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 (with
Café Procope in
5 Branching out
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,
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
Caffè Florian sotto le
In 1773 Valentino Francesconi, the grandson of Floriano Francesconi,
took over the business at the beginning of the 19th 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 the Valentino Francesconi passed the café on to his son
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 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, that will see
Venice temporary independent from
Austria. During the convulsed hours of 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 where 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
In 1858 the café was completely restored by Lodovico Cadorin because
the rooms were not really restored since the 18th century. Cadorin
created a great project of redecoration, calling the best artists and
artisans available in Venice.
The Sala del Senato (Senate Hall) was decorated by Giacomo Casa with
the paintings “The Age of Enlightment, or Progress”
“Civilization educating the nations”, and eleven panels
representing Arts ad Sciences. Casa inserted masonic symbols in the
painting, allusion to Venice’s close connections with certain secret
societies and illuminism. The Sala Cinese (Chinese Hall) and Sala
Orientale (Oriental Hall) take their inspiration from the Far East
with paintings of lovers and scantily clad exotic women painted by
In 1872 another two great halls were added to the café. The Sala
degli Uomini Illustri (Hall of the Illustrious Men) was decorated by
Giulio Carlini with paintings of ten notable Venetians: Goldoni, Marco
Polo, Titian, Francesco Morosini, Pietro Orseolo, Andrea Palladio,
Benedetto Marcello, Paolo Sarpi,
Vettor Pisani and Enrico Dandolo. The
Sala delle Stagioni (Hall of the Seasons) or Sala degli Specchi (Hall
of Mirrors) was decorated by Vincenzo Rota with the figures of women
representing the four seasons.
In 1920, during the anniversary of the café foundation, it was added
another room: The Sala Liberty. It is decorated in an art nouveau
style with hand-painted mirrors and sumptuous wooden wainscoting.
From 1893, at the prompting of Ricardo Selvatico who had been inspired
while dining in the Senate Hall, the Florian became home to the
Esposizione Internazionale d'Arte Contemporanea (International
Exhibition of Contemporary Art), an ever-changing display of work from
the artists of the time, known today as the
From 1988 The Florian has hosted a contemporary art exhibition that
takes place every two years in conjunction with the Biennale. The
"Temporanea, the art of possible at the Caffè Florian" invites
artists to reinterpret the Florian’s halls with an installation.
Among the artists who have exhibited there are Bruno Ceccobelli, Mimmo
Rotella, Fabrizio Plessi, Gaetano Pesce, Luca Buvoli, Arcangelo, Irene
Andessner, Fausto Gilberti, Botto&Bruno, Marco Tirelli, Pietro
Ruffo, Omar Galliani and Qiu Zhijie.
Caffè Florian Label
Sala del Senato (Senate Hall)
"Civilization educating the nations" by Giacomo Casa, ceiling of the
Sala del Senato
"Il The Age of Enlightenment, or The Progress" by Giacomo Casa, in the
Sala del Senato
Sala Cinese (Chinese Hall)
Sala Orientale (Oriental Hall)
Sala Orientale (Oriental Hall)
Sala delle Stagioni (Hall of the Seasons)
Sala degli Uomini Illustri (Hall of the Illustrious Men)
^ Pastor, Barbara, e Andrea Libralesso, p. 54
^ Pastor, Barbara, e Andrea Libralesso, p. 73
^ De Laroche, p.77
^ Reato, p. 30
^ Reato, p. 50
In the early twenty-first century Florian experimented with branching
Venice and opened a location on Via del Parione in the centre
Caffè Florian (in English, Italian and French)". 2006. Retrieved 6
"The Procurate". Retrieved 6 February 2007.
Irene Andessner (2003). "Donne Illustri". Retrieved 6 February
Pastor, Barbara, e Andrea Libralesso Sala degli uomini illustri.
Ultimo restauro al Florian, In "La sala degli uomini illustri", un
restauro per Venezia. Venice: Caffè Florian, 2012.
Reato, Danilo, "Il Caffè Florian". Venice: Filippi Editore, 1984.
De Laroche, Robert. Caffè Florian. Venice: Caffè Florian, 2008.
Piazza San Marco
Loggetta del Sansovino
National Archaeological Museum
St Mark's Basilica
St Mark's Campanile
St Mark's Clocktower
Columns of San Marco and San Todaro
Lion of Venice
Piazzetta dei Leoncini
Coordinates: 45°26′1″N 12°20′17″E / 45.43361°N