La vita inizia dopo il caffè. Life begins after coffee

Lauren Graziano*

Living in Italy for the past four months has taught me a number of new things, perhaps the greatest one being the importance of Italian coffee. Those who know me would know I am a dedicated drinker of tea. Green tea, black tea, white tea, iced tea, I like it all—and I wasn’t particularly fond of coffee. In fact, I didn’t really drink coffee at all unless I was exceptionally tired and in need of some extra help to stay awake. All of that has changed now. I still drink tea in the afternoons and evenings but in the mornings, Italy has transformed me into an avid coffee drinker.
Every morning in Viterbo, I roll out of bed and start my day with the most important part of breakfast—coffee. As I like to say, an espresso a day keeps the doctor away. My new love for Italian coffee has led me to become the proud owner of a Bialetti La Mokina. I suppose I owe it to my dear ginger friend and fellow Italian coffee lover, Ashlynn. I wouldn’t be enjoying Italian coffee in the first place or know how to make coffee with my little Bialetti if it weren’t for her. Granted, we fix our morning espresso a little differently. Hers consists of a single espresso with at least two spoonsful of sugar (I’m certain there is more sugar than coffee but some people like it sweet I suppose). My espresso is somewhat bitter with maybe half a spoonful of sugar but I like it that way. In all honesty, I’m not sure how I survived without Italian coffee for the first twenty years of my life. Now, it is a staple, an absolute necessity, and I don’t plan to start any morning without it for the rest of my life.
While I’m a devoted espresso fan, I am still warming up to the cappuccino. And I’ve come a long way. I look back on a trip we took to Berlin in February where I was accidentally served a cappuccino I hadn’t ordered while having breakfast. At the time, it was before my coffee loving days and I couldn’t be bothered to even drink the cappuccino. Now, I find myself going to the bar with my ginger friend specifically to enjoy a cappuccino before taking on the rest of the day. Just earlier this week we made our way to the new café, Gradi Café, at our university to sip on a cappuccino and finish Italian homework. As far as I’m concerned, Italian coffee is brilliant and I will miss enjoying it here in Italy—even the cappuccinos.
I have been incredibly blessed to experience so many new things in Italy. My time in Viterbo has been a period of countless discoveries—not only of coffee. I will look back fondly on walks down to the post office, morning and evening runs on my favorite Italian street with the loveliest villas, dinner with la mia famiglia italiana, nights in the kitchen cooking with our friend and chef Giovanni, early morning walks down to the train station to catch the train, late night walks home from the train station after exciting trips through Europe, learning Italian in the classroom, and, of course, morning coffee in my dear little Italian apartment that I call home. There are so many little things that have become such wonderful parts of my life and will be terribly hard to say goodbye to. I have had a marvelous little life during my short time here, full of good food, amazing memories, and the best people I could hope to find. Grazie, Italy for everything you have given me—especially for the coffee!


*Lauren Graziano è una studentessa americana USAC che studia all’Università della Tuscia per il primo semestre di questo anno scolastico. E’ cresciuta alle Hawaii, ma ora vive in Colorado e studia in una università nello Iowa, dove ritornerà il prossimo autunno, dopo il suo semestre a Viterbo. Ama viaggiare, leggere, scrivere e uscire fuori, sia che si tratti di escursioni, sci, nuoto o altre divertenti attività all’aperto.