The kind of coffee shop-cum-offices we’re used to in cosmopolitan cities don’t always translate to Florence. Pull out your laptop charger as you nurse a cappuccino in a traditional bar and you’ll quickly realise it’s not the “done” thing. With remote working on the rise and a steady stream of international students back in the city, there are still plenty of places where smart working, as the locals call it, is acceptable.
For bright ideas: Granaio dell’Abbondanza
The new kid on the Oltrarno block, Granaio dell’Abbondanza rocks a spacey feel that will set your course to stratospheric levels. The ground-floor space is free for digital nomads looking to connect online and off, plus the workspaces available on the upper levels have a six-monthly turnaround to ensure renewed company. Grab a healthy bite (spelt salad and simple pastas) from the on-site bar and restaurant and join the other natives out in the stunning courtyard.
Piazza di Cestello 10
For start-up vibes: Collab at The Student Hotel
Entrepreneurs, students and “digital nomads” (in other words, anyone who can work remotely) cross paths at this swanky co-working space just outside the city centre. Printers, unlimited coffee and inspiring collective energy will help you through a mountain of deadlines. Like any self-respecting hot-desking office, the space is designed for Instagram: expect indoor plants, brightly coloured murals, adult-sized swings and inspirational quotes galore. A day pass costs 15 euro, while flex-desks are 99 euro per month. Open 8.30am – 7pm Monday to Friday.
Viale Spartaco Lavagnini 70
For literary glamour: Oblate Library
Membership is free to this public library set within what was once a medieval convent. Once you’ve filled out the paperwork, bag a table inside (mercifully air-conditioned in the summer) or outside under the loggia roofs, with close-up views of the Duomo and a gentle breeze as you create. There’s also a café, plying students with pricey smoothies and shakerato coffees. Book your table in advance in busy periods to avoid disappointment. Open Monday afternoon and all day Tuesday to Saturday, with a lunchtime break (1-1.30pm) for the tables to be cleaned.
Via dell’Oriuolo 24
For speciality coffee: Simbiosi
Be mindful of hogging tables in this adorable little café, which gets pretty popular on weekends. If there’s space, it’s an enchanting place for an afternoon curled up with a book or brushing up on your Italian in the regal armchairs. The coffee is top-notch, ethically sourced from Florentine craft coffee company D612. Equally delicious are the freshly made pastries, organic orange juice and aperitivo in the late afternoon sun. Open 8am-9pm daily.
Via de’ Ginori 43R
For an afternoon treat: Melaleuca
This Aussie-inspired café along the Arno is no secret and it’s sometimes hard to grab a table in the morning when people flock for their famous brunch. After the lunchtime rush has died down though, there’s a window of time when it’s a lovely spot for working over coffee and a gooey home-baked cinnamon bun (indisputably the best in town). It’s not far from Santa Croce and the many language schools around there, and is a great place for studying with pals or catching up on some revision. Open 8am-4pm on weekdays, and 9am-4pm on weekends.
Lungarno delle Grazie 18
For student prices: Sit ‘N’ Breakfast
This place is designed for remote working, meaning there’s no shred of guilt in whipping out the laptop and plugging in the headphones. You pay by the hour or by the day, while an inexpensive menu of panini, coffee and homemade cakes keeps hunger at bay. There’s a garden for sunny days if you can find a table and the space also hosts art exhibitions, music events and more. Open 9am-8pm Monday to Friday, and 12 noon-8pm Saturdays.
Via San Gallo 21R
For international comforts: Ditta Artigianale Sant’Ambrogio
However much you might love Florence’s independent vibe, sometimes you can’t help but crave the anonymity of a chain. When an American-style coffee shop is calling, head for Ditta Artigianale. The coffee is lovingly researched by owner Francesco Sanapo, brownies (not cheap at five euro, though) are on tap, and good wifi is guaranteed across three central locations. Courtesy of a respectful upgrade of the 13th-century palazzo, the newest outlet is by Sant’Ambrogio church on via Carducci. Open 8.30am to midnight daily.
Via Giosuè Carducci 2/4R
For healthy breakfasts: Shake Café
Another home-grown Florentine chain, Shake Café, offers good value, while hitting all the international marks: acai smoothie bowls, turmeric lattes, chia pots and delicious eggs Benedict served with proper bacon. The largest outpost on via Cavour is well suited for studying and remote working, dotted as it is with communal tables and plenty of sockets. There’s a walled garden too for sunnier days and decent air-con in the summer. Open 7.30am-7pm daily.
Via Camillo Cavour 67/69R
For a rooftop garden: C.BIO
A hidden gem among the more local and less touristy Sant’Ambrogio area, the urban garden on the rooftop of this artisanal grocery store run by Fabio Picchi and the Cibrèo dynasty is a wonder to behold. Grab lunch from the deli counter (hot lasagne and Tuscan stews are made every day) and find a table among the rose bushes, herbs, raspberry bushes and citrus trees. There’s wifi and, as long as it’s not too busy, you won’t be disturbed. Opening times vary.
Via della Mattonaia 3A