I was recently invited to the launch of a new aperitivo formula at Grand Hotel Minerva in Piazza Santa Maria Novella. I’d seen their rooftop swimming pool on facebook before and always been jealous of the lucky guests who get to swim with a view over the whole city. Unfortunately, though rightly so given its size, the pool is reserved to hotel guests. Plus drinking and swimming don’t mix, kids!

A few colleagues and friends, including the lovely blogger Elena Farinelli, who organized the event, met up in a reserved section of the terrace to do the hard work of testing cocktails at random. The barman has just released a list of 27 cocktails – some new inventions, some classics – and we were his test-lab. Although some of the drinks had lurid colours, for the most part people liked what they got. The barman almost fainted when he heard that I don’t drink alcohol, but when he got over himself he made me a wonderful drink with fresh strawberries and god knows what else. Here we are happily showing off our drinks – please note the similarity in colour of Georgette‘s drink – bottom left – to the swimming pool above, thus the drink’s name!

The drinks are – thankfully – correlated by a starchy buffet that is perfect for soaking up alcohol: various cold salads (pasta, couscous) as well as an excellent panzanella were available, as well as fresh fruit skewers, all beautifully presented.

Aperitivo with SMN tower

There is enough of an aperitivo here to make it a meal, although one negative point is that we were provided with very tiny spoons and forks – so better to not eat too much, I suppose, but it made it very difficult to not spill food down my nice pink dress, which coincidentally matches my drink.

I may look drunk but that’s actually a fruit drink, no alcohol.

What you really come here for, though, is the view. Well, that and to feel super chic, like you live the high life even if you don’t (like me, most of the time). With cocktails priced at a max of 12 euros, including full access to the buffet, this is a small price to pay for a wonderful atmosphere.

Piazza SMN seen from Minerva

UPDATE Summer 2014

The location has gotten even better and so has the aperitivo! The pool and bar area has been renovated and the aperitivo is now called “Time for Tapas”. Rather than putting out a buffet, above the price of your drink, you can order a little tray with 3 tapas items for 5€. I sampled many of these in July 2014 and they are delicious! Here are two updated photos from this summer.

The new tapas
The new tapas
Cocktail by the pool
Cocktail by the pool

For info:

Grand Hotel Minerva / 360 Rooftop Bar
Piazza Santa Maria Novella 16, 50123 Firenze (Italia)
Tel: +39 055 27230
E-mail: info@grandhotelminerva.com

Aperitivo available nightly 6:30-9pm, reservations recommended.

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