Breakfast Bar, Italian Style.


Buongiorno Italia!

You’ve just woken up from your first nights’ sleep in Italy. You’re refreshed after your long flight, and you’re ready to hit the streets and soak up as much culture and experience as many horizon-broadening things as you can. But on an empty stomach? I don’t think so….

So you wander into the street and start looking for a Tim Hortons, a Denny’s, Cora’s, a Waffle House, or at the very least, a greasy spoon mom-and-pop type breakfast place. And you come up with un bel niente (a nice bit of nothing). But then you notice a bunch of hungry looking people going in a doorway up ahead, and a bunch of satisfied people coming out of the same place. It seems worthwhile to check out. You approach and read the sign: “BAR LUIGI”. A bar? At this hour!?

Yes, in Italy, the term “breakfast bar” would take on an entirely different meaning. The word “bar” in Italy is pretty much equivalent to the English “café”. In many bars they serve coffees, pastries, sandwiches, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, and the bar down the street is pretty much the only place you’ll find breakfast outside of your own fridge.

But don’t think you’re going to linger over the paper, coffee in hand, enjoying a nice plate of fried eggs, pancakes, waffles, fresh fruit, yogurt, maybe a bagel and cream cheese with a side of sausage… Forget about it! Colazione, or breakfast, in Italian, consists of one quickly consumed caffè (espresso, in Canadian-speak) and a cornetto – the French croissant’s Italian cousin. Of course, there are variations. You’ve all heard about the cappuccino, the caffè americano, and the caffèlatte, which I promise I’ll describe in a coffee-etiquette post!

In the meantime, buona colazione and happy breakfasting in bars all over Italy!

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3 thoughts on “Breakfast Bar, Italian Style.

  1. The Italian bar thing can be quite difficult for foreigners to understand. I did a post a while ago about this for friends staying at my place. The trouble is, each bar has a slightly different system. Without a bit of Italian it can be daunting. However, once you get the hang of how things work, it’s great fun. I met most of my Italian friends at our local bar and learned heaps about Italian life just watching.

    • Your post reminds me of “Eat, Pray, Love” (I onyl saw the movie), when Julia Roberts goes in to get a coffee and all the people are going crazy trying to order a coffee. I hope its “Eat, Pray, Love” that this happened in…maybe I saw it in another movie?

      Looking forward to your coffee-etiquette post.

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