Do you like having breakfast?
It’s one of my favorite moments of the day, actually. I love it so much that I usually set my alarm way earlier than needed just to have the right time to have breakfast.
I need to slowly sip my giant cup of coffee while I eat something – I am usually quite hungry in the morning. I could never imagine leaving the house without having breakfast.
I love breakfast so much that I thought I could turn my love into a blog post and use it for another Italian Vocabulary series post. I hope you will find it interesting and maybe learn something more about the habits of us Italians when we have breakfast.
Let’s now have some colazione together and discover what breakfast in Italy means.
As I said, I love fare colazione (to have breakfast), but actually a lot of Italians saltano colazione (skip breakfast) and just have “un caffè e via” (a coffee and go), meaning that they just sip a cup of strong espresso and run to the office. I would never see myself doing that, but most of the people I know do so. How can they be so crazy? No idea.
However, there are a lot of people who enjoy fare colazione a casa (to have breakfast at home). It is common to have caffè (espresso), tè (tea) or caffèlatte (a cup of warm milk with a shot of coffee). Only very few people – I am one of the happy few – have caffè americano (filter coffee) in the morning.
If you are a kid, you may have una tazza di latte caldo (a cup of warm milk). More and more people have decided to stop drinking latte di mucca (cow milk) lately, so it is quite common to have latte di soia (soy milk), latte di riso (rice milk), latte di mandorla (almond milk) or latte di avena (oat milk).
When it comes to food, most likely breakfast in Italy means eating something sweet in the morning.
There are many different kinds of food you may have at colazione, like una fetta di torta (a slice of cake), sometimes a crostata (jam tart), dei biscotti (some cookies), pane e marmellata (bread and jam) – which is actually my favorite breakfast ever – or you can also have fette biscottate (rusk), with either marmellata (jam) or miele (honey) on top.
Some people may have cereali (cereals) or muesli, maybe uno yogurt or della frutta (some fruit) and maybe they have un bicchiere di succo d’arancia (a glass of orange juice) as well. No bagels, no pancakes, no eggs and bacon, no waffles – there may be a few who have this kind of food for breakfast, but it is very uncommon.
If you are in a hurry or maybe want to treat yourself a bit, you can fare colazione al bar.
Fare colazione al bar means to have breakfast at a bar (here in Italy we use the word bar for cafès and coffee places as well). Many people do so and bars can be quite crowded in the morning. I rarely have breakfast al bar, but I do so when I feel like treating myself, maybe on Saturday or Sunday.
If you have breakfast in a bar, you may drink caffè (espresso), caffè macchiato caldo o freddo (espresso with a shot of warm or cold milk), cappuccino, latte macchiato (a glass of warm milk with a shot of espresso) or caffè d’orzo (barley coffee). Obviously, you can have tea or orange juice – just like at home.
Speaking of food, if you have breakfast at a bar, it is very common to have una brioche or un cornetto (a croissant) – it’s called brioche in the North of Italy, cornetto in the South of the country. Brioche can be vuota (empty), con marmellata (with jam), con crema (with cream) or con Nutella.
If you don’t feel like eating a croissant, you can go for una sfogliatina (some kind of a puff pastry pocket) or un fagottino (something that resembles the French pain au chocolat) or un muffin. Moreover, there are some regional habits: here in Liguria, for example, it is common to have focaccia (thin salty bread) for breakfast and the bravest even dunk it in their cappuccino.
If you are in hurry, it is pretty common for you to have colazione al bancone (at the counter), while if you have more time you can sederti al tavolo (to sit at the table). If you are lucky and nobody’s reading the newspaper – which can be found in every Italian bar – you can fare colazione e leggere il giornale (to have breakfast and read the newspaper).
And now some phrases you may need to use if you want to fare colazione al bar.
If you are at the counter and want to order, you may say “Posso avere un caffè?” (May I have an espresso?) or “Un caffè” (An espresso) or “Posso avere un cappuccino e una brioche, grazie?” (May I have a cappuccino and a croissant?).
If you ask “Un caffè”, you may get this question back: “Normale?“ (Standard), as the barista needs to know if you want a standard espresso or maybe a macchiato one. Moreover, if you ask “Un caffè macchiato, grazie”, you may be asked: “Caldo o freddo?” (Warm or cold? – referring to the milk to be put into the coffee).
When you are done and need to pay, you may ask: “Quanto le devo?” (How much do I owe you?) or “Quant’è?” (How much is it?). Since in some bars you have to pay in advance, you may ask “Devo fare lo scontrino?” (Do I need to get the receipt?).
If you need to use the bathroom, just ask “Dov’è il bagno?” (Where is the toilet?), just keep in mind that it is disrespectful to use the bathroom without buying anything.
I do hope this post was interesting! If you have questions or want me to cover a specific topic in the future, let me know in the comments below!
I hope you’ll find this post useful for your Italian vocabulary building purposes. If you like this kind of vocabulary posts, these are the other ones:
If you have specific requests of topics and themes, just leave a comment here below or send me an email at cinzia@instantlyitaly.
I have prepared a pdf file with all the words and phrases we learned in this post. You can find it in Your Italian Toolbox, a section of Instantly Italy where you’ll find Italian learning materials. You can get access to it by subscribing here.
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