Return trip to Italy: You can recapture travel magic

Oct 06, 2017 776

BY: Jeanne Bonner

I was at the counter of a tony café in Turin when I had a moment. Looking around the elegant coffee bar, I felt swaddled in Italian opulence -- and immersed in Italy. The woman next to me was warning the barman about cold drinks. As an Italophile, I recognized the conversation as one that could only happen in Italy. The perceived danger of something relatively benign such as consuming a cold drink is a thoroughly Italian concern.

My plan in Turin was to conduct a personal pastry tour. That meant multiple breakfasts -- my regular ciambellina (a doughnut-like pastry) and something new. Gluttonous? Maybe. But I was in Italy, and I was revisiting a lengthy list of old habits. So I savored my ciambellina at the Baratti & Milano café while the barista, dressed in a bespoke vest, chatted with the signora as if his livelihood depended on it. Probably because for him, it did. The unwritten job description of an Italian barista pivots heavily on engaging customers in a sincere way -- befriending them, even if only momentarily.

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