Tag Archives: breakfast

When you are in Italy, NEVER EVER…….

Are you looking forward to your next trip to Italy?

Do you already imagine yourself sitting at a bar in the sun, sipping on your espresso or eating gelato and enjoying “la dolce vita”? 😉

Milano bar
Milano bar

In this case, and if you do not want to look like a truly unexperienced Italy-traveler, you should know just a couple of small little “don’t’s”.

When you are in Italy, NEVER EVER………

  • drink Cappuccino after lunchtime
  • ask what types of coffee they have in a bar (for any further information on this I recommend to read this POST)
  • try to pay for your coffee at the barkeepers, there is always a cash-desk where you can pay for your coffee before ordering it
  • order coffee and complain if you get an espresso
  • complain that the coffee is too strong
  • think “antipasto” is only cold meat and cheese
  • use cheese on fish (even if it comes with a pasta)
  • await a salad with dressing (you have oil, vinegar, salt and pepper on the table and two hands to help yourself)
  • await some sides with the main dish, if you want to have some fries you have to order them
  • ask for a doggy-bag
  • await an extensive breakfast buffet at hotels. Italians only eat sweet in the morning, so often you will have plenty of sweet dishes and not much choices for a salty breakfast.
  • eat spaghetti with a spoon
  • cut spaghetti with the knife
  • order pizza with pineapple
  • order ice-cream by telling how many scoops (or worse: balls) you want. There are just different sizes of cones or cups.
  • drink anything with milk after dinner
  • ask for the bill seated at a table and then split the costs
  • complain about the extra “coperto” costs on the restaurants bill. This can normally be seen as the “tip”.
  • take a seat at the restaurant without waiting to be seated
  • walk around in a city with sunscreen all over your body
  • wear flip-flops when you go out at night
  • wonder why Italians wear sunglasses even at night
  • wear Bermuda shorts in the evening
  • make mafia jokes
  • use random movements of the hands to speak
  • ask for indications by trying to translate every single word with a dictionary. Italians are not patient enough.
  • say “spaghettis”: spaghetti is already the plural word of spaghetto
  • say “gnocchis”: gnocchi is already the plural word of gnocco
  • say “tortellinis”: tortellini is already the plural word of tortellino, or better: tortello
  • say “expresso”: it is espresso. Or caffè.
  • say “ciao” to formally greet someone. Better say “buongiorno”.

And now… ENJOY!!! 😉

Typical italian breakfast
Typical Italian breakfast

Caffè all’Italiana – Instructions Manual.


There is nothing better than starting the day the Italian way: you go to the bar around the corner where you meet all your neighbors and have a traditional colazione (breakfast), which is a cornetto (Croissant) and a coffee, of course standing at the counter.

Italian breakfast: Cappuccino and croissant
Italian breakfast: Cappuccino and croissant

But coffee is not just coffee.

There is a big ritual behind this apparently easy way to have breakfast and I first noticed when I had some German guests with me in Italy. I observed this for a while and I noticed that tourists are often confused and intimidated, while baristas are often bothered by every kind of hesitation during the ordering ritual. I have come to the conclusion that there must be some kind of guide.

First of all: you can’t go to the barista straight away just ordering “un caffé”. If you do this (and I saw this quite often) he will look at you as if you were an alien.

You have to first go to the cashier to get your receipt. The cashier is usually sitting somewhere at one end of the counter or even hidden in one corner of the bar. After you have proudly managed to find him, you have to tell him what you want.
You go back to the barista with the receipt and again: you can’t just say “un caffé”. You have to know what kind of coffee. And please don’t ask him what kind of coffee he has to offer. Don’t even dare asking for a list. You just have to know.

First thing to know: if you ask for a normal “caffé” it will be an Espresso. But here again, I have been told by a non-Italian friend that she ordered just a “caffé”, expecting an Espresso but the barista automatically thought that – as she is a stranger – she surely wants a coffee in a big cup. Let’s consider this an exception. “Caffé” in Italy is an Espresso.

Espresso cup
Espresso Cup

The coffee in a big cup, which is a “regular coffee” in many other (especially northern) countries, is called “Caffé Americano” in Italy. You normally cannot expect a filter coffee, brewed with coffee in a filter and hot water. In most Italian bars “Caffé Americano” is brewed using the regular Espresso coffee machines, just using more water.


But if you look around you in the bar, you easily notice everyone is ordering something different. There are at least 50 different types of Italian coffee. Here are the most common types:

  • Caffè Espresso, or “caffè normale” in Italy.
  • Caffè Americano – coffee in a big cup (in a cup Italians would use for drinking tea).
  • Caffè decaffeinato – decaffeinated Espresso coffee.
  • Caffè in vetro – served in a glass cup instead of the classical small porcelain cup.
  • Caffè corto (or ristretto) – is a very much reduced coffee, so called “short” Espresso since sometimes there are just some drops of very intense coffee left in your cup. It gives you the maximum of the coffee aroma and not too much caffeine. It is a very Italian way to drink the coffee; you hardly find it anywhere else.
  • Caffè lungo – is a long Espresso, created by adding some more water to the Espresso but still served in a small Espresso cup. Even if not so strong, it contains more caffeine.
  • Caffè macchiato caldo – Is a regular Espresso with a “spot” (macchia) of warm foamy milk.
  • Caffè macchiato freddo – is a regular Espresso, with a drop of cold milk.
  • Latte Macchiato – Is served in a big glass and consists mostly of milk (around 80%), with a small amount of Espresso coffee.
  • Caffè corretto, is an Espresso with some grappa or other liquor.
  • Cappuccino (so called “Cappuccio” in the Milan area) – I think I don’t need to explain that. Always remember: real Italian Cappuccino does not have cream on top but always milk foam.
    And please – please – don’t order a Cappuccino after lunch or dinner. Even if many restaurants are now used to “these tourists” ordering a Cappuccino after dinner… it remains something you only drink for breakfast in Italy!
    You can absolutely order an Espresso after dinner.
    If you can not make it without your Cappuccino, then order a Marocchino. That’s similar, just smaller.
  • Marocchino – Is often served in a small cup made of glass, it is like a small Cappuccino but with some chocolate powder.

  • Caffè d’Orzo – Barley coffee. You don’t use coffee beans in this.
  • Caffè Doppio Lungo – Double “caffé lungo” (see above)
  • Caffè Doppio Ristretto – Double “caffé ristretto” (see above)
  • Caffellatte – Coffee with milk. The difference to the Cappuccino is that it is served in a regular glass instead of a cup
  • Caffè alla Nocciola – Coffee with nut aroma.
  • Caffè al Ginseng – Coffee with ginger aroma.
  • Mocaccino – classical Cappuccino, but with some hot chocolate.
  • Caffè Shakerato – coffee and ice cubes shaked with a shaker.

One last thing: if you drink your coffee standing at the counter it will cost less than seated.


Coffee1However, don’t worry too much. You cannot leave Italy without a real coffee in a bar. It is a great experience, not only for the taste of it!


Coffee copia