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The iconic Halls of Caffè Florian

 

Rai, with TG1 Mattina, visits the Caffè Florian to document the journey through the historical Cafés of Italy.

 

Opened in 1720 by Floriano Francesconi, the historic coffee shop was completely restored in 1858: the artistic layout that we still enjoy today is preserved in its original splendour.

 

The restoration was entrusted to architect Lodovico Cadorin, who created a team made up of young artists from the Academy of Fine Arts and the best craftsmen, goldbeater, carpenters, marble workers and parquettists of the time. The best craftsmen in Venice in one grandiose project of architecture and design that transformed an establishment that had been in business for a century and a half into a prestigious international salon.

 

The project was so important and costly that the chronicles of the time denounced the abnormal expenditure of money with which an entire palace could have been built on the Grand Canal.

“A treasure was poured (…)

With those denarii a palace would be erected’.

 

(Tommaso Locatelli, Official Gazette of Venice)

LRIMG_6804 Soffitto affrescato della Sala delle Donne, attuale Sala del Senato del Caffè Florian, con cornici dorate e affreschi rinascimentali

The Halls were small and the project aimed to create a play of mirrors and light reflections that would make the spaces larger and, thanks to rich decorations, more elegant.

The project achieved its ambitious goal, and the Florian Halls shine with their stuccoes and paintings, welcoming visitors from all over the world with wonder and amazement.

Painter Giacomo Casa (a student at that time), left his indelible mark on the decorations of the Senate Hall, with wonderful colours and cryptic, esoteric messages that still intrigue us today.

The setting that welcomes us to the Florian lead us into a dreamlike atmosphere.

In the Oriental Hall the painter projects us into A Thousand and One Nights atmosphere, where dreams merge with reality, where the boundary between the inside and the outside becomes blurred, where the unconscious message is that this is the ideal place to experience life.

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Orientale Halls

The 1800s swivel tables, historical curiosities

 

Among the aspects of absolute originality, children of Architect Cadorin’s creativity, are the swivel tables.

The need to exploit the available space was strongly felt, but also and above all the need to give guests maximum comfort by creating a warm and cosy environment like an alcove, as dynamic as a train carriage from whose window one could watch the world go by… while standing still sipping a coffee!

 

Gowns in crinolines were certainly a challenging type of clothing to move in, given the limited space to sit.

Well, at the Florian, the tables can swivel: they can be rotated to allow you to sit on the sofas, and repositioned to receive the tray with your drinks.

 

The foot of the coffee table is firmly embedded in the walnut parquet floor. One has to observe these masterpieces carefully to discover their rare and absolute beauty: they are a single, sinuous body, finely sculpted with floral decoration.

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The Casanova breakfast tray served on a silver platter. Once in the crowd, the waiter lifts the tray over the customers' heads with the 'raised grip' by positioning his arm in an 'L' shape

The art of service: the “Presa Alzata” technique

 

Among the special features that make Caffè Florian a unique place in the world is the fact that over the centuries it has kept to certain service standards.

Serving on a tray is one of them: an ancient way of working that is maintained and re-proposed today in respect of its centuries-old tradition.

The ‘raised grip’ technique arose from the need to transport large, heavy trays over long distances, above the heads of customers in the often crowded Sale or Galleria delle Procuratie Nuove.

You can see the elegant waiters in their livery, carrying a huge silver tray on one arm in the shape of an ‘L’. Graceful in spite of its weight, they walk as if in a sacred procession towards the table to be served.

A smile and the explanation of the drinks or courses begins.

A smiling waiter who speaks to you in several languages, serves you and hides the fatigue of the tray is certainly part of the unforgettable experience at Florian.

Luca vassoio galleria Enrico galleria NM

The Book of Illustrious Guests: from italian celebrities to Hollywood Stars

 

In its three centuries of activity, in order to welcome and serve its customers in the best possible way, a Signature book has always been available to allow customers to leave a testimony of their emotions and their passage at the Florian.

