Rome Travel Guide

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Friday, July 6, 2018

Caffe' Natalizi

via Po.  At right, what was our coffee bar a year ago,
now being remodeled for a dress shop.
The most extraordinary aspect of this photo is that only one vehicle is parked in the crosswalk.  At right, the woman in
pink has just exited the caffe' and is giving the black man, who has a cap out, some change.

We lived in the Salario neighborhood, not far from Villa Borghese, for about a month, and this was our coffee bar.  Caffe' Natalizi is on Salario's main drag, via Po. It's old style rather than trendy modern; the baristas (most of them large men, usually working two at a time) wear black shirts or jackets.  The heavy glass, circular counter has seen so many cups of coffee that it's almost white with scratches.

It's both a coffee bar and a pasticceria (bakery), which means that the cornetti (croissant, brioche, sweet rolls, pastries) are fresh and, in this case, extraordinary--not only warm and delicious but large enough that we could purchase only one and divide it (with the spoon that always comes with coffee).  On the saucer was a piece of wrapped chocolate.

Not a lot of counter space, and the place could get
very crowded.  But service was excellent, and most
Italians drink and go.  
We always ordered the same thing--due cafe' Americani (2 American coffees), un cornetto (price E3, about $3.50; some bars charge up to an additional 50 centesimi for American coffee--we don't return to such places). 

After about a week, the woman at the cassa (cash register, where you place your order and pay) knew the order and said simply, "il solito?" (the usual?) and a barista would begin making our American coffees when we walked in the door.

It's customary to place your receipt (scontrino) on the bar with a tip (mancia) of 10 centesimi (12 cents) for each coffee, and we did that.

Outside, every day, a black man, likely Nigerian, and not necessarily the same man every day, held out a cap, asking for money (the man at the right of the photo at the top).  We usually gave him 50 centesimi (about 60 cents) on our way out.  Because immigrants without their legal status (usually waiting for their legal status to be determined) are not allowed to work for wages, some beg in front of bars and grocery stores or, along via Po and many other Rome streets, sweep a portion of the sidewalk while soliciting contributions.  The woman in the top photo has just exited the bar and is giving the man some change.


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