A symbol of elegance with its historical buildings, the Roman ruins and the Hapsburg views, Trieste has always been the most multicultural and Middle European of all Italian cities.
Its riches, looking out over the famous port, just a short distance from the Miramare castle, justify the choice of this “little Vienna on Sea” as a holiday destination.
To give you an extra reason for visiting Trieste, we have decided to share a selection of its historic cafés with you.
The historic cafés of Trieste: our guide
Very few people know that one of the most characteristic products of Trieste is coffee; indeed in its port, since the 1700s shiploads of coffee coming from the New World came ashore and headed for coffee roasters all over Italy and Europe.
Coffee, is, actually one of the real symbols of the city together with the numerous cafés and the unusual language used for ordering it: if you want an espresso, you must say “un nero” if, on the other hand, you prefer a caffè macchiato you have to ask for a “capo”. And finally, the most important thing, if you like your coffee in a glass cup, remember to add to your request “… in B”!
Caffè degli Specchi
This café, located in Piazza Unità d’Italia, owes its name to the ancient habit of marking the most special events on mirrors or sheets of glass. The Caffè degli Specchi (Café of Mirrors) is the perfect place for travelling back in time to the era of the Hapsburg Empire and Princess Sissi.
The Café is classified as one of the Historic Establishments of Italy and, in the course of its history, has welcomed citizens, traders, officers and intellectuals such as Joyce and Svevo.
At the Café degli Specchi we highly recommend the chocolate since the café was taken over by the Faggiotto family made up of master chocolatiers renowned throughout Italy.
It is not the first time that we have come across the Caffè Tommaseo. Indicated as one of the 5 Italian literary cafés , this café continues to supply excellent coffees and emotions to the city of Trieste. Inaugurated in 1830, and located in Piazza Nicolò Tommaseo, in the heart of the city centre.
The furnishings, just like the paintings by Gattieri, and the gigantic mirrors, are all memorabilia from that period. In this café brimming with charm and history it is possible to drink a coffee or a tea or even stop for lunch or dinner. Its tables have welcomed many illustrious guests and writers such as Italo Svevo and Claudio Magris.
Antico Caffè Torinese
On entering the Antico Caffè Torinese you may be a little disoriented, in fact you could find yourself sipping the latest trendy drink, seated comfortably at the Art Nouveau style bar, lit by a spectacular crystal chandelier.
How is this possible? It’s all thanks to the new management, who have decided to transform this café into a cult destination for lovers of coffee and mixology.
Antico Caffè San Marco
The Antico Caffè San Marco is a real symbol of rebirth, this café was completely restructured after the 23rd May 1915, when it was devastated and closed down by the Hapsburg army. Inside, it is still possible to admire elegant furniture, marbles and stuccos and the wonderful paintings of Vito Timmel. The Antico Caffè San Marco is the perfect place for a good coffee, an excellent quality lunch or dinner and it is also a truly unusual place where you can dance the tango!
Just a short walk from the port, we find the Caffè Tergesteo, opened in 1863 and unmistakable thanks to its characteristic stained glass windows showing episodes from the city’s history.
Not only considered one of the historic cafés of the city, but also recognized at a literary level, the Caffè Tergesteo is cited by Saba in his Canzoniere (song book) “Caffè Tergeste […] / I look at you today with joy. / And you reconcile the Italian and the Slav, / late at night, around your billiard table”.