Coffee is a huge part of Italian culture. Here, it’s not just a morning pick-me-up, but a way of life. It’s no coincidence that most of our favourite coffees (espresso, cappuccino, macchiato…) are Italian inventions. Head to any Italian city and you’ll find hundreds of cafes and coffee houses – perfect rest stops for a caffe or two in between sights. We’ve rounded up our favourites for you; there’s a mix of old and new, famous faces and hidden gems. Read on for our pick of the best cafes in Italy (and look out for our concierge picks, chosen by two of our coffee-loving Italian concierges, Davide and Gianni).
Concierge’s pick: Torrefazione Cannaregio (Rio Terà S. Leonardo)
The least formal of our recommended coffee house, but probably the one with the most character (think chunky ceiling beams and coffee-bean sacks piled up by the door). It’s in the quiet Cannaregio district, close to the Jewish Ghetto and away from the main tourist sights; do as the locals do and prop yourself up at the standing bar. For true espresso fans, this place is a must-visit.
Caffè Florian (St. Mark’s Square) Caffè Florian has been sat on the edges of St. Mark’s Square since 1720, and is considered to be the oldest coffee house in Europe. With such a title, the café has become a sight to see, as well as a place to stop and refuel with a caffè alla Venexiana (coffee, whipped cream and the Florian’s own coffee liqueur – delicious). The coffee does come with quite a hefty price tag – around €5 to stand at the bar, double that if you want to sit down – but you’re paying for the experience and the setting as much as the coffee itself.
Caffè Gilli (Via Roma) This coffee shop on the corner of Via Roma and Piazza della Repubblica has been going since 1733. This history is showcased throughout the café, with age-old Murano lamps, frescoed ceilings and a clock that’s been going strong for more than a hundred years. Via Roman is one of Florence’s best shopping streets, so the Gilli is perfectly placed for a pre- or post-spree cappuccino. If you’re peckish, there’s also a pretty good pastry selection.
Concierge’s pick: Gucci Café (Piazza della Signoria) The Gucci Café, set on the ground floor of the Gucci Museum (a must for any fashion fan), has become a popular place for locals and tourists to stop for a caffeine fix. With sleek, stylish interiors, it’s just as trendy as you’d expect an offering from Gucci to be. Grab a coffee, take a seat on one of the teal-coloured couches, and make the most of the free wi-fi to plan your assault on the Uffizi (just round the corner).
Concierge’s pick: Caffè Filippini Fancy a coffee but your other half wants a cocktail? It’s not a problem at Caffè Filippini, which has been serving thirsty customers since 1901. In fact, this trendy coffee shop/bar has its own signature cocktail, the Filippini (vermouth, gin, lemon and ice). Set on Piazza delle Erbe, one of Verona’s loveliest squares (and Gianni’s favourite spot in the city), you can sip your caffè macchiato inside or nab a prized table out in the piazza for a brew with a view.
Caffe Terzi (Via Oberdan)
Caffe Terzi is a small, cosy cafe in the heart of Bologna. Founded by Manuel and Elena Terzi, it’s said to serve the best coffee in town. They have a number of their own blends – ask the barista if you’re not sure which one to go for – and they serve a mean hot chocolate too. Can’t decide between the two? Go for the caffè con cioccolato, an espresso topped with grated chocolate. The biscuits that come with it are pretty good too.
Concierge’s pick: Café Greco (Via Condotti)
This landmark café (the oldest in Rome) is close to the Spanish Steps and has been serving up coffee since 1760. Over the years, it’s seen some famous faces at its tables – stop by for an espresso and you’ll be following in the footsteps of the likes of Keats, Byron and Shelley. As you’d expect, it’s not cheap; order your coffee to drink at the bar for a more reasonable price tag.
Taveggia (Via Uberto Visconti Di Modrone)
Taveggia has an impressive history and still today features the same Art Deco interior design that it did more than a century ago. The café specialises in panettone and pistachio cream croissants (yum!) – head here first thing in the morning for coffee and a pastry. It will set you up perfectly for a day’s exploration. First stop: the Duomo, just down the road.
If all this talk of coffee has sparked a caffeine craving, take a look at our video guides for making the perfect Italian-style coffee at home.