When we are in Italy, we make it a point to do two things every day: eat gelato and drink cappuccino. Cappuccino is good in most European countries, but it is extraordinary in Italy. Italians have perfected the espresso, which is the essential start to a great cappuccino.
What is cappuccino?
Cappuccino is 1/3 espresso, 1/3 steamed milk and 1/3 frothed milk. It is the perfect proportion and creates the most enjoyable morning drink. Add a cornetto (pastry similar to a small croissant) on the side and you have a typical Italian colazione (breakfast).
Where did it get its name?
Cappuccino means “little hood” in Italian. One theory is that it is named after the Capuchin monks who wore robes with a pointy hood down their back. This robe was the same color as the thin ring of espresso mixed with frothed milk that forms around the rim of a perfect cup of cappuccino.
When to drink cappuccino while you are in Italy
You might have heard somewhere before that you should not drink cappuccino after 11am. And it is true that Italians only drink it at breakfast. But if you are traveling through Italy, is this the etiquette YOU should follow?
I say, if Italy is not your homeland, drink it when you want! Most Italians will know that you are not from Italy and accept this faux pas of your drinking it after 11am.
Italians are more specific about when they enjoy this delicious drink and they have a reason behind it. Locals will drink this as their first drink of the day. It is like a meal in itself (with the calorie-laden milk), and many times Italians eat it with a pastry and call it breakfast. Italians do not drink milk-based coffees in the afternoon or after a meal because it is thought that the milk is bad for digestion.
How to order cappuccino in Italy
When you are staying at a hotel that offers breakfast, simply order from the attendant (and if you are staying in a hotel, then you MUST eat the breakfast they offer!).
If you are out and about go to a bar (what we would consider a cafe). Since ordering systems vary by establishment, it can be a little confusing. At some bars, you order at the counter first, then tell the cashier what you bought. At others, you go to the cashier first, tell her what you want, then take a receipt to the bar. But, if you aren’t sure which ordering system the bar uses, watch a few people to see what they do. Or, just go to the cashier first.
The plural of cappuccino is cappuccini, so if you’d like to order two, say “Due cappuccini, per favore”
Best Cappuccino in Italy
Really? The best place to have cappuccino? I know that is a broad statement, and maybe I should write ONE OF THE BEST. We have had wonderful cappuccini all over Italy, from train stations to hotel breakfasts, to Italian bars. But, one of the best cappuccini we have enjoyed was in Florence at a place called Chiaroscuro.
Croissant-like Pastry ….. cornetto ….. kor-net-toh
Breakfast ….. colazione ….. koh-la-tzee-oh-nay
Cappuccinos ….. cappuccini ….. ka-poo-chee-nee
(more than one)
Please ….. per favore ….. pear fa-vohr-ay
Thank you ….. grazie ….. grah-tzee-ay