Caffè Florian is a coffee house situated in the Procuratie Nuove of Piazza San Marco, Venice. It was established in 1720 and is the oldest coffee house in continuous operation in Italy, and one of the oldest in the world (the oldest being Café Procope founded in Paris in 1686).
The Florian opened with two simply furnished rooms on 29 December 1720 as “Alla Venezia Trionfante” (Venice the Triumphant), but soon became known as Caffè Florian, after its original owner Floriano Francesconi. The Caffè was patronised in its early days by notable people including the playwright Carlo Goldoni, Goethe and Casanova, who was no doubt attracted by the fact that Caffè Florian was the only coffee house that allowed women. Later Lord Byron, Marcel Proust, and Charles Dickens were frequent visitors. It was one of the few places where Gasparo Gozzi’s early newspaper Gazzetta Veneta could be bought in the mid-18th century, and became a meeting place for people from different social classes. In 1750 the Florian expanded to four rooms.
In 1773, Valentino Francesconi, the grandson of Floriano Francesconi, took over the business at the beginning of the 18th century. In 1796, in a European atmosphere characterized by the French Revolution, the Venetian State feared that the revolutionary ideas could spread also in Venice. The Florian, with its international clientele, had become a meeting place for many French Jacobins, so the State Inquisitors obliged Valentino Francesconi to close the café. When the French armies entered in Venice, in May 1797, Valentino Francesconi put down the double-obsolete “Venice Triumphant” sign outside the café and replaced it with one simply bearing the name of his uncle “Florian”.
In 1814, Valentino Francesconi passed the café on to his son Antonio. By 1858, the establishment had passed into the hands of Vincenzo Porta, Giovanni Pardelli, and Pietro Baccanello, and was in need of some restoration. Lodovico Cadorin was commissioned to carry out restoration work and redecorate the interiors. The new rooms were named “Sala del Senato” (Senate Room), “Sala Greca” (Greek Room), “Sala Cinese” (Chinese room) and “Sala Orientale” (Oriental Room). In the 19th century, the Florian played a role in the Italian Risorgimento because the “Senate Hall” was the meeting point for a group of Venetian patriots. This group had a key role in the Venetian Revolution of 1848, which would see Venice temporarily independent from Austria. During the convulsed hours of the Revolution, the Florian hosted the wounded patriots, becoming a temporary hospital. Other restorations occurred at the Florian in 1872 and 1891 when two other rooms were added to the café: la “Sala degli Uomini Illustri” (the Hall of the Illustrious Men) and the “Sala delle Stagioni” (the Hall of the Seasons). In 1920 another room was added: the Liberty Room.
Visiting Caffè Florian
Address: Caffè Florian, Piazza San Marco, Venice, Metropolitan City of Venice, Italy
With its iconic canals, picturesque gondolas, and winding streets, it’s no surprise that Venice is considered one of the most romantic cities in the world. But while the city is popular with honeymooners, it’s also a huge destination for cruisers and backpackers too.
Venice is beautiful, fun, and full of narrow streets and alleys to get lost in. It’s a magical place unlike any other. There are museums, palaces, historic town squares to explore, and endless gelato to eat.
Unfortunately, the city is also expensive and over tourism has become a real problem. No matter what time of the year, you’re going to encounter crowds. In fact, if you come in the summer, it’s going to be unbearable (and if you come when a cruise ship is docked, it’s even more unbearable!)
How to get to Venice
By Train: This is a very convenient way of getting to Venice. You will need to arrive at Venezia Santa Lucia (ignoring Venezia Mestre & Venezia Porto Marghera railway stations). A return train ticket from Padova will cost €10, from Mira-Mirano on the ourskirts of mainland Venice only €6.
Parking: You can drive to Venice although you will have to pay for parking. Tronchetto car park costs €22 for 24 hours.
Getting Around Venice
Water taxis: Water taxis (speedboats) are a wonderful way to get around, but a bit expensive. A trip from the train station to San Marco will cost at least €70!
Vaporettos (water buses): are busses on the water, they leave from the stop called Ferrovia right outside Santa Lucia station. You’re looking at €7,50 for a single ride and €21 for a day pass. See https://actv.avmspa.it/en/content/vaporetto. Waterbus line 1 links Piazzale Roma (where the buses and road vehicles arrive), Ferrovia (= Santa Lucia station), Rialto, San Marco & Venice Lido, and runs early until late, usually every 12 minutes or so.
Walk: The main sites are all 20-30 minutes away from the station. You will get lost but should still be able to find the main sites.
San Marco Museum Pass
A single ticket to visit the 4 magnificent buildings and museums of St. Mark’s Square: the Doge’s Palace, the Correr Museum, the Archaeological Museum and the Museum Rooms of the Marciana Library: € 30 (€ 25 if you buy 1 month in advance from https://muve.vivaticket.it/).
