Last Updated on November 22, 2023 by Laura Teso
The Caffé Pedrocchi or simply the Pedrocchi [peh-DROHK-kee] is an historic Café founded in the 18th Century in Padua. Its restaurant was particularly successful at that time because of its closeness to the University and to the major hotels, so many artists and intellectuals, such as Lord Byron and Stendhal, hung out here. Stendhal defined it “simply the best in the world”.
Caffé Pedrocchi History
Around 1760 in Padua there were about 40 Café proprietors. The best of them was Pietro Zigno. He welcomed into his house a nephew, Francesco Pedrocchi, who, at the age of 14, started working at the Café, proving himself to be intelligent, reliable and suited to the job. After Zigno’s death, Francesco decided to open his own shop on the New Year’s Eve of 1772.
In 1799 the property passed to his son Antonio, who began to acquire the adjacent buildings to create a Café intended to be unique in Italy, similar to a Viennese Café (at that time Padua was under the Austrian domination), thanks to the help of architect Giuseppe Jappelli. The new Caffé Pedrocchi opened in 1831.
At that time people believed that, during the excavations to expand the building, Pedrocchi had found an ancient treasure that made him rich beyond measure. In any case, during those works they found some Roman finds that are now visible at the Eremitani Museum.
The adopted son of Antonio, Domenico Cappellato Pedrocchi, inherited the Café and tied it with his Testament (1891) to the city of Padua, with the obligation to maintain the Establishment as it was, a Café. Fortunately!
After the First World War a difficult period for the Café began and many original furnishings were dispersed. For the most part of the 80s and 90s the Café remained closed. It finally reopened on December 22nd 1998.
Historic Rooms on the groundfloor
The most famous rooms are three: Green, White and Red, in homage to the colours of the Italian flag.
- In the Green Room you can stop without purchasing anything.
- The Red Room is the main central room, where you can find the historic bar.
- In the White Room you can have lunch and dinner. On 8 February 1848, in this very room, the Austro-Hungarian soldiers fired a bullet against students in revolt against their rule. There is still the bullet hole on the wall.
Upstairs you can visit the Risorgimento Museum and the beautiful “Piano nobile” rooms (entrance on the north side, right door). I’ll write about it in another post.
I went to the Caffé Pedrocchi a few times with my father who goes there often. He likes sitting there to read his paper and relax. If you sit down in the Red Room, beware that the price is a bit expensive (at the counter the price is cheaper). Sure, nothing compared to Venice! I think we paid 8€ for two ginseng coffees and they offered us 4 (very) little cookies. But we could sit and chat for an hour in this beautiful historic room. I think it was worth it. The main fault in my opinion is not the price, but the atmosphere. It is not very warm, I must say. I have the feeling that it is still a place frequented mostly by haughty people, where everyone expects you to be wealthy and well-dressed. Perhaps it would be nicer to make the place more lively and cheerful.
Did you know that…
- Up to 1916 the Caffé Pedrocchi was always open, even at night, which is why it was nicknamed the Café without doors. This is just one of the famous “withouts” of Padua. If you’re curious, you can read my post about Padua, the city of the three withouts.
- The building has the shape of a grand piano, or better to an harpsichord. The keyboard (north) overlooks Piazzetta Pedrocchi (the side with the lions, the Patisserie, the green room and the Museum entrance), the tail (south), the beautiful neo-gothic appendix called Pedrocchino, overlooks the City Hall and the University.
- About the 4 stone lions… Well, every child and former child in Padova rode them at least once… or many many times! I loved to play there. Every time I pass by I confess I have a itch to jump up again!! Sooner or later I’ll do it!
- Among Paduan students there’s a superstition: They should not enter the Café until the end of their studies. Otherwise they will be unable to graduate.
- The speciality of the Café is the Caffè Pedrocchi: it is a coffee in a medium size cup with mint flavoured cream and a sprinkle of cocoa powder. The precise recipe is a secret. When they serve you they give you no teaspoon, because they say you must not stir. It is not that easy to drink it that way, though. When I ordered it, I borrowed my father’s teaspoon! What is a girl to do?? If you want to know how many types of coffee you can find in Italy, learn more at Types of Italian Coffee served in bars and restaurants.
- Beautiful building full of history.
- Location in the very city centre.
- Opportunity to savour a drink in a place full of memories and people’s affection.
- It can be crowded at certain times of the day.
- Sometimes the service is a bit slow (I personally don’t mind this because if I go there I want to enjoy and relax. If I’m in a hurry I rather go to a common bar).
Did you visit Caffé Pedrocchi while in Padova? Did you try their speciality?
Via VIII Febbraio, 15 – Padua
8 a.m. – 11 p.m.