Europe is full of cafes strictly linked to intellectual, artistic, and literary circles of their day. Here we have summarized the history of two European cafes that are definitely worth a visit.
1. Café Tomaselli, Salzburg
Café Tomaselli is considered the oldest coffee house in Austria. According to a study on its origins, it was opened in 1700 and then changed owners several times. In 1852, confectioner Carl Tomaselli bought what was then the Café Staiger in the centre of Salzburg. Since then, the café has been run by the Tomaselli family for almost 170 years.
The beautiful historic café is situated in the heart of Salzburg’s Old Town on the Alter Markt. Since its opening, Café Tomaselli has become an important social meeting point for Salzburg’s middle class. A few years later, in 1860, the café started attracting tourists who easily travelled to Salzburg thanks to the opening of the Empress Elisabeth Railway.
In 1891, the son of Carl, Carl Jr., opened an elegant ladies’ parlour on the first floor of the café: This marks an important date as until that moment, the renowned café was visited by male guests only. Around 15 years later, Carl Jr. left the café in the hands of his son Otto Tomaselli. In August 1920, the city organized the first Salzburg Festival (Salzburger Festspiele). Café Tomaselli has played a key role in its creation as the idea for the festival was developed by Hermann Bahr, Hugo von Hofmannsthal and Max Reinhardt, when sitting at their table at the Tomaselli.
Once Otto passed away, his wife Olga continued to manage the coffee house until 1945, when it was occupied by Americans and partially transformed into a Red Cross Station. Five years later, the café was returned to Olga, who then passed it over to her kids. Still today, Café Tomaselli is owned by the same famous family.
Today, the café boasts a vast variety of hand-crafted desserts, pastries, and baked products, including gateaux, strudels, croissants, and cakes. Guests can enjoy these delicacies in the coffee house or or in a cozy Stüberl with wooden benches and tables. During sunny days, the best views can be catched from the little kiosk under the shade of chestnuts, sitting on the terrace in front of the café, or in a veranda located on the first floor.
2. Caffè Pedrocchi, Padua, Italy
The history of Caffè Pedrocchi began in 1772, when Francesco Pedrocchi opened a small coffee shop. In 1779, the coffee house was passed to Antonio, Francesco’s son. Antonio wanted to create a unique café. He dreamt of a monumental coffee place with astonishing architectural features, and located right in the city center, in front of the University.
To carry out his idea, he commissioned the creation of the building to Venetian architect Giuseppe Jappelli. In 1831, Caffè Pedrocchi was finally opened. From its opening date until 1916, the café was labeled as “café with no doors,” as it stayed always open, day and night. In 1839, the famous “Pedrocchino” was added to the main structure. Standing still today, the Pedrocchino is a neo-gothic building that hosted the bakery and that overlooks the City Hall and the University. Three years later, the architect also finished the so-called “noble floor:” An upper floor with several decorated spaces that hosts two museums.
Since its opening, the café became a social place for artists, intellectuals, novelists, and writers, a place where new ideas were conceived, and where the middle class organized ball nights, parties and events. It attracted not only locals, but also tourists and business travelers from all over Italy and Europe. Some of the most renowned guests that have visited the café are the writer Stendhal, dramatist and poet Alfred De Musset, writer and poet Gabriele d’Annunzio, and many more. In 1848, the café was the scene of the student uprisings against the dominant Austrians, as evidenced by the bullet hole that was shot by an Austrian soldier. In 1891, Domenico Cappellato Pedrocchi (the adopted son of Antonio) inherited the Café and donated it to the city of Padua.
Today, Caffè Pedrocchi is a symbol of the city of Padua as well as one of the most renowned venues for events. The most famous rooms are the Green, the White and the Red room. The Green room was used by students or underprivileged people who could stop there without purchasing anything. The Red room is the main central room, where the historic bar is situated. The White room is where there is still the bullet hole on the wall.