18 February 2008


I prezzi sono piu alti

One of my majors in college was economics so I am familiar with the mechanisms of the ups and downs of a market economy like we have in Italy. Last year there were calls for strikes to protest the price of the Italian basic: pasta. The comune’s monthly magazine has an article that in 2007 the medium price of pasta went from 1,56€ to 1,60€, a minimal gain. The price of bread however saw a much larger spike from 2,01€ to 2,44€ in the same period. This ,34€ increase spiked at the end of the summer and is an annual rate increase of 17.6%!

I however have noticed a more direct encounter with l'inflazione related to one of my favorite things about Italy: caffe’. In December some of the bars in town were saying that their prices would go up after the first of the year. For most of the bars in town this didn’t happen immediately but by the time we got back from our trip to the US all the bars had raised their prices. Some did not raise the price on a caffe’, which is always their cheapest item, but raised the price on pastries and other drinks like cappuccini. The price change was from .05 to .10 per item where a caffe’ in Ascoli Piceno now costs from .70€ to .90€. This may not seem like a lot unless you knew how much caffe’ Italians drink.

One of the bars here in town, CafĂ© Lorenz in Piazza del Popolo is having a promotion to combat this inflation; they are offering cut rate prices for colazione. This is the Italian breakfast which consists of coffee and a pastry. For 1€ you can get un caffe’ e un pasta, for 1,20€ you can get un cappuccino e un pasta. I would question the quality of the offerings at these prices.


Anonymous said...

It would be interesting to do some historical research on the cost of caffe. My, possibly really bad, memory is that in 1971 when I lived in La Spezia we were paying about 500 lira or about $.83 for caffe. I know I paid less some places and, to be frank, most of my caffe drinking was done in fairly upscale bars on the ocean (even in the morning). If my memory is not faulty then today's prices are not all that bad. Of course, at the time I reference, there was a fixed exchange rate of $1/625 lira which may have overvalued the lira. Later, in the mid 80's that rate soared to $1/2200 lira and everything looked cheap. Now it is reversed. I know Italians think everything went up 5-10% at the time of the euro conversion. Five years from now is a euro is worth $.90 will the price of caffe have come down? It will look like it.

Bryan said...

I remember when we visited in the 90's the exchange rate was about 2000 lire to the dollar. At .80 euro a caffe' is still a bargain here, especially compared to what you pay in the US>

Anonymous said...

(ANSA) - Rome, February 22 - Rome is the most expensive city in Italy to have a leisurely breakfast, a survey by consumers association Altroconsumo has revealed.

Customers who sit down at a table in a bar have to pay an average of 4.92 euros for a cappuccino and a brioche in the Italian capital, according to the survey of ten major cities.

The next most expensive city is Venice, where breakfasters fork out 4.69 euros, followed by Florence at 4.12 euros.

The southern city of Bari lays on the cheapest spread at 2.66 euros, and Bologna comes close at 2.72 euros.

The same trio of important tourist cities also topped the league of Italy's most expensive espresso served at a table, with Rome in first place at 2.35 euros followed by Florence (1.82 euros) and Venice (1.79 euros).

Once again, Bari offers the cheapest sit-down coffee at 1.15 euros.

In all the cities, sitting down at a table is more expensive than standing at the bar, especially when customers can while away the morning at outdoor tables in picturesque settings like Piazza Navona in Rome or St Mark's Square in Venice.

But for customers prepared to bolt down breakfast while standing at the bar, Rome joins the southern cities of Naples, Palermo and Bari at the cheaper end of the scale.

A cappuccino and a brioche eaten standing up are priciest in the north, with Venice (2.23 euros), Turin (2.20 euros) and Bologna (2.19 euros) coming out top.

The cost of an espresso knocked back at the bar reveals a similar north-south divide. Customers stump up 93 cents in Bologna and 88 cents in Venice, while Bari (71 cents), Palermo (73 cents) and Rome (78 cents) offer the cheapest on-the-feet caffeine fixes. Photo: A waiter serves breakfast at a bar.