Concierge.com's insider take:
Facing off across St. Mark's Square, the highly competitive cafés Florian and Quadri are almost as iconic as the piazza they overlook. When Venice was ruled by the Austrians in the early 1800s, the occupiers frequented the Quadri, while Venetian patriots (plus Lord Byron) holed up in the Florian. Both places look much the same now as they did then, with ornate 18th-century interiors (heavy on the mirrors, gilded moldings, and damask upholstery). Though they can get very crowded during high season (and they're both ridiculously expensive), it's still extremely romantic to linger over afternoon caffè at either and look out at one of Europe's most famous squares. At Florian's, clued-in regulars head for the bar area at the back, where you can sip cocktails for less while watching the choreography of tray-laden waiters. Upstairs, chef Massimiliano Alajmo has put Quadri restaurant firmly on the gourmet map of Venice.—Updated by Lee Marshall
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