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Alfonso Colavolpe

Caffè Francese


In Amalfi there is a bar 

that speaks French

At the foot of the majestic Sant’Andrea Cathedral, in an Art Nouveau building with an elegant and old-fashioned locale that is a must-see for residents and for the many tourists who flock to the centre.

Amalfi speaks French in the historic bar run by the Colavolpe family. At the foot of the majestic cathedral of Sant’Andrea, in addition to flavours of the sea, there is a special flavour, that of the tastiest lemon delight of the entire coast, still made with the original recipe from the seventies. It’s the house specialty of the Bar Francese (French Bar). A historic cafe, founded in 1845 by Giuseppe Francese and now run by the brilliant 26-year-old Alfonso Colavolpe. The business has continued through 6 generations of owners always wishing to improve and carrying on an important legacy. 

The Bar Francese is located in an Art Nouveau building overlooking Piazza Duomo, right in front of the spectacular staircase leading to the cathedral, the beating heart of Amalfi’s nightlife. It has both indoor tables and an elegant outdoor space where you can relax while admiring the spectacular landscape and the charm of one of the most famous squares in the world. Maybe sipping a coffee or a cocktail and tasting one of the many products of the confectionery tradition of Campania and Amalfi. There are sfogliatelle, babà, pastries, zeppole, and pasticciotti. And, for the warm summer evenings, there is no shortage of granitas, ice creams and sorbets made with citrus fruits from the coast.

Today, Bar Francese has 24 employees, and in the director’s seat of this successful business is a young man who chose to take the reins of the family trade. Alfonso began working at the bar as a cashier and after having found his ideal dimension in the direct contact with customers, he focused on the hospitality of the bar clientele. “The relationship with people is something that gratifies and excites me. I love listening to their stories, relating to their experiences and observing their behaviours. Sharing moments of tranquillity and harmony. And, I like to leave a smile and a nice memory to each of them. But I have to confess that I also love being a pastry chef and perhaps I will also specialise in this area of our work,” he confides. 

Bar Francese is a must-visit for residents and the many tourists who crowd the centre. Among the VIPs who have dropped by Bar Francese in the last few months are the world-famous director Christopher Nolan, who tried a chocolate dessert; the Venezuelan actress and model Aida Yespica, who splurged on a lemon tiramisu; the Lazio forward, Joaquin Correa; and the great baritone, George Gagnize. 

Alfonso’s impeccable hospitality is gracious and never invasive. 

“The relationship with people is something that gratifies and excites me. But I have to confess that I also love being a pastry chef and perhaps I will also specialise in this area of our work.”

In addition to enjoying our desserts, in recent years customers have also begun to ask us for other kinds of food. It was this demand that made us understand the need to turn to a professional designer to enlarge the room and make it comfortable and accessible for longer meals. Otherwise customers would be crowded in front of the pastry counter.” And so, in research on companies in the sector that had already undertaken important work on historic locations, the name of Massimo Giaccherini of Aba Arredamenti came up.

Massimo put together an innovative design for us that optimises space and makes everything very well organised. We have thus kept the Art Nouveau style that has distinguished the cafe since its inception and Massimo, along with Rebecca Giaccherini, has been of great help to us, with his company restoring some of the antique wooden furniture, a valuable element of our spaces and linked to historical constraints of the place itself.” With the work prepared by Aba, this notable cafe on the Amalfi Coast presents winning solutions, both functionally and aesthetically, and as in previous years, VIPs and curious people stop to take souvenir photos with the sign of the bar. “Our needs combined with Aba’s professionalism have led to a result we are very proud of. Because a place must be beautiful and attractive, but we must not forget that it is a place of work and also requires efficiency.”

Plans for the future? “My philosophy is that first you do things and then you talk about it,” concludes Alfonso. A new project alongside Aba is therefore to be expected.


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