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Jun 1, 2012

The Café without doors – Pedrocchi in Padua

This must have happened to you too… One day, your eye is for the first time caught by a very peculiar house, shop or façade, and you think to yourself: “Gee, I’ve walked past this thing a hundred times and never noticed it before!?”

I had walked past the Caffè Pedrocchi  in Padua I don’t know how many times – and of course without ever paying any attention to it – when one day I woke up and realised my “mistake”. Mamma mia !  Back home, I filled out a blank sheet of paper with Caffè Pedrocchi , Caffè Pedrocchi, Caffè Pedrocchi …

For this is an extraordinary café with an exceptional past. Built in 1831 by the Venetian architect Giuseppe Jappelli, it was considered from the outset as an ambitious and almost subversive undertaking. Antonio Pedrocchi, the businessman who had initiated and financed its construction, wanted his café to be a glorious embodiment of the café culture, and a place open to all regardless of their social class or status. The “Café without doors”, as some went to nickname it.

The Caffè Pedrocchi  quickly became a very popular venue where local students, artists and politicians readily convened. Prominent foreigners such as Maxim Gorky, Théophile Gautier and Stendhal were also habitués of the café.

Architecturally, Caffè Pedrocchi  is a neoclassical marvel. Its elegant façade calls to mind not so much a coffee house as a… cathedral! Inside, the spacious ground floor – permeated by marble and graceful ornamentation – is divided into three beautiful salons, each draped in one of Italy’s national colours.

Let’s see if you have a command of Italian culture… What are Italy’s three national colours? How do you say these three colours in Italian?

I’ll give you the answers in my next weekly post – or, if you prefer, when we run into each other in one of Caffè Pedrocchi’s  elegant salons…

Katharina's Italy