The world-famous Italian cuisine is not about breakfast. Whether it’s breakfast in Rome, breakfast in Florence, or breakfast in Venice: the typical Italian breakfast is sweet, spare, or non-existent.
Featured photo: An Italian headline over a typical Italian breakfast consisting of coffee and a brioche or cornetto.
Spare Me the Protein, Per Favore
You’ll be surprised to find that the world-famous Italian cuisine, isn’t about breakfast. Unless you’re staying at an upscale hotel that offers a European-style breakfast smorgasbord, or renting an apartment where you could whip-up your own omelette in the kitchen – you will find that the typical Italian breakfast is sweet, spare, or non-existent.
An Italian breakfast means a cup of caffè (or what we call espresso), usually picked up and drank quickly while standing at a coffee bar or made at home with a Bialetti moka pot. Sometimes, a more leisurely cup of coffee may be accompanied by a cornetto [kor-NET-to] (cornetti, plural) which is shaped like a croissant but is sweeter, or a crisp biscotto [bis-KOT-to] (biscotti, plural) – also served and consumed at the bar.
If you’re traveling to Italy – the Starbucks lingo does not translate to the Italian coffee culture. Check my post on How to Order Coffee in Italy Without Making a Fool of Yourself.
If you’re staying at a small bed and breakfast, inn, or other budget tourist accommodation, they usually provide breakfast in the form of coffee, boxed or bottled juices, and some sweet pastries. Often, the pastries are pre-packaged in plastic, the type you get from groceries. Sometimes, yogurt, cereals and milk may be available. And if you’re staying in the same accommodation for a few days, be prepared for a daily repeat of this same ensemble.
If you want variety, step out and you can find pasticceria [pasti-che-RI-yah] where they serve trays or shelves overloaded with delectable sweet Italian pastries. These are usually made fresh and may be embellished with fresh or preserved fruits, and nuts.
Gimme Protein, Per Favore!
After a few days, are you tired of the sweet breakfast? Are you desperate to find a place to satisfy your craving for a hearty meal of eggs, sausages, bacon, salmon and cheese? Outside of the pricier hotels that often only cater to their guests, these offerings are rare and in some towns, unheard of!
During one of my travels to Italy, I luckily found these very rare sources of savory protein. BUT, you can only find them in the more tourist-dense cities of Italy:
Alas! In most other towns, your only protein source would be one you have to cook yourself. If you are desperate and don’t have a kitchen, there’s probably a McDonalds nearby that you can fallback on. Like in the US, they serve bacon, eggs, and pancake for breakfast – even in Italy!
For a complete list of sources and resources used on this webpage, please see the References page.
Sampling Italian cuisine should be part of your Italian travel experience. But, are you ready for the Italian menu challenge? Get help from my post on Lunch & Dinner: Navigating the Italian Restaurant Menu.
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