By Ashlee Abel
Having my morning cup of coffee is crucial, even in Italy. However, when ordering a drink or entrée here, there is occasionally a misunderstanding of terminology. On the way to class, a number of us walked up to “Enjoy Your Coffee,” one of my favorite coffee shops in Arezzo. Someone requested an iced latte but instead received a cup of milk with ice cubes. If you order an iced latte in the United States, the drink will have gorgeous colors from the combination of dark espresso and milk, creating a waterfall effect within the cup. We discovered that their definition of a latte differs significantly from ours. It’s my understanding that the most frequent form of coffee consumed in Italy is a cappuccino, which is made out of espresso and equal parts milk and foam. It has a wonderful consistency and a good amount of caffeine, which only enhances the drink. It's inevitable that we'll run into language-barrier complications as we immerse ourselves in Italian culture, and it's important to learn from our mistakes in order to avoid them in the future.
As I approached the coffee shop counter to order an iced vanilla coffee with a shot of espresso, the barista recognized us as previous customers and struck up a conversation about our time so far here in Italy. By her reaction, it seems like the locals are very excited to see Americans again because it shows the gradual decline in COVID-19 is leading to a return to normalcy. The barista was extremely pleasant and attentive to my coffee because food in the country is regarded as an art form. We also spoke with locals our age who asked about school, and she expressed delight at the prospect of meeting American students again after an entire year. My to-go cup had a marble-like appearance. The coffee and milk were perfectly blended; as I took my first sip, the flavors of vanilla, whole milk and espresso hit my taste buds.
My friends couldn't wait to sample my order, and they said it was one of the best cups of coffee they've ever had. I went on to describe how fantastic another coffee shop, Caffè Pascucci, which is just down the road on Corsa Italia. Caffè Pascucci gets a large number of customers due to its convenient location. It’s a unique Italian experience, as the baristas give you your iced coffee with a long, dried piece of pasta as the straw. This straw is also a creative way to be environmentally responsible, as the straw is edible and doesn't harm animals, making it an all-around great strategy.
Both shops' coffee tastes quite similar, and it's at cafés like this that the many memories are created. Trying to order in Italian is tough, and while it's difficult to ask what each pastry or coffee is made of, pointing to the menu or the glass and hoping for the best has become a reinforcing habit for me. They're always kind and attempt to communicate in English as much as possible, and purchasing in euros is also unusual to Americans since 99% of shops and retailers take credit cards. Arezzo life is lovely, slower-paced, and full of culture. Even crafting a cup of coffee is an art that the Italians have taken pride in for years. Americans are constantly in a rush, and we all need to take more time to appreciate our morning coffee and the scenery around us to start our day off on the right foot.
Editors: Grace Tipps, Aly O'Shea, Taylor Glissman
Photographer: Emily Turner