Caffè Pasticceria Piccardo

Imperia, Liguria, Italy | 43°53′N 8°2′E

Piazza Dante Alighieri, 2, 18100 Imperia IM, Italy

Caffè Pasticceria Piccardo was founded in 1905 by Giacomo Piccardo in Oneglia, now joined with Porto Maurizio creating the City of Imperia. Located in the centre of the portici, the covered shopping area of Imperia, the facade stands out in its Umbertine style hand-worked mahogany framing topped with a glinted marmo verde alpi sign, a statement of Piemontese class and sophistication – a contrast to other Ligurian counterparts. In Imperia, and maybe all of Western Liguria, Piccardo is the place to get paste (pastries), every nonna will agree and know the difference.

Liguria, the well-known and yet overlooked region of Italy, home to Sanremo, Genova, Cinque Terre, and many more beautiful gems. Everytown has a story, some more interesting than others and I believe Imperia falls into the latter. As is with all historic Pasticcerie of Italy, they are a home to business dealings and politics, and Piccardo is no different. Yes, being the capital of the province of Imperia and a major city in the olive oil industry there have been those types of stories and events, but others are more interesting. In 1946 during the gruelling Milano-Sanremo, the Italian cycling legend,  Fausto Coppi, with an astonishing 8-minute lead stopped… for an espresso. He later went on to win with an even more impressive 14-minute lead. This alone could get a building into the Associazione Dimore Storiche Italiane ( The Association of Historical Places of Italy), but not Piccardo.

Imperia is a bold name even by contemporary Italian city name standards, and there is a good reason for that. It is not uncommon for two parts of a city to dislike each other, usually, it is over something tiny turned big, i.e., a bucket (see War of the Bucket). Imperia differs slightly from this norm, before the fascist consolidation into Imperia in 1923 the two cities of Porto Maurizio, to the West, and Oneglia, to the East, were once under different jurisdictions. Okay, you may be asking why does this matter to Piccardo? Was it home to partisans, where the OSS and its spies met? No. Circa early 1907 there was a young teacher at the Collegio Civico Ulisse Calvi, with a very raucous, brash, and inciteful philosophy new to the area by the name of Benito Mussolini, you may know of him. Do not worry, the regulars of Piccardo did not take well to him, his philosophy, or his womanising,  receiving a solid slap from one of the waitresses. The historical authorities may differ on why Imperia was created, but I believe there was some spite held by Mussolini.

Recently in November 2021, Piccardo was sold to a new owner outside of the family, making an uncertain but necessary change. Yet like all things in Imperia, life happens, a page is penned and added to its history. Many of my summer mornings have been spent sitting in the window seat on the left, editing many of these photographs on my feed, catching up with friends, or just looking out upon the buzz of Piazza Dante. It is as much my local café like any other I would consider my local Café, always greeted with smiles and acknowledgement of me as the ‘Americano’ with glee. More importantly, it is where I fell in love with Italian coffee culture and sparked my infatuation with these historic and influential spaces throughout this beautiful country.  If you make it to Imperia stop by, sit back, and enjoy an affogato.

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