Eating in Italy: Breakfast

Breakfast may be the first “meal” of the day in Italy but unlike at home, it isn’t the most important. A typical Italian breakfast is a coffee and a cigarette, and maybe a cornetti, cannoli, crostata, sfogli or some other kind of sweet pastry.

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In stark contrast to every other meal which seems to be a slow, pleasurable sit-down affair, breakfast is a quick pit stop at a cafe where the coffee and pastry are downed quickly while standing at the bar. At home, I think I take eat the slowest at breakfast, especially when I go out with friends for a Sunday breakfast and catch up – but at lunch I’ve noticed I eat much faster than all of the Italians and was even told by a restaurant manager that my friend and I ate in too much of a hurry. We were surprised because we were both really tired and felt sluggish and felt we had been slower than usual!

In Levanto, we stayed at the gorgeous B&B Villa Clelia, where we woke up every morning to fresh focaccia delivered by our host, or the focaccia fairy as I called him. Apart from ours, these balconies had no stairs so I’m not sure how he delivered them – hence the nickname.

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Inside each bag was a few pieces of fresh focaccia and a few bread rolls, which made a big breakfast in conjunction with the cornetti, brioche, jam and tea already left for us in our rooms. I have a feeling that he was kindly catering to Western needs for a decent breakfast, because apart from at accommodation, breakfast is tiny.

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A cornetti looks like a croissant, but unlike its buttery , French cousin it is spongey and very sweet. Some come stuffed with jam, honey or custard, for the ultimate sugar overload. Personally, I prefer croissants because I think the a cornetti is too sweet to eat at the start of the day.

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Crostatas are everywhere here too. Eating a jam tart for breakfast made me feel pretty sick, but it is an interesting habit I think. I’d only ever have it for dessert so I was surprised to see it only really as a breakfast option here.

Rich food first thing in the morning has started making me feel really sick, which is unfortunate when in Italy. Luckily, Florence is covered in gelaterias which also sell a variety of fruit cups. Most mornings I just stuck to a fruit cup ( as bacon and eggs, Turkish bread, avocado and tomatoes wasn’t on the cards) but one morning I tried a cannoli. It tastes better than it looks – the filling is delicious! Still, I only ate half. Particularly in Italy, I find I eat so much rich food during the day that breakfast is a necessary break from heavy meals. I did successfully avoid pizza and pasta for a few days in Florence, but more on that later! I love pizza and pasta but not every day for weeks on end, but I found lots of delicious alternatives.

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The one part of an Italian breakfast I am in total agreement with is a coffee. After weeks of choking down American coffee in France, my first latte macchiato in Milan was a huge relief! They drink proper espressos in France but as soon as you add milk, they whip out the revolting American coffee. We gave up, but were quick to spot diners in Italy with proper coffees and found ourselves a table.

I am still overseas, so my next post might not be for a couple of days – I am in Rome at the moment and am having a quiet day because I’m getting sick – and I refuse to be sick in Capri, Amalfi or the Greek Islands! Luckily it is not my first time in Rome, so while C checks off some of the big sites I have already seen, I can write, catch up on some sleep, buy some fruit and maybe hit the shops a little later before a big Italian feast tonight.

2 thoughts on “Eating in Italy: Breakfast

  1. Sweet pastries for breakfast! My god, how decadent. No wonder Italians change their governments so regularly – eating sweets for breakfast would give one a sugar hit that would make sensible decision-making impossible! Hope you told them how good a meat pie
    and sauce is to get one going for the day?!! C’mon, Aussie, c’mon!

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