This gives you the same as above but also access to: Museum of Palazzo Mocenigo; Carlo Goldoni’s House; Ca’ Pesaro, International Gallery of Modern Art + Oriental Art Museum; Glass Museum – Murano; Lace Museum – Burano; Natural History Museum; Fortuny Museum. (€ 40. Buy from https://muve.vivaticket.it/)
If you want to visit more than 4 churches in Venice it is cost effective to purchase the Chorus Pass (gives free access to 18 churches in Venice): € 12.
There are two ways to get the the Rialto Bridge to the left of the grand Canal, through Santa Croce and San Polo or to the right through the Carnnaregio sestieri and the Jewish quarter.
Santa Croce and San Polo: Start by walking out of the station and turning left to cross the beautiful Ponte degli Scalzi across the Grand Canal, completed in 1934. It’s the elegant stone bridge you’ll see to your left when you walk out of the station. Then follow the many street signs to Rialto, keep the Grand Canal on your left about 5-6 blocks ways from you.
Carnnaregio sestieri and the Jewish quarter: You quickly reach the Chiesa dei Santi Geremia e Lucia, and cross over into the Jewish Quarter, if you want to find out more about this area detour and visit the Jewish Museum of Venice. After walking for about 3 minutes you need to turn of the street you are in to head to the right down Calle del Pistor. Generally follow this street, passing over 4 bridges. When you get to Chiesa Cattolica Parrocchiale dei Santi Apostoli turn off to cross over another bridge, turn immediately left under the arcade. From here you can follow signs for Per S. Marco.
Rialto Bridge was the city’s first bridge over the Grand Canal connecting the highest points on the Venice islands settlement. The first bridge was built in 1180 and the current solid marble one was built in 1588-92.The bridge is an elegant arch with steps and shops, a mass of water traffic passing underneath, and huge numbers of tourists and locals heading across it.
Today, Rialto Bridge is one of the most photographed images in Venice and a major stop on the tourist trail. Rialto Bridge is located about the mid-point of the Grand Canal connecting the main arrival point for visitors at the Railway Station with St Mark’s Square being the main visitor destination. In the immediate area of Rialto Bridge, on the southern bank is the main food market Mercato di Rialto.
For great views of the bridge head towards the nearby Fondaco dei Tedeschi and its rooftop terrace. Book in advance at https://www.dfs.com/t-fondaco/rooftop-terrace-booking/booking/terrace_venice_en.html.
From the Rialto Bridge turn right as you come off the bridge from San Polo. Look for the signpost directing you to St Mark’s Square.
St. Mark’s Basilica, known in Italian as Basilica di San Marco and popularly as San Marco Basilica, is a medieval church in Venice. It is devoted to honouring the remains of St. Mark, the patron Saint of Venice. The Basilica is the pride of Venice and its history dates back to the 9th century. The marvellous architecture blends Byzantine, Romanesque, Islamic, and Gothic influences. St. Mark’s Basilica is open every day from 9:30 AM to 5:15 PM, if you have not booked in advance you need to purchase tickets to the side of the Basilica at Piazzetta dei Leoncini. Tickets cost €3 for the Basilica (although free for prayers, Mass and Service), €10 for the tower and €7 for the Museum & Loggia dei Cavalli (the balcony overlooking the St. Mark’s Square).
The Basilca and St Mark’s Campanile are a very cost effective way of seeing the splendour of Venice.
The Doge’s Palace is one of the symbols of Venice. The palace has been used for everything from the residence of the Doge to the prison of the Venetian republic. Originally a fortified castle founded between the tenth and eleventh centuries. The palace was partially destroyed by a fire and was rebuilt between 1172 and 1178, as was the Piazza San Marco. During this period, the Palazzo was used as a fortress and prison. The structure combines layers of different architectural styles, including Byzantine, Gothic and Renaissance. This impressive building houses paintings by renowned Italian artists such as Titian, Tintoretto and Bellini. The building has been the Doges’ residence and public offices since the old castle was built in 810. Over nearly 1,000 years, 120 doges ruled over Venice from the Doge’s Palace.
The main areas yo will see are:
The armory, a collection of over 2,000 artifacts including a few unusual objects.
The courtrooms where laws were made, and cases were heard.
The doge’s chambers are private rooms containing a shrine, priceless paintings, and two globes showing how the world was understood at the time.
The secret rooms, which include cells, interrogation rooms, and a torture chamber.
The chamber of the Great Council, where important state meetings were hosted.
You will head to the island to the south Dorsoduro, which holds the Venice university and will probably a more economical place to eat than St Marks Square! Head west from St Marks Square cross 5 bridges until you get to a large square – Rielo de le Erbe. Head south from here to cross over Ponte dell’Accademia to reach Dorsoduro.
You have a number of options here. Punta della Dogana – Pinault Collection is an art museum, in a triangular former customs house, exhibiting international contemporary artworks. Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute and Gallerie dell’Accademia.