Celebrating the city and the legend — Photo courtesy of Andrew Thomas Lee/The Florence
Conveniently located in Savannah, The Florence draws its name from both the celebrated Italian city and Florence Martus, known simply as "the Waving Girl," who lived with her brother – a lighthouse keeper – on Elba Island near the Port of Savannah.
From 1887-1931, Florence greeted ships coming in and out of the port, waving a handkerchief by day and a lantern by night. According to legend, she had fallen in love as a young girl with a sailor and wanted to be sure he would find her when he returned. Whether or not they reconnected has been lost to history, but a statue in her honor, by sculptor Felix de Weldon, stands in Morrell Park on the riverfront.
Opened in June 2014, this trendy eatery – the brainchild of award-winning owner and Chef Hugh Acheson and Chef Kyle Jacovino – is one of Savannah's most popular restaurants. The ingredients may be Southern-grown, but from the freshly baked bread, cheeses and aperitifs to the frothy cappuccino, the focus is definitely Italiano.
Housed in a refurbished ice factory, the interior is a masterpiece of architecture with marble table tops, high ceilings and reclaimed wood, lending it a definite laid-back atmosphere, which in turn, makes it a very inviting place. In fact, depending on the day, this popular café-restaurant can be positively boisterous, but that just adds to the fun.
Although The Florence has a rotating seasonal menu, you can always count on fresh pastas, wood-fired Neapolitan pizza, their signature Sicilian Fisherman's Stew and tasty Italian-inspired desserts. For a tasty appetizer, the basil, parmesan and orange-zest tinged meatballs have become a crowd-pleaser.
Be sure to save room for dessert such as chocolate panna cotta, the Florence cannoli or the popular olive oil pound cake, topped off by an extensive selection of espresso drinks.
Head upstairs to the bar to sip on signature cocktails such as the Florence Cup, or sample Georgia craft beers and an ongoing rotation of Italian brews. The adjacent coffee bar is the place for morning coffee and small bites during lunch hours.