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A Visit to the Old Country


By Steve Siciliano




Due birre alla spina media, per favore.

I never thought I’d be saying those words so often in Italy.

Translation: “Two medium draft beers, please.”

Barb and I drank a lot of wine during our recent Italian vacation but we were expecting to do that. Italy, after all, shares with France the title of largest wine producer in the world, and a good portion of our trip was spent in Tuscany where some of Italy’s most famous wines—Chianti, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Brunello di Montalcino—are produced. Each night we enjoyed wonderful meals that were enhanced by equally wonderful bottiglie of vino rosso. The fact that we would also enjoy bicchieri of drought Italian beer each afternoon was an unexpected but pleasant surprise.

We drank those icy cold glasses of Peroni or Moretti while sitting at the little outdoor cafes that are called bars in Italy. The bars are as ubiquitous in Italy as convenience stores and coffee shops are in the states. Besides offering alcoholic refreshments, the bars are where the Italians, and tourists, go for tiny cups of espresso, caffe machiatto and caffe latte. We certainly drank our share of caffeine in these establishments but we found too that a birre alla spina after hours of sight seeing in Rome and Florence or after exploring the magnificent Tuscan hill towns proved to be the perfect restorative.