cornetto

Coffee in Italy

Coffee or caffè in Italy is a way of life. It is not guzzled in gallon sized mugs but sipped in small demitasse cups. It is what we call espresso. Italians love their caffè because it is not just a drink but a social activity. You meet friends and colleagues on the way to work and have a caffè. Their caffè is never bitter but it is strong and delicious. It is always drunk hot and quickly in a few sips.

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Cafe Machine

Caffè is purchased at a bar. This is where Italians eat breakfast. Breakfast is a caffè and a pastry like a cornetto (croissant).

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Cornetto

This breakfast is fast and light. It is not as sweet as our pastries. It is not about sugar but taste. You never sit and drink 5 caffè in a row. You drink one and may return later for another and to meet a different set of friends.

I was doing consulting in Milan many years ago. I was working for a division of Olivetti. We met a 8 am to start our meeting. I put a schedule of what we wanted to achieve on the board. It took about half an hour. Then the president of the subdivision said, Let’s go to the bar! I thought, WOW they want to go to the bar at 8:30 in the morning? What I soon learned is that the bar is where you eat breakfast and more importantly get caffè. I was learning and enjoying life in Italy.

I never worry about getting breakfast with my hotel room. I know there is a bar on just about every corner. I can get the most delicious and light pastry and a great cup of caffè.

OK you want a big cup of coffee not so strong. No problem! You just ask for Caffè Americano. Cappuccino is very popular all over the world but no Italian would dream of ordering it after 11 am. There are Caffè coffee rules to be followed in Italy. There are also many types, with associated names, of coffee. My favorite name is Caffè Corretto (Coffee corrected – with liquor).

When in Italy go to a bar and have breakfast or lunch or gelato. It is not like bars elsewhere. They are family oriented and fun. I remember arriving in Rome one afternoon. I was tired and heading up the elevator of my hotel with my luggage. Two older American women got on with me. The one looked at me and asked, Are you American? I replied affirmative. They then asked where they could get something to eat before 7:30 pm. I said in Rome most places do not open until after 7:30. I suggested going to a bar. The one lady gave me a very stern look and said, Sonny, I have never been to a bar and I won’t start now. I had a good laugh and had to think, How unfortunately for them. They would never experience the simple delicious meals at a bar. Oh well you can not help everyone!

George

I will continue to do this BLOG while Jo Anne does her’s on southern Italy BLOG.

Categories: Bars, Cafè, Coffee, cornetto, Europe, Food, Gelato, General Travel, Italy, Pastry, Sweets | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Some of Our Best Memories

We have assembled pictures of some of our best memories in Italy. Italy is always romantic and it is always memorable. There are so many special little moments. The architecture, the sites, the history, the people, the food, the wine, … and so much more.

Enjoy your trip to see relatives, sites, museums or to just be Italian for a short while.

Dolce far niente!

George & Jo

Categories: Amalfi Coast, Assisi, Beaches, Blue Flag Beaches, Casal Velino Marina, Cilento, Coliseum, cornetto, Dolce, Dolce far niente, Duomo, Eating Italian, Europe, Florence, Food, Gelato, General Travel, Greek Ruins, Italy, Marina Casal Velino, Montepulciano, Mountain Towns, Museums, Naples, Owning a home in Italy, Paestum, Panini, Pantheon, Pastry, Pizza, Planning a vacation, Positano, Ravello, Ristorante, Romance, Rome, Siena, Small Towns, Sorrento, Southern Italy, Spanish Steps, Stairs, Traveling without a tour, Trevi Fountain, Trottoria, Tuscany, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

How to Plan a Trip to Italy – Part 12

Now you are in Italy and have a great small hotel. Where do you eat? I have posted on this before but to be complete in this series, we will post it again.

Italy is an easy place to find great local food. It is always fresh and usually organic. Italians love their country, their food and their wine. It shows when you eat in one of their restaurants. We have a few rules about food in Italy:

  • Do not eat at tourist places – they are usually close to the monuments tourists go to see. The food is not real Italian. You can find hamburgers, poorly prepared pasta and cheesy pizza.
  • Restorante are top of the line restaurants – They serve excellent food but are expensive.
  • Trottoria’s are local food for a moderate price – This is where we like to eat. They are everywhere and have fresh local food prepared correctly.
  • Pizzeria – These are restaurants that serve Pizza. You can have Restrorante and Pizzeria, Trattoria and Pizzeria or just Pizzeria.
  • Enotecca’s – these are wine bars that allow you to buy and sample different wines. You can usually eat small dishes as well. This is a great way to taste some of the local wines and determine which you like.
  • Breakfast is easy! Go to a local bar … that’s right a bar. They serve coffee (espresso or American or Cappuccino) and pastries. Cornetto is a croissant like pastry. The pastries are magnificent. Crispy and light. Normally you pick what you want and eat and then go to cash register and say what you had and pay. Some bars require you to pay in advance and take the ticket to the bar and order your food.

