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October 09, 2007


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Fascinating. I didn't know you should keep the receipt so long!

This time last year we spent a day in Bergamo, which is - as you say - a lovely city, worth visiting for a week



Greece can be the same way with receipts. Tax evasion is a national sport and the police want to ensure the proprietor is collecting AND paying VAT with the coffee sales.

Also, the European way of drinking coffee is so civilized....slow down people~!


Very interesting about there being no "to go". It makes sense. In the home, we also say "demitasse" when we talk about espresso, but maybe that word has to do with the size of the cup? Great post, Simona.


It's much the same in Spain, and the coffee is equally wonderful! No one goes for more than 3 hours without stopping for a coffee. Even the bus from Andorra to Barcelona (a 3 hour trip) stopped for a coffee half way.


In Europe, I find 'to go' coffee is downright dangerous, even when they DO do it. Worst I can recall is a melty tall plastic cup of coffee, grounds piled at the bottom, scalding hot at a road-side meat stand in Poland. Hot drinks. Flimsy plastic cups. Not so good. But I DO have quite a few pictures of me in Italy downing my daily shot of espresso. Good post!

Simona Carini

Hi Joanna. I am so glad to read you have visited Bergamo and you liked it.

Peter, I agree with you: slow down is the right advice.

Thanks, Maryann. I think demitasse is a French way of indicating the size of the cup.

Hi Katie: I love the story of the coffee stop!

Kevin, your description of the 'to go' coffee in Poland sounds scary. Better keep to the ceramic cups, I think.


I so enjoyed reading your post. I love learning all the little details that you include. And isn't it also true that no Italian would drink coffee with milk, except in the morning? I can't think how gauche I must've been in Florence, drinking cappuccinos (and decaf ones, at that) in the afternoon!


Hi there ~

When I lived in Rome after college, my Italian boyfriend Gianni was always mortified when I insisted on ordering a cappucino at any other time than in the morning. He said it made me look like a 'turista.' My blonde hair was already a dead give-away, though.

I did like 'un caffe con un po' di grappa' on occasion though.

I like your blog - Italian is such a beautiful language, and it's coming back to me now.

the chocolate lady

This is so evocative of so many coffees so deeply enjoyed. I did not know the law about keeping the receipt when I was in Italy. Fortunately, I was not stopped!

Simona Carini

Lisa, I must confess that I sometimes order a decaf cappuccino in the afternoon, as a snack. I would not say it is typical, but I think it is OK. Drinking a cappuccino at the end of a meal is definitely something no Italian would do.

Hi Peggasus and welcome. Caffè corretto con grappa is indeed a classic.

Eve, I was also never stopped for a receipt. I think now the controls are not as frequent as they were soon after the law was passed.


When I lived in northern Italy 1999-2003, I did notice a number of locals ordering cappuccino in the afternoon, usually at a sit-down bar/pasticceria to go with their little snack. As you say though, never after a meal, and never in the evening.


Your detailed explanation of the Italian coffee culture is both informative and engaging. It provides valuable insights into the nuances of ordering and enjoying coffee in Italy, highlighting the differences from the American coffee shop experience.

The emphasis on predefined sizes and standard milk types, the absence of terms like medium and large, and the rarity of decaf create a unique coffee-drinking environment. The cultural norms around payment, order placement, and the importance of keeping the receipt add layers to the Italian coffee ritual.

The explanation of sitting at a table signaling a desire to take your time and the associated extra cost is a fascinating cultural aspect. It's interesting to learn about the variations in arrangements, with some places combining the roles of barista and cashier.

Your notes on the 'to go' concept, the rarity of disposable cups, and the meticulousness in serving water and tea further enrich the understanding of Italian coffee customs.

Your personal touch, such as the mention of Bergamo and the Bar Cavour, adds warmth to the narrative. Overall, your commentary provides a delightful exploration of the Italian coffee experience, offering readers a glimpse into the cultural subtleties that surround this cherished tradition.

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briciole di italiano

  • The words and images on this blog are small fragments (briciole | brɪCHōle ) I let fall to entice you to follow me, a peripatetic food storyteller.

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