fighting the mobs for a coffee. When we arrived at 11:00am one Sunday, we were one of three other people “clambering” for our morning caffeine. With its high walls keeping it hidden and also quiet, this place is a lifesaver for many, but has proven especially useful for hours of studying in peace and quiet, while also well fed (as well as well caffeinated). If you’re trying to penny pinch, don’t worry. There are lovely benches that are free to enjoy with a good book if quiet is all you’re looking for.
Now, finding this place reminds me a little of finding the Room of Requirement in Harry Potter. I must have walked by it a thousand times before I even noticed there was a door and another thousand times before I noticed that that door lead into an interior space. There is, of course, no sign, address, or any markings whatsoever around the entrance on via dell’Agnolo. On top of that, if you only give it a timid glance it doesn’t looks like anything terribly interesting (see photo above). However, walk in and turn the corner and you will find trees, benches, tables, beach loungers, a stage, and a lovely coffee shop/caffè that reminds me of places I used to frequent in Brooklyn, but without the pretentiousness (no offense Brooklyn). So…in case it wasn’t clear, I can’t recommend it highly enough. Go and get your learn on.
INFO: Caffè Letterario @ Le Murate
Where: Piazza delle Murate, 50122 Florence, Italy (see map below)
Take via dell’Agnolo all the way until you almost hit the Viale (Antonio Gramisci/Giovanni Amendola). The entrance will be through a large arched (unmarked) door on the right as you are facing the Viale. Go in and enjoy!
Hours: Monday – Friday: 9:00 am–1:00 am; Saturday & Sunday: 11:00 am – 1:00 am
Phone: (+39) 055.234.6872
For upcoming events see their website