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The man who brought the American bar to Florence

Santa Croce: Firenze

Everyone knows that the Red Garter has already blown out 60 candles. And that it was founded in 1962 by an American.

But who that American was is unknown to most.

The man who brought America to Florence was named John Francis “Jack” Correa, and he was in love with this city. He was so strongly smitten that he not only decided to move here but also to open a venue completely different from anything Florence of that time knew. He did so in one of the most beautiful and touristic neighborhoods (certainly not like today), Santa Croce so that Americans who came to spend time in the city would have their place to gather and feel at home—in those four walls with the bar counter, furnished with recycled materials and a lot of elbow grease, in the end also became a little bit his home.

The story goes that Correa exported the American “brand” Red Garter to Italy, which included a series of venues scattered around the United States that originated in the late nineteenth century as rest stops for gold prospectors and merchants, and with a red garter as their characteristic logo.

And so, the Red Garter in Florence also became a venue with banjo bands. But it wasn’t Florentines imitating a world unknown to them. They were American bands that Correa brought over from the United States. This is how the venue became a point of reference in just a few years for those who wanted to savor a little piece of overseas truly.

Over the years, the banjo bands have been replaced by other musical genres, and Monday evening became, at Correa’s express request, the evening dedicated to jazz, a genre of which he was a passionate listener.

Over the years the Red Garter has certainly changed, what has remained however is the heart of his Florentine dream; a place to have fun simply, meet diverse people, and feel a little more at home if in a foreign country.

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