The Caffè Pedrocchi in Padua was inaugurated on 9 June 1831. It has long been the centef of Padua’s public and intellectual life, visited by eminent artists and revolutionaries. Its unusual and eclectic architecture turns it into an unmissable urban landmark.
The Caffè was designed by Giuseppe Jappelli, an architect and landscape architect born in Venice in 1783. After studying at the lively Accademia Clementina in Bologna, he became a skilled map-maker and surveyor in the studio of Giovanni Valle in Padua. Having settled in the city, he took on several civic roles such as engineer for the Royal Office of Canals and Roads. Thanks to these positions he became an expert of landscape design, as he brilliantly demonstrated on 20 December 1815, when he turned the great hall of Padua’s Palazzo della Ragione into a “romantic garden” for the visit of Francis I Emperor of austria and his is consort, Maria Lodovica (1787–1816). Jappelli’s “romantic gardens” were whimsical places at the boundary between nature and theatre: one at Valmarana, near Padua, contained an artificial hill, a lake, and even a grotto with papier-mâché stalactites. The best-known feature of the Valmarana garden was its Gothic Revival Chapel, the imitation of a medieval Templar Chapel, completed in 1833. Projects such as this park turned Jappelli into a famous, well-established architect.
In 1826, Jappelli was commissioned the construction of the Caffè Pedrocchi by its owner, Antonio Pedrocchi, described by famous Romantic writer Stendhalas ‘Italy’s best restaurateur.’ Completed between 1831 and 1842, the Caffè building is striking in its grandeur. Jappelli’s exploited the irregular shape of the site by designing a building bookended by loggias in the Greek Revival style. The upper floor, inaugurated on 16 September 1842, was envisaged as a set of prestigious private entertainment rooms, each decorated in a different historicizing style: for example, the Etruscan, Egyptian or Empire rooms. Jappelli also designed the Caffè’s furniture, from lamps to coffee machines. In 1837-9 the Caffè was expanded with the construction of a Gothic Revival structure, the Pedrocchino, dedicated to the offelleria or pastry shop. Today, the lower floor of the Caffè still functions as a coffee shop. Following a time-honored tradition, University of Padua students who pass an exam with the highest grade are offered an aperitivo on the house. The upper floor is now part of Padua’s Museo del Risorgimento.
Between the completion of the structure in 1839 and his death in 1852, Jappelli was mainly involved in the construction of English-style parks and garden, inspired not only by his knack for garden design but also by several trips to Scotland and Great Britain as a whole.
Reference: Barbara Mazza. “Jappelli, Giuseppe.” Grove Art Online. Oxford University Press, accessed June 8, 2017, http://www.oxfordartonline.com/subscriber/article/grove/art/T044427.
The façade of the Caffè. Photo: ePadova
The north west loggia. Photo: Geobia on Wikimedia Commons.
The Pedrocchino. Photo: Alain Rouiller on Wikimedia Commons.
The Red Room, Caffè Pedrocchi. Orric on Wikimedia Commons.