A gastronomic and recreational centre in Oltrarno, the Santo Spirito district is a major nightlife meeting point in Florence. Over the past decade, the entrepreneur Jacopo D’albasio stood out as one of the most active promoters of cultural activities in the area. Founder of the Piazzart association in 2005, D’Albasio currently manages three businesses that shaped the history of Piazza Santo Spirito: Pop Café, Caffè Notte and trattoria Il Chicco di Caffè, also known as La Lola.
“It all started as an unexpected adventure” – D’Albasio says. “Around 2008, I had the opportunity to take over Pop Café, which was on the verge of bankruptcy due to mismanagement. Within a year, we went from 3 to 15 employees, and we committed ourselves to the requalification of Piazza Santo Spirito. Working side by side with our colleagues from Volume, we immediately started organising events of all kinds: theater, jazz, electronic music“.
The day at Pop Café starts at eight o’clock, with breakfast and delicious homemade cakes, straight from the nearby Caffè Notte. Sipping a cup of coffee, a juice or a tea, one can check e-mails, taking advantage of the free wi-fi. At lunch one can taste delicacies of all kinds: burgers, soups, croutons and salads, always being sure to find fresh products and seasonal vegetables. During the aperitif one can drink beers, cocktails and selected wines, while enjoying a buffet of pasta, couscous and crudités. Drinks after drink, it is possible to stay up to 02:00 in the morning, listening to the music of the most famous Florentine DJs.
But Pop Café is not only about nightlife. As a matter of fact, its walls frequently turn into art spaces, hosting temporary exhibitions by some of the most interesting local artists. A tradition that, at the nearby Caffè Notte – which, in all respects, is the Pop Café’s “twin” – has been dubbed “the Artist’s Bathroom”. In fact, young artists have the opportunity to exhibit their works here for three months in a row … on the bathroom walls! At Caffè Notte one can eat and drink from early morning until late at night, with the additional opportunity to attend intimate live music concerts.
In front of Caffè Notte, in Via Della Chiesa, stands Il Chicco di Caffè, a restaurant that everyone in town knows as La Lola. “The name comes from Signora Lola, the chef” – Jacopo tells us – “a true institution here in Florence, since I was a child. I still remember how good her pork chops were! At the time, the restaurant was only open at lunch, while now we also serve dinner. We have tried to stay true to the spirit, offering a simple cuisine, based on fresh pasta and Tuscan traditional dishes“. Try to believe it!
Have you already made a tour of the Santo Spirito district? What is your favorite club there?