Discover Egypt in Rome..

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Ancient Rome discovers the charm of Egyptian culture in the first century b.C. , after the conquests of Julius Caesar and Augustus.

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Since that time, the Egyptian evidences in the city multiply. .and we are not only talking about the obelisks.

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Lets think of the Cestia Pyramid, the tomb of a rich politician; covered in Carrara marble, has survived to marble looters because it belongs within the defensive walls, as a fortified tower. But this was not the only pyramid in Rome.,

One stood in the area now occupied by the church of Santa Maria dei Miracoli in Piazza del Popolo. Another pyramid was in the Vatican area, at the beginning of the current Via della Conciliazione, it was demolished in 1499, but appears in the bronze doors designed by Filarete for the St. Peter’s Basilica and in the fresco “The appearance of the Cross” by Giulio Romano in the Sala di Costantino in the Vatican Palaces.Obelisks and pyramids: a corner of Egypt on the Tiber. But in the city there were also temples and sacelli (shrines – small sacred buildings ) dedicated to the Egyptian gods , especially Isis and Serapis. Unfortunately, very little remains.

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The most important temple, of Isis and Serapis Campense, was located in the area of the Pantheon. The remains lie beneath the palace of the seminary and the church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva and Santo Stefano del Cacco. The strange name of this church comes from the discovery of a statue of the Egyptian god Anubis with the head in the shape of dog: the Romans , thinking it was a monkey, had called the ” macacco ” following “cacco”..that actually in Italian sounds a bit wacky 😉

The obelisks of Piazza Navona, Piazza della Rotonda , Piazza della Minerva and Piazza dei Cinquecento come from the Campense temple.

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On the slopes of the Quirinale’s hill there was the temple of Serapis: the remains are still visible between the Palazzo Colonna and the Gregorian University in Piazza della Pilotta.

Even on the Aventine, there was a temple dedicated to Serapis; what remains is lying beneath the church of Santa Sabina.

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Among via Labicana and the Colosseum , is positioned piazza Iside, an important place of worship, you can admire today the impressive remains inserted between the Roman buildings of 19th century.

There are numerous Egyptian sculptures in the city: the statue of the Nile, now in the Chiaramonti Vatican Museum; the two lions that decorate the “Fontain dell’acqua Felice” at the corner in Via XX Settembre; lions at the foot of the steps of the Campidoglio (Capitol); a statue in Piazza San Marco (the Roman one!), adjacent to Piazza Venezia, depicting Isis or a priestess (the Romans, who rank among the so-called talking statues , call her Madama Lucrezia – See our previous post: https://seadreamsexcursions.wordpress.com/2014/01/31/the-talking-statues-of-rome/ ).

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 Still, a large marble foot  gives its name to the homonymous street, a statue of the Egyptian cult; and , finally, a marble cat walled on the ledge of Palazzo Grazioli: Of course, we are in Via della Gatta (the street of the cat).

Image I find this Egyptian presence into one of the world’s richest Capital a really interesting story! Too bad not much remains.. but it’s like a city treasure hunt and it fits very well with ancient Egypt; it enriches the Eternal City of charm and mystery!

 

 

“Darkness fell, not the dark of a moonless or cloudy night, but as if the lamp had been put out in a dark room” POMPEII

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On August 24, 79 AD, Vesuvius erupted, burying the nearby town of Pompeii in ash and soot, killing around 3,000 people, the rest of the population of 20,000 people having already fled, and preserving the city in its state from that fateful day. Pompeii is an excavation (It: scavi) site and outdoor museum of the ancient Roman settlement. This site is considered to be one of the few sites where an ancient city has been preserved in detail – everything from jars and tables to paintings and people was frozen in time, yielding, together with neighbouring Herculaneum which suffered the same fate, an unprecedented opportunity to see how the people lived two thousand years ago.

