For Italians, colazione or breakfast isn’t exactly the most important meal of the day. Instead, it’s small, simple, and almost always sweet, and is just enough to get you going as you move toward lunch — Italy’s main meal of the day. At home, many Italians start their morning with a few cookies (yes, cookies!) accompanied by coffee and milk, while breakfast in a coffee shop typically consists of a brioche pastry (Italy’s croissant) washed down with a steaming hot cappuccino. Add a spremuta or freshly squeezed juice and you’ve got what Italians refer to as a colazione completa.
Here’s a quick language guide to some of the most common breakfast items you’ll find in Italy.
Let’s talk coffee…
A traditional Italian coffee: a shot of espresso served in a small cup
Un caffè macchiato
A shot of espresso with a dash of foamy milk; similar to a cappuccino only smaller
Un caffè ristretto
A shot of espresso made with less water, resulting in a stronger flavor profile and less caffeine
Un caffè lungo
A shot of espresso made with more water, resulting in weaker flavor and higher caffeine
Un caffè corretto
A shot of espresso with a splash of liquor such as grappa or sambuca (You’ll probably want to save this one for after dinner!)
An espresso drink served with hot milk and foam
The Italian brioche
The brioche is similar to the French croissant, only slightly softer and made with eggs. In the south, they are called cornetti. You’re sure to find the following varieties in almost any coffee shop:
Una brioche vuota
A plain brioche pastry
Una brioche alla marmellata
A brioche pastry filled with jam
Una brioche alla crema
A brioche pastry filled with cream
Una brioche al cioccolato
A brioche pastry filled with chocolate
Spremuta: Italy’s OJ
Freshly squeezed fruit juice
Here’s how I would order my favorite breakfast:
Buongiorno! Vorrei un cappuccino, una brioche alla marmellata e una spremuta per favore.
Good morning! I would like a cappuccino, a brioche pastry with jam and a juice please.
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