un cappuccino per favore

In Florence, The Art of Travel Fall 2014, Great good places by Ethan Kraft2 Comments

 It’s nine in the morning and exhaustion has set in. My plan for last night, the one where I did work and went to bed at a reasonable hour was thwarted when my roommates demanded that we go out to a new bar in Florence.  So its early, and I have a full day of class.  I know I won’t be getting back to my apartment until 8pm; the thought of being away from my bed for that long is unsettling.  The only thing on my mind is running to the cafe inside of Villa Ulivi on campus and ordering a large cappuccino.


There is something special about having a coffee shop inside of your school.  This cafe is very different from the Starbucks in Washington Square. The small size allows for a quick in and out coffee or snack break.  You aren’t waiting in a long line with caffeine addicted students who have poked their head out from their Bobst cubicle to satisfy their coffee craving.  Not to sound snobbish, but in Italy we try and savor our drinking experience.   Fernando, the barista, has become a regular in my life- he greets the students with a high five and huge smile.  Though the options are limited, what more do you really need?  Coffee and tea, bagels and pastries, fruit and yogurt.    


At a school renowned for its lack of community spirit and group involvement,  there is something to say about the way in which this small cafe can bring our entire study abroad program together.  Freshman and Seniors sit together, drinking coffee while taking a break from their classes.  The whole cafe is representative of the Florentine experience: the chatter of students studying in broken Italian, the sound of the steam enveloping from the espresso machine, and the smell of fresh hazelnut pastries warming up in the oven. There is nothing flashy about this space- it does not serve fancy coffees or imported teas. The barista is friendly, the prices are low, and the location is convenient. And in a setting as idilic as the NYU Florence campus,  a simple coffee shop is all we really need.   


  1. Hi Ethan! It sounds like Florence is a great study away site. The sense of community you have, especially in the cafe, seems really genuine and nice. The fact that the cafe is located conveniently on the campus must bring joy to all the students studying there. Unfortunately in DC we don’t have a quaint little coffee shop to get our caffeine fixes. There is a Dunkin’ Donuts two doors down but it doesn’t promote the same kind of community, it really just gives people their caffeine fix. I hope you continue to enjoy your time in Florence and look forward to reading more about your time there!

  2. Hi Ethan! Thanks for writing about coffee, this was really great! In Paris, we also have to same coffee culture where you would never ask to take a coffee to go, but rather you’re expected to sit and sip a single espresso for 15 minutes. Though sometimes I miss being able to get a cappuccino on the run from Oren’s, there’s just something so right about going to a cafe after class friends, or finishing off your evening meal with an espresso. Admittedly, France doesn’t know how to make coffee. I’ve discovered the hard way that France makes amazing bread and second-class coffee, while Italy makes to-die-for coffee and kind of meh bread. Too bad we can’t have the best of both worlds! To get a quality cappuccino in Paris, I have to go to the Finnish Cultural Institute, where their baristas are literally imported from Finland, otherwise when you order a cappuccino in France, you’ll receive a café allongé (espresso with twice the amount of water) with a dollop of stiff, whipped milk. It’s pretty gross.

    Anyway, I’m extremely envious that you guys have a cafe in your academic building! All we get is an instant-coffee machine. Enjoy!

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