Trieste: the surprising Italian coffee capital


Beyond the square there is Cafe Tommaseo from 1830, a cozy series of pearly rooms adorned with carved angels and waiters in crisp jackets and red ties, and La Bomboniere from 1836, a jewelry box from a patisserie offering Austrian treats such as Linzer and Sachertorte cakes. The duo is managed by the Peratoner chocolate factory and, to welcome visitors, they distribute charming cards that translate the curious language of Trieste coffee.

Yet the favorite of all the Triestinos I have met is Cafe San Marco, founded in 1914 and located just outside the historic center. The stage inside is warm and retains its stunning original design, with bronze coffee leaves lining its ceiling and an antique copper espresso machine. There’s an on-site bookstore and marble tables full of chess-playing customers. Locals consider the owner, Alexandros Delithanassis, a city hero. A former book publisher, he took over the café in 2013 and saved it from demise.

Delithanassis transformed the cafe’s back room into a meeting place for bands and small concerts and book presentations, giving the establishment a community center vibe. On my last night in town, I slipped into the back room and joined a group of expats from England, Finland, Egypt, Australia, and even Naples. Inevitably, the conversation turned to the cafe, and again and again I heard something that didn’t surprise me: since each of them had settled in Trieste, they had found that they drank a lot more.

Join over three million BBC Travel fans by liking us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter and instagram.

If you liked this story, sign up for the weekly features newsletter called “The Essential List”. A handpicked selection of stories from BBC Future, Culture, Worklife and Travel, delivered to your inbox every Friday.


Comments are closed.