06 September 2007

"alla Romana"

Coffee etiquette.

Since moving to Ascoli Piceno there are a couple things we have noticed that apply to the coffee bars. The first is that if someone invites you to have a café at a bar they will expect to pay. Here in Ascoli Piceno I have noticed that when locals invite me to have a café or drink with them they assume they are paying and do not appreciate it if I try to pay for mine or both.

At Caffe Pretoriana around the corner from our apartment we have a little game going on with some of the locals. Our landlord goes there for his after-lunch café and if I show up at the same time he will want to buy me a café. There are also two friends who are older gentlemen who go in a couple times a day and they have pre-paid several times for a café for me and Valerie. If I want to buy them a drink I must pay for it before they arrive. Gianluca, our friend the barista, enjoys these games and he is very good at keeping track of the receipts of who has paid for whom.

We have also noticed that if someone invites you to go out for dinner or lunch again they will expect to buy your meal. Unless of course everyone agrees before that you are going “a Romana”. You don’t go “Dutch” in Italy, but “Roman” when everyone pays for their own.

Just some of those little differences in cultures that it can be helpful to be aware of.

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