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Trieste's Caffè Culture
Trieste is justly famous for its coffee. The elegant civility of Trieste plays out beautifully in a caffè culture combining the refinement of Vienna with the passion of Italy. In Trieste, as elsewhere in Italy, ask for a caffè and you'll get a thimbleful of high-octane espresso. Your cappuccino here will also come in an espresso cup, with only half as much frothy milk as you'll find elsewhere and, in the Viennese fashion, a dollop of whipped cream. Many cafés are part of a torrefazione (roasting shop), so you can sample a cup and then buy beans to take with you.
Antico Caffè San Marco. Few cafés in Italy can rival Antico Caffè San Marco for its bohemian atmosphere. First founded in 1914, it was largely destroyed in World War I. It was rebuilt in the 1920s, and then restored several more times, but some of the original art nouveau interior remains. It became a meeting place for local intellectuals and was the haunt of the Triestino writers Italo Svevo and Umberto Saba. Via Battisti 18, Trieste, 34125. 040/363538. Tues.-Sun. 8 am-midnight.
Caffè Degli Specchi. For a great view of the great piazza, you couldn't do better than Caffè Degli Specchi, where the many mirrors heighten the opportunities for people-watching. Originally opened in 1839, it was taken over by the British Navy after World War II, and Triestini were not allowed in unless accompanied by an Englishman. Because of its location, it is the café most frequented by tourists, and it's open from 8 am to 9 pm. Piazza dell'Unità d'Italia 7, Trieste, 34121. 040/365777.
Caffè Tommaseo. Founded in 1830, classic Caffè Tommaseo is a comfortable place to linger, especially on weekend evenings and Sunday lunchtime (11-1:30), when there's live music. While you can still have just a coffee, Tommaseo has evolved into a pastry shop and restaurant, with an extensive menu. It's open daily from 8 am until 12:30 am. Piazza Tommaseo 4/C, Trieste, 34121. 040/362666.
I Paesi del Caffè. The atmosphere here is more modern than Old World, and they brew coffee and sell beans of most of the top varieties, including Jamaica Blue Mountain. Via Einaudi 1, Trieste, 34123. 040/633897. Mon.-Sat. 7 am-8:30 pm.
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