What’s Happening in Italy?

Oh a lot, amici miei.

Let’s start from the most serious and head down to the downright silly:

(1) Italian Premier Romano Prodi has called for a worldwide moratorium on the death penalty in front of the United Nations General Assembly. Without getting into a huge political debate (although you’re welcome to do so in the comments!), I’m firmly against the death penalty, and I’m molto fiera that Italy has stood up against it in the UN.

Of course the United States will be one of the key opponents of the moratorium, but Italian Foreign Minister Massimo D’Alema thinks it has a good shot at passing since public opinion has shifted over the years in favor of outlawing the death penalty. Time will tell, but I’m just happy that the discussion is on the floor and that Italy is in the forefront.

(2) This isn’t technically in Italy, but we’ll get there in a second. The Vatican City State has a new stamp–and not just any new stamp. This time the saint is from Calabria! Yeah! Go San Francesco di Paola!

For those who aren’t up on Roman Catholic saints, Calabria’s own Saint Francis is often overshadowed by Saint Francis of Assisi, the co-Patron Saint of Italy with Saint Catherine of Siena (although there is some debate on that, with Saint Joseph (father of Jesus) as the other contender). Anyway, it’s nice to see *our* Saint Francis, the Patron Saint of Calabria, being recognized.

Here’s a preview:

st francis di paola

(3) And finally, guess who’s invading the Bel Paese? You’ll never guess. Or maybe you will. Give up?

the evil empire...kidding (kind of)This ABC article is actually from April 30 of this year. Scary thing is that the article talks about the time frame of 24-36 months during which Starbucks plans to open branches in France, Germany, Spain, and (gulp) Italy.

Which means we’re *that* much closer to no more of this in the morning:

cappuccino from image chefYeah right.

So now that I’ve touched on politics, religion, and coffee–three subjects guaranteed to get any Italian fired up (only calcio is missing!)–I’ll leave you to your Saturday.

Hope it’s as gorgeous as ours is here!

35 Beans of Wisdom to “What’s Happening in Italy?”
  1. Laurie

    There is also an opera, “Dead Man Walking”, composed by Jake Heggie. It’s quite an amazing piece of work, and the time seems so right for an italian premiere. I keep hoping someone will produce it over here.

  2. sognatrice

    I had no idea! Thanks for that Laurie–it would be absolutely wonderful to see it in Italy, and, as you say, it seems the time is right.

    Here’s more info on the opera Dead Man Walking for those interested.

  3. somepinkflowers




    say it ain’t so……………

  4. Caroline in Rome

    Well, there are already at least 20 Starbucks in the city of Paris alone and I love having the choice between smoke-free, gemuetlich but too American, sofa-laden, Starbucks and the charming but smoke-filled, brasserie (whose food is always stale). It’s a trade-off. But when the Bambina was a baby, Starbucks was wonderful for getting together with other mommies with small babies!

    The Frenchman, on the other hand, hates Starbucks because he considers that it is “an import from a 200-year old still-Barbarian (but progressing towards civilized) country into the cradle of civilization”.

    But Starbucks in Rome?? Can’t see it. Who would go? I guess American tourists. That would probably give it enough business.

  5. alexmom

    With our 6 hour time difference, I just finished reading the Google-Italy account of Starbucks going to Italy. Che peccato! I wish everyone would just *let Italy be Italy*.
    It’s a gorgeous day here too!!!

  6. Kataroma

    OMG -Starbucks here???!!!

    Well, they already have Starbucks in France so I guess why not Italy.

  7. Linda

    I’m a huge Starbuck’s fan over here in the states but think it’s horrid for them to be in Italy.

    As the previous comment said, “let Italy be Italy”.

    Our mornings are georgous here, still a little warm during the day in sunny AZ.

  8. SUEB0B

    Killing people and crappy espresso! Those are our rights! God bless Amurica!

