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Caffè Florian
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Italy’s oldest café faces permanent closure

Venice's Caffè Florian has been fuelling locals and tourists since 1720. Now it’s under threat

Morgan Olsen
Written by
Morgan Olsen

Though cities are readying their reopening plans, the end of the pandemic may not come soon enough to save some of the world’s most famous restaurants. Case in point: just two months after celebrating its 300th birthday, Italy’s oldest café faces closing time – for good.

Management at Caffè Florian in Venice tells Architectural Digest that the world-famous coffeehouse is in serious danger of closing due to the pandemic and the downturn of the city's tourism industry.

‘We do everything possible to keep the business alive,’ Caffè Florian managing director Marco Paolini told AD. ‘We are working to stay open for as long as we can.’

Caffè Florian opened in St Mark's Square back in 1720 and has been keeping locals and tourists caffeinated ever since. The landmark destination is known for its sprawling outdoor patio as well as its rich, 18th-century-homaging interior, which is decked out in red velvet banquettes and gilded mirrors. But not even the country's oldest café could prepare for what would happen in 2020: an 80 percent drop in sales, with no government benefits to help.

The 300-year-old coffeehouse hasn’t called it quits just yet, but it remains closed to dine-in guests for the time being. Paolini says that even though financial assistance from shareholders and a line of credit from the bank are keeping things afloat for now, the future looks bleak.

‘There are no prospects for now, we don't even know a reopening date,’ Paolini told AD. ‘We are concerned about the future. If the café is closed, you wouldn’t miss just a coffee, but a piece of Venice.’

There are reasons, however, to be optimistic. Caffè Florian’s plight mirrors that faced recently by two other European institutions: Café Majestic in Porto in December and fellow Venice landmark, Harry’s Bar, in summer 2020. Both have since reopened.

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