Italy’s Historical Cafe Pedrocchi

The cafe from the street
The Cafe Pedrocchi from the street and the bustling piazza 

Appearing more like a palace than a coffeehouse, the historical Cafe Pedrocchi of Padua has entertained famous literary and political figures since its founding in 1831. Because it was also the largest cafe in Europe, Cafe Pedrocchi became a quick sensation.

Coffee consumption by the bourgeoisie of Europe grew very popular during the 18th century. As a result, in 1772 Francesco Pedrocchi of Bergamo began the original and very successful coffee shop here near the University of Padua, the town hall, and the markets. It became the central hub, the social heartbeat of the city.

Over the marble threshold and into the illustrious cafe. Even the tables are lined up to near perfection!

In 1831, Francesco’s son Antonio expanded the coffee house to cover an entire block by hiring Venetian architect Giuseppe Jappelli to redesign the premise. He integrated different buildings and facades into a single unit, creating an eclectic extension. The interior is neoclassical in style, with marble floors and pillars while adorned with graceful ornamentation.

There are three rooms on the main floor. The Red, White and Green rooms which are the colors of the Italian flag. Upstairs are nine rooms and a museum featuring 19th century Paduan history. Famous artists such as Stendhal, Lord Byron, Dario Fo and several others have spent much time here.

The cafe was heavily damaged in WWII and completely rebuilt in its original neoclassical 19th century splendor. During the war, Italian revolutionaries met here to plan an unsuccessful attempt to overthrow their Austrian occupiers. The walls of Cafe Pedrocchi are imbued with many a conversation.

Baby Grand....nice ambience!
Baby Grand and a swanky bar

Inside the cafe, the ambience is one of class and elegance. Cafe Pedrocchi is the name of their signature drink, made of piping hot espresso topped with a cold mint creme topping. Luscious!

Delectible morsels brought to the tabel accompanied my coffee drink
Delectable morsels brought to the table, accompanied my coffee drink

Finger sandwiches, olives and chips accompanied our drinks and were the perfect addition.

Menu d’Elegance
Many feet have padded over this door mat
Many feet have padded over this door mat
Gracious Elegance, the Cafe Pedrocchi
Gracious Elegance, the Cafe Pedrocchi

Tall Greek columns and stately lions gave the cafe a very unusual feel. Exotic, stately, classic, the building graced the streets of Padova with a lot of charm. University professors and students, intellectuals, and artists have all spent much time consorting with each other inside the cafe, solving the problems of the world.

It is called a ‘doorless cafe’ because originally it was open 24 hours a day. During the warm weather the doors are thrown wide open and the waiters breeze in and out while attending to every need of those sitting on the veranda and out onto the pedestrian piazza.

It truly is a remarkable landmark in Padua, one that has earned the right to be listed highly in the city’s “hall of fame.”

Heavenly Prisms

Prisms of crystal illumination fascinate me. Beams of refracted light coursing through an object and projecting colorful rays on surfaces leave me spellbound. What I stumbled upon inside the Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta at Camogli during a recent visit brought this vision to mind.

After leaving Chiavari on a grey morning in late September, I headed up the Ligurian coastline to explore some of the villages on the Riviera before reaching Genoa. Blue skies fought against the dark clouds that threatened rain for most of the morning, finally claiming victorious sunshine by afternoon. It was then I arrived at Camogli.

Harbor with fishing boats and tall pastel houses
Camogli Harbor with fishing boats and tall pastel houses

Pulling up on a road above the little village, I parked the car and walked down toward the waterfront. As tall narrow pastel houses began to loom up before me, my pace quickened. I could see a glimpse of the water just beyond them, on the other side of a small piazza. Finally reaching it, I noticed a bay hugging the cobblestones. It was very much alive with many colorful bobbing boats.

Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta
Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta

After stopping for a delicious Affogato, an espresso with crema gelato, I wandered up to the Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta. It rose like a bulwark, a mighty fortress showing the wear of time and the relentless lashing of waves. I walked around it to the right and started ascending a narrow flight of old marble stairs.

Pebble mosaic in front of the church courtyard
Pebble mosaic in front of the church courtyard

I came upon this beautiful stone mosaic floor with star designs which made me think of Mary. She has often been referred to as being the ‘star of the sea.’ Perhaps this was intended to symbolize her.

As I turned and entered the thirteenth century basilica, I was immediately taken with its beauty and regal ambience. But what caught my eye more than anything else were the many crystal chandeliers hanging all about the interior. Dangling in chime-like elegance, it was a magnificent view to behold. It didn’t take much to envision this entire basilica lit only by the chandeliers at night.

The following photos were taken that day and I would love to share them with you.

Altar outlined with Chandeliers
Entering the basilica
Entering the basilica
Basilica dome in a golden glow
Basilica dome in a golden glow
Gilded ceiling frescoes
Guilt ceiling frescoes
Marble Priest's Podium with overhead Baldacchino
Marbled Priest’s Podium with overhead Baldacchino-marble floors, marble everywhere!


Built in 1200 next to the town castle as a chapel, the basilica stood high on a rocky promontory that was only accessible by a wooden bridge since it was separated from the coast. Today, after several renovations over the centuries, it rests on a cobblestone square reachable by a marble staircase. The neoclassical facade gives way to a beautiful baroque interior.

The remains of St. Fortunato, patron saint of fishermen and sailors, rests in the basilica as well as St. Prospero, patron saint of the city.

A peek out to the beach from a window in the basilica
A peek out to the beach from a window in the basilica

Before leaving the basilica, I saw the beach with sunbathers through a window. Heaven, sky, land and sea brought rhythm and harmony to this glorious old basilica. The modern and the ancient, today and yesterday, nature and golden prisms became one complete presence that lingers on in my storehouse of treasured memories.