Having completed our tour of the historical cafes of Ravenna, we’re moving to nearby Rimini, and so staying in the cheerful and always sun-kissed Romagna area.
The city of Rimini has succeeded in preserving the historical value of its cafes and for this we can thank those who have managed them over the decades and centuries, as well as the municipal authorities, who have always been committed to protecting and promoting the city’s historical memory.
The historical cafes of Rimini
If you’re from Rimini or you happen to visit the city, you simply can’t pass up the chance to go on the tour we’re about to present! It’s a real dive into the past, a journey full of anecdotes and interesting facts that begins at the end of the 18th century.
Caffè Cavour, known as Caffè della Fontana in olden times, Rimini
Caffè Cavour is Rimini’s oldest cafe. In 1784 it was known as Caffè di Bologna, and it was mentioned in various literary works. It was located, as it still is today, in the most important square in the old town centre of Rimini, today known as Piazza Cavour, near the Fontana della Pigna in the middle of the square. And the most famous version of this old cafe took its name from none other than the fountain, becoming Caffè della Fontana.
Although we are not sure of when it was first opened, it had certainly existed before 1784, because in 1778 the café was mentioned in “Pratica Agraria” – the first famous work on the rural culture of Romagna – by priest and professor of philosophy Giovanni A. Battarra.
In the first decade of 1800 it was the venue of illegal gambling, but only for slightly more than a year, after which the vice-prefect of the time ordered its relatively sudden closure.
In 1828 the cafe again became a den of vice, until its manager at the time, Antonio Contini, was arrested. He continued managing Caffè della Fontana until 1832, then he allowed the café to carry on under other managers who became an institution for the city, and he took over the management of another historical cafe: Caffè dei Nobili.
Caffè dei Nobili, Rimini
Caffè dei Nobili was also located in the square known today as Piazza Cavour. Between 1830 and 1840 it made a name for itself with its tasty manicaretti, now popular as a type of street food. But its origins date much further back. Indeed, it was mentioned in as early as 1786 when, according to historical literary sources, it was opened on premises previously built as a slaughterhouse, moved “further on” for health and hygiene reasons. In 1808, Caffetteria Dei Nobili was renovated along with the entire building that hosted it and, in 1809, under the management of Pietro Previtali, its first modern billiard table was added.
The café changed hands several times, but the managers remembered most affectionately by the people of Rimini were Giovanni Lombardi and his wife Luigia Martini, commemorated in an epitaph by chronicler Filippo Giangi: “they deserve to be mentioned for their exquisitely precise work […] and also for their extraordinary honesty when it came to sales”. Caffè dei Nobili closed in the mid-1830s for hygiene reasons and reopened a long time later, but with a new, vibrant dynamism.
Caffetteria Cervellati, Rimini
Another famous cafe of the 1800s was Caffetteria Cervellati in Piazza Sant’Antonio (today known as Tre Martiri). Along with coffee, it served delicious pastries, and its production was huge, if we consider the documentary sources of the period, which confirm that in 1937, in the month of February alone, it used about 80 kg of flour for its cakes!
We hope that our tour has taken you on a fun journey into the past! If you like this kind of thing, take a look at the historical cafes of Livorno, one of the first Italian cities to welcome coffee.