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Here's What Breakfast In Italy Typically Looks Like

Coffee cups in Italy
Coffee cups in Italy - Eva-katalin/Getty Images

Go eat at a breakfast restaurant in the United States, and you'll likely see plates piled high with buttermilk pancakes and dishes filled with steaming eggs and potatoes. You might spot trays of fresh fruit and bowls filled with elaborate parfaits and will usually see everything from savory meat dishes to sweet confections. While hearty platters of sausage alongside well-topped waffles may be common in America, they aren't necessarily the norm in other parts of the world.

In Italy, breakfast is usually a small meal of mostly sweet foods, like pastries. Sweet dishes are accompanied by an Italian staple — coffee. These meals are eaten quickly and thought of mostly as a jump start to the day instead of a full meal, so they are small and light compared to most Italian feasts. While eating breakfast at home is common, Italians also eat breakfast at an unlikely spot — the neighborhood bar. These nightlife hotspots transform into breakfast counters during the morning hours so Italians can stop in and grab a quick bite on their way to work.

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Coffee And Sweets

Coffee and pastries
Coffee and pastries - Masci91/Getty Images

It will come as no surprise that the culture that invented espresso includes a cup of coffee at breakfast. Typically, Italians will drink either a cappuccino — a frothy concoction of milk and coffee — or an espresso. While coffee is wildly popular, it is not served in large quantities. Espresso is commonly served in a small glass called a demitasse, and cappuccinos aren't much larger.

Alongside a morning brew, Italian breakfasts almost always include something sweet. The most common morsel is a pastry that resembles a croissant called a cornetto. Like a croissant, cornetti are in the shape of a horn and are wrapped in layers of buttery flakes. Unlike croissants, cornetto dough is made with eggs and the final product is a bit sweeter than the French pastry. Cornetti can be served plain or with sweet fillings, like jam and chocolate.

Italian breakfasts might sound overly sweet, but they come in small servings. In many cases, an entire breakfast will consist of an espresso and a single pastry. Italians think of breakfast as a way to kick off the morning and tide them over until lunch, their largest meal of the day.

Regional Traditions

Breakfast granita
Breakfast granita - Lomb/Shutterstock

As a country, Italy is built on different regions that retain their own unique culture and character. When it comes to food, many regions offer their specialty breakfast dishes. On the streets of Rome, breakfast is dominated by maritozzi con la panna, a breakfast confection made from a sweet roll filled with decadent amounts of thick, whipped cream. The rolls are finished with a light dusting of powdered sugar and served alongside morning coffee.

In southern Italy, sfogliatelle is quite popular. These pastries — sometimes called lobster tail in the U.S. — are shaped like shells and contain a rich, creamy filling often made with ricotta. If those aren't quite rich enough for your sweet tooth, you can travel to the island of Sicily, where ice cream (yes, ice cream!) is sometimes eaten for breakfast. Granita, a creamy blend of water, sugar, and fruit, is served in a bowl alongside a sweet brioche and a cup of coffee. Granita comes in different flavors, from fruit varieties like lemon and strawberry to sweet staples like chocolate. If you dream of kicking your day off with these sweet Italian breakfast foods but find yourself far from the borders of Italy, you can always check out the best Italian bakeries in your state.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.