Early in the semester, a few of the Italian teachers held a small event to talk about the classic Italian bar (that being what they call a coffee shop). While this might sound like a simple topic at face value, the bar is an extremely important part of Italian life, and so much goes into it. Listening to them talk was both nostalgic and interesting to see how their views of coffee and bars differed from mine, even though we were talking about the same places.
One thing I know for absolutely certain is that Italians have caffeinated blood running though their veins. I’m also pretty sure that’s where they get their reputation for passion and energy from. It only makes sense that they don’t actually have blood; it’s just pure coffee, which they need to replenish as often as possible at the bar. Many of my days were spent lounging on a table in the street sipping an espresso with some friends while people languidly waltzed by, and based on how full they were at all times of the day, that’s how most Italians spend their days. Outside of church, there’s no more common meeting place than the local bar. Bars welcome families and people of all ages despite their name. Coffee can differ widely from place to place, but one thing that stays constant is the absolute reverence for the drink. There are a ton of different methods that Italians swear by for making coffee in a bar or at home and no one can quite decide on the best one. I think they argue just to argue because it all tastes great to me, but what would my uncultured American tongue know?
After talking about the culture surrounding bars, I got to sit and drink proper coffee with my Italian professors and chat about Italy. It was a cathartic experience for me. I’m surprised at just how many emotions I had when I saw the images of bars they had up, but I guess it makes sense in retrospect. Either way, I was very glad I had ended up going, because the talk was really just a series of happy memories for me, memories for which I am very thankful.