Florence, Italy: Drink and eat your way through the city

Written by By Emily Lane, CNN Florence, Italy Written by Emily Lane, CNN Florence, Italy

I arrived in the Tuscan city of Florence last week from New York City, in time for its monthly Fabbrica del Vino exhibition, which features new wines from the northern Italian city and is located in the Cinnabar (Cinco Dumertitos) bar in the heart of the historic town.

Visitors can taste Tulli Estates wines and the labels of some of the Tuscan region’s renowned winemakers, including Federico Tulli, a third-generation winemaker who makes No. 37 cuvee Muscat, distributed by Vinitaly, an industry group that promotes winemaking internationally. (Earlier this year, Vinitaly organized an exhibition in Florence, featuring works by Italian winemakers.)

Taking in the Cinnabar (Cinco Dumertitos) bar in Florence. Credit: Jonathan Kerr / www.jonathankerr.com

There is more than wine to see and drink in Florence. Its bar scene is certainly a highlight. Located next to the Cinnabar, Albini is a fabled bar in its own right and has been around since the late 1960s, when it was renovated into an art deco house. It continues to be a popular bar, and is a perfect destination for wine enthusiasts to mingle.

Not all bars are founded on the same values, though. Christian Muret, a drink that’s most famous in Italian bars and restaurants, is a stand-alone cocktail. It’s something to drink with cheese (particularly Gruyere), preferably in a wooden box. We decided to try Christian Muret’s tomato basil version (although the name might be better pronounced with a soft “h”), for $14.

The popular wine bar Upstairs

But what is arguably the most delicious Italian beverage, the cappuccino, is far from being a cultural reference point. While coffee and cappuccino are globally popular, Italians don’t see drinking them on a daily basis as having any intrinsic reason to do so.

“There is no reason why you can’t have coffee or cappuccino in every place. No reason at all,” says Joni Tamaki, who grew up in Japan and now manages upmarket wine bar Fabi in New York City. “Yes, Italians are very fastidious about drinking wine, but the thing is, when you are drinking wine, it’s more about the taste. I can drink your coffee and your cappuccino anywhere, anytime.”

MORE: 15 best places to eat in Florence

Other than work or studying, reasons for people to frequent a bar or restaurant are limited. They could be checking out their countrymen — out with friends or with strangers, for example — or maybe after taking in the sights. Clifton Hake came to the Capodichino neighborhood of Florence from London for a few days with his wife to browse the collection of sculptures by Italian artist Ferdinando Ammonelli in the Museo dell’Art Contemporanea Elettrica (MACE), which is located on the 16th floor of the Museo Forte Pietro. Hake arrived after a detour through the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City.

Another possible reason to seek out a bar or restaurant? Rather than urinating in public, many people are met at bars to drink something called Pomodoro D’Italia (Pomodoro, who?), a potent, somewhat potent wine that they consume in one of Italy’s most famous local snacks, the Sicilian cherry.

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