Monday, February 1, 2010

No Starbucks here!

Coffee is to Italy as, well, wine is to Italy- or Spaghetti- for that matter. In other words , the Italian Cafe is a daily part of Italian culture. It is not uncommon for an Italian to have an espresso every few hours- some Italians drink up to 7 or 8 espressos a day. Considering one small espresso shot has the same amount of caffeine as an American cup of coffee, that’s quite a feat!

Italians like their coffee, but not in the Starbucks sense. On any main street in Italy you will be sure to find a local coffeeshop which Italians call a bar. Inside, your barman will serve you the best cappucinos, espressos, hot croissants, (and usually sandwiches, snacks, and drinks if you’re in during lunchtime or for a pre-dinner aperitivo).But don’t expect them to understand the meaning of a Double-Tal- Hal- Caf-Skinny-Latte. There is much to be said regarding the Italian coffee experience.

Coffeeshops in the states have a different lounge-like atmosphere in which you can sit for hours reading, studying, or chatting over a steaming cup of chai or frappucino. Italian coffeshops, however, are a completly different experience, as noted here:

- Italians do not sit for their coffee. They will buy their morning espresso or cappucino, drink it at the bar, elbow to elbow with other customers who will be munching on their monring pastries while wiating for their order.

- It is completley acceptable to sit down and enjoy your morning cappucino, as most tourists do. Otherwise how else would you be able to take full advantage of the outside seating and beautiful piazzas? Just be aware that sitting down inside or outside of an Italian coffeeshop will raise the price signficantly on your bill. A cappucino that normally costs 1.10E will more than triple in price once you sit outside. Consider it your cover charge.

- If you’d rather skip the cover charge and brave the bar next to your local Italian, decide what you’d like to order to drink-eat and then head straight to the cash register. Once you pay, you’ll head back to the bar and hand the barman your reciept.

- Most bars also sell bus tickets, tabacco products, lottery tickets, light lunches, and alcoholic drinks. Just ask at the register. (called cassa in Italian)

- Italians do not generally ask for anything “ToGo”, however as Florence is a tourist town, they may have the cups available, so if you’d like to take your cappucino with you, as for it “A portare via.” (Take away)

Life in Italy has a fabulous summarized Italian coffee term list, which we suggest you look over for a quick lesson:

Lastly, and most importantly, our staff has listed their favorite coffee shops that are conveniently located just steps away from our office!

Caffé Donnini 15/R- located in Piazza Repubblica (best prices, wonderful coffee and mouth waterin pasteries)

Caffè Paszkowski- Piazza Repubblica 6(great for the closest thing to a frappucino on a hot summer day- Cafe Shakerato), great lunches with everything from big salads to pasta dishes for only about 5 or 6 euro.

Caffè La Posta- Via Pelliceria 1. Right around the corner, great lunches as well.

Il Kiosko- A kiosk right across from our office that will gladly offer their frothy cappucinos in big cups to go!

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