A definitive guide on how to order coffee in Italy.
Ordering an Italian coffee is something non-Italians get apparently confused about, at least counting the number of posts written on this topic. There’s even a book called “How to order an Italian coffee in Italy” and comments on Amazon say it’s a must-have for travellers.
Speaking about coffee, or food in general, Italians are often religiously bound to their traditions. We have one of the best cuisines, we tend to consider all the rest rubbish, we want to teach to the world how a perfect drink or meal is supposed to be. The same is for coffee. So I understand you don’t feel comfortable in ordering a coffee in an Italian bar.
There are a lot of blog posts listing what’s allowed and forbidden about coffee in Italy. Allowed, forbidden…wouldn’t it be we are too rigid? Anyway, there are things about ordering coffee in Italy you should know, because some coffee styles are simply not available. But there are also points to be debunked, because they’re not so strict.
Ready to enjoy your Italian coffee?
During one of my random surfing on the internet, I bumped into this note appeared on the newspaper “Corriere della Sera” on October 28th, 1921. It shortly reports about a lecture given the day before by Albert Einstein in Padua University.
Here’s what the article says (my translation).
“In the lecture hall of our University Albert Einstein gave today the announced conference. The hall is very crowded. Professor Ricci-Curbastro of physics and mathematics department introduces Professor Einstein with eminent words also reminding that three centuries ago, in the same hall, Galileo Galilei taught a new subject: mechanics. Professor Einstein, who speaks in Italian, expressed his pleasure to talk in the city where works Professor Ricci, to whom is due absolute differential calculus, the mathematical tool necessary to convey the general relativity.
Afterwords he presented in summary, as in the conferences in Bologna, the essential features of this theory. Professor Einstein was very much applauded.”
Einstein spoke English with a very strong German accent. There are many recordings of his speeches in English. He also spoke Italian and French: it’s well known Einstein had a job at the Federal Office for Intellectual Property in Bern, Switzerland. To get a job like that people must be proficient in the three national Swiss languages German, French and Italian.
And Einstein spoke Italian well enough to give conferences.
On October 22nd, 24th and 26th 1921, the year he was awarded by Nobel prize, he held some conferences on general relativity at Bologna University. Papers reported that he was acclaimed like a star by the students.
The story of a neologism in Italian language invented by an eight years old student and pushed by social networks.
A new word has just entered in the Italian language. It was invented by a 8 years old child, Matteo, during the Italian lesson, in an exercise on adjectives. The story was a trend topics for a couple of days and it even peeked out in international news.
To cut it short: to describe a flower, the student used the adjective “petaloso” to mean that it’s full of petals, but the word doesn’t (didn’t!) exist in Italian. His teacher marked it as a mistake, but the word is constructed by adding to the word “petalo” (petal) the suffix “-oso” meaning full of. The teacher sent it for an evaluation to the Accademia della Crusca, the Italian National Institution of Language. Which, surprisingly (or not?) answered with a letter explaining to Matteo that the word grammatically made sense and it was clear and comprehensible.
Nevertheless, to become a word of Italian language it must be understood and used by a great number of people in many sentences.
Are you looking for another reason to learn Italian? Check the experience of these two famous writers.
There’s more than a reason to learn Italian. You might want to read Italian literature, to watch Italian movies, to read recepies or to understand lyrics in operas. It’s also the most similar to Latin than any other romance language as French, Spanish and Portuguese. Moreover about 60 % of English words derive from Latin. Do you need another reason?
I have recently read two books by two brilliant female writers: Ghana must go by Taiye Selasi and The Lowland by Jumpa Lahiri.
There are many similarities between these two amazing women. They both grew up on the border between of two cultures. They both write about how to manage this difficult balance.
And they have another thing in common: they both speak Italian.
What’s their reason to learn Italian?