Between the end of the 18th century and the early 1900s, a new trend spread far and wide from the cafes of Venice to the rest of Italy: the concept of the cafe as a meeting place favoured, in particular, by intellectuals and artists. The city of St Anthony was no exception: the historical cafes of Padua definitely have a story or two to tell. Starting with a cafe with a long tradition: Caffè Pedrocchi, which is also famous throughout Europe.
The historical cafes of Padua: Caffè Pedrocchi
Caffè Pedrocchi is not just one of Padua’s historical cafes, but also one of the oldest bars in Italy. Although the original shop opened by Bergamo-born Francesco Pedrocchi in the location dates back to as early as 1772, the cafe as we know it today was opened in 1831 by his son Antonio. It was designed by Venetian architect Giuseppe Jappelli, who was inspired by the cafes of Vienna.
The “doorless cafe” in the heart of Padua
The old café in Padua soon became famous as the “doorless cafe” because it stayed open 24 hours a day, a curious tradition that lasted for decades until 1916, when the First World War restricted its opening hours, forcing it to close at night.
Caffè Pedrocchi is located in the heart of Padua, between the headquarters of the Municipality in Palazzo Moroni and those of the University in Palazzo Bo. Its very central location contributed to its success over the years, especially with students and professors: in 1848, its White Room was the scene of the murder of a young student of the University of Padua which led to the Risorgimento riots staged in opposition to Habsburg rule.
Caffè Pedrocchi: clients, interesting facts, and specialities
Many illustrious customers frequented the café, including Stendhal, Arnaldo Fusinato, Ippolito Nievo, George Sand, Eleonora Duse, Gabriele D’Annunzio and Filippo Tommaso Marinetti. All witnesses of a grand tradition, that the Pedrocchi family expected to continue, even when they gave up ownership of the bar 1891. In fact, when he died, Antonio’s adopted son left the historical café to the Municipality of Padua provided that the authorities would keep it in such a condition as to “retain its status as Italy’s finest”.
As well as being one of the symbols of the city in Veneto, today the historical café in Padua is a point of reference for residents and tourists also thanks to its exquisite creations such as the Pedrocchi Coffee with mint and the Stendhal Zabaione, made from a secret recipe. Its sophisticated interior makes it the ideal venue for many different types of public and private events.
Ancient cafes in Padua: Bar San Marco
The nineteenth century was almost over when Annibale Trevisi decided to leave Vazzola (in the province of Treviso) and set up home, with his large family, in Ponte di Brenta, where he bought Bar San Marco.
The long history of this famous bar has seen several changes of management: from 1914 it was managed first by the Facchinellos and then by the Minuzzis who decided to renovate and extend it in 1922. Following the Second World War it was taken over by the Marchi family and later, in the 1960s, by the De Marchi family. Instead, more recently, since 2007, Bar San Marco has been managed by the family of Hu Liangxian, who carries on its long tradition.
Cafes in Padua: Bar Tre Scalini
The earliest evidence of this bar’s existence dates back to the early 20th century, but it is very likely that its origins stretch even further back in time: we’re talking about Bar Tre Scalini in Padua. The historical café of Veneto is located opposite the centenary Portello river gate, where, centuries ago, the marina that joined the Paduan city to Venice by river was operational.
The café has always been a local point of reference, and people would gather there to watch the programmes broadcast by Rai after the Second World War. Over the years, Bar Tre Scalini has upgraded its spaces and extended its business to offer event and catering services.
Bar Margherita in Piazza della Frutta
The date when Bar Margherita opened is not clear either, but it would appear to date back to the late 19th century. The historical café in Padua is located in the ancient “Canton delle Busie”, the place where the goods sent by river would arrive and the bulk of the city’s trading took place. Its location is stunning: it is set at the foot of Palazzo della Ragione, which dates back to the 13th century, the building that once hosted the city’s courts.
After discovering the historical cafes of Padua, we’re on a roll: so, let’s stay here in Veneto and explore the ancient cafes of Verona, one of the most romantic cities in the world.