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Monday, 22 June 2009

I think I saw you in an ice-cream parlour

The café is an Italian institution and we have visited a few over the past eight weeks. One of our favourites was the café in Corigliano in Calabria: We stopped here at 8.30 in the morning, anxious after leaving the van in the hands of the VW garage to be fixed. The café has a large space with just half a dozen tables and a long counter: Italians came in and stood with their coffee and croissant, reading the newspaper before going to work; the coffee came with a glass of water; the staff welcomed regulars with some small talk, no one stayed long.

Sometimes in the evening we get nibbles with our beer, nuts, crisps and olives: A café was the first place we tried the spicy, dried sweetcorn nibbles we’ve come to enjoy. In Bologna we were presented with a plate of biscuits with our coffee. Once we realised we did not have to pay for these extras directly we tucked in.

The café is a useful place to watch people, practice our Italian by reading the newspaper or watch the TV, support the local economy and almost the only place to find a toilet in Italy.

The photograph is Bardolino on Lake Garda, which has plenty of cafes.

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