"An American from Boston, John Francis ‘Jack’ Correa, following a trip to the city and promptly falling in love with it decided to settle there, opening at only 27 years of age something that was totally new for that time."
It was on 23rd May 1962, at number 33r in via de’ Benci in the heart of Florence, that one of the many artisans’ workshops, of which there were many at the time, was transformed into something completely different.
With more than 50 years history behind it the Red Garter was born as one of the first American bars in Italy and is today one of the most famous nightspots in the city, well known even overseas.
It was on 23rd May 1962, at number 33r in via de’ Benci in the heart of Florence, that one of the many artisans’ workshops, of which there were many at the time, was transformed into something completely different. An American from Boston, John Francis ‘Jack’ Correa, following a trip to the city and promptly falling in love with it decided to settle there, opening at only 27 years of age something that was totally new for that time. It was a place where you could listen to traditional American music played by a banjo band, i.e. a group of musicians dressed as piano players from a Far West saloon, wearing waistcoats, bow ties and straw boaters, skilful at playing a unique, four or five stringed musical instrument – the banjo – an instrument typical of American folk music that was not easy to play but produced a cheerful, lively sound.
Having noticed that there weren’t really any meeting places for young foreigners in Florence, Correa decided to reproduce something that already existed in America, using what we could consider a primitive form of franchising. The United States was once strewn with Red Garters, some of which are still there today. Born towards the end of the 19th century they were inns, Victorian in style with a saloon attached where merchants and gold diggers could stop and freshen up and pass pleasant evenings listening to music from a banjo band.
The banjo player has remained the symbol of this bar and we can still see it today in the logo. The thick, black moustache recalls that of the founder, Jack Correa.
This is how the Red Garter was born. At that time it took up just a small part of the current area and it was only open during the summer months when the flow of tourists visiting the city was at its height. It immediately became a reference point for the Anglo-Saxon community, above all for the many Americans who have always thronged Florence. “If the consulate is closed they come here for information”, Correa used to joke. Despite the fact that the bar has been renovated many times over the years – just think of the damage caused by the Great Flood in ’66 – its style has remained the same and the tables, benches and wooden furnishings continue to remind us of old-time saloons.
As the years went by the bar became more and more popular and began to stay open also in the winter.
Open every evening, all year round for more than 50 years, the Red Garter today represents a must for the Florentine nightlife for the many foreigners visiting the city who have often heard about it even before leaving home.
The Red Garter now has a great Steak House attached, modelled on the classic American Diner, the House of Sizzle, boasting an original menu that combines typical American cooking with good Italian meat, delicious hamburgers, Florentine steaks and the famous ‘Tagliata’ (thinly sliced, raw meat) are the most popular dishes.
Every evening maxi screens show the major national and international sporting events and football championships.
At more than half a century from its opening you can still feel the same atmosphere and the same energy that you could at the very beginning: young people from all over the world united by the same desire to enjoy themselves. Live music, good beer, great food, popular dj-sets are some of the key elements to success in this little world, along with good dose of passion and the constant challenge to keep up with the times, continuing to entertain the public, are what make this place so unique. A little piece of history.
After many years of success a second Red Garter was opened in Barcelona in 2017.