Marcy enjoying a cappuccino on a rainy day in Bellagio, Italy

“It is not JUST coffee.” I can confirm that the travel guides are right about rules for drinking coffee here. We have had a number of cappuccinos, every one of them so far has been a masterpiece of preparation, including the ones we bought at travel stops. (I have mastered “Due cappuccino portale” – or literally two cappuccinos, the door) We were told that we might get strange looks if we order one in the afternoon… They are mostly a breakfast drink. But it is espresso that I want to talk about. I suppose that I have never had a proper espresso even up to this writing. Our guide Myriam said espresso should be served quickly and drunk quickly while standing, all in order to enhance the flavor, which is preserved by the rapidly disappearing crema foam layer. She told us that there is no such thing as Italian roast. The intense flavor is from the high-pressure extraction. Also, a proper espresso does not have too much caffeine. It is those US drinks prepared with too little pressure and too much coffee that will put you down. During last year’s Switzerland trip, I saw our Italian tour bus driver tossing back plastic medicine cup servings at stops. We finally did learn the ropes on the practice this this year. We were served espresso as our “caffe” course during our welcome dinner, but according to custom, you can’t have a proper serving so long after brewing. Nevertheless, after 36 hours of travel and first day touring, I am wired. It is midnight and I have, as they say in our family, “THE BIG EYE”.

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