Italy is hailed as having one of the greatest cuisines in the world and it's also one that has influenced cultures for centuries. Even today, the dishes that are served throughout the country are deep-rooted and traditional. Since breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day (supposedly), many people wonder what this beautiful country has to offer with such a rich cuisine.

Contrary to popular belief, it's not all sweets and strong coffee to start the day. While cappuccino and espresso are all part of it, these are only cornerstones of a well-balanced Italian breakfast. If Italy is on the travel bucket list, then these are the dishes (and drinks) that should jumpstart a traveler's morning.

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What's Eaten At Home In Italy

The idea that all Italians consume sweets and cookies on the daily for breakfast is a common misconception. In Italian-American families, this might be true thanks to the sheer number of Italian bakeries that exist around the country.

In addition, bread, such as rolls, and freshly-baked loaves, have become part of the misconception of what Italians eat for breakfast. In Italy, travelers could expect to find any number of these in a person's household:

  • Cold cereals such as cornflakes or muesli. Milk is usually always in the refrigerator, and if there's no milk then yogurt is sometimes used as a thicker dairy alternative.
  • Merendene, also known as packaged sweets, are also an option for those with a sweet tooth.
  • The only fresh bread at the table will likely be that which is served with either Nutella or jam.
  • Fette biscottate, which is a healthy option for breakfast, is commonly found in Italian households.
  • Another sweet option (although not often too sweet) is homemade cakes.

When it comes to coffee, once again - not everyone has an espresso machine in their home! Rather, a regular cup of coffee is made. The only difference is that coffee- caffé - is sometimes added to the milk rather than the other way around. Either that or coffee and milk are drunk separately.

What Travelers Can Expect At B&Bs Or Hotels

When it comes to lodging, what's served in an Italian home versus what's served at an Italian inn, B&B or hotel can differ fairly significantly. Most accommodations have an abundance of sweets for breakfast as opposed to cereal or another healthier option.

It's common that hotels will also offer a continental breakfast, which can include typical things such as scrambled eggs, a waffle or pancake bar, toast with a selection of jams, and even baked goods. While guests always have the option to go out for breakfast, sometimes it is just more convenient to stay in - therefore, they should know what to expect at the place they're staying. Some foods to expect are:

  • Pastries
  • Cookies
  • Cakes
  • Various types of bread with jam and Nutella

Related: This Is What It's Like To Have coffee At A Kissaten, Japan's First Traditional Coffee Shop

What's Eaten For Breakfast During A Workday Or On The Go

Dining at a café for breakfast is a completely different experience than eating a continental breakfast or even having breakfast in an Italian home. Cafés in Italy serve a variety of things from pastries to multiple varieties of coffee, including the famed cappuccino that the country is the most famous for.

While many café offerings are sweet, they're often freshly made and there are always plenty to choose from. Of course, travelers will find baked goods such as Italian cookies - which are usually less sweet than those in other countries - along with croissants. Some popular café options include:

  • Cappuccino and other Italian coffee drinks
  • Brioscia: a brioche pastry (sweet bread) that's served with gelato
  • Cornetto, which is brioche served in Central Italy
  • Regular croissants
  • Croissants filled with jam, custard, and Nutella
  • Fresh juices such as orange
  • A selection of teas

Ordering Coffee In Italy

  • Caffé: A one-shot espresso that's served black with no milk or sugar.
  • Caffé Latte: One part espresso to two parts steamed milk, similar to a cappuccino.
  • Caffé Macchiato: Espresso that has a splash of milk (often served all day as opposed to just for breakfast).
  • Caffé Americano: Espresso that's diluted with hot water.
  • Cappuccino: Coffee that's equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam. Cappuccino is usually only served before or with breakfast, and rarely after.
  • Caffé Lungo: An espresso that's similar to Caffé Americano but with a simple splash of hot water to dilute it.

When ordering coffee - or, rather, espresso - in Italy, it's important to remember that coffee is a staple in this country. Italians drink it throughout the day and certain coffees are usually served during certain times of the day. Therefore, it would be quite unusual to order a cappuccino after lunch, or a boozy espresso drink for breakfast.

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