The last time I was in Rome, I asked a Roman friend who lives in Los Angeles if there was anywhere I should go that wasn’t the Colosseum, the Vatican, Piazza Navona or the Spanish Steps. He gave me a few suggestions, one of them being to sip on a decadent coffee at Antico Caffé Greco.
Caffé Greco is Rome’s oldest café. It was founded in 1760 by a Greek man (thus the name: “Greco” = “Greek”) and still opens its doors every morning at 86, Via dei Condotti, near the Spanish Steps, in the middle of one of Rome’s most notable shopping districts. For over two centuries, the luxuriously decorated rooms of Caffé Greco have been hotspots for famous writers, poets, composers and public figures. Stendhal, Goethe, Byron, Franz Liszt, Keats, Hans Christian Andersen, Felix Mendelssohn, Morrissey and Wagner have all been frequent guests, as was the infamous Venetian rogue Cassanova.
The high fashion houses lining Via dei Condotti are reflected in the prices on the menu, so don’t be shocked to walk away paying €10 for a coffee with a dab of whipped cream and cocoa powder and a bottle of water. But you know what they say… “When in Rome!”
No matter where you sit while you enjoy a snack or beverage, be sure to walk around all four rooms before you leave. Each one is distinct and each one features incredible art collected over the centuries and displayed carefully to evoke a certain mood in each space. My favorite is, perhaps, “Sala Rossa”, the “Red Salon”, but each is special in its own way. After you go, come back and tell me which room is your favorite!