ROME - Turkish Daily News
The saying goes, �When in Rome, do as the Romans do.� Historic coffeehouse Antico Caffè Greco on the fashionable Via Condotti, where Stendhal, Goethe, Keats, Liszt, Mendelssohn and D'Annunzio once sipped coffee, today mostly hosts Japanese and Russian tourists. Even so, the charming institution has a striking atmosphere with its romantic paintings and makes for a posh coffee break during hot shopping hours.
Antico Caffè Greco is by far Rome's most popular and oldest cafe, located on the luxury shopping lane Via Condotti, across from the Spanish Steps. Unlike most cafes in Italy, one does not stand at the espresso bar to sip the double espresso. Rather, a few colorful and cozy rooms inside provide a classic atmosphere filled with red velvet chairs, famous paintings and marble tables. The cafe, which has been around since 1760, was founded by Greek Nicola della Maddalena -- hence the name Caffè Greco. Italian painter, Giorgio De Chirico, notably described Antico Caffe Greco in the early 1900s as, �Il Caffe Greco e l'unico posto al mondo dove sedersi e aspettare la fine,� meaning, �It is the only place in the world where one sits and waits for the end�.
Although not the popular intellectual hangout location for celebrated European writers and composers it once was, today it is still very popular amongst tourists and even Italians taking a break from designer shopping at the Gucci store right across the street.
While the cafe has a long history of famous clientele, when it comes to tourists and passers-by, the service and staff can be tricky. Ask for a cafe americano (a shot of espresso with a pitcher of hot water) and the waiter brings a lukewarm filter coffee and arrogantly argues that it is actually an espresso with hot water (espresso and cappuccino are about 7 euros). Generally, with some persuasion, the waiter will finally change it and bring an actual americano. Sparkling water is 5 euros for a half-liter. But really one is paying for the historic atmosphere rather than the mediocre espresso.
The desserts -- richly displayed at the entrance -- appear mouthwatering, and native Italians can be observed munching on the house specialty, paradisi, prepared with lemon and orange.
Antico Caffè Greco is open Sunday and Monday from 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Tuesday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. It will be closed for 10 days in August.
Antico Caffè Greco
Via Condotti 84, Rome