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Cornetti (multiple cornetto)

  • Gelateria – Italian ice cream. These places have a large number of types of ice cream. They are all made fresh and served soft. You can ask for a sample of several types and then choose what you want. You can get your gelato in a cone or a dish. Some places even make fresh waffle cones. Gelato is generally lower in calories, fat, cream, and sugar than other styles of ice cream.
  • Auto Grills – These are restaurants on the autostrada. They have surprisingly good food. You can get a panini, pasta, or sweet rolls. They also have tourist things like bags of pasta, candy and cookies.
  • Fruit & Vegetable stands/stores – Most large and small towns have these. Stop and buy some fruit to eat. Grapes, strawberries, peaches, apples or what ever is in season. Smell the fruit! You can actually smell fruit that is in season and ripe. Choose the most aromatic ones.

Choose wisely and enjoy the food. You don’t need to speak Italian. Just read the menu. Most items are listed the same as in nice Italian restaurants in the states. Point to what you want. Ordering the house wine is usually a treat in Italy. It is very good and inexpensive. It doesn’t come in a bottle but a litter or half litter pitcher.

Enjoy

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Auto Grills, Autostrada, Bars, cornetto, Enoteca, Europe, Food, Gelato, General Travel, Italy, Panini, Pastry, Ristorante, Trottoria, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How to Plan a Trip in Italy – Part 4

Where to stay is a big decision. There are many types of places to stay in Italy:

  1. American Hotels – These are large chain hotels with larger rooms (smaller compared to rooms in America) and usually the most expensive option.
  2. Italian Hotels – These are smaller hotels with smaller rooms at a very reasonable prices. Breakfast is often included with the room charge. You can get a private bath in your room or share a bath in the hall. We prefer private baths. Be sure you have this if you also prefer it.
  3. B&B’s – Like anywhere in the world these provide rooms and meals. The price is expensive and usually between the price of the large hotels and the smaller Italian hotels.
  4. Agriturismo – These are nice small family owned hotels that are part of a farm or ranch. The food is locally grown (usually on their property), organic and delicious. Rooms are modern and comfortable. You can usually also contract for lunch and lunch & dinner as well.
  5. House or Apartment Rental – These can be the largest and best priced depending on the area especially if you are traveling with other couples. In Paris we were four people and rented someone’s apartment. It was large, comfortable with two bedrooms and two baths. The price was cheaper than two hotel rooms.

Once you decide on what type of place you prefer, investigate options in the cities you will visit. Use sites like TripAdvisor to get other people’s opinions of the property. Remember that their opinions can be very different from yours. We never worry about negative reviews that say small rooms. We expect small rooms in Italy.

TripAdvisor

Be sure to investigate where your hotel/rental choice is located compared to the sites you want to see. Try to get centrally located hotels (these can be the most expensive but will save time going and coming to the sites).

Booking your hotel with airfares on discount sites like Orbitz can get you a discount on the hotel. Check multiple sites and compare prices. Look at pictures posted of your choice and determine if it is the right choice for you. Booking hotels on discount sites usually charge your card when you book not when you arrive. Hotels in Italian are Albergo or just Hotel (the H is always silent in Italian).

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If breakfast is not included do not pay extra for it. Breakfast in Italy is very cheap. You find a bar near your hotel (they are everywhere). At Italian bars you can get Caffè (espresso), Cappuccino, Coffee Americano (an espresso in a larger cup with more water) and mastery choices. A Caffè and cornetto will cost you between 2 and 4 Euros ($2.20 to $4.40). Italian croissants are called cornetto. They come plain, filled with chocolate or jelly and filled with cream. Pastries in Italy are not as sweet as in America. They are delicious.

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Tomorrow we will look at car rentals for your trip if you plan to drive.

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Agriturismo, Air Fares, Bars, Coffee, cornetto, Espresso, Europe, Food, Hotels, Italy, Pastry, The holidays in Europe, Traveling without a tour | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Perugia Pictorial

This year we went on a 3 week trip of Italy. The first week we spent in Tuscany and the last 2 weeks at our home in Campania. Tuscany is beautiful with many old mountain towns to be explored. Too many for one trip so we will be back.

We started on an overnight flight from Philadelphia to Rome. Landing Friday morning we started our trek to Tuscany in our rental car. Perugia was our first stop. This is a beautiful city on different levels that was made famous by Perugia chocolates. It is in the Province of Umbria, region of Perugia. It has a population of about 168,000 people.

The city center is small with very narrow streets. You can only drive in if you have a hotel stay in the center. Beware that the driving is not for the faint at heart. There is a very large parking garage outside the city central with easy access. From the garage you can take a series of escalators up to the old town. The escalators run up so you will have to carry your suitcases down or take the streets.

