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A Roadblock to Immersion: Preparedness

August 3, 2012

My preparation for my first Eurotrip was minimal. I purchased Rick Steves’ Italian Phrase Book and Dictionary and Italy 2011. These books are both great sources of insight and suggestions in regards to traveling; however, you need to open them in order to gain that knowledge. For some reason I felt that just simply having these books in my possession would transform me into the travel master himself. Oh, if it were only that easy! One trip to a café, and I realized that I was definitely slacking in the preparation department.

I am a coffee fanatic and cannot function without my cup of Joe in the morning. I quickly learned that going to an Italian café is not your typical trip to Starbucks. If you order a coffee with the image of an 8oz (at least) paper to-go cup in mind, you will be immensely disappointed when you are presented a shot of espresso.

Image courtesy of Giovanni Tancredi at Flickr

  • If you want the Americanized version of coffee, simply order a Caffé Americano, which is the shot of espresso with water added.
  • But      to even receive a coffee was a task in itself. You place your order with the cashier, take the receipt, then go to another line, and place your order once again, but with the barista this time. After that long process, there was always the possibility that an item that you ordered at the cashier would be sold out by the time you reached the barista!
  • Never order any espresso beverage with milk after 8am. Claudio scolded us stating that it was despicable to have that idea even cross your mind! They believe that drinking it after breakfast disrupts the digestion process.
  • Be aware that no one takes their coffee to go. I do not recall to-go cups even existing unless you stumble upon a Starbucks or a more touristy café. You drink the beverage while standing at the bar and mingle with friends.
  • If you choose to sit down, your one Euro caffeine boost will probably turn into five Euros. Be cautious of their sneaky seating charges!
  • Many cafes will have the word “bar” in their name. A bar in Italy is not the equivalent to a bar in the United States. You will not find the locals consuming large amounts of alcohol there.

These are just a few of my personal tips to get you thinking about your travel destination. The simplest tasks can turn into chaotic ones. Considering all the things that can go wrong in just a trip to the café, will hopefully put into perspective the amount of preparation that should be done before traveling. If it is a small town like Orvieto, people will immediately know you are an outsider, but with a little extra knowledge, adapting to this new environment will hopefully occur more quickly and smoothly.

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