Through the keyhole - Caffè Florian in Venice – Natalia Willmott
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Through the keyhole - Caffè Florian in Venice

We arrived in Venice one late evening in December and the first thing we did after dropping our bags was to go the St. Mark’s Square. There, just under the beautiful arcades is the famous Caffè, Caffè  Florian which has been there for more than 300 years. It’s the oldest Caffè in the whole world. It was opened in 1720 by Floriano Francesconi and was originally named Alla Venezia Trionfate (To Venice Triumphant) and was renamed Florian in 1797. 

 

 

The Caffè was shut when we arrived so I took a picture through the keyhole but returned the next day. The Caffè really retains this old world charm and it's worth going there as you are sitting surround by history, with beautiful walls of frescoes gold leaf walls, marble tables, and rich, red velvet seating.

So many personalities such as Charles Dickens, Lord Byron, Wagner, Verdi, Marcel Proust, Ernest Hemingway, Andy Warhol have stopped there. It was depicted in Canaletto paintings. It was the only Caffè  that allowed women so Casanova was frequently seen there. 

We sat in the sala Cinese (Chinese room) with designs by  artist Antonio Pascutti just next to the Oriental room adorned with paintings by Giacomo Casa both from the second half of the 19th century. In fact the Caffè  was reimagined in the 19th century by Lodivico Cadorin in 18th century Venetian style. That is what you see today apart from the Sala Liberty from the 1920’s decorated in art nouveau style with hand painted mirrors and panelling. 

If you do go it's worthing looking up at the ceilings and just soaking up a bit of history- know that your coffee might be expensive but you are preserving an era, traditions and craftsmanship and there is really impeccable service.

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