The Italian Almanac

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Italian News - December 24

Trieste is celebrating the oriental coffee trade that made Italy's gateway to the Orient a melting pot that inspired writers and poets. From Boxing Day until New Year's Day the city's Art Deco cafes will play host to recreations that highlight the central role coffee and other Asiatic imports had in the city's growth into the most important port of the Hapsburg Empire.

The shows in 'The Ways of Coffee' each kick off with a historical figure standing at the port's harbor. A Roman trader, a Middle Ages merchant, and an importing impresario of the sort immortalised by great historical novelist Italo Svevo - Joyce's pupil - will show the goods coming into Trieste at each era and illustrate the various phases in the city's development.

An eastern atmosphere will be created by traditional music from the Balkans. The ensuing shows will range from Indian and Sri Lankan exoticism to a recreation of the sense of wonder aroused in the city by Marco Polo's tales of far-off lands.

The coffee on offer in the historic Art Nouveau cafes - Caffe' San Marco, Tergesteo, Tommaseo and Caffe' degli Specchi - will be an array of pungent mixes from Darjeeling in northern India, Mysore in southern India, and Sri Lanka, served up with free pastries. The shows will also recreate the erudite feel of the cafes during their heyday as intellectual clubs in which the city's intelligentsia discussed the latest ideas from MittelEuropa (Middle Europe) - intellectual hotbeds like Vienna and Prague.