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A “firestorm” of poisonous vapors and molten debris engulfed the surrounding area suffocating the inhabitants of the neighboring Roman resort cities of Pompeii, Herculaneum and Stabiae. Tons of falling debris filled the streets until nothing remained to be seen of the once thriving communities. The cities remained buried and undiscovered for almost 1700 years until excavation began in 1748. These excavations continue today and provide insight into life during the Roman Empire.An ancient voice reaches out from the past to tell us of the disaster. This voice belongs to Pliny the Younger whose letters describes his experience during the eruption while he was staying in the home of his Uncle, Pliny the Elder. The elder Pliny was an official in the Roman Court, in charge of the fleet in the area of the Bay of Naples and a naturalist. Pliny the Younger’s letters were discovered in the 16th century.pompei7

Wrath of the Gods

A few years after the event, Pliny wrote a friend, Cornelius Tacitus, describing the happenings of late August 79 AD when the eruption of Vesuvius obliterated Pompeii, killed his Uncle and almost destroyed his family. At the time, Pliney was eighteen and living at his Uncle’s villa in the town of Misenum. We pick up his story as he describes the warning raised by his mother:

“My uncle was stationed at Misenum, in active command of the fleet. On 24 August, in the early afternoon, my mother drew his attention to a cloud of unusual size and appearance. He had been out in the sun, had taken a cold bath, and lunched while lying down, and was then working at his books. He called for his shoes and climbed up to a place which would give him the best view of the phenomenon. It was not clear at that distance from which mountain the cloud was rising (it was afterwards known to be Vesuvius); its general appearance can best be expressed as being like an umbrella pine, for it rose to a great height on a sort of trunk and then split off into branches, I imagine because it was thrust upwards by the first blast and then left unsupported as the pressure subsided, or else it was borne down by its own weight so that it spread out and gradually dispersed. In places it looked white, elsewhere blotched and dirty, according to the amount of soil and ashes it carried with it.

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“Darkness fell, not the dark of a moonless or cloudy night, but as if the lamp had been put out in a dark room,” wrote Pliny the Younger, who witnessed the cataclysm from across the Bay of Naples.

The darkness Pliny described drew the final curtain on an era in Pompeii. But the disaster also preserved a slice of Roman life. The buildings, art, artifacts, and bodies forever frozen offer a unique window on the ancient world. Since its rediscovery in the mid-18th century the site has hosted a tireless succession of treasure hunters and archaeologists. “Pompeii as an archaeological site is the longest continually excavated site in the world,”

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The People’s Pompeii

“It’s kind of a lost neighborhood of the city. When they first cleared it of debris in the 1870s they left this block for ruin (because it had no large villas) and it was covered over with a terrible jungle of vegetation.”  Much research has centered on public buildings and breathtaking villas that portray the artistic and opulent lifestyle enjoyed by the city’s wealthy elite.

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Archeologists are trying to see how the other 98percent of people lived in Pompeii. It’s a humble town block with houses, shops, and all the bits and pieces that make up the life of an ancient city.

But the eruption still resonates because of the intimate connection it created between past and present. They’re digging in an area where a lot of Pompeians died during the eruption and can investigate in such detail this ancient Roman culture as a direct result of a great human disaster.

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Preserving Pompeii’s Past for the Future

Even after hundreds of years of work, about a third of the city still lies buried. Yet there is no rush to unearth these hidden Pompeii neighborhoods. Today’s great challenge is preservation of what has been uncovered. Volcanic ash long protected Pompeii, but much of it has now been exposed to the elements for many years. The combined wear of weather, pollution, and tourists has created a real danger of losing much of what was luckily found preserved.

We hope all the best for this unique slice of ancient times…

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Secret Rome: lesser-known attractions.

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Our Rome expert reveals some of her favorite lesser-known attractions in the Eternal City.

