No less than 251 years ago, main city square in Split got its first café, and ever since that place was and still is one of hotspots of social life in Split. It changed owners and names during its history, but importance remained the same. Most of people in Split know it as Central, but in urban mythology it's been also remembered as Troccoli. Generations spent time there to have a coffee or some sharp drink, turning it into something way bigger than just a café or a restaurant. Same goes with the hotel in the same building, the oldest one in Split.
Now it's coming back. After decades of neglecting and decay, old building emerged completely renovated, beautiful as it used to be. Soon, maybe in the next month or so, it will re-open as Santa Lucia Heritage Hotel, joining many other, newer excellent hotels in Split. Ground floor café will keep its old name Central, to be familiar to all those who once enjoyed this historical place, and will do it again. I have a copy of 1905 Baedeker guide book of Austrian-Hungarian Empire, with a short note about Troccoli hotel and café - "well spoken of". No reason to doubt it will be like that again.
And it is in deed historical. The first café opened here in 1770, some Orazio Turcatti brought this novice to Split, and attracted nobility and prominent citizens. In the next hundred years it changed three owners, including one pharmacist, until Luigi Troccoli established it as a venue we know. His name is still on the facade, reminding us on times when it turned into a first-class social spot, with events like theatre plays, concerts, first films, political gatherings, etc. In 1920s era of Central began, with new owner Mate Matić, who also owned a hotel next to Bačvice beach. Those years were marked with an interesting institution, Wise men Table, even marked with city's crest. Only the most prominent public figures of that time - politicians, artists, writers, sportsmen - were sitting there, and table functioned as an unofficial city council, with debates on all important issues. As my friend, reporter Damir Šarac wrote recently, Central Matić Hotel even won a gold medal at big fair in Liege, France in 1927.
After World War Two a decline began, although it was still popular because of venue's central location. A few years ago renovation started, it was a long process, with respect to hotel's past. We are definitely looking forward to have a drink at Central's terrace, viewing people passing by, at one of the most beautiful spots in town.