History of Italy: Caffè Florian

Located in the Piazza San Marco in Venice, the prestigious Caffè Florian is the oldest coffee house in Italy, and has attracted a particularly high calibre of guests over the years…

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This orchestra, playing al fresco in a time-honoured Italian tradition, are part of the expected luxury of Caffè Florian. Opening in 1720, it is the oldest coffee house in continuous operation – with its closest competitor being Antico Caffè Greco in Rome, which was established in 1760. The elegant Venetian surroundings have historically made Caffè Florian a honeypot for notable artists, including the playwright Carlo Goldoni, and later Marcel Proust, Lord Byron and Charles Dickens. Due to its reputation as the only coffee house that allowed women in the 18th century, Casanova also sits among its famous alumni. In-keeping with its unconventional attributes, Caffè Florian was one of the few places that distributed Count Gozzi Gasparo’s La Gazzetta Veneta – an important political periodical that ran from 1760-61. This publication brought the journalistic styles of Joseph Addison and Richard Steele to Italy, and was intended to mimic the success enjoyed by The Spectator in England.