In a photograph from the Fifties, a gentleman is sitting at a table under the porticos, next to the entrance to Café Fiorio. He is wearing a dark suit and a hat and he is reading the paper peacefully. We have no idea about what the newspaper is saying, nor do we know whether they made this customer happy or sad. But we do know that for over two centuries, there have always been people at the tables of Café Fiorio, who not only have drunk some coffee or had an ice cream, but also have read newspapers, periodicals and magazines. Café Fiorio’s history dates back beyond two centuries, which makes it qualify to enter the elite shared by Italian eighteenth-century cafés, among which Florian in Venice, Greco in Rome and a few others. This is a rare and stimulating privilege, as the fame and tradition mean both honor and responsibility.
Yet today, Café Fiorio opens its shutters every morning at 8.00 am, like eyes opening upon awakening. The air is still brisk at that time, and the customers, still drowsy, order coffees to start the day. Waiters and regular clients exchange a few jokes or comment on the first news of the day. It is then that Café Fiorio regains its place in the town’s life, seizes its eternal role and renews a century old daily rite.
As the shadows of the first clients drift away, comes the second wave of regular customers, who are less in a hurry and take their time to enjoy the peace radiated by the halls. They read the papers, hold friendly conversations and savor their breakfast in peace. Over the morning hours you can see students who skip school, university students who take refuge in the last hall, copying class notes and studying, not to mention couples who whisper words of love. Two tables away, there is a pensioner who is reading the newspaper in peace, waiting for a peer who is not on time, to exchange opinions on the news.
Next to them you see a group of clerks taking their coffee break, talking about work as they sip their coffees. A mother helps her little son eat ice cream. At lunch time, the Café fills with diners who surround the buffet, help themselves with the food and then take a seat at the tables. The humming of conversations dissolves into the tinkling of silverware. In the lazy quietness of the afternoons, ladies appear at the front door to meet at tea time, and comment on other people’s lives in a refined language. They tell about their daughter-in-laws, grandchildren and neighbors, till they feel the urge to go back to their domestic duties. In the twinkling of an eye comes the aperitif time. Groups of friends and clerks who have just finished working fill up the halls of the Café.
Again the hum of conversations and the tinkling of glasses fill the air. A quiet hour of dinner-time goes by and leaves space for an evening of animated conversations. In all the halls of the café, a serene climate embraces people. For a few hours, it seems like it is the splendor of the golden times of the café back again, when people used to go to the café at least twice a day: in the afternoon and after dinner. And so it ends: well into the night, when Fiorio’s shutters close again and the last customers feel a sudden yet slight sense of void.
Fiorio provides its rooms and its services for every event
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