The earliest mention we have of the caffè greco dates back to the eighteenth century, when the “bewitched” drink coffee from the orient, first brought to europe by the greeks and levantines, became a social phenomenon and an occasion for convivial sharing amongst the élite.
Casanova, in his “memoirs”, recounts the occasion of his very first visit to the caffè in via condotti. In 1779, goethe became an habitué, spending time there with the large number of german artists living in the area at that time. But the true golden age for the Caffè Greco was to come in the nineteenth century, when its tables played host to the most eminent painters, sculptors, musicians and literati of the age, who flocked there from across europe.
To name just a few; mendelsson, berlioz, wagner, liszt, leopardi, gogol, stendhal, andersen; the latter even renting rooms above the caffè itself.
This meeting place which had become the favourite haunt of artists later started to draw in the nobility, well-known faces from the theatrical world, men of culture, and politicians. An endless stream of photos, dedications, poems and even pieces of music which are still being added to today are collected in the “caffè greco guest book”.
Walking into the “Sala Rossa”, or red room, patrons of the Caffè pass by a stunning array of statues, paintings, drawings, and documents of all sorts, and are filled with the magical sensation of entering a refuge brimming with genius, art, passion, love, power; fluttering between the tables, to be savoured intact and alive, along with a steaming cup of creamy coffee.