Because Venice had been Europe’s gateway to the East since time immemorial and was also in intensive exchange with the Ottoman Empire, coffee was known here quite early. It was already sold in the city in the 1630s, albeit initially only as a remedy in pharmacies.
But already at the end of the 17th century the first coffee houses were built on St. Mark’s Square, among them one of the oldest and most famous cafés in Europe, the “Caffè Florian”.
The owner of the café was Floriano Francesconi, who first called it “Alla Venezia Trionfante”. Very soon, however, the name of the café was changed to the first name of its owner.
Thanks to its favourable location, it soon became a popular meeting place for Venetians, offering not only coffee but also food and alcoholic beverages.
After the sale of the café in 1858, the new owners completely redesigned the premises. The ‘Senators’ Room’ was decorated with allegorical murals depicting ‘science and progress’, a ‘Greek’ and a ‘Persian’ salon-like room were created, a Chinese and an Oriental room, and a ‘Sala degli Uomini illustri’.
Among the visitors who drank coffee at the Florian over the years were such famous personalities as Goethe, Lord Byron, Honoré de Balzac, Giacomo Casanova, Marcel Proust, Richard Wagner and Thomas Mann.