Welcome to the "New" Friends

Welcome to the "New" Friends

Thursday, 9 May 2013


When you walk into the restaurant from Piazza Umberto I, you will notice a simple tile mosaic on the threshold where the words "La Fontana" are written. La Fontana, of course, refers to the historic fountain just beside the restaurant on the piazza.

The fountain dates from 1889 and brings fresh potable spring water from the mountains into the the city. Atop the fountain you can see Casperia's unique stemma comunale or town coat of arms with its asp, star and corona of castle turrets. 

Below the stemma is an inscription in Italian commemorating its construction. 

La Fontana was the name given to a wine bar, and later a beer pub that once existed at the location where Friends Café is now. If you come inside the restaurant and descend the stairs into the interior seating area you can see a framed old black and white photo on the wall to your left just as you descend the stairs. This shows the La Fontana Birreria in its heyday. 

If you look above Friends you will see a large complex. Divided into various apartments now, this building over a century ago was the town Inn or Locanda. You can see the arched windows in the old postcard below.

The room where we have our seating area and washroom used to be the town  macelleria or butcher shop. If you walk outside Friends and turn to your right to head up the stairs into town you will notice a window onto a dark cellar room. Take a peek. 

This is the remains of an old frantoio or olive press. The large terracotta jars incorporated into the room structure used to serve as storage for the town's olive oil.

When you sit at Friends Cafe you are surrounded by our history. Look at the walls around you and you will be surprised by what you see... This window for instance...

Now take a closer look... 

This wall was constructed in 1570 or 1590... either way, it is old... You will see quite a few of these dated bricks throughout Casperia, some dating back to the 1400s...

Lastly, have any of you noticed the little windowed stone structure opposite Friends Café just as you head down the stairs to the Porta Romana? Yes, that's it, just behind and to the right of Cicciopalla.

This is called a Vespasiano, after Emperor Titus Flavius Vespasianus, founder of the Flavian dynasty... and it is a public urinal. Why, you may ask, is a public urinal named after a Roman Emperor? We are not exactly sure, but people say it is probably in reference to a tax he placed on urine collection (useful due to its ammoniac content).

A little bit too much history?  Perhaps...

Let's leave you with something more appetizing... 

One of our famous Negroni's, the colour of many a sunset you will enjoy when you come visit us at Friends Café in Casperia. You know what they say... "No Negroni, no Party!"



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