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Carlo Lavena

Although Carlo Lavena, proprietor of the Café from 1860 reached a considerable social position and was a friend of personalities such as Richard Wagner, daily patron of the Lavena from 1879 to 1883, he had no qualms about getting his hands into the dough to teach his workers the secrets of his renowned pastry.

The Beginnings

The real protagonist of the re-launch of this ancient coffee boutique dating from Eighteen century, after the famous eighteenth-century historical events, is Carlo Lavena, a resourceful young entrepreneur from Turin, a descendant of humble farmers, but clear in his mind. He loves working and he has got a passion: creating tasteful delights for the palate. The vocation for pastry making leads him to consider in a short while the opportunity to open his own confectionery and he fulfils his dream taking over from Pietriboni brothers a Venice’s shop set in Frezzeria. That was the beginning of its Venetian adventure, at the end of the nineteenth century, among bonbonnière, wedding baskets, gifts for soirées and dances and, of course, delicious pastry.

Lavena o Lavenino

The young Lavena or Lavenino, as subsequently he had been renamed, was finally born; his dream became an extraordinary reality. The café in St Mark’s Square will consist in the second bet; at the beginning it is just a mere branch, as resulting also from letterheads and invoices, since bake-houses are entirely set in Frezzeria. Carlo Lavena, as a good entrepreneur does, knows that it cannot rest on the laurels, that’s why it is important to travel and experience, learn with humility from other gastronomic cultures in order to entice those more refined palates and especially for a confectioner, projected to the most renowned salon in the world, where to meet international clientele, it is essential to know languages, respecting tastes, cultural tradition and creations’ originality.

“It is not a rarity (…) from 4 to 5 pm, to see him take the beech shovel in hand to teach them how to reposition the cakes properly in the large oven… that shovel, which looks like an halberd… If you think about it, oh, the number of flat cakes that our good friend Lavena disseminates throughout the world from the dregs of Frezzeria and the Procuratie Vecchie every year at Easter and beyond! He is truly a great benefactor! At least in many areas, Lavena is more popular than D’Annunzio.

Those cakes are so delicious! The fragrance of vanilla that they emanate is just heavenly: much better than what is used by some bakers, who mix lemon essence into it, or worse yet, pinch of cinnamon! Lavena does not commit these crimes and has no intention to either: that’s why they like his cakes so much abroad – even in Germany and Great Britain.” (A. Pilot)

“…every day, accompanied by his gondolier Luigi to St. Mark’s Square, Wagner stopped (…) at the Café, often chatting with the owner of the shop, Carlo Lavena, whom he got on with very well.” (From the Diary of Cosima Wagner)

The objects of tradition