“There are still places where having a coffee is a time-honoured ritual,” writes Leigh-Ann Pow at International Traveller, ”where the coffee itself plays second fiddle to the ceremony of serving it and sipping it.” Such a place, she says, as Caffè Florian. “Founded in 1720, this classic Piazza San Marco café is a living museum of Venetian coffee culture, with a jewel-box of an interior (dating back to the mid-19th-century) that recalls a lost world of elegant assignations and literary debate,” writes Anne Hanley at The Telegraph. Originally it was a place to taste hot chocolate -- a highly expensive luxury item in the 1700s -- but it soon began to serve an increasingly popular new drink, coffee.
The exuberantly frescoed walls and ceilings, “punctuated with giant gilt-framed mirrors patinaed by age, make you feel like you’re sitting in an exquisite music box, classical music wafting in through the windows as it does,” observes Leigh-Ann Pow. The four differently styled salons -- the Oriental Room, the Room of Seasons, the Room of Illustrious Men and the Senate Room -- were styled by architect Louis Cadorin in 1858. “There is a wonderful faded glory about the place; evidence of its long history rather than an affectation of it that many modern places try to replicate … the café has made very few concessions to modernity, either in the 19th, 20th or 21st centuries.”
The Caffè Florian is not an everyday treat, writes Nicoletta Fornaro at Naturally Epicurean, “but if you ask me it is a quintessential must have experience in Venice.” To devour, she cites a fruit tart with custard (“with a light but slightly crunchy texture and fresh fruit”), the Casanova chocolate (“a hot chocolate with mint cream and chocolate shavings … very interesting indeed and perfectly balanced”) and the macarons (“pretty and delightful as always”). And, she adds, “don't let the waiters in livery frighten you, you will see they are more than kind and if, like me, these experiences are important for you do take a moment to explore this jewel of Venetian history, you will fall in love with every aspect of it … believe me.”
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