A recent study done by Altroconsumo, a consumer group in Italy, shows that sitting down for your morning cup of coffee and croissant is going to be more expensive in Rome and Venice. Take note that in Italy, most patrons take their morning coffee at the counter because it is cheaper. Italians tend to drink their coffee ‘short’ – that is a small cup of espresso and then bam…they’re on their way. Perhaps it’s the increased cost of taking a table that keeps many Italians from sitting to enjoy their morning cup of coffee? :)
In America where the coffee tends to be ‘longer’ – that is more coffee and more milk – we might be taken aback by the fast-paced morning routine that you are likely to find in my Italian cafes and bars. Since you’re on your vacation, you might be inclined to sip your coffee slowly, read the paper and munch on a croissant while you pass the morning hours, but just keep in mind that you’re going to pay more for your coffee and more for the service. Personally, I don’t find the price to be exorbitant, and it doesn’t bother me to sit down for an hour to have a coffee. Don’t be surprised to find your Italian friends reluctant to taking a table when it’s just as easy (and cheaper) to have your coffee at the counter!
Remember that a ‘bar’ in Italy mainly serves coffee, but you can often get an alcoholic beverage there too. A pub in Italy is the equivalent to what a bar in the US might be.