  9. sognatrice

    SPF, it does seem so unfortunately πŸ™

    Caroline, I think there is something to be said of the more “American” style cafΓ© culture–sitting around and hanging out for hours. But in Italy now, everything is smoke-free (or at least it’s supposed to be), so that shouldn’t factor in….

    Alexmom, yeah! Let Italy be Italy! Viva l’Italia!

    Kataroma, I have a feeling that it would work kind of like the McDonald’s invasion; start in cities, subside on tourists until the locals start getting intrigued by the “oooh–American”ness of it all, then slowly make way into smaller towns and market to the younger crowd. Could definitely work…although messing with espresso *is* risky πŸ˜‰

    Linda, glad to hear your mornings are treating you well–and hopefully you love those warm days too πŸ™‚

    Sueb0b, hah! Viva l’America!

  10. Confessions of Cleopantha

    Starbucks in the land of expresso?? There is something seriously wrong with the vision of Italians walking around gulping coffee from a paper cup.
    l trust that your enjoying your lovely weekend weather. It has been freezing here today.

  11. flutter

    I am pretty sure there is no way it is as gorgeous here, as it is there.

    Just sayin’.

  12. Jeni

    Death penalty, the UN, the US? Heady subject matter there. Sometimes, when I hear of a really, REALLY heinous crime, I think now there’s one that calls for the death penalty but then I usually turn it around to but, that would actually be too kind to the perpetrator. But overall, I’m opposed to the death penalty mainly on the basis that it is, well, just to final if perhaps, by a twist of fate, the person actually turned out to be not guilty but after having been executed. Where do you get justice from that then. I’d rather see people locked up for life, than executed because I tend to think that puts all of us then into the same category as those committing the crimes in the first place.

  13. Farfallina

    Starbucks in Italy?? No!

    Well Michelle, I agree entirely with your feelings on the death penalty, and the Vatican stamp is classy!
    …but Starbucks??

    Italy has good (and cheaper) coffee. I somehow can’t picture Italians in a Starbucks.

    “Un Moka Venti, per favore” “Subito!”
    and walking out with a huge cup of coffee to work? Hmmm. No. Can’t picture it. Sorry.

  14. Enza

    Starbucks! GASP!! next you will be having an Olive Garden on every corner!;)

  15. Kaffeebohne

    Maybe you can go on strike against Starbucks like the pasta strike.
    But who wants to drink flavoured coffee at Starbucks when he can have an original cafΓ© at his/her favourite bar having a chat with the barista?

  16. Sara

    Wow. I am surprised there is a market for Starbuck’s in Italy. So, will it have to translate all its fake Italian brandspeak into fake English in order to appeal to that market?

    So with you re death penalty; not much more to say, except it’s the only political argument I ended up getting into at that wedding reception I was dreading. And of course I got into it with my brother. Well, actually, I didn’t; I stuck with the plan and bit my tongue. I actually made a rude gesture out of it. I stuck my tongue out and then visibly bit it as though I were going to bite it in half. Kind of hard to describe, I now realize. My stepmother gave me a very odd look when I was doing it, though, and that just made me want to do it more.

    Yes, I am five years old.

    Is that personalized cappuccino real, or graphically enhanced?

  17. qualcosa di bello

    well, this american tourist in roma etc. will *not* be gettin’ her caffe in a starbucks…

    can’t see how that will fly…

    thanks for the nod to the book review!

  18. nyc/caribbean ragazza

    I am also against the death penalty. There are just too many instances where innocent people who cannot afford the best legal advice find themselves convicted of a crime and those who are wealthy and people know they are quilty get off or a have hung jury (pretty much any celeb in L.A.)

    This Starbucks thing is crazy! I have several sentences in the novel where expats and Italians react to the news that Starbucks is coming. Hello, I write fiction.

    Must we try to take over everything? I fear it will happen. They are a huge corporation who will pay whatever outrageous amount for rent. Which landlord will be able to resist a chance to make a big chunk of money? I hope the locals revolt. Seriously. The Starbucks culture is completely different to Italy’s