Caffè Florian: three centuries of love, history and art

Caffè Florian: three centuries of love, history and art

A walk with a decisive step and an impeccable posture: the chest outward, the shoulders back and the chin slightly forward. Tonic muscles that stand out below his dark clothes and some pronounced facial features, hidden by the shadow of the hat. He is advancing in the crowd, without going unnoticed. He is a young self-confident man, he knows what he wants and he also knows very well where to go right now.

“Good afternoon, Mr. Casanova” – a waiter in his fifties welcomes him, wrapped in a white suit, his forehead beaded with sweat – “Are you waiting for someone?”. Their accomplices gazes speak for themselves. The ritual is about to start again, as usual. In the expression of the waiter there’s curiosity: how will the girl be this time?


The art of seduction at the Caffè Florian

Here she is, far away. She is coming with a graceful step, almost hopping. Her skirt moves sinuously and some of her locks, that have escaped her styled braid, tickle her cheeks. She is crossing St. Mark’s Square and doesn’t need to look around for a long time: she already crosses those intense and dark eyes that were waiting for her, those eyes that had already inhale her from a distance.
Giacomo Casanova gets up, leans his head, lays his lips on the girl’s pale hand and makes her sit in front of him.

He is staring at her intensely, she blushes. The faint blush that colors his cheeks makes hes young age stand out even more. Casanova does not wait a second longer and begins to talk with his beautiful lady. Now he is telling her about the bizarre event happened this morning and she laughs, amused. Casanova knows that he knows how to do with words and loves to entertain long conversations with his lovers. But he also adores to listen to her and Caterina likes to confide to him. Like all the other women he conquered. And his favorite place to do it is right here, at the Caffè Florian, at his usual table.


A glimpse of Venice praised forever

A few metres away, a man is observing. He gives back to the seducer, the young lady and the majesty of the Cafè. He faces St. Mark’s Basilica and peers. His look is the one of those who capture every detail. Details must be his job. He is holding a palette in his hands but the canvas in front of him is still immaculate.

The painter seems to be enraptured by the magnitude of the view in front of him: he seems to want to understand if it’s possible to bring all the sensations he is feeling back on a canvas. He does not mention to look away from this breathtaking and timeless landscape that only in Venice, his hometown, he can find.
But suddenly a spark breaks through his eyes, they shine and his lips hatch, hinting a smile.

He has just taken the brush, the finest and most worn but also the one he is most fond of. He dips it in color and the canvas loses its purity immediately.


It’s certainly not the first time that Canaletto chooses a glimpse of Venice to give life to one of his paintings, but every time he is enchanted in front of such beauty.


Let’s go to the Florian

Meanwhile, the crowd that animates the square is emanating a buzz of confused, overlapping and sometimes hasty voices. It’s impossible to describe all the people who are walking in this moment in a homogeneous way.

Many men, some women and even children. Nobles, workers, artists. Everyone with their own duties, their own thoughts, their dreams. Stories of life, so far but so close. These casual encounters of souls are daily life at Caffè Florian. Ah, if its walls could speak! It is a crossroads of emotions, whispered confessions, never-before-seen secrets and inspirational writings.
Just like in this moment: one of its rooms is having the privilege of being able to witness the birth of a comedy that will remain alive in history for many centuries.


Once the brandy was running, coffee is now in vogue

Carlo Goldoni has his head bent over a multitude of disordered sheets that lie on a small table, hiding its noble decorations. He writes with a pressing rhythm, twirling his fountain pen almost like he’s guiding it in a couple dance.

A ray of sunlight penetrates from the window and glows his thick silvery foliage. The ray reflects in one of the many mirrors of the room, giving it a new light.
The porcelain cup placed a few inches from his writing hand emanates an enveloping scent coffee.
Goldoni is an habitual visitor at Caffè Florian, as well as a habitual drinker of its coffee. It is precisely this place that is inspiring him in writing his next work.

Suddenly he stops, puts a dot and raises his head. He gently lays his dance partner and, with the same grace, he brings his cup of coffee to his mouth. Close his eyes and savor. He opens them again: now he has no more doubts. Rearrange the sheets on the table, forming an ordered file. It often turns out: the sheets are many more than they seemed.

Solemnly, he supports the last white sheet left over all. He drinks the last drops of the black gold of the cup. He still writes few words on that sheet, then gets up and goes out with his manuscript under his arm.
“La bottega del caffè” (The coffe shop), this is the title that can be glimpsed as it gets lost in the crowd in St. Mark’s Square.


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About Tania Ferronato

I am a linguist and I love phonology, travels and food. My greatest passion is writing. I love the feeling that I have when finding myself in front of a blank sheet: it is the same feeling of waiting to take a plane or a train to start a journey. Excitement, curiosity and the desire to free my mind and my heart to new horizons. Writing is like traveling: leaving towards unexplored limits and unknown destinations and always returning different from the beginning.