Say the word Italy and my mind will immediately wander through the hills of Tuscany, the clear-watered beaches of Calabria or the calm villages around lake Como. Places that I have or long dearly to visit. It does not matter, whether physically or through the works of my quite inventive imagination. In all my ventures in this God-gifted country, one element is always present , the Italian coffee, best enjoyed, of course, with the “dolce far niente” mentality as a motto.
They say that when in Rome, one must act like the Romans, right? So, with that in mind, when in Italy, one must always have its regular dose of the nectar of life aka coffee standing at the bar.
If you wish to sit down and indulge yourself into a bit of people watching or a chat with your friends, be aware that the same coffee will cost you up to 3 times more.
It is common knowledge and anywhere else in the world you go the word “espresso” is a perfectly acceptable way to ask for such beverage. In Italy, however, espresso is just a technical term.
So once you have mingled into the crowd of locals at the bar, keep your ” I’m a tourist” hat off and just ask for a “cafe” instead. In more touristic places you will be able to get by but if you are lucky enough to find yourself in a small village away from the hustle and the clicking of cameras, you will encounter a very confused local every time you call your fix of caffeine -espresso.
Venturing further into the intricacies of the many rituals regarding coffee in Italy, one must bear in mind that milky coffees, such as cappuccinos, should only be consumed in the morning. To avoid judgmental looks from the people making your coffee, after 11 o’clock try to order a “cafe” lungo instead, if you prefer a slightly weaker version of an espresso.
Lastly but in no way less importantly, I must add that I have learned the tasteless and watery way, never to order an Americano in Italy. The Italians haven’t quite got the “water plus espresso shots equals Americano” concept yet, so if you must dismiss this kind warning, don’t be surprised when you are handed a cup of brown, lukewarm, strange tasting water.