Caffè Florian and Gran Caffè Quadri are two unique establishments in the incomparable city of Venice. Both date from the 18th century–a time when Italy was developing a real passion for coffee, an invigorating drink imported from the nearby Ottoman Empire by Venetian merchants. Read about The Gritty Palace, one the city’s best hotels.
These two beautiful and historic Venetian cafes offer an exciting glimpse at history and glamour— accompanied by good coffee—in a unique and unforgettable city.
The coffee shop was founded on December 29, 1720, under the name of Alla Venezia Trionfante (In Triumphant Venice). It later became known as Caffè Florian, in honor of its proprietor, Floriano Francesconi. Considered Europe’s oldest, this legendary cafe opens onto one of the city’s most emblematic areas–under the Procuratie Nuove in Piazza San Marcos–a few steps from the Grand Canal. A legacy of the city’s noble past, Venetians refer to the elegant coffee house simply as “the Florian”. Its various rooms—Senato, Cinese, Eastern and Degli Uomini Illustri—are a compendium of good taste and elegance, beautifully bedecked with frescoes and typical 18th-century furnishings and motifs. Since opening, Florian has been a center of art and culture and a meeting place for personalities such as Carlo Goldoni, Giacomo Casanova and Gabriele D’Annunzio, among others. In the early 20th century, Caffè Florian introduced the traditional European cafe-concert, with a live orchestra that entertains and adds charm to the pleasant atmosphere of its terrace.
Gran Caffè Quadri
Originally opened as Il Rimedio (The Remedy) in 1638, the Gran Caffè Quadri–in the Procuratie Nuove—has long been a Venetian benchmark for its timeless charm and evocative atmosphere. In 1775, Giorgio Quadri bought Il Rimedio, changing the name to Gran Caffè Quadri. Then, in 1830, management passed to the Vaerini brothers who renovated the interior and added an elegant restaurant on the second floor—the only restaurant in the Piazza San Marcos. With the subsequent arrival of the Alajmo family, the establishment regained its former prestige becoming–once again–one of the great Venetian coffee houses. The cafe’s guests can relax in one of the most beautiful squares in the world. Inside, the rooms of the ground floor are beautifully decorated with stucco in soft shades of green and yellow. The walls are adorned with a selection of Giuseppe Put’s Venetian landscapes, and beautiful paintings by Pietro Longhi, which depict everyday life scenes and remind us of the work of the great Tiepolo. Gran Caffè Quadri’s charms and unique style have attracted celebrated figures such as Stendhal, Dumas, Lord Byron, Balzac, Marcel Proust and Richard Wagner, among other celebrities. ■