Maybe because it is where the first café in the world was opened, or because coffee has always been a secular daily ritual here, even today, historic cafés of Venice are much loved and very popular.
We have chosen to tell you about the historic cafés of Piazza San Marco, located a 10-minute walk from Ca’ Amadi, splendid and full of charm, where you can sit and enjoy the “most beautiful living room in the world.”
Caffè Florian, the first bar in Venice and the world
Caffè Florian is the oldest café in Venice and the world, with over three hundred years of history. Opened over three hundred years ago, way back in 1720, it maintains the charm and elegance of when the Serenissima Republic of Venice was at its peak in Europe for cultural, political, and economic life. Even today, once you cross the threshold, you are greeted by a unique atmosphere where time seems to have stopped.
The succession of rooms that offer a breathtaking view of Piazza San Marco, embellished with sumptuous furnishings and refined details, create the magic of seeing the illustrious characters who have made the history of the Florian at the tables. Among these stand-out names such as Giacomo Casanova, Carlo Goldoni, Lord Byron, Chateaubriand, Dickens, and Gabriele D’Annunzio, just to name a few.
Initially, the café was called “Alla Venezia Trionfante”. Subsequently, when it became a ritual for the Venetians to meet in the restaurant of the then owner, Floriano Francesconi, making an appointment exclaiming: “If we see from Florian”, the name changed to Caffè Florian, in homage to the founder of the oldest historic café in Venice.
Deciding whether to sit outside, enjoy the incomparable setting of Piazza San Marco, accompanied by the magnificent music played live by piano and strings, or immerse yourself in the fascinating internal rooms, will be anything but an easy task!
Gran Caffe Quadri, the chicest today among the historic cafés of Venice
The Gran Caffè Quadri is located opposite Caffè Florian in Piazza San Marco and has an equally fascinating history.
In 1638, the place opened its doors with the name “Il Rimedio,” thanks to the Malvasia wine offered inside, considered a “remedy” that reinvigorated the body and awakened the spirit. In 1775, Giorgio Quadri, a Venetian merchant, returned to Venice from Corfu with his wife Naxina, with the ambition of investing their fortune in a place that offered “boiling black water”: thus begins the story of the Gran Caffè Quadri.
Subsequently, in 1830, management passed to the Vaerini brothers, who renovated the rooms and introduced the Quadri Restaurant on the upper floor.
Caffè Quadri has won illustrious hearts over time from Venetian patricians to famous figures such as Stendhal, Marcel Proust, and, more recently, Woody Allen.
With the takeover of the Alajmo family in management in 2011, the Gran Caffè rediscovered its original aesthetics and enriched its offering. In 2018, the restoration of the Caffè was entrusted by the Alajmos to the famous designer Philippe Starck, who returned the Quadri to its original magic with the addition of a touch of romantic and vaguely surrealist atmosphere.
For this reason, we say that the Gran Caffè Quadri is today the chicest among the historic cafés in Venice, and also because the Quadri Restaurant on the first floor boasts the prestigious Michelin star.
Caffè Lavena, our favorite among the historic cafés of Venice
It’s our favorite among the historic cafés of Venice simply because it is located in the sunniest point of Piazza San Marco, and as soon as the weather allows it, we love coming to have a spritz here at its tables.
Caffè Lavena is at the foot of the Clock Tower, in front of the Basilica of San Marco, and since 1750, it has been one of the most renowned “coffee shops” in Venice.
Originally called the Caffè dei Foresti by the Venetians, frequented by an international clientele, it was once the reference point for those who did not know how to find their way around the Venetian streets. This is why the Còdega stationed at its doors in the evening, with the typical lantern in hand, accompanied the foreign customers of the café to their homes through the maze of Venetian streets.
It’s Carlo Lavena who takes over the management of the place in 1860, which takes the name of Caffè Lavena and becomes, thanks to the cultural liveliness of Carlo Lavena, an authentic prestigious meeting place capable of attracting artists and musicians from all over Europe, including Prince Federico Luigi of Hohenlohe-Ingelfingen, Gabriele d’Annunzio, Franz Liszt. The famous German composer Richard Wagner was a regular and became friends with Carlo Lavena.
Even today, Caffè Lavena is an authentic pearl, serving perhaps the best hot chocolate in all of Venice.