Coffee come to Italy in a roundabout way. In 1683, Vienna was liberated from the Ottomans with a lot of help from the Republic of Vienna. When they fled, the Ottomans abandoned about 500 bags of coffee. Coffee found its way first into Venice and then spread like wildfire throughout the rest of the country.

We all know about the espresso, but Italy is more than a one trick pony. You can travel the country’s 20 regions and try a different coffee delicacy in each one. In Venice, coffee tends to be well-rounded and aromatic, with notes of an oriental vanilla fragrance. In Milan, it’s light, delicate and fine, designed to drunken quickly before heading into the office.

This is our homage to Italy’s lesser known coffee specialities and the cities and regions they’re famous for.

 

 

Naples

We’re starting at the foot of the country in Naples for one very special reason. Naples is the home of the espresso as we know it. Intense, dark, persistent and short, the Neapolitan form of the espresso is known locally as tazzulella ‘e cafè. It’s a shock to the system, so it’ll always be served with a glass of water on the side.

Naples is also home to Italy’s sweetest, if far less common, tradition. The ‘caffè sospeso’. It’s where you buy two coffees, but only drink one, leaving the other for a stranger to drink for free!

Where to order a coffee:

You really can’t go past the Caffè Gambrinus, Naples’ oldest coffeehouse and homage to Art Nouveau’s Belle Epoque. Order a rum babà alongside your coffee for the complete Neapolitan experience.

What else to see:

  • The main piazza and its spectacular Royal Palace
  • The gulf of Naples from the Castel dell’Ovo at Porto Santa Lucia
  • The Renaissance and Baroque paintings of the Museo Nazionale di Capodimonte

Sicily

Sicily is hot, exotic and intoxicating… and so is its signature coffee. The caffè d’u parrinu is an Arabic-inspired coffee flavoured with cloves, cinnamon and cocoa powder. Uniquely for the region, it’s often served cold with whipped cream to help you get through those Arabian summers by the shores of the Mediterranean Sea.

Where to order a coffee:

Caffè Sicilia in Ragusa was voted Sicily’s best bar for 2017. The family-owned coffeehouse has been churning out the island’s best brews alongside creamy ricotta cannoli for more than 30 years.

What else to see:

  • The Salt Flats in Trapani, where you will still see salt being made in the traditional way.
  • The Temple of Concord in Agrigento
  • The Town of Noto, a Unesco World Heritage site thanks to its exemplary Baroque Architecture

Rome

The Eternal City and capital, Rome is the place to go for every coffee under the sun from an Americano to Cappuccino, but the Romans like theirs simple and understated. The macchiato is a cornerstone of Italian coffee culture, the meeting place between an espresso and cappuccino and the local’s cheeky little excuse to drink a milk-laced coffee after 11am.

A macchiato is rich, dark and enticingly creamy with just enough milk foam to sweeten the brew and stop you from reaching for that sugar bowl.

Where to order a coffee:

The ridiculously tiny and ludicrously lit Sant’Eustachio is generally considered by the locals as Rome’s best bar. They have a long standing and rigorously guarded secret brew that’s called the gran caffe. 

What else to see:

  • The Pantheon
  • The Borghese Gardens
  • The Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana, an excellent example of Fascist architecture

Le Marche

We’ve tackled the main Italian cities, so now we’re going native with a lesser known corner of Eastern Italy, Le Marche. Famous for shoemaking, the region dips its toes in the Adriatic Sea. It’s a different slice of Italy with a very different coffee culture. The caffè anisette is a fragrant aniseed-flavoured espresso. The aniseed is incredibly warming, making it perfect for a winter’s morning.

Where to order a coffee:

Moldavia Dal 1920 has been churning out coffees since, well, 1920. Here they do it with flourish and a profiterole on the side.

What else to see:

  • The impressive Roman site of Urbisaglia provides free tours of its frescoes, theatre and amphitheatre
  • Beautiful coastline and beaches at the foot of Mount Conero
  • The bustling and perfectly preserved medieval town of Sarnano, named one of the most beautiful in Italy

Trentino

High up in the North, Trentino is cold and snowy. Here the sentiment is very Austrian. In fact, the locals speak a mean German, which is probably why they opt for a ‘cappuccino Viennese’ over an espresso almost every time. Order one of these and you’ll be served a delicious frothy coffee with chocolate and cinnamon. Perfect for a break on the slopes

Where to order a coffee:

La Chicchera in Mori isn’t just Trentino’s best coffeehouse, it’s one of Italy’s. The owners are former Italian coffee champions, so you know they make a mean brew to serve alongside their homemade brioche.

What else to see:

  • Toblino Castle, charming castle on an island in the middle of a lake
  • Trento’s Piazza Duomo
  • Peio’s hot springs

Can’t get to Italy right this minute? Order a couple of boxes of our Italian Nespresso compatible pods to tide you over and experiment making these regional delicacies in your Aussie kitchen!

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