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Our small hotel in the center

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Very narrow streets

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The Piazza in the center

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Part of the Piazza

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View from the center

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One road up to the center

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Lunch in the Piazza

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Small streets

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More small streets

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Entrance to City Center

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Plunger to block traffic

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Your hotel can lower it so you can pass in

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Street to hotel – Watch your rearview mirrors

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Hotel breakfast – Cornetti

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Dinner in a beautiful Restorante

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Parking Italian style

Perugia is a wonderful, romantic town. Walk all the streets of the center center and enjoy. Stop at a candy store and enjoy some Perugia chocolates. Nearby towns include Assisi, Cortona, Montepulciano and Siena.

Buon viaggio (Have a good trip)!

George & Jo Anne

Categories: cornetto, Driving in Italy, Europe, General Travel, Italy, Perugia, Perugina Chocolate, Small Towns, Tuscany | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Maratea Pictorial

Maratea is a town and commune of Basilicata, in the province of Potenza. It is the only town in Basilicata on the Tyrrhenian Sea. It is a small mountain town with a huge cross on the mountain top above the town. The historic center is beautiful with two piazze (squares) and many shops and bars and restaurants. This is a town worth walking. Beyond the piazza (square) are many steps that climb up to the church and other parts of town. It is 1,000 feet up from the sea and has 5,200 people living in it.

You can get here by driving (2 hours) on the A3 autostrada south from Salerno. Exit towards Longonegro Nord (north). Follow the SS585 road and then follow signs to Maratea. You can also take a high-speed train from Salerno (or Naples or Rome) south to the beach town of Sapri. Here you will need to rent a car or hire a driver to continue up to Maratea.

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The cross

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Looking up to the church

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Stairs at every turn

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Jo Anne and George enjoying lunch

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The road narrows to one car in each direction at a time

Controlled by a light

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Fountain in the piazza

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Narrow streets and passageways everywhere

This is a city to enjoy slowly. Come early as the shops close between 1 and 4. Shop the stores. Stop at a bar for a coffee and cornetto (sweet roll). When the shops close, stop for lunch at a restaurant. Walk the streets and climb the stairs. At every turn you will be rewarded with the beauty and uniqueness of this small romantic town. Vai … vai … (go … go…!).

George & Jo Anne

Categories: Bars, cornetto, Europe, Food, General Travel, Maratea, Mountain Towns, Small Towns, Trains, Traveling without a tour | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

What do We do First in a New City?

Europe - Satellite image - PlanetObserver

Europe – Satellite image – PlanetObserver (Photo credit: PlanetObserver)

When visiting a new city in Italy, we first walk the town to get to know it. We look for small interesting bars for breakfast. Yes breakfast is at a bar in Italy. You get your coffee and something sweet (cornetto – a croissant like sweet roll). Some Hotels include breakfast and even have American breakfasts as well. We like to eat like Italians when in Italy. Bars are also a great stop for lunch (panini) or gelato or an afternoon drink.

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We also scout out interesting restaurants for lunch or dinner. In Italy we look for trattorias or pizzerias since the food is excellent and the price is usually lower than a restaurante. If we have rented a place with a kitchen, we enjoy cooking a meal once or twice. So we also look for small grocery stores that have fresh vegetables, cheese, bread and fruits. Cooking pasta with fresh vegetables in Italy is easy, fun and very healthy.

pasta vegetables

Next we look for interesting stores to visit on our walks. These usually have interesting owners that can give you a better prospective on the city. Some cities like Milan and Naples have a large Galleria (mall like) with shops. These are sometimes two streets covered with a glass roof and closed to traffic. Lastly we seek out major tourist attractions that we want to see while in the city. We also find the nearest public transportation in case of rain.

Galleria

Which ever country and city you travel to, get to know the city, meet the people, enjoy their food and wine. Let yourself relax, loose the stress and be an Italian for a short while. Your body will thank you and you will have beautiful memories.

Italy is a country of beautiful designs and romance. Think of the ancient architecture of Rome or the modern Ferrari or the fashion of Milan. Italians love to design beautiful things. If you are in a large city like Rome, the old section is walkable. In small cities you can easily walk around and get to know it quickly.

fashion milan Ferrari

Dolce far niente!

George & Jo Anne

Categories: Bars, cornetto, Eating Italian, Europe, Food, Gelato, Hotels, Italian Facts, Milan, Naples, Panini, Pastry, Ristorante, Romance, Rome, Trottoria, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Bella Roma

George took Jo Anne to Rome first in 2011 for New Years Eve. He knew she liked architecture and interesting cities. She had never been to Italy so this was the perfect place to visit first. Jo Anne was totally amazed by Rome as you will be if you haven’t yet seen it. It has everything about Italy that we talk about in this BLOG. The food, wine, people, sights and architecture.

