Historic Cafes of Rome
The Romans down their cappuccinos tepid and usually on the run. If you order a hot cappuccino, the barman might well regard you as someone who’s mildly deranged and serve it up slightly hotter with a withering look.
Once he gets to know you, smile at him sweetly and he’ll be eating out of your hand, charging up the coffee machine to maximum steam before you’ve even made your order.
Roman bars invariably produce a great cup of coffee. While there is no shortage of trendy, young coffee shops, there is nothing better than a historic establishment to give you a feel of how the city really runs. Here’s a selection of our favorite coffee institutions that excel in every way for when you next hit the eternal city.
A stone’s throw from the Spanish steps, this was the rambling up and down studio of society sculptor Antonio Canova in the 1800’s. It’s crammed with the preparatory plaster models of sculptures created by him and his top students. Sip your cappuccino surrounded by huge voluptuous nudes, prancing horses, ferocious warriors and friezes, dancing nymphs, busts of popes and grand ladies. If you find all that a trifle overpowering, take a table outside – watch Rome’s fashionisti swing by in the latest look and vertiginous heels, their carrier bags full of goodies from the surrounding fashion shops.
Open daily 8am–midnight.
Near the Pantheon, La Gran Caffe Caffettiera’s classy rooms, designed to you to linger over a drink or a coffee in old world surroundings, have made it a favourite meeting place for Rome’s politicians. Owner Susi takes the comfort of her clients and the preparation of the perfect cappuccino very seriously. Enjoy the refined interior or savour your frothy cappuccino sitting outside under a sun umbrella, looking down the long piazza dominated by 11 massive columns dating from 141 AD. Who could ask for more?
Open daily 7.30 – 9pm.
When your feet are aching from taking in the town, Caffe Novecento, 5 minutes from must see Piazza Navona, is the ideal pit stop to assuage your cravings for something reviving and something sweet – perfect for indulgent chocoholics and just plain greedy people. Take your pick of rich and gooey gateaux and tarts. This cosy little bar is run exclusively by women. (“Men are OK after work” says owner Silvia decisively). Everything’s freshly baked by thegirls. The coffee’s pretty good too.
Open daily 9 – 9pm
Opened in 1760, Caffe Greco is Rome’s oldest bar. Everyone who’s anyone has dropped in from Keats to Casanova, Scott Fitzgerald to Sofia Loren. Wander through its many salons to the farthest, complete with grand piano and Hans Christian Anderson’s yellow velvet sofa. He happened to live in the flat above in 1834 – it was time to move on. The exclusive club look is decidedly atmospheric – antique mirrors, paintings and sculptures abound. A sit down cappuccino costs 8 euros. You get what you pay for.
Open daily 9 – 9pm
Written by Jenni Scott
Images by Joe Scott