A Typically Italian Form of Sociality
Established in the wake of English coffeehouses, Italian cafés represented an authentic social revolution. Unlike aristocratic and highbrow salons, one could enter a coffee bar without being invited, engage in free speech and not be subject to gender discrimination. Cafés hosted the new bourgeois society and the nascent nation, supported the development of artistic avant-gardes and literary circles, and offered hospitality to important political movements that would shape Italian history. This overview focuses on cafés that have preserved their historic character, as regards both location and furnishings, including the oldest of all – the Florian in Venice – as well as the Pedrocchi in Padua, Al Bicerin in Turin, the Tommaseo in Trieste, the Gilli in Florence, the Ancient Caffè Greco in Rome, and the Gambrinus in Naples.
Massimo Cerulo teaches Sociology at the University of Perugia and is a research associate at the University of Paris Research Centre on Social Relationships.