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Harry’s Bar in Venice-a piece of Italian history

August 11, 2011

The history of this famous Venetian bar goes all the way back to the 1930 and the hotel Europa, where Giuseppe Cipriani was mixing drinks for the hotel’s guests able to afford a drink in the times of the Great Depression.

There he met a young American, a student named Harry Pickering who preferred to spend time in the hotel bar than walk around the city. Pretty soon, Harry found himself in a bit of a financial pickle-his aunt had left him with a ton of unpaid bills and walked away with her young lover! Giuseppe took pitty on his favorite customer and actually decided to lend him his own hard-earned life savings-a total sum of 10.000 lire, tucked away safely with intention of one day opening a bar of his own someday. When the bills were all paid, Harry Pickering disappeared, apparently for good, and Cipriani slowly came to terms with losing all his money. But, If this was the case, the name of the bar today wouldn’t be Harry’s Bar, obviously.

A few months back, the American came back, with the money to repay his debt. And boy did he repay it-he gave Ciprianni 40.000 lire-a great enough sum to enable him to fulfill his dream and open his bar. As a sign of gratitude, Harry’s Bar was chosen as a name. The bar was an instant success and it went on to become a favorite place for jet setters, the rich and the famous. The list of it’s regulars is a long one, and the names include such as Ernest Hemingway, Arturo Toscanini, Charlie Chaplin, Maria Callas, Truman Capote, Princes Diana and Prince Charles…

Giuseppe Cipriani died in 1980, so his son, Arrigo inherited the business. Interestingly enough, Arrigo is the Italian equivalent of Harry, so the bar practically bears his name from the beginning. Arrigo defied the shifting sands of time, and decided to take care of the bar changing nothing, remaining faithful to his father’s dream.

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In case you’re in Venice, pop by, the address is Calle Vallaresso, 1323

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