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New Years Day we went to the coliseum, it was closed but walked empty streets and had rome to our selves. We saw the remnants of New Years Eve (champagne corks) in the streets.

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Rome is the eternal city. There is no other like it. To walk its streets and think of Roman soldiers walking the same streets millennia ago wow! We loved Rome. Its people, wine, food and buildings. Here is a simple tour of Rome and how to get around on your own. Rome is a walking city. If you can’t walk much take the metro or a taxi.

We love to stay near Trevi Fountain. We stay at Hotel Trevi. It’s central and easy to get to everything else.

  1. Pantheon, Campo de Fiori and Piazza Navona – Standing facing the Trevi Fountain take the pedestrian walkway to your left. It winds through some small piazza and past some nice restaurants to the Pantheon. Piazza Campo de fiori is a short walk away. It has Rome’s flowers and fresh fruits and vegetables. Piazza Navona is a direct walk from here. It is a very large piazza with fountains and restaurants.
  2. Bocca della Veritá, Castel Sant’Angelo and the Vatican – Bocca della Veritá is a mouth that you put your hand into and if you are truthful you get it back. It’s fun. Accross the Tiber river from the mouth is the Castle. Castel Sant’Angelo is an old fort seen in the movie “Angels and Demons”. It is very close to the Vatican.
  3. Spanish Steps and Shopping – Facing Trevi Fountain the road on the right going behind the fountain leads to Rome’s best shopping area, more restaurants and the Famous Spanish Steps.
  4. Borghese Gardens – These are beautiful cool gardens to walk around. The museum here is a must but usually requires reservations. In the museum are Bernini sculptures. The two most famous are “Apollo and Daphne” and “The Rape of Proserpina“. It is hard to believe you are looking at marble and not real skin.
  5. Central Train Station – You can catch a train to nearby towns like Naples, Pompeii or Orvietto. There is also a train that runs to Fiumicino Airport.

Enjoy your trip to Rome. Eat in non touristy restaurants and Trattorias. Meet the people they are fun and friendly. See Rome and imagine this great city during the Roman Empire. It is very romantic.

A 5x5 segment panorama taken by myself with a ...

A 5×5 segment panorama taken by myself with a Canon 5D and 24-105mm f/4L IS lens. Stitched with rectilinear projection to keep lines straight. This view is about 100 degrees horizontally, close to the upper practical limit of rectilinear projection. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Have a pizza, eat the food, enjoy the local wine, stop in a bar for breakfast and have a cornetto and don’t forget the gelato.

cornetto

Cornetto

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Bars, Champagne, cornetto, Eating Italian, Europe, Food, Gelato, General Travel, Italy, Pantheon, Pastry, Pizza, Romance, Rome, Spanish Steps, Traveling without a tour, Vatican City | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Finding good food in Italy

Finding great food in Italy is easy. Like anywhere it pays to know a few rules when eating in Italy. Italy is an easy place to find great local food. It is always fresh and usually organic. Italians love their country, their food and their wine. It shows when you eat in one of their restaurants. We have a few rules about food in Italy:

  1. Do not eat at tourist places – they are usually close to the monuments tourists go to see. The food is not real Italian. You can find hamburgers, poorly prepared pasta and cheesy pizza.
  2. Ristorante are top of the line restaurants – They serve excellent food but are expensive. Some even serve Pizza. They usually are called Ristorante/Pizzeria.
  3. Trottoria’s are local food for a moderate price – This is where we like to eat. They are everywhere and have fresh local food prepared correctly.
  4. Enotecca’s – these are wine bars that allow you to buy and sample different wines. You can usually eat small dishes as well.
  5. Pizzeria – A restaurant that serves pizza. Usually a sit down restaurant that serves great individual pizzas. They are not pre sliced but come out whole. You eat them with a fork and knife.

Choose wisely and enjoy the food. You don’t need to speak Italian. Just read the menu. Most items are listed the same as in nice Italian restaurants in the states. Point to what you want. Ordering the house wine is usually a treat in Italy. It is very good and inexpensive.

cornett02 cornetto1

Breakfast is easy! Go to a local bar … that’s right a bar. They serve coffee (espresso or American or Cappuccino) and pastries. The pastries are magnificent. Crispy and light. Cornetto is a croissant like pastry that can be plain, chocolate filled or jelly filled. Normally you pick what you want and eat and then go to cash register and say what you had and pay. Some bars require you to pay in advance and take the ticket to the bar and order your food. Enjoy

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Bars, Cafè, cornetto, Espresso, Europe, Food, Italy, Pastry, Pizza, Ristorante, Trottoria, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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