BRE GRAHAM, ESCAPE
Forget everything you ever knew about breakfast — here’s how to start the day in Italy
The greatest thrill I have when travelling is when someone thinks that I could be a local.
There is nothing like a waiter in Spain talking to you all about the specials in Spanish or a French taxi driver trying to tell you a story before you have to stop and say ‘Je Parle Anglais’.
So, in order to really blend into Italy when I travel there, I have to forget sitting down for orange juice and eggs because, in Italy, breakfast means the bakery.
Follow your nose
In every big city in Italy, there are tourist trap cafes with pictures of the big English fry ups on offer or the ‘continental’ preferred by others trying to lure you in with a promise to cure your limoncello hangover.
However, if you avoid these I promise you there’s something better waiting. Just a few streets behind these cafes, if you follow your nose you’ll find a bakery that is bursting with the Italians all waiting to buy their breakfast.
On every trip that I’ve ever taken to Italy, mornings spent in bakeries have always been the highlight for me. First I decide between an espresso or a macchiato, sipped slowly standing up at the counter usually wedged between men in suits reading morning papers. Even if there are two seats free, don’t dare sit as you’ll be
As I drink my coffee I look around at all the delights on offer under the glass displays. In Florence I look for the huge rosemary and raisin buns, Pan di Ramerino.
In Rome I devour slices of spinach pie that they serve around Easter and in Venice, I do as Venetians do and order cake. On all of these mornings in Italy, in huge cities like Rome or tiny towns on the Ligurian coast, I don’t think I’ve ever spent more than a few euros on breakfast.
Often after my coffee, I take my treats from the bakery and find somewhere pretty to go and eat them as most of the best bakeries in Italy don’t have seats. In Rome, go to the Forno bakery in Campo De’ Fiori.
Live like a local - Take away
As for where to eat your breakfast once you’ve made the hard choice of what to order, well the bakery is set on one of the cities most beautiful market squares.
In Florence, I really like Forno Pintucci. It’s all you imagine a classic Italian bakery to be. Get a biscotti with your coffee or a slice of focaccia and take a short walk down to the Ponte Vecchio to dine with a view.
Venice though is my favourite place to eat a proper Italian breakfast because like me, the locals love something sweet in the morning. It’s hard to go wrong here but the cream puffs at Pasticceria Rizzardini are a failsafe dream way to start your day. Take a few hidden in a paper bag down to the canal and watch the gondoliers row back and forth.
What it comes down to is that I travel to see how locals live and I travel to Italy to eat, so anytime I can combine the both, it is bliss.