When tourists think of the best place for good coffee in the beautiful nation of Italy, famous towns such as Naples or Rome are often the first to come to mind. These cities, however, are not the only coffee spots in the country. On the opposite side of the peninsula, sharing a border with Slovenia, the city of Trieste is one of the most important coffee towns of the Italian nation.
In Trieste, coffee is taken quite seriously. It’s no wonder, then, that Trieste is home to the world-famous coffee brand, Illy. Trieste is also home to the Coffee University, which is the center of coffee excellence and culture and was established to research, develop, and spread the culture of excellent coffee throughout the world.
It’s no accident, then, that some of the most famous and historic coffee bars are found in Trieste. These establishments started popping up throughout Italy in the 18th century in famous cities such as Venice, Turin, Milan, Padua, and, of course, Trieste.
From that point on, the coffee shops, or bars, started increasing rapidly in number, thanks in part to their popularity amongst writers, poets, politicians, and deep-thinkers. Trieste, due to its modern spirit and forward-thinking atmosphere, was transformed in a few short years into a city filled with political cafes, government and military cafes, bourgeoisie and elitist cafes, business and commerce cafes, and the ever-popular literary cafes frequented by famed writers such as James Joyce, Italo Svevo, and Umberto Saba.
Some of the most significant published works produced by famous authors were penned or brainstormed within a famous Italian cafe. Tourists today can still locate these historical coffee shops, and many of the shops still feature the original designs and décor. Tourists who stop by coffee shops in Trieste today will find old Italian men and women gossiping about the day’s activities, youth gathered to share informal conversations, university students poring over notes and lectures, and a multi-cultural gathering of people enjoying the life and atmosphere of the Italian café.
Among the noteworthy coffee bars one can find:
Caffe’ Tommaseo, which was founded in 1830. This café is famous for introducing ice cream to the masses at the beginning of the century. Today, the café is sophisticated, elegant, well-lit, and very popular amongst tourist. One important feature of this café is the original mirrors, furniture, and decorations, crafted by the Trieste painter Giuseppe Gatteri, which can still be found adorning the walls.
The Caffe’ degli Specchi opened in 1839. The Café was first located in the Palazzo Spratti of the famous Piazza Grande, which is today named the Piazza dell’Unità d’Italia in 1918. Tourists love to visit this piazza because it is such a clear representation of Italian culture and life. Because of its location, the Caffè degli Specchi quickly became a popular meeting ground where one could always find the latest conversation about political, commercial, and artistic happenings in Italy.
At Caffe’ Pasticceria Pirona, customers can view the very same tables where famed Irish author James Joyce crafted his masterpiece “Ulysses” while he enjoyed the taste of a delicious Austrian Pastry and a glass of high quality wine from the Italian hill country. This coffee shop continues to offer high quality food and beverages to its clientele.
All these cafes, and the many others throughout Italy, have been included in an association that is striving to preserve some of the most important places in the nation – not only cafes, but also hotels, restaurants, trattorie, candy and sweet shops, pastry shops, and grapperie that are all at least seventy years old.