Historical coffee shop

The list of names of famous men and women spending time in historical places in Italy is very large. Just sit in these places, take a coffee or have an aperitif, and you immediately have the pleasant feeling to jump back in time, where relics, art works or period furniture recall memories of well-known celebrities intertwined with historical events of our country. Some became fast foods or boutiques. However, more than 120 still survive and we would like to tell and keep these places in our memory, as they continue pages of history and culture out our Bella Italia with honour and courage.

Caffè Grande Italia

In Sirmione, in the heart of the Garda pearl, the Caffè Grande Italia has seen famous and less famous people stopping at their tables; from Queen Margherita to Gabriele D’Annunzio, who often used to enjoy the seraphic peace while sipping a coffee. Either for the close distance to Verona and its famous Arena, or for the passion for the opera of the Cracco family, Caffè Grande Italia welcomed many opera singers, such as Tancredi Pasero, Maria Callas or Arturo Toscanini. Situated in the very central Piazza Carducci, the building of Bar Italia – regulars fondly call it this way – dates back to 1922, but license started on 24th November 1894. The living par excellence of the well-known touristy town boasts as long family tradition; thanks to great-grandfather of the actual owner, Angelo Cracco, who run the Hotel Germania and the close by Caffè Scaligeri just in front of the Scaligeri Castle for a few years. In the Twenties, his son Angelo decides to come back home after a long experience in Paris, Genua and Rome, running his father’s shop and renaming it “Caffè Grande Italia” – being struck by the efficiency of Rome’s namesake coffee shop situated in Piazza dell’Esedra.

After him, it was his strong and determined daughter Angiolina to run the shop. In 1957, the bar passed to her son Carlo, who relaunched the place with a different connotation together with his wife Lidia: even if with in line with tradition, the meeting place became bar where to taste also excellent long drinks served in giant hand blown cups. When he died, his son Mario took the reins of the shop. Thanks to him, Caffè Grande Italia still is the same simple and refined place, where famous people left indelible traces and not only came to sip a drink or experience a welcoming atmosphere, but also to chat, to exchange opinions or to build ties with long-lasting friendship.

Recommended song for the reading of the present article: Mambo italiano – Ray Gelato