When you walk in the streets of Rome, it’s obvious you are in Italy. There are lots of places to get a good (and I mean GOOD!) cup of coffee. If you are like me and you need that dose of Caffeine in the morning then you’ll be confronted by a particular problem: you won’t like the coffee at home anymore when you return. It’s an interesting problem that happened to me with Tapas in Spain as well.
So, when you get up you are of course perfectly fine in your hotel. Most will serve a breakfast that you’ll need to pay for, or it might even be included in your room price. But if you have a choice, I would suggest you find a hotel that doesn’t include the breakfast. There are plenty of places you can get something to eat for breakfast and they are (mostly) reasonably priced.
First things first: Italians don’t eat a heavy breakfast. It’s often a light pastry and a coffee. So if you want something more heavy, then you’ll have to look for it or order something from the lunch menu. Coffee places and restaurants in Rome are used to having tourists as guests so they’ll probably be happy to help you.
Where you should go
If you are willing to go Roman, then I would suggest you find a coffee place that has a standing bar and some filled ‘cornetti‘. These pastries are obviously not croissants. I know they look like it, but no Italian will allow you to call it a croissant.
Most coffee places in Rome work with a particular system where you order at a cash register, get a receipt and then you walk over to the standing bar and hand over the receipt to the barista/cook.
However, going into a local place also can be overwhelming at first. Personally I would recommend going into a local place but I am not above popping into a McDonalds for coffee and cornetti just for the convenience. Especially in Rome things can be hectic and a place where you already know the system, might just punch your ticket and that is perfectly fine.
Sitting down for coffee will cost you
Sitting down is usually more expensive than standing at the bar, especially when you are getting table service. This is something you should be aware of as a visitor: if you sit down at a coffee place in the city center, prices for a coffee might be outrageous. If you drink them at the bar at the same place, the prices are actually quite good. So don’t get caught drinking a 5 or 6 euro capuccino and check the prices before you sit down.
Amazingly there are some places where you expect to pay a premium but don’t. The Vatican Museums was one of these places. At the time of writing, the museums demand a premium but nothing crazy. But prices can change so check before you order.
Having said this, even when you just order from a food truck, you might be getting the raw end of the breakfast deal in Rome. Please, please, please check the prices before you order. Especially food trucks that carry mostly pre-packaged food and are near tourist area’s will be way more expensive than you should be willing to pay.
Beware of the ‘Tripadvisor’-logo
Some restaurants will have a Tripadvisor-logo on the window, don’t trust those as a mark of quality. Just don’t. This is more of a concern for restaurants than coffee places, but I’ve had some god awful food in places that were ‘recommended’ by Tripadvisor or some other organization that hands out stickers to put on your restaurant door.
Just take a look around the streets near your hotel where you see a bunch of locals. That’s usually a safe bet. And with coffee bars, it’s usually you and the Italians at the bar. I have a strong sense a lot of tourists still just want the convenience of a hotel breakfast.