Historic literary cafes were the place some of Italy’s most important and literary moments of the 1800s and early 1900s took place. It was in Florence that the oldest publishing houses of Italy were founded some of which are still in activity today. The greatest number of historic literary cafes was also founded here. Most of them have kept cultural heritage alive by hosting cultural and literary events and offering authentic drinks or breakfasts. Here are some of the most famous historic cafes in Florence.
- Caffe Gilli. This is one of the oldest cafes in Italy founded in 1733 by Swiss family who also opened the Bottega dei Pani Dolci (the sweet breads boutique) on Via de’ Calzaiuoli. In 1848 Caffe Gilli became a local center for the Florentine intellectuals. When the Florence became the capital of Italy between 1865 and 1871, the clientele of the café became even more political and prestigious. The Caffe Gilli was also a meeting place for Florentine artists such as Silvio Polloni, Egisto Ferroni and Emilio Pucci. The last owner who belonged to the original Gilli family died in 1900 and the new owners took over both cafes.
- Caffe Paszkowski. Founded in 1846 this is another Florentine coffee house that has been a favorite gathering place of intellectuals. It’s situated at the corner of Piazza della Republica and started as a beer factory and refreshment place. In 1941 the café’s interiors were redecorated from the original Liberty style onto the current Art Deco style.
- Gran Caffe Le Giubbe Rosse. The café started as a beer house founded by German brothers Reininghaus in 1896. The coffee house has always been a meeting place for intellectuals, writers and artists. Some of the most important literary and artistic movements were either represented or initiated here. Originally the café was famous as a chess circle. Even Vladimir I. Lenin, an avid chess player, played here once.
- Caffe Rivoire. A chocolatier of the royal House of Savoy, Enrico Rivoire, opened his chocolate workshop on Piazza della Signoria in 1872. The chocolate here was entirely home-and hand-made following and ancient and secret recipe.