Cafe culture is quintessentially Italian, and that certainly holds true in Venice. There are a thousand cafes in Venice in which to enjoy a cappuccino, espresso or macchiato, (or tea, beer or soft drinks if you prefer) and we paused in several during our recent visit.
Many Venetian cafes offer light meals and sweets, perfect for a light lunch or a restful pit-stop during the day.
Caffè La serra
This beautiful cafe is housed within a stunning historical greenhouse in Castello, right by the Biennale Gardens.
One half of the structure houses a garden centre selling beautiful plants, flowers, seeds and gardening equipment. The other is home to this delightful cafe, with a smattering of tables inside and more out in the garden, shaded by large umbrellas.
Originally known as Serra Margherita, the iron and glass greenhouse was built in 1894 to house palm trees and decorative plants for the International Art Exhibition of the same year. It was part of a larger redesign of the Castello gardens, a quiet area away from busier urban neighbourhoods. Originally, the ironwork was painted white, as was the style for greenhouses in Europe at that time.
For the next hundred years the greenhouse was used for to propagate seedlings to plant into the flowerbeds of the city’s municipal gardens, and to overwinter the park’s warm-climate plants. During that time, it underwent a number of modifications, including a switch to green rather than white paint, a new roof, and the addition of concrete flower beds and a small greenhouse extension.
Sadly, in the 1990 the greenhouse was abandoned and its condition deteriorated in the years that followed. It wasn’t until 2006 that a thorough restoration saw the beautiful greenhouse repaired and protected, and brought back into use as a garden centre and cafe.
Pete ordered a local beer, which came with a welcome basket of crisps. My hot chocolate was thick, velvety and very good. We resisted the cakes and desserts, having enjoyed a generous lunch, but the choices looked tempting, as did a range of fresh juices and other drinks.
Find out more about eating out in Venice, and more of our favourite places.