In an effort to let go of my reverse culture shock, I have decided to start a series entitled: Italy vs. America. The first post is in regards to coffee. Italy wins. Hands down.
Quality, quantity, sustainability, and customer service.
My Italian family gave me one of their espresso makers (you get something similar at Target) and a homemade contraption to properly pack the grinds. Every morning I fill the lower pod with fresh water to the bolt, pack the espresso in the middle portion and throw it on the stove. The smell of freshly brewed cafe paired with the sound of boiling water almost brings me back to the foothills of the Italian Alps.
You would think as Fireball lovin’ Americans the idea of a quick shot would get the heart racing. But, bigger is better. Starbucks makes me want to vomit (other than the turkey bacon breakfast sandwich) with the excessive of choices and special “two pumps only” patrons.
Customer service is better when it’s honest. The experience of handing your ticket to a lovely dressed barista, amongst 20 other chattering Italians, is one of its own. They tear your ticket, sprint to the machine and return only to slide your hot cup across the bar. It always lands right in front of you.
A grande latte now feels like a meal. When will they add a plastic knife and fork to the side of the cup? And then, and then and then and then and then you have the hip coffee bars with weak coffee and baristas with even weaker people skills. Stop trying to make fetch happen.
I intend to limit my coffee take away cups to 4 a month. I’d say zero but that’s unrealistic. Check out Get the Facts on Carry Your Cup in regards to America’s consumption: The average American office worker uses about 500 disposable cups every year.
And remember, beautiful cups make room for beautiful coffee.
Daily ritual: this cup makes me smile and was a gift from the teachers I worked with in Italy.
Emiglia-Romagna, Italy – One morning I woke up in a Medicean Castle. It is probably still one of my most favorite memories of spending 3 months in Italy. The castle is in Terre del Sole just outside Forli. I’m slightly obsessed with castles, queens, and everything in between.
Luggage lift + touring car
The beds are draped with what I believe are passed down royal linens from Catherine d’Medici. The water closet is literally a water closet. The pool table which takes up most of the living room is rumored to have seen action from Mussolini himself.
This tale can be heard in most cities in Italy. The history is addicting. I imagined being a Queen for a day (yes, I just binged watched Reign on Netflix) and I loved every second. Wait…it was the castle of the Captain of the Artillery. Ehhh….a girl can dream. Or maybe I led an army at some point. Highly likely.
The wooden ceiling below was just uncovered in the now privately owned Castello Del Capitano della Artiglierie (Noble Residence of the Capitan). If you look closely you can see 1587 and the Medici family emblem (five red balls and one blue). The same year Francesco d’Medici was poisoned along with his wife…coincidence. We may never know.
The castle is beautiful and a hidden gem. The surrounding roads are perfect for a motorcycle trip or a beautiful drive in an owned/rented Ferrari (sounds like the Italian experience to me!). The owner offers a beautiful traditional Italian breakfast (cafe, breads, jam).
Check out their website and stay there if ever in Terre del Sole. It is worth every penny.
Excerpt from: Altra Romagna
THE NOBLE RESIDENCE OF THE CAPITANO. The castle is an integral part of the fortified town of Terra del Sole and is located at one of the entrances of the town. It has an original star and angled shape and is topped by a protruding walkway which used to be used by the guards during the rounds; the walkway is supported by stone layers and cotto arches. The Quarters of the Capitano are on the last floor. Next to the Castle there is the English style Park with herb garden and orchard with trees of times gone by. The Castle, of private property, represents a refine location for events.
For more information head to their website.
As I sit at the top of the steps overlooking the center of the city, it hits me. Hits me like the strong Italian coffee I have 6 times a day. Time, is of the utmost importance but it should never be rushed. There will always be things to worry about, people to please, deadlines to be meet and lessons to learn. But, the most important is THE NOW.
Low quality photo, high quality moment
I’m perched next to chiesa di santa something overlooking 91 Italian students. They have their whole lives in front of them. They are full of life and energy. As I scan the scene I realize they are all characters in an important play: my life.
One group is in love. The next is running sprints up the steps. I look to the left and spot the kid with the old soul talking to the teachers. In front of me is my shadow who won’t leave my side and is nervous to talk to me. Just to the left of the old soul are the kids who look like they are up to no good. Somewhere between the teachers and lovebirds you’ve got the highly intelligent group. And then there is me.
I will never have this time or space again. I may return to Italy, to teaching, to life but it will not be the same. This experience is unique. I have been welcomed here with open arms. I have learned so much about Italian culture, life and art. My heart is warm and my brain is full. And I’m changing. Everyday. Evolution of the mind, body and soul. Viva la bella vita.