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The History of Coffee, Caffè del Doge

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THE COFFEE, FROM MEDICINAL INFUSION TO MORE BELOVED HOT DRINK IN VENICE

The history of coffee in Europe began in Venice, it was the first place in Italy where people experienced the delicious aroma of coffee in the late seventeenth century.Historical documents revealed that the ambassador in Constantinople Gianfrancesco Morosini was the first to mention the coffee, in a report to the senate of Venice in 1585.
The credit for discovery of one of the most world’s consumed beverage was given to the Venetian Merchants. They followed the sea routes that linked the far east with Venice and Naples, bringing the first bags of coffee in Venice.

Some ancient papers dated from the early 1600s testify that in Venice the coffee was very expensive and considered a valuable medicine (prepared as infusion with powder of roasted coffee beans). Towards the end of the century, the infusion of coffee became so popular and required by the people, and the senate issued an order for they were procured and imported larger quantities of coffee for the City of Venice.


THE COFFEE SHOP IN VENICE, A MEETING PLACE

With spread of the coffee, he started the tradition of the coffee shops; indeed, not long after its discovery, coffee became very popular: the beverage most desired and sought by the Venetian people.

A momentous event in 1683 marks forever the social and cultural history of Venice: the born of first coffee shop in Piazza San Marco.
It begins a unstoppable phenomenon: quickly in many other parts of the city,  dozens of coffee shops start opening.

The “Cafés” (as they were called) were both commercial and meeting places, where meeting people from all walks of life: intellectuals, academics, politicians, students, artists and ordinary people. In these places the interior resemble a living room, perfect  to sip coffee mainly at the coffee table.

As Antonio Lamberti describes in 1802 : “The Café had become the house of people of all classes, of all ages, of all social conditions. The rooms were modest, unadorned, no glass windows, badly lit by a flickering light and uncertain. But like in a breath of elegance and pleasure, wearing charming clothes, the glad crowd inside the dark rooms was divided into little noisy groups where hard gossip and rampant backbiting flourished, while in some secluded angles moves restlessly the fervor of risky games”…

In 1750 Carlo Goldoni, the famous Venetian playwright, wrote and staged at the theater Sant’Angelo in Venice’s famous comedy “La bottega del caffè” (The Coffee Shop) taking inspiration from reality to create situations and characters, and then transpose the scene depicting a snapshot of the eighteenth-century bourgeois society in Venice; a reason  to understand  what has been the social importance of coffee shops around the city of Venice: everyday places that were combined with the life and spirit of the Venetians.

In later centuries, the fame of the Venetian cafe attracted artists and intellectuals from around the world; to name a few: Ugo Foscolo, Gabriele D’Annunzio, Charles Dickens, Goethe, Byron, Eleonora Duse, Amedeo Modigliani …