Italy,  Italy vs. USA,  Lifestyle,  USA

Breakfast Culture: America vs. Italy

Hi friends! I hope you’re doing well. We’re officially in Zona Gialla in Lombardia, which is a welcomed change from what we’ve been living with so far in 2021. In Italy, our country has been divided mainly into three color categories: Zona Gialla (Yellow), Arancione (Orange), and Rossa (Red). Zona Gialla, the best of the three options, means that movie theatres and live theatre can be open with 50% capacity, restaurants can be open until 10:00 pm with outdoor seating only, museums are open, and all schools are back in session in person. 

We’re still wearing masks and respecting social distancing, but with the new spring temperatures arriving in Milan these changes are truly a breath of fresh air. 

With the opening of outdoor restaurant seating here in Milan, I am most excited about going out for an American breakfast! Valentino and I usually pick one Sunday morning every few months to go to an American-style restaurant for breakfast as opposed to our regular cappuccino and brioche from the bar down the street. 

Before we go any further, I think I should introduce a vocabulary word that will be useful throughout this post. The word BAR has drastically different meanings between America and Italy. In Italy, a bar is a place to get coffee, brioche, cookies, paninis, and sometimes hot lunch. Aside from happy hour, it is not a place where you order alcohol. A bar in America is a place where you get alcohol only. 

So what are the main differences between Italian and American breakfasts? 

Italian breakfast usually consists of two items: a brioche/croissant and coffee. Now, it’s not as basic as it sounds. Brioche can come in a wide variety of flavors. My favorite is integrale con miele (whole wheat with honey), but I do love chocolate brioche as well. There are brioche with cream, pistacchio, cream and chocolate together, the list goes on.

When you go to a bakery that makes fresh cornetto or croissants, there is nothing more satisfying than the crispy, flaky outer melting away in your mouth to make way for the warm inside of your croissant. Washing that down with a warm cappuccino is literally the definition of delectable relaxation. 

I usually eat a brioche that I throw in the oven each morning for breakfast with a cappuccino from the machine at school (which, in case you were wondering, is absolutely nothing like a fresh cappuccino from a bar). 

There are times, however, when I really just crave a big, American breakfast. There are a few adorable places to go in Milan for an American breakfast where you can order anything from pancakes and waffles to oatmeal and yogurt parfaits. The joy I feel when I see hash browns and breakfast sausage on a menu is almost comical. Though I love a good brioche, I prefer a salty breakfast to a sweet one any day. Valentino is a sweet breakfast fan all the way. This combination helps immensely because whenever we do go out for American breakfast, I always order something salty- like a bagel with lox (a dead giveaway that I’m truly American). Valentino always orders pancakes (which I steal pieces of). 

I don’t think the question comes down to is salty or sweet breakfast better. I don’t even think it comes down to whether American or Italian breakfast is better. The biggest difference lies in the practice of eating breakfast between the two countries. Italian breakfast is quick, on-the-go. You gulp down a coffee while you eat a brioche standing at the bar so you can get to the next part of your day. A traditional American breakfast requires a table, a conversation, and time. Valentino always sighs at me when we go to the bar on Sundays as he says, “You want to sit and eat this at a table don’t you?”. I can’t get used to the rushed feeling of eating breakfast standing at the bar. 

Italians treasure dinner with many courses and a slow roll-out of food paired with wines and conversation. Americans, when they do make time for a full breakfast, cherish their morning time with friends or family. Going out to breakfast with friends or Valentino is one of my most favorite parts of the weekend whether in America or in Italy. 

What’s your breakfast preference? Are you feeling the Italian or American style more? Let me know! 

Lots of Love,


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