This historic Venetian Café-Bar is blessed with one of the best locations in the world. Caffe Florian is based right on Piazza San Marco with views to die for, the grand, gaudy basilica smack bang in front of you, the bell tower a few paces away. Opened in 1720, it is the oldest café in Venice. Its opulent, gilt-sprinkled and frescoed interior reflects its rich history and its orchestra, which plays nightly to guests sipping drinks in their enviable perch right on the square, is famous the world over.
Stepping into Florian sweeps you back to 18th-century Venice as you're swallowed into this mirrored, stuccoed and frescoed jewel of a café. Founded by a certain Floriano Francesconi in 1720 as 'Venezia Trionfante', its present appearance, complete with dozens of intimate wooden séparés, dates from an 1859 remodelling.
Rousseau, Goethe and Byron hung out here – the last in sympathy, no doubt, with those loyal Venetians who boycotted the Quadri across the square, where Austrian officers used to meet. Times have changed and these days having a drink at Florian is not so much a political statement as a bank statement – especially if you sit at one of the outside tables, where nothing – not even a humble caffè – comes in at less than €10.
Open Hours: May-Oct 10am-midnight daily. Nov-Apr 10ammidnight Mon, Tue, Thur-Sun.
Closed early Dec- Christmas, 2wks Jan.
Address: San Marco 56, piazza San Marco, Venice
Phone: 041 520 5641