Sunday, February 8, 2015

Un Caffè? Coffee?

“To espresso or to latte, that is the question..." Jasper Fforde

I love discovering someone else's favorite Rome spots.  The other day I set out for one of my walks around Rome with a friend of mine who lives right in the middle of downtown Rome and has found her Rome in "centro" (the center of town).  Because we all have "versions" of our city, expanding our repertoires little by little around our homes and work places.

Our walk that day took us to Piazza Navona, as you know, one of my favorite squares in Rome.  After walking and talking for a while, the inevitable question came up: un caffè?  (I don't really drink coffee but) Sure, why not?!  I have learned to drink decaff since I got to Rome, because living in Italy without drinking coffee is just too painful.

When in drink coffee for breakfast, whether at home from a macchinetta or at the bar (coffee-bar that is).  You also must have a mid-morning coffee which other than giving you a shot of energy, is an excuse to get you out of the office/house to stretch your legs and get some fresh air. There is no way of finishing lunch without a shot of espresso; sometimes you won't even get the bill unless you are done with your coffee.  Mid-afternoon is the perfect time for coffee time (same reason as for the mid-morning coffee). Finally, after-dinner coffee is still a widely used costume.   Can you now see why it's hard to live here being a non-coffee-drinker?

My personal collection of "macchinette", italian coffee makers

Un caffè? is a question you'll hear often here in Italy.  Is an invitation, as most people love to treat you.  There is also a specific time for coffee, and if you hit the coffee bar at 10:00 am for example, it will be packed beyond belief.  The good news is that most Italians drink espresso shots, standing up and they are on their way promptly.  The fact that there are no lines in the coffee bar, just clouds of people around the counter can prove a bit intimidating, specially for a vertically-challenged foreigner, like me.  If you arrive at the bar (coffee-bar that is) and it's packed, just wait a few minutes and you'll have the chance to try your luck at ordering in peace.  Remember that here, an espresso is know as "un caffè".  Don't go asking for espressos here in Italy.  For a list of the different coffee options click here.

Un caffè?  Sure, why not.  We headed out to a famous downtown coffee bar called Sant'Eustachio.  If you happen to be nearby Piazza Navona, make sure you stop there, savor their already sweetened coffee and pick up a souvenir or two from their many coffee paraphernalia offerings.  This place is a true Roman coffee bar but given its location, it's used to having tourists among their usual clientele.

Arrivederci for now,

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