Buon Compleanno, Gambrinus
The historic Caffè Gambrinus in Naples celebrated its 150th birthday yesterday by offering free coffee to all who asked for a “caffè pagato” at the counter between 11 am and 1 pm.
In so doing the proprietors, Antonio and Arturo Sergio, have revived a charming Neapolitan tradition which had fallen into disuse – that of the “caffè sospeso”, whereby a customer paying his bill would also pay for a coffee for whoever came in later in need of one. Often the people who came in and asked for a “caffè pagato“ or “sospeso” were poor or were homeless.
With a magnificent view of the Piazza del Plebiscito, Caffè Gambrinus has numbered many intellectuals, writers, artists, sportspeople and politicians among its customers.
Oscar Wilde and Gabriele D’Annunzio frequented the bar during its nineteenth century heyday and Mussolini was perturbed enough by the left-wing intellectuals who met there to order the closure of some of its rooms. The bar is elegantly decorated with paintings by some of its most famous clients and many famous Neapolitan pastries were invented in its kitchens. Today the bar is a “must” on any itinerary for a visit to Naples.
One customer, at least, has not forgotten the tradition of the “caffè sospeso”: Aurelio De Laurentiis, the Chairman of Napoli football club and a Gambrinus regular, is in the habit of paying for at least ten “caffè sospesi” whenever his team wins.
Have you visited the Caffè Gambrinus?
Do you like the idea of the caffè sospeso?
Hope you enjoy this video with the Italian comedian Lino Banfi: