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5 historical cafés to visit in Trieste

February 13, 2022

Particularly loved by writers and intellectuals, no other Italian city has had such a greater influence and concentration of literary talents. Trieste is the symbol of four greats of literature: James Joyce, Umberto Saba, Italo Svevo and Gabriele D’Annunzio.

In Trieste it’s possible to follow a literary itinerary through four statues erected in their honor that will guide you through the historic city center. You can meet Italo Svevo in front of the park in Hortis Square, Gabriele D’annunzio sitting on a bench reading a book in Borsa’s Square, Umberto Saba walking lean a cane towards the bookshop he founded in Via San Nicolò and finally James Joyce walking on the Red Bridge in Ponterosso Square.

In the 1700s, the cafés became a symbol of bourgeois culture and represented the favorite meeting place for the intellectuals of the time. To date, the historic cafés in Trieste are fascinating places full of history, where you can stop for a good coffee. Perhaps few people know that since the eighteenth century the first loads of green coffee landed in the port of Trieste. Coming from the new world and destined for marketing throughout Italy. Trieste is one of the best known Italian cities for coffee. Among the various roasting companies in the area there is Hausbrandt and Illy coffee. Coffee and cafés therefore become in effect one of the symbols of Trieste. 

Over the years a particular language was created used for orders:

if you want an espresso you will have to ask for “un nero“, asking for “latte” means one shot of coffe and milk without foam; you can have a cappuccino asking for “cappuccino italiano“; for a macchiato you will have to order “a capo“. Finally, how do people from Trieste enjoy a good coffee? ordering a “capo in B!” that is a macchiato served in a small glass. Last specialty, “gocciato” is an espresso with a drop of milk foam in the center.

Come ordinare un
caffè a Trieste
  • Espresso
    (in a cup)
    “Nero”
  • Espresso
    (in a glass)
    “Nero in B”
  • Macchiato
    (in a cup)
    “Capo”
  • Macchiato
    (in a glass)
    “Capo in B”
  • Espresso with a drop of milk foam “Gocciato”
MyTourTrieste logo

Funny isn’t it? But if the coffee break has become one of the favorite rituals why not make a break in a charming café full of history.

Caffè degli Specchi / Mirrors’ Café

Located in Unità D’Italia square in the heart of Trieste, you will find the Caffè degli Specchi. Its opening dates back to 1839, when the founder out of cunning decided to decorate the walls of the room with mirrors, carving the most important events of the time, so as to make the cafes appear brighter and save on oil lamps. The café was considered from the earliest times the salon of Trieste, where intellectuals such as James Joyce and Italo Svevo meeting for concerts that were organized by the beginner Franz Lehar.

caffè degli specchi trieste
– Trieste, Caffè Degli Specchi

Curiosity: When you ask for a coffee, you will be offered a glass of chocolate to accompany it since the place is owned by the Faggiotto family, master chocolatiers who produce chocolate. The brand is cioccolato Peratoner.

Caffè tommaseo / Tommaseo Café

In Trieste, the oldest café was born in 1825 in Tommaseo Square. It takes its name from its founder Tommaso Marcato. In 1848 the restaurant was then renamed in “Tommaseo” in honor of the Italian writer and patriot Niccolò Tommaseo. Entering inside the Caffè Tommaseo you can breathe a typical Austro-Hungarian  refined and relaxing atmosphere  thanks to the furnishings and decorations by Giuseppe Gatteri (Artist from Trieste).

Among the tables sat Italo Svevo, Claudio Magris (Writer from Trieste) who created his masterpiece “Danubio” and Umberto Saba who in a letter spoke to his friend Nora Baldi about his delicious pistachio ice cream eaten at Caffè Tommaseo.

caffè tommaseo trieste
– Trieste, Caffè Tommaseo

Curiosity: The café founder Tommaso Marcato, was the first to bring ice cream to Trieste in 1845. In 1954 the café acquired the title of “Historical place of Italy”.

Antico Caffè Torinese / Ancient Torinese Café

In 1919 the ancient Caffè Torinese was inaugurated at the beginning of Corso Italia, its magnificence in the interiors such as the Art Nouveau counter still preserved and the sumptuous crystal chandelier was created by the artist Debelli, the one who had already taken care of the  furnishings of two transatlantic liners from the early 1900s. The direction  changed in 2004 and the café has undergone changes, taking on a more youthful appearance, maintaining the decor and expanding its offer. Other than being a café, Antico Caffè Torinese introduced a vast choice of local wines and rinomated cocktails.

caffè torinese trieste
– Trieste, Caffè Torinese

Curiosity: the Antico Café Torinese in 1999 entered the list of Historic Places in Italy and obtained a gold plaque that certifies the historicity of the furniture placed inside.

Caffè Stella Polare / Stella Polare Café

At Dante Alighieri Street 14 in 1865 Caffè Stella Polare opened for the first time. The unique Viennese’s style of the interiors, the fascinating mirrors and classic decorations was appreciated and frequented mainly by merchants of German origin, by many writers and artists of Trieste and international origin such as Umberto Saba, James Joyce and Virgilio Giotti.

caffè stella polare trieste
– Trieste, Caffè Stella Polare

Curiosity: In the main room, you will not only find a rich section dedicated to pastry but during the year there are alternated pictorial and photographic exhibitions.

Antico Caffè San Marco / Ancient St Mark Café

In Trieste, the troubled history of the Antico Caffè San Marco begins since its opening in 1914. This salon was a meeting point for numerous irredentists and intellectuals of the time. During the period of the First World War, passports were forged inside it to allow patriots to escape to Italy. For this reason the place was devastated a year after its opening and closed by the Habsburg army.

antico caffè san marco trieste
– Trieste, Antica Caffè San Marco

After the Second World War, thanks to the insurance agency Assicurazioni Generali of Trieste it was refurbished by Vito Timmel’s paintings and decorations and reopened.

Curiosity: inside there is a spacious library where events and book presentations are held throughout the year.

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  • Caffè degli Specchi
  • Degli Specchi café Trieste
  • Historical Cafés in Trieste
  • Literary tour Trieste
  • San Marco café Trieste
  • Stella Polare Café Trieste
  • Take a coofee in Trieste
  • Tommaseo Café Trieste
  • Torinese Café Trieste
  • Trieste
  • Trieste City
  • Trieste's coffee

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