Category Archives: Piazzale Michelangelo

Notte d’Estate (Summer Night) Out in Florence

July 15, 2013

Filed Under : Florence - Food - Italy - Piazzale Michelangelo - Travel

piazzale michelangelo

When my friend Duccio (whose family has owned my Florence apartment building for generations), invited me out to see his friend’s band play on Friday night, I enthusiastically said, yes! Having been on my own, sightseeing for the majority of my days, I was desperate to get out of tourist-ville and have drinks with normal, young people.Me: “Where exactly are we going?”
Duccio: “It’s sort of an outdoor space”
Me: “Ok, well, what should I wear?”
Duccio: “It will be very hipster.”

Italian hipsters?! I couldn’t wait. Now, keep in mind that cars aren’t allowed down many of the town streets during certain hours, so Duccio asked that I meet him “about a five minute walk” away. Sure, whatever. I’d do anything to go out at that point! Luckily, my Italian phone was up and running so my buddy G-Maps was there to help me find my way down the dark cobblestone streets to the main city loop, where he picked me up, right on time, in a boxy old Fiat Panda (“This car is very classic Italian,” he told me). Before heading to the concert, Duccio drove me to see some of the areas outside the city center. First stop, Piazzale Michelangelo, a sort of look out point with spectacular, sweeping city views and an energy all its own, with hoards of kids, street artists, and cafes overlooking the Arno River. From there, we drove through some of more posh areas of the city, with one gorgeous villa after another—the Beverly Hills of Florence. Then we headed off to see the band. Turns out, that “outdoor space” Duccio mentioned was actually—wait for it—a castle! Only in Italy. We walked through the courtyard to an open area in the back where a makeshift bar was awaiting, surrounded by tables, strings of multicolored lights, and hipsters (complete with handlebar mustaches, suspenders, and their dogs by their sides). We ordered Negronis and made our way through the crowd to see the band. Duccio’s friends greeted us. Hugs all around. Introductions. No one really speaks much English. No problem. Fortunately for me, with the music going, the conversation automatically downshifted into what I call, Universal Crowded Bar Sign Language, in which I happen to be fluent. You know, someone signs, “Do you have a light?” You shake your head, no. Someone signs, “Do you want to get a drink?” Obviously, yes. You sign, “I’m going to the restroom. Be right back.” They nod. Someone tries to speak in your ear, “Blah blah, blah blah blah blah.” You smile and nod, which is sign for, “I have no idea what you just said but it’s not worth repeating because I can’t hear you.” After a while, one of Duccio’s friends pulled out a lighted Frisbee and we migrated to a stretch of lawn to play in the dark. No English needed for this game. When it ended, we joined more friends at a table near the bar where they were hand rolling cigarettes and chatting away. Notably, there was not a single cell phone in sight. Novel idea, everyone actually talking to each other, laughing, drinking, and smoking. No one looking for someone better to talk to, no one checking social media. On our way home, Duccio asked if I wanted to stop at the 24-hour bakery, the local version of late-night fast food. Well, of course. Who wouldn’t want a cream-filled pastry at 2 a.m.? It was a perfect cap to a whimsical summer night. -A-