If you walk into any restaurant or bar in Italy and order a coffee (un caffé), what you will get is an espresso. Coffee, as we know it in the States, is a bit hard to find. Hotels and B&Bs in cities with a large amount of American tourists are a sure bet for a cup of joe, but you’re likely out of luck when dining out.
What is widely available is a caffé Americano. Despite its name, a caffé Americano is not an American coffee. It is an espresso served with hot water. Okay, so it’s not exactly the same thing, but when in Rome (literally).
Something to know…coffee shops (or bars, as they are called in Italy) never offer free refills on coffee, so if you want another caffé Americano, you’re going to have to pay for it.
Tiramisu is probably the most popular Italian dessert in the U.S., if not the world, so what a surprise to find out that it’s only been around for about 50 years. While some still argue about its exact origin, Biccherie, a restaurant in Treviso, Italy, is widely recognized as the birthplace.
Legend has it that the owner of Biccherie created the dessert to give herself energy after having just given birth to her son. Tiramisu, which translates to “pick me up”, is traditionally made with coffee, savoiardi (ladyfingers), mascarpone cheese, and cocoa powder. Last summer, Biccherie presented a bid to the European Union to grant protected status to its recipe preventing it from being made with berries or cream.
Despite being a once-popular destination in Treviso, which is in the Veneto region, Biccherie has recently suffered a large decline in business and will be closing its doors after 76 years. The tiramisu will surely live on forever.
Italy is definitely a coffee driven country. Enjoying a caffe at the bar is part of a daily routine much like afternoon tea in England. So what about tea in Italy? Not so much. For Italians, hot tea is normally drunk at home when feeling under the weather. That being said, it is not hard to find hot tea at a coffee bar. It is there for the tourists. Iced tea, on the other hand, is popular in Italy and is usually lemon or peach flavored.
Most Italian households have some version of the moka pot. While it is very easy to use, there are some tricks that can bring your Italian coffee to the next level. The good people over at Yuppiechef.com have written a wonderful step-by-step guide that says it all (with pictures!):
When dining in Italy, there is no surer way to let the people around you know that you are a tourist than to order a cappuccino after your dinner. It breaks another of those Italian food rules that I often speak of: A cappuccino is for breakfast only.
First of all, most Europeans don’t drink milk the way that Americans do. An Italian adult drinking a glass of milk with dinner would be a rare sight. Italians are very conscious of digestion, and they know that milk during or after a meal can be hard on the body. (Their focus on digestion is the reason why there are so many wonderful Italian aperitifs and digestifs.)
Italians also don’t eat breakfast the way that Americans do. For most, a cappuccino and a small roll or pastry is breakfast. In fact, the only restaurants in Italy that serve an American-style breakfast are in hotels.
So, when a tourist orders a cappuccino after their dinner in Italy, they’ve essentially just ordered breakfast.