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The Caffe degli Specchi is one of the most famous coffee houses in the northern Italian port of Trieste. Located on the ground floor of Casa Stratti on Piazza dell’Unita d’Italia main square, the cafe opened in 1839 as a traditional Viennese coffeehouse.
Designed and built by the architect Antonio Buttazzoni, Caffe degli Specchi was run by the Greek merchant Nicola Stratti for 45 years. Due to its high-traffic location, the cafe quickly became a popular meeting place. Stratti was heavily in debt due to the immense cost of construction, however, and he sold the building to the company that insured it in 1846.
In 1884, the coffee house was reopened and would be renovated in 1933. At this time, the establishment was frequented by the famous writer and industrialist Italo Svevo as well as the Irish novelist James Joyce.
After the second World War, the entire building served as a headquarters for the U.S. and British occupying forces, which maintained Trieste’s status as a free territory. Coffee enthusiasts needed a permit to enter the premises at this time.
After changing hands multiple times in the late 20th century, the owner in 2011, Andrea Sessa, announced he could no longer operate the cafe due to the high running costs, and the venue was closed. A few months later, however, the Italian coffee roaster Segafredo Zanetti purchased the location and it reopened in March 2012. It is open to the public today.
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