A unique collection that enriches the archive of art and history: a Golden Book ( as per venetian tradition “golden” was defined the book with the list of aristocrats families) with signatures, drawings and dedications left by Italian celebrities and Hollywood VIPs.

Firma Charlie Chaplin

Charlie Chaplin's comment left on the Caffè Florian book in 1931

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Charlie Chaplin leaves the Caffè Florian

Firma Elsa Martinelli, Grace Kelly e Carolina di Monaco Grace Kelly Venezia
Firma Francesca Romana Coluzzi, Vittorio Gassman e Valentina Cortese

Above Grace Kelly and, below, the signatures of Valentina Cortese, Vittorio Gassman, Romana Coluzzi

Italian actress Valentina Cortese had a room of the Florian rebuilt in her Venetian home, such was the fascination she felt for the atmosphere of the historic Caffè on St. Mark’s Square.

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Andy Warhol at the Caffè Florian in 1973

Firma Richard Burton

In the Florian’s Book of Signatures we find the autographs of the famous pianist Artur Rubinstein, the composer Richard Strauss, writers such as Jorge Luis Borges or Ernest Hemingway; artists Giorgio de Chirico, Andy Warhol, Maurizio Cattelan, Tomàs Saraceno; Italian actors such as Gina Lollobrigida, Vittorio Gassman, Marcello Mastroianni, Claudia Cardinale, Luisa Ranieri, Luca Zingaretti, Ottavia Piccolo; Hollywood stars Anthony Quinn, Grace Kelly, Gary Cooper, Richard Burton, Paul Newman, Clint Eastwood, John Malkovich, Salma Hayek… . and many many others in an endless parade of Stars spanning decades of history.

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John Malkovich at the Caffè Florian to shop and enjoy a special moment in 2022

Clint Eastwood 2017 Firma Clint Eastwood
Elisa Sednaoui

Elisa Sednaoui after signing the Florian's Signature Book

Luisa Ranieri e Luca Zingaretti

Helmut_Kohl_giu_1987_2 Max Von Sydow

The specialties of Caffè Florian: from the Emperor’s Coffee to Casanova’s aphrodisiac beverage

 

At Caffè Florian, historic drinks such as coffee and chocolate are served in a variety of ways.

Caffè del Doge or Caffè dell’Imperatore: coffee comes alive with colours and flavours that enrich the sensory experience.

Florian’s zabaglione liqueur and cream go well with an espresso, served in a champagne glass that will make your stay on the red sofas a regal moment.

Following in the footsteps of Giacomo Casanova, who drank it regularly in the pleasant female company at Caffè Florian, you must try  the Theobroma (from the Greek ϑεός “god” and βρῶμα “food”, i.e. food of the Gods).

Hot chocolate, queen of Venetian aristocratic breakfasts, is universally recognised as an invigorating and aphrodisiac drink, so it is no coincidence that it was a favourite of the famous Venetian seducer, a great connoisseur of good food.

Try the ‘Casanova’ version for an extra thrill with fresh mint cream and dark chocolate chips.

OKCioccolata Casanova

Casanova chocolate with mint cream and chocolate chips.

Caffè dell'Imperatore

Il Caffè dell'Imperatore: espresso, Zabaione Florian liqueur and milk cream

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Hemingway al Florian - Cut
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Firma Catherine Deneuve e Franca Valeri
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Firma Paul Newman
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Firma Sandro Pertini
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Firma Richard Burton
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okFirma Liza Minnelli
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Firma Herrera
Firma Grace Kelly
Grace Kelly Venezia
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Firma Rubinstein
Artur-Rubinstein
OKFirma Natalie Wood e Robert Wagner
okMarcello Mastroianni
OKViva la vita Lollobrigida
Firma Catherine Deneuve
Firma Clint Eastwood
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Firma De Sica
Firma Delia Scala
Firma Mario Rigoni Stern e Primo Levi
Firma Mike Bongiorno
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  • cioccolata
  • Giacomo Casanova
  • historicplaces
  • hotchocoloate
  • localistoriciditalia
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  • tg1mattina
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