ImageSan Carlo alle Quattro Fontane. Via del Quirinale 23, 00187

What an architectural marvel San Carlo is! Enter this ingenious little church, by Baroque maverick Francesco Borromini, and you’d hardly guess that the whole footprint was the size of one of the pilasters of St Peter’s (this is why locals refer to it affectionately as San Carlino – ‘Little Saint Charles’). The tortured, bipolar architect twisted lines and space to such an extent that volumes seem to appear out of nowhere in this oval creation, lit beautifully by high windows. There’s a tiny courtyard with perfectly proportioned Corinthian columns. And when the monks are in the mood, they’ll show you their extraordinary library too. For another miniature Borromini masterpiece, visit the vertiginous church of Sant’Ivo alla Sapienza, at Corso Rinascimento 40.

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Sant’Ivo alla Sapienza, at Corso Rinascimento 40.

Protestant cemetery

That Keats and Shelley should be buried in this lovely place beneath the shadow of Rome’s only pyramid is particularly fitting: the cemetery is hopelessly romantic. It was my green refuge of choice when I lived just down the road in the Testaccio district. The cemetery grew up here because it lies ‘beyond the pale’, just outside the town walls. Non-Catholics struggled to be allowed a burial in papal Rome, and even after this patch of land was granted to them in the early 18th century, funerals tended to take place quietly, often at night.

Since 1953, this graveyard has officially been known not as the ‘Protestant’ but as the ‘Acatholic cemetery’: Muslims, Buddhists, Zoroastrians… and Antonio Gramsci, founder of the Italian Communist Party, are buried here. But for most Romans, it’s the old name that sticks. Across Via Zabaglia at the south western end of the cemetery is the equally poignant British military cemetery, where a piece of Hadrian’s wall has been brought back to the ancient metropolis.

ImageProtestant cemetery. Via Caio Cestio 6, 00153

San Clemente

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One of Rome’s most worthwhile but least publicised sightseeing treats, this historically-layered cake descends from a street-level medieval and early-Renaissance church, with frescoes by Masolino, via a fourth-century early Christian church to the basement remains of a second-century insula (apartment block), complete with shrine to Mithras. When down here, listen for the sound of running water: an ancient sewer passes close by before dumping its contents in the Tiber. The main church is free, but the two lower levels carry an entrance charge. (Via Labicana 95, 00184)

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TRAVEL MORE FOR A BETTER HEALTH.

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I’M SURE YOU ALREADY KNOW! But just in case you need it, here is a scientific proof from the U.S Travel Assosiation that Travel is seriously good for our health. 🙂 Image

Last month, the U.S. Travel Association, in partnership with the Global Coalition on Aging and Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, released the results of a research study that showed a link between travel and positive health outcomes. Basically, the study showed that people who travel are healthier and happier than those who don’t travel.

I imagine some of you might be thinking, “I could have told you that.” But it’s useful to have actual data to back up something that many of us in the travel industry know instinctively.

For instance, the study showed that those who travel are significantly more satisfied in mood and outlook compared to those who do not travel (86 percent compared to 75 percent). Further, 77 percent of Americans who travel report satisfaction with their physical health and well-being, while only 61 percent of those who do not travel say the same. Nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of survey respondents report walking more and getting more exercise on trips than they do at home.

Travel also has cognitive benefits. A white paper released as a complement to the study, titled “Destination Healthy Aging: The Physical, Cognitive and Social Benefits of Travel,” reports that the stimuli associated with travel, including navigating new places, meeting new people and learning about new cultures, can help delay the onset of degenerative disease.

“Travel is good medicine,” explained Dr. Paul Nussbaum, president and founder of the Brain Health Center, Inc. and a clinical neuropsychologist and adjunct professor of Neurological Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. “Because it challenges the brain with new and different experiences and environments, it is an important behavior that promotes brain health and builds brain resilience across the lifespan.”

The #Talking #Statues of #Rome

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Did you know that inRome they have “talking statues”?

Come find out what is all about..

The so-called “talking statues” are the means by which Rome has always been opposed to the arrogance and corruption of the ruling classes with a great and unique sense of humor.

Since the beginning of the Sixteenth Century , had begun to spread a kind of rebellion to power, with billboards night of epigrams in Latin or Italian at a number of statues that stood in crowded places of the city, so that everyone could read the messages in the morning, before they were removed by the guards. And the authors, of course, remained unknown.

