I have been reading a lot about Italy lately.
I started thinking about this site and working on my products more than one year ago, and I haven’t stopped reading blog posts, articles, and books about Italy ever since.
I wanted to have a better perspective of how Italy is perceived and described both by expats who live here and by travel experts who give their readers tips for holidays in Italy. Since I run a blog, I mainly focus on blog posts.
Guess what? 90% of the blog posts are about food.
This is no surprise, food is one of the best things in Italy after all. If you ask people what they liked the most about their holidays in Italy, food often comes first. On the other hand, people who have never visited Italy will usually tell you that one of their dreams is to try “your amazing food”.
As I’ll never get tired of saying, we Italians are way too serious about food. There’s a commercial on TV these days that says: “perché per noi mangiare non è solo mangiare“, which means that eating is not just eating for us Italians. We do not eat to fill our stomachs and ease our hunger. There’s much more. Food is part of our blood. Food traditions are part of our DNA. The same dish can be cooked differently in two nearby villages, arising debates on which one is the most traditional or typical recipe.
As a consequence, most of the articles online are lists of rules regarding food. Probably people are aware that we Italians take food very seriously – undoubtedly food rules are the only ones we religiously abide by – and, therefore, are scared of not behaving properly. Nobody wants to stick out as a tourist when abroad and wants a sort of guide to avoid making mistakes.
There are countless rules regarding food, but there’s one that’s always mentioned: never drink cappuccino after 10 a.m.
You know what? I have something great to tell you: this is NOT true. I swear on my grandmother’s handwritten recipe book.
Cappuccino is the perfect drink for an Italian breakfast, of course.
There’s nothing better than starting the day with a crispy cornetto and a creamy, warm cappuccino. I live in Liguria, the tradition here is to have it with focaccia, our signature salty flatbread. I don’t like it, but I never say that to avoid being frowned at – have I told you that we are serious about food, haven’t I?
But you can have cappuccino for merenda as well.
Why avoid such a perfect drink after all? It pairs perfectly with a slice of crostata, you can dunk cookies in it, it’s great with all kinds of pastries – it would be a real pity not to drink it. I do it all the time when having merenda outside and I never get surprised looks.
But you can have it at night as well. One of my guilty pleasures is to stop at an Autogrill late at night, while coming back home from a concert or a night out, and drink a cup of lovely cappuccino. And the baristas never say anything about my choice.
So, believe me: it is totally fine to drink it any time of the day. But…you shouldn’t drink a cappuccino at the end of a meal. If you want to get weird looks or be considered “just another tourist”, then order a cappuccino after your pizza or spaghetti alla carbonara.
Ordering a cappuccino at lunch or dinner is a big no-no, I’m afraid.
No Italian would ever end its meal with a cappuccino. Cappuccino is quite heavy for us to digest and is not exactly apt for meals including dishes like pizza, pasta, or other similar nourishing foods. You really need a shot of espresso to properly digest them. And maybe some limoncello, if you feel like it. But no cappuccino. Never.
However, you can be brave and order it. The waiter might look at you and think “tourists”, but you won’t care and will go on enjoying your holidays, which is the most important thing, at the end of the day – don’t you think?