As part of our quest to discover the historical cafés of Italy, this time we’re stopping in the most important city of Apulia to get to know the historical cafés of Bari.
Unlike other cities that boast a rich tradition, such as Naples or Turin, here it would seem that very few cafés have managed to stand the test of time, as proven by the long list of glorious bars forced to close their doors.
Caffè Stoppani, Via Roberto da Bari
Let’s start with a café that is closed today, unfortunately so, because when open for business it played a key role in the history of the city of Bari and the whole of Apulia. The old Caffè Stoppani was opened as early as in 1860 and it was the only place in Bari to be an official supplier to the Royal Household, holding licence number 2 issued in 1865. This allowed it to add the coat of arms of Savoy to the packaging used for its products, and to any advertising material produced.
The founders were Swiss pastry chefs, skilled in chocolate-making: Giacomo Stoppani, his son-in-law Fausto Poult and brothers Giacomo and Gaspare Lenzi. The referendum which decided that Bari would be connected to the Kingdom of Italy was held in the first branch of the café, opened in Corso Vittorio.
A meeting place for the middle class of Bari in the early 1900s, the tables of Caffè Stoppani hosted many illustrious characters over the years, including philosopher Benedetto Croce, Wilhelm II, Italo Balbo, Victor Emmanuel III of Italy and Queen Elena. What a pity that we can no longer visit it today!
Bar Viola, Corso Sonnino
Opened in 1936 in the Madonnella district, Bar Viola was a point of reference for generations of people from Bari, also making a name for itself in the city as it was the official sales point for tickets and season tickets to see Bari football club play.
The bar was the first one in the city to also act as a state lottery office and recently it reopened the ice-cream counter that had originally been present during the first years after its inauguration. Recently renovated, today the historical café in Bari features a décor in Art Nouveau style, offering brighter spaces with a more welcoming atmosphere.
Bar Pasticceria Floro, Via San Francesco d’Assisi
Bar Pasticceria Floro was opened in 1946 by Michele Floro who had learned to make cakes for the Allies during the war. After the conflict, he had decided to make the most of his experience by opening his own business.
Today the bar serves its customers a top quality espresso and a selection of exquisitely made pastries, continuing a tradition that assigns it a place among the city’s best pastry shops.
Gran Caffè Riviera, Lungomare Nazario Sauro
Since 1951, the tables of Gran Caffè Riviera have hosted many fans of the café’s excellent espresso coffee and delicious cakes. Not to mention the wonderful view of the promenade of Bari it affords, looking out over the Adriatic Sea.
Our journey to discover the historical Italian cafés still has many more places to visit and after the old cafés of Bari we’ll be moving to another seaside city: come with us and visit the historical cafés of Trieste, once defined as “the true capital city of coffee”.