Historical Café #6: Gran Caffè Gambrinus

Gambrinus historical

Gran Caffè Gambrinus is arguably one of the most important landmarks in the city of Naples for it is hardly just a regular café. Gambrinus is a literary salon of Naples, a well-known art gallery, and a member of cultural historic places of Italy.

It all began in 1820 when a guesthouse opened up this café on the ground flood. Here worked only the best confectioners, ice cream makers and baristas in all of Europe, as such it got the immediate approval of the royal family who gave it recognition as ‘the supplier of the royal house’, an honor only given to the best suppler in Sicily.

The café went trough a shaky time in 1885 and was on the verge of closure when, in 1890, it was given a breath of new life. Mariano Vacca, a patron of numerous artists, leased the guesthouse premise and hired a well-known architect, Antoni Curri, to renovate the premise, including the café.

Soon the café was buzzing with artists, intellectuals, writers and philosophers. Thanks to the artistic flair of many visitors, the rooms slowly became the home of some of a treasure chest of art pieces. From tapestries by Porcelli to stuccos of Bocchetta, the café was decorated by the most esteemed Neapolitan painters and artists.

By Michele Sergio / CC BY-SA

During the twentieth century, this café was the epicenter of culture and saw a list of visitors that would become some of the most revered names in art and writing.

Here sat Oscar Wilde who travelled to Naples after serving his jail sentence in England, Ernest Hemingway, Gabriele D’Annunzio, Jean-Paul Sartre who wrote his musings of Naples at the tables of Gambrinus, and so many more.

Gran Caffé Gambrinus was prosperous until the year 1938, when it was ordered to be closed by authorities who considered it an anti-fascist establishment. After this, the café spent years declining, the former glory only a dim memory.

Yet, Gambrinus has always been destined to overcome and in the early seventies, Michael Sergio began recovering the rooms of the cafe. He worked long and hard to restore the ancient stuccos and valuable architect. Soon, the café was reborn to a different but nostalgic splendor.

Today, Gran Caffé Gambrinus is symbolic of the beating heart of the city of Naples. Michael Sergio’s sons have continued hi restoration work and maintained the old beauty of this gem.

Michele Sergio / CC BY-SA

The café now acts as both a coffee house, a pastry shop, and a cocktail bar. Their specialties include their Neapolitan coffee which, in a city that takes their coffee very seriously, is sure to measure up.

If you find yourself in Naples, this historical gem found on the corner of classy via Chiaia and Piazza Plebiscito, is unmissable.

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