The signs were sometimes poems, sometimes humorous dialogues: from this tradition arose a literary satire denouncing immorality and abuse of power by the mighty men of Rome, but in most cases the target of satire were the pope or the nobility related to him.

Not infrequently then, the buyers of satires were prelates and nobles who wanted to defame those who held the power to take over them.

The people began to assign nicknames to these statues, of which the most famous was “Pasquino” and from here was derived the tradition of calling satires as “Pasquinate” (of Pasquino or from Pasquino).

The production of “Pasquinate”, written even in dialect in Nineteenth Century, continued uninterruptedly until the fall of the temporal power of the Popes and occasional mild forms has continued to the present day: many talking statues seem to have lost the word , but remain however firmly in place .

Pasquino

From 1501 “Pasquino” is located behind the beautiful Piazza Navona, in a small open space named Pasquino square after the statue.

It is a torso of a male figure, probably from the Third Century BC It is so badly preserved that saying certainty who it represents is almost impossible, perhaps a king or a maybe a hero from ancient Greece.

Although little is known about the origin of the nickname, legend has it that the statue had been discovered at a barber shop (or according to another version, a tavern) whose owner was called Pasquino.

One of the most famous joke (Pasquinate) written on it, is the one directed to Pope Urban VIII of the Barberini family, who ordered to remove the Bernini bronze parts from the Pantheon for the realization of the great canopy of S.Peter (1633): “Quod non fecerunt barbarians, fecerunt Barberini” ruled Pasquino.

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Marforio 
Another statue is known as “Marforio”, a long bearded figure lying on a side, which decorates the courtyard of the Palazzo Nuovo, a wing of the Capitoline Museums. Perhaps it is an allegory of a river, probably the Tiber, or maybe it’s Neptune, the God of the seas. His original place of provenance is the Roman Forum, from where it was moved in the late Sixteenth Century.
Marforio was considered the “shoulder” of Pasquino, because some of the satire in the two statues spoke to each other: one was asking questions about social problems or policy, and the other gave witty answers.

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Il Facchino  (the porter)

The “Porter” is a small fountain that represents a male figure, whose face is almost completely deteriorated, he’s pouring water from a barrel, the dress worn by the figure is the typical costume of the guild of porters, from which the name of the character.

The statue was originally located on the main facade of Palazzo De Carolis (Via del Corso) then, in 1874, was moved to the Via Lata, just around the corner.

It dates back to the second half of the Sixteenth Century, and according to a popular tradition was inspired by the figure of a “acquarolo”, the one who collected water from public fountains to sell it doorto door at moderate prices.

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Madama Lucrezia

This huge marble bust, about 3 meters high, is located at the corner of Palazzetto Venezia, in Piazza San Marco. Probably comes from a temple dedicated to Isis and depicts a woman, perhaps a priestess of this cult or perhaps the same as Isis. The nickname comes from the noblewoman Lucrezia d’Alagna, favored by Alfonso of Aragon, King of Naples, who spent his life and lived at the above place in the second half of the fifteenth century.

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Abate Luigi

“Fui dell’alma Roma un cittadino

ora abate Luigi ognun mi chiama

conquistai con Marforio e con Pasquino

dalla satira urbana eterna fama;

ebbi offese, disgrazie e sepoltura,

ma qui vita novella e alfin sicura.”

“I was a citizen of the Soul of Rome

Abbot Luigi now every one calls me

conquered with Marforio and with Pasquino

from urban satire an eternal fame;

I was offended, had misfortunes and burial,

but here at last a safe new life” (more or less this is the meaning)

This brief epitaph reads on the basis that the claims’ “Abate Luigi” in Vidoni square, not far from Piazza Navona, on the left wall of the church of S. Andrea della Valle.

The statue depicts a man in a typical toga of the late Roman era and the nickname was probably inspired by the sacristan of the nearby church of the Shroud (chiesa del Sudario), which, according to popular tradition, resembled very much the statue.

