Caffa is a major city in the northwestern Shire, and the second-most populated urban center of the New Sammichian Empire. Situated around the Caffan Lagoon, the city is split between its dense historic core on the main island and the more provincial countryside across the lagoon on the mainland. The city and the surrounding region forms the eponymous Imperial province of Caffa, the city and province being one and the same.
Much of the Caffan Lagoon is built up into one of the Shire’s largest and busiest harbors, and with Rigel and Laurelian is one of the northern Shire’s three main trading centers. Caffa is well-known for its beauty, artistic history, and architecture. It is one of the most religious cities in the world, with much of its population members of the Caffan Catholic Church, as well as being considered the center of Catholicism in the Shire; the Basilica di San Madonna is the seat of Pope Florian XI. The city has a population of 1.3 million.
Caffa’s name is derived from the ancient Thrennexian word capha, which refers to a specific type of merchant vessel in ancient Xamichia which was used by the fleeing slaves who would eventually form the foundations of the city.
Caffa’s history extends back to the height of Xamichia; after the historic empire imported and subsequently abused slaves from the Italic tribes of the central Shire, an unnamed woman posthumously called Eroina led a slave revolt against their Sammichian masters in 172 PRY, dying in the process. The rebelling slaves boarded six stolen ships and sailed them far north until one of them ran aground on the shores of what would become Caffa’s main island. For many years, Caffa was an unremarkable pastoral village until travelling missionaries brought Christianity to the Caffan Lagoon around 300 CE. In a bout of “divine inspiration”, Caffa began building itself up, forming the oligarchic Council of Kings in order to help facilitate its development and impose rule of law. In 410, the Caffan Catholic Church was established, and the first Pope Clementius I was elected by his peers.
The Council of Kings was eventually overthrown, ushering in the despotic House of Aducci which ruled with an iron fist for three centuries until one of its progenitors, Valentino Aducci, ended the line of dictators and appointed himself the first Doge of Caffa in 838 CE, holding power with the Council of Princes. Under the successive Dogic rule, Caffa’s massive harbor was constructed and it became the preeminent trading center of the northern Shire, gaining immeasurable wealth and eventually inventing modern banking and finance. The vibrant city would end up producing some of the Shire’s foremost artists and musicians, such as Zarro, Agape Vecchiarelli, Bacco Robello, and Levere. In the late 1700’s, Caffa’s prestige waned as its monopoly on the exportation of northern goods was threatened by the emergence of other ports and new trade routes, and entered a decades-long rivalry with the city of Paarsdam. It would be further put upon by the Great War as well as its decades-long war with the Nave Corsara, a large piracy clan that would frequently plunder ships in Caffan waters, thus discouraging trade with the city.
In 1939, the Doge Alessandro Barsi VI controversially ceded Caffa to the New Sammichian Empire in exchange for financial and military support. Since then, Caffa has attempted to secede on three separate occasions, two of which being successful and leading to various regimes, particularly that of the fascist Alfonso Vacarelli. In 2017, Caffa was granted autonomy by the Empire after an attempted secession. Today, Caffa struggles financially on account of internal corruption and fiscal mismanagement, but still profits greatly from its continued trading prowess and lucrative tourism industry, being one of the most visited cities in the world. It is well-known for its picturesque scenery, preeminent architecture, and quaint countryside which produces some of the Shire’s most sought-after wines and olives. There has been a significant backlash against tourists among Caffans, who cite rising living costs, pollution, and the impeding of daily life as being problems arising from the millions of tourists who visit the city annually.
Being an intensely-religious city, Caffa has a strong fixation on Christian beliefs and morality. Many, including government officials, will defer to the Church’s judgment on certain matters. For example, in 1993, when a controversial law raising dues on olive harvests was introduced, it was immediately repealed when Pope Scipinus III spoke out against it. Irreligious Caffans may find themselves isolated and the subject of scrutiny, although this is admittedly changing with the younger, increasingly-nonreligious generations. The Caffan province is decidedly less liberal than the rest of the New Sammichian Empire, with casual homophobia and sexism still being commonplace particularly among older Caffans. It frequently chafes under morally-inconsistent legislation from the Imperial Chancellery, although with its newly-attained autonomous status, it has largely been freed from Imperial Standard Law and its provincial chancellery has taken measures to introduce more conservative legislation in what has largely been seen as a step backwards for Caffa.
Caffa's official language is Italian, being the first language of over 87% of its inhabitants and used in all administrative and legal matters. English is spoken by approximately 63% of Caffans, and participating in government does require English fluency.
For more information on Caffa, please refer to the New Sammichian Empire.