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Literature, paintings, food and drinks in 18th century Venice

In the first centuries of its history Venetian cuisine had always been influenced by the oriental world. Since 1700, due to a slow decline, Venice withdrew into itself, absorbing the culinary traditions of France more than any other Italian city. On one hand the literary world absorbed the new trends by adapting to the new fashions coming from beyond the Alps. On the other hand the Venetian theatrical comedy found in the guise of Carlo Goldoni the driving force of these new trends. He narrated the habits of all the Venetian people describing their festivals as well as their tastes. Coffee and chocolate stood out as drinks drunk throughout the day for the sake of socializing. in this regard Goldoni wrote “The Coffee Shop”.


Goldoni’s “La bottega del caffè”


In 1700 numerous cafés were opened in Venice in the number of more than two hundred. In these cafés Turkish coffee was served. The Venetians used to describe it as black water but after appreciating its qualities, they also understood its effects. In the cafés, chocolate was also available, imported into Europe by the Spanish in the 16th century. Everybody drank it but didn't eat it because solidified chocolate was produced later.

Pietro Longhi, the morning chocolate


As chocolate was extremely expensive, the lower classes could not afford to buy it. Giving chocolate was the equivalent to making a great gift because of its cost. The cafés were also frequented by women from high ranks. For them, going to cafés it was like going to a living room at home, where they showed off their clothes and new hats. Some cafés became real literary salons, where all kinds of topics were discussed.



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