Like many businesses around the world, one of Venice’s most iconic landmarks is in danger of closing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The famous Caffè Florian in St. Mark’s Square is the oldest cafe in Italy, known for its 18th century aesthetic. It just celebrated its 300th anniversary on December 29, in fact, though it wasn’t as joyous as they might have liked due to pandemic restrictions.
Indeed, pandemic-related closures and restrictions have hit the cafe hard, with sales declining by 80 percent in 2020. While the cafe is still alive, it’s on its last legs, surviving solely thanks to the support of shareholders and financial assistance from the bank.
Marco Paolini, the managing director of the cafe, told AD, “We do everything possible to keep the business alive. We are working to stay open for as long as we can. The pandemic has affected everyone, but we couldn’t benefit from various benefits. There are no prospects for now, we don’t even know a reopening date. We are concerned about the future. If the café is closed, you wouldn’t miss just a coffee, but a piece of Venice.”
The cafe originally opened in 1720 and has been a popular gathering place for hundreds of years, including artists and intellectuals like Charles Dickens, Ernest Hemingway, and Friedrich Nietzsche. It has also served as a set for various Hollywood films, including The Talented Mr. Ripley and Summertime.