Sipping in Style: 5 Classic Cafes in Rome

by Christopher Atwood



Italians call Rome the Eternal City. Each street evokes echoes of Italy’s epic past – from ancient temples to Renaissance fountains. With so many antiquities on display, it’s easy to overlook the soft grandeur of Rome’s recent past. Inside Rome’s historic cafes, for instance, you can savor stylish interiors from the 1800s and the 1900s.

In these temples to Italy’s coffee culture, patrons pay homage to Rome’s caffeinated deities – the espresso, the cappuccino, and the macchiato. For earlier generations, coffee was an unhurried ritual in Italy—something to gather (and gossip) around.

Historic Rome cafe

Illustrious visitors – from famous painters to political luminaries – graced Rome’s chic cafés. In these charming coffee houses, you won’t find the frescoes of the Sistine Chapel or busts of Roman Emperors. You’ll be awed instead by turn-of-the-century décor or 1960s Dolce Vita elegance.

Our 5 Favorite Historic Cafés in Rome are:

1. Caffè Sant'Eustachio (Pantheon)

Historic Rome cafe

Consistently boasting the best coffee in town, Caffè Sant’Eustachio has been in existence since 1938. Prior to then, a café had existed on site since the year 1800. To this day, Sant’Eustachio roasts its organic blend of beans using real wood. A perfume of freshly-roasted coffee permeates the air here. Espresso aficionados know to order the house gran caffè – espresso whipped with sugar to form a light-yet-creamy concoction. You can buy bags of their beans to enjoy a taste of Rome in your own kitchen.

2. Tazza d'Oro (Pantheon)

Historic Rome cafe

Established in 1946, Tazza d’Oro is the other historical coffee house found near the Pantheon. Bags of beans, which are roasted on site, are stacked by the café’s stylishly-carved espresso counter. Baristas here whip up some of the strongest and most flavorful blends in Rome. Like at the nearby Sant’Eustachio, coffee fans can purchase house-roasted beans alongside their artfully-crafted cappuccino.

3. Rosati (Piazza del Popolo)

Historic Rome cafe

Dating back to 1922, Rosati ranks as one of the longest-running cafes in the center of Rome. Ideally positioned on the elegant Piazza del Popolo, the café overlooks an ancient Egyptian obelisk that is over 3,000 years old! Rosati was the favorite haunt of actors, artists and intellectuals in the ’50s and ’60s. Inside, you’ll be wowed by its original 1920s interior. It’s the ideal spot to sit out front and watch fashionable Romans take their daily passeggiata (stroll).

4. Antico Caffè Greco (Via dei Condotti)

Historic Rome cafe

The Antico Caffe Greco is the uncontested Emperor of classic Roman cafes – having opened for business in 1760! Only Caffè Florian in Venice is older. Historic figures and artists – such as Hans Christian Anderson, Mark Twain and even Cassanova himself – have sipped coffee here. The interior is adorned with oil paintings – a fitting décor for an establishment of its age and esteem. You’ll find this historic haunt just off of Piazza di Spagna near the base of the Spanish Steps.

5. Caffè Canova-Tadolini (Villa Borghese)

Historic Rome cafe

Ornate and yet restrained, the Caffè Canova-Tadolini has no equivalent in Rome – housed inside the workshop of 19th-century sculptor, Antonio Canova. The space continued to be used by sculptors until 1967. Today, you’ll find café tables sprinkled amidst a maze of marble and exposed wooden beams. It’s like taking your morning coffee in the home of a master artist – kept company by his coterie of marble companions.

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Below you'll find 3 Experiences Food Lovers Will Adore in Rome:

1: COOK WITH A LOCAL FAMILY

Say arrivederci to inauthentic and overpriced tourist menus -- by cooking with a real Roman family! First, you'll select ingredients together at an open-air market. Then, you'll learn the secrets of Italian cooking in the family's kitchen!

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2: FUN PIZZA-MAKING CLASS

Keeping kids occupied on a European vacation can be tiring. So, why not make your kids smile while also treating your tastebuds? With our fun chef, you'll unlock the tricks to a perfect Italian pie -- including shaping the dough and baking.

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3. TASTE OF TRASTEVERE TOUR

For a true taste of Rome, skip the Colosseum and head straight to the Trastevere quarter. In the company of our Roman guide, you'll enjoy a tasting of Rome's typical dishes -- including focaccia, pecorino, carbonara and organic gelato.

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