Gran Caffe Lavena

A mid morning snack at Gran Caffe Lavena was the perfect sojourn at St. Mark's Square - between a morning historic walk and gondola ride in Venice, Italy

With 20 minutes to spare between the completion of our walking tour of Venice and the start of our gondola ride, Katharine and I sat and had a very quick snack at Gran Caffè Lavena in St. Mark’s Square.

The Gran Caffè Lavena is one of Venice’s historic and renowned coffee houses, with a long and storied history that dates back to the 18th century. The interior is still decorated in Belle Époque style, with luxurious furnishings and decorations

It was here – in the moment – that even though Kay had warned me that eating anywhere in St. Mark’s Square would be an utter rip off, that I just relaxed into the flow of utterly ridiculous pricing for the vibe.

The music from the band was captivating and the scene of the moment was visually overwhelming.

I ordered the GELATO AFFOGATO AL BRANDY, VODKA, WHISKY O BAILEYS (ice cream dipped in Baileys).

Here, dear reader, is when I was reminded that presentation is everything.

Our drinks were brought out on a silver platter.

It was visually stunning.

Reading up on the history of Gran Caffè Lavena was also interesting. It was founded in 1750 by Gianfrancesco Casanova, the older brother of the famous Venetian adventurer and writer Giacomo Casanova. It was originally known as “Alla Venezia Trionfante” but later came to be named after its subsequent owner, Lavena.

One of the most famous episodes in the history of Gran Caffè Lavena occurred in 1797 when Napoleon Bonaparte visited Venice. It is said that Napoleon ordered a cup of coffee at the café and was presented with a bill. Legend has it that he responded by saying, “A café fit for kings!” and paid the bill with a golden coin.


Gran Caffè Lavena is more than just a coffeehouse; it is a living testament to the rich cultural and historical tapestry of Venice. It has played a role in the city’s intellectual and social life for centuries, making it a cherished and iconic establishment in the heart of Venice.

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Gran Caffe Lavena

Plaza San Marco, 133/134
30124, Venice Italy
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