La Morra, Italy (Piedmont)
I try to seek out coffee shops in the neighborhoods where I’m staying in each place I travel. In La Morra, that experience was at the charming Bar Nuova Italia on the lower level below our rented apartment on via San Martino. Every corner and surface of the cafe held cellophane bags of pasta or chocolates or candies or bottles of wine or water or was covered in Italian newspaper or magazine articles highlighted and underlined so that your senses were filled and eyes flitted and jumped over one and to the next, not being able to rest on one object or one clipping. It’s the place on the street you go to for that little something. My cappuccino was presented by signora Silvana with a dusting of chocolate and a light biscuit. She enthusiastically greeted each local who came in for a shot of espresso at the small front bar, or a coffee and newspaper at one of the round tables scattered around. Young mothers with babies in strollers and older rugged workers in hard hats.
Back in our AirBnb apartment, making my own coffee on the stove in in a Bialetti wasn’t quite the same as Silvana’s espresso. But stepping out our front door, still pajama-clad, onto the narrow landing and into one of the wooden folding chairs, legs out and feet pressed against the railing, bowl of coffee in hand, I could gaze out at a soft pink morning sky rising over the undulating green vine-lined hills of the Piedmont. A coffee experience worthy of not having a proper latte.
Camogli, Italy (Liguria)
Coffee harborside at a tiny bistro table on the sidewalk right in front of our hotel, I Tre Merli, and just a few feet from the water’s edge. Movements only from that cheeky seagull eyeing me and my breakfast onion focaccia, and from the small dogs trotting beside their owners. There were the harbor pilots sipping espresso in their flip flops and board shorts and reading the morning’s paper, the day-trippers consulting the water-taxi schedule to San Frutuosso and glancing at the dock, where no water-taxi is anchored (the sea’s probably too rough and the taxi won’t run today). Coffee was brought out in a white carafe with a side pitcher of frothy milk. I could sit for hours here, absent-mindedly pouring more coffee and milk into my cup and gazing out and across the harbor of Camogli, watching the cliff-side town slowly, ever so slowly wake up. J and I were easing into our day, too. Making the most of our mornings meant sitting at this very table for as long as it took, and then wandering back upstairs to our room to gather water bottles, sunblock and head out for a day of hiking over the hills and coastline stretching south of Genoa, the Riviera di Levante of Italy’s Ligurian coast.