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Coffee Adventures in Italy

I was three when I first went to Italy. Little did I know that later in life I would fall head-over-heels for the country—its language, culture, people, landscapes, history, food…everything. (So much so that I recently applied for citizenship—I’m eligible through my grandfather.)

One thing I’ve learned from my many trips to the country is that coffee is an integral part of life, no matter if you’re up north in the Dolomites, along the Alpe Adria, or down south in Puglia. Here are the most common coffee drinks you’ll come across:

1. Cappuccino, pronounced: Kahp-poo-CHEE-noh
Made with 1/3 each of espresso, steamed milk, and foam, it’s named for the brown robes worn by Capuchin monks. Italians only drink cappuccinos in the morning, never after about 11am.

2. Caffè, pronounced: kahf-FEH
Caffè is the word for coffee in Italian, but when ordering “un caffè,” it means an espresso—a single shot unless you request “doppio” for double. Italians drink espresso throughout the day, with or without sugar.

3. Macchiato, pronounced: Mah-kee-YAH-toh
If a straight espresso is too strong but a cappuccino is too milky, try a macchiato, a shot of espresso with a bit of steamed milk. This is also a morning drink.

4. Caffè ristretto (or just stretto), pronounced: ree-STREHT-to
For those who really like strong coffee, this is a single shot of espresso but with less water than a regular caffè.

5. Caffè lungo, pronounced: LOON-goh
Lungo means “long,” so it has more water than a regular espresso. But don’t mistake this for an American-style coffee, it’s not diluted that much. If you do want something similar to American coffee, ask for “un caffè Americano.”

6. Caffè Corretto, pronounced: Kohr-REHT-toh
Meaning “correct coffee,” this is an espresso with a splash of liquor—usually grappa, sambuca, or rum. It’s a typical after-dinner drink to aid with digestion, so it’s not often ordered during the day.

I rarely drink coffee when home, but when I’m in Italy, I have a cappuccino daily. After all…when in Rome…

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