Florian Caffe Venice

Florian Caffe Venice

Deb Kolkka visits one of her favourite cafes in Italy.

By Debra Kolkka | 16th July 2014

Caffe Florian opened in 1720, making it the oldest continuously operating caffe in Italy. It began as two modestly decorated rooms in Piazza San Marco and has been decorated and enlarged over the centuries.

Lord Byron, Goethe and Charles Dickens were frequent visitors and Casanova liked to take his coffee there, probably because it was the only caffe that allowed women.

The rooms are sumptuously decorated and the prices reflect this. It is ridiculously expensive to eat and drink at Florian, but I think it is an absolute must for visitors to Venice. How could you not go to a caffe that opened 50 years before Captain Cook first sailed along the east coast of Australia? (8 years before he was born, in fact).

The interior of Caffe Florian

The interior of Caffe Florian

From 1893 Florian became the home of the International Exhibition of Contemporary Art, an ever changing display of work from the artists of the time, which became the Venice Biennale. Many of the works of art on display are owned by Florian and are loaned to art museums around the world.

A modern installation

A modern installation

Music features at Florian from April to October. (There is a €6 surcharge per person for this) A band plays all day from under the portico, adding even more atmosphere. I usually choose to eat inside to fully enjoy the gorgeous surroundings, but the music drifts in.

The outdoor tables

The outdoor tables

On my last visit I ordered an affogato (which means drowned in Italian...gelato drowned in espresso) and it was delicious.

An authentic affogato

An authentic affogato

Best of all, it was served by an extremely handsome and charming waiter...see for yourself.

A male waiter

My handsome waiter

Don't think about the price of your coffee or aperitivo while at Florian. Think about the history and enjoy the beautiful surroundings and it will be a memory of Venice to savour for years.

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Article by Debra Kolkka

Debra Kolkka grew up at the Gold Coast. She left as a teenager to travel to Italy, sparking a lifetime love affair with the country. She moved to Brisbane where she became a fashion designer and had her own shop in the Brisbane Arcade for 20 years. 10 years ago she and her husband bought a house in Bagni di Lucca, a small mountain village near Lucca in northern Tuscany. She now spends her time travelling between Brisbane and Bagni di Lucca and writing about her travels on her blog, Bagni di Lucca and Beyond.