The square was the location of the original ‘”Abate”, but over the centuries it changed location several times and  held in low esteem until in 1924, when it was relocated in the same mall.

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the Baboon

The “Baboon” (il babbuino) is a recumbent figure of Silenus, in front of the church of St.Attanasio of the Greeks, in Via del Babuino. Constitutes the decorative element for a fountain, once used to water the horses on the edge of which the old character is lying since the Renaissance.

The nickname given to the figure is the result of the grinning face of Silenus, the Romans, seeing in it the shape of a monkey, now renamed “baboon”.

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From Levanto to Lerici (Liguria Italy) – you’ve already decided where to spend your Summer vacations?

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 We’re already thinking about the summer, the scent of the Mediterranean Sea and its unique scenery…so, here is an advice for an unforgettable trip!

An excursion from Levanto to Lerici (Liguria Italy) outstanding and intact scenery of Cinque Terre is a truly unique experience.

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A bathe in the charming of old colorful towns in a dazzling location as this particular seafront, overlooking hills, steep terrain where the vineyards triumph.
We are in the beautiful location of Cinque Terre National Park, declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco.
The trip starts from Levanto, whose historical center shelters genuine architectural treasures, such as the  Gothic church of St. Andrew or the Municipal Loggia of the 13th century. Along a rocky coastline, which descends steeply into the sea, with tight vineyards  that arise between the rocks, punctuated by small villages where agriculture and maritime blend with rich colors, simplicity and charm.

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First authentic stage of the Cinque Terre: Monterosso al Mare, acclaimed tourist resort, adorned with polished villas and a nice beach . In the old-fashioned village center, where the narrow streets climb up the hill, you can admire the Gothic parish church of St. John the Baptist and the baroque Church of San Francesco, close to the Capuchins convent. Here you will come up, among other beautiful things, with  the literary park named after the the poet Eugenio Montale, chorister of these lands.

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Then you arrive to Vernazza, with its awesome marina, around which develops the medieval town, with its distinctive square, you can admire the imposing watchtowers of Genoa and the bewitching Gothic church dedicated to Saint Margaret of Antioch.

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A hundred feet above the sea there is Corniglia, perched on the crest of the hill and connected to the beach by a staircase of 365 steps;  you can enjoy a splendid view from here.

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Will certainly have a strong impact the huge black rock overlooking the sea on which Manarola stands, known for olive oil and wine production, with its colorful houses that give the impression to arise from the steep rock.
The last (but not least!) village in the Cinque Terre, and also the heart of the homonymous National park, is Riomaggiore; a picturesque fishing village, with high and narrow houses  coloured in typical pastel colors, among these narrow alleyways you can enjoy a continous alternation of light and darkness.

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Leaving the protected area, is definitely worth making a detour to Porto Venere.
This popular resort of Liguria region is a perfect illustration of the blend of nature and architecture: from the marina promenade that frames the infinite palette of its narrow houses, the steep stairways and narrow alleys end on the promontory of the Mouths where stands the Church of St.Peter, from the early Christian era completed in the Gothic style.

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Also worth seeing is the Sanctuary of the Madonna Bianca, formerly the parish church of San Lorenzo, built in the 12th century in Romanesque style it was later restored and enlarged, and the Doria Castle, a majestic military fortress.

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 In front of Porto Venere we can find the three islands of Palmaria (where you can visit the beautiful Blue Grotto), Tino and Tinetto, all part of the Regional Park of Portovenere.

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Then we go straight to La Spezia, where one must visit the abbey church of Santa Maria Assunta, which has an interesting artistic heritage inside; and also worth a visit the Museums of the Italian Navy.

The last stage of this beautiful trip, is Lerici, the so-called Gulf of Poets (the Gulf of La Spezia, chosen by Byron and Shelley for their holidays). The resort is marked by a lots of stair and steps and alleyways and by the imposing military Castle. Not to be missed a stroll along the promenade and a visit to the oratory of San Rocco, with its 14th century bell tower and the church of San Francesco for the valuable works of art stored there.

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I greet you with a wonderful song by a beloved singer passed away, that was just from these  wonderful places. (local dialect)   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KoVxtw5V3GQ

With closed eyes I can already smell the scent of the blue sea..

>>>  If you choose to cruise the Mediterranean, Seadreams can bring you there!
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ORDERING A COFFEE…IN ITALY ;-)

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ORDERING a COFFEE…IN ITALY 😉 

Ordering coffee sounds quite easy but depending where you are, things may work differently. If you are in Italy it will for sure 😉

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In small towns you can usually order your coffee first and pay later.  In big cities it’s normal to pay first and give your receipt to the barista to prepare your drink.  Unless they offer table service, in which case you sit or are seated and wait for your server, of course ordering and enjoying your beverage while standing at the bar is cheaper than sitting at a table.

If you order coffee, you’ll be served an espresso so if you’re used to ordering a drip coffee, try an americano.  Want to stick out like a sore thumb? Order a cappuccino in the afternoon.  Milky drinks are reserved for the morning in Italy, you may get away with an espresso macchiato after eleven but ordering something with more milk will surely peg you as a foreigner 🙂

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But how do you recognize a perfect coffee then? “Must have a creamy brown color, a very fine texture, no bubbles larger or smaller. To the nose – says the expert – the espresso has an intense aroma notes of flowers, fruit, toast and chocolate, all sensations are felt even after swallowing. Taste is round, firm and smooth, while acid and bitter must be balanced “.

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The golden rule is: 25 milliliters in 25 seconds! 

THE TIP – Although not expected, if you get good service it’s ok to leave a little something by rounding up.

The pleasure associated with the aroma of coffee is a mass passion for Italians, who daily consume about 70 million cups of espresso at the bar. The notes to the Italian Espresso National Institute, which promotes Friday 17, throughout Italy, “Italian Espresso Day”, the first national day of espresso and cappuccino. A celebration of ‘tazzurella’ (small cup of coffee  ) which will also be an opportunity to find out if the coffee served at the counter is really a good quality and to understand how to choose the right place for a breakfast with all the trimmings.

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‘I’ll buy you a coffee’ is one of the phrases that you’ll hear pronounced more often. Even if is a wrong sentence: in Italy there is no ‘one’ coffee, but infinite! Because coffee is a cult, it is a categorical imperative, it is a dogma; everybody knows which type they prefer and defend the superiority of ‘their coffee’.

And after you decided if you’re Copernican or Galilean, and you declare yourself as an incorruptible follower of the “Caffè al bar”, the one with the froth on the surface and the creamy looking flavour, get ready, “one coffees” here are almost endless:

Espresso, Ristretto, lungo (Long).
Macchiato hot milk, or cold milk.
In large bowl, in a glass. Double ristretto.
Cold and shaken. Cold, with milk. Cold, with ice. Cold, period.
With a glass of water at hand.
Natural, no, sparkling water.
American (here are a few, though 😉 ).
With cream. Liquid …. or mounted.
With cold milk separately. Correct with grappa or sambuca.
I could go on ad infinitum, and naturally I avoided the regional variations. The Neapolitan coffee is REALLY a religion, and as such should be treated: books, movies, lyrics have sung the praise. And..I have spoken only of coffee from the bar, the coffee at home (the moka), well we’d have to write an encyclopedia then! 😀

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Now that you are sufficiently confused,  do you want to know how I prefer it?

Well, naturally it depends on the time of the day. at this time now.. (which is afternoon on a sunny winter day in Rome)

I will take it Macchiato caldo e con panna, grazie! ^_^ (with some hot milk and mounted sweet cream)  with a little cocoa!

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Here are some words you might find useful in your delicious (for sure!) trip to Italy:

Per favore: Please

Grazie: Thank you

Prego: You’re welcome

Come sta?: How are you (formal)

Buon giorno: Good morning

Buona sera: Good evening

Buona notte: Good night

Birra: Beer

Cibo: Food

Dove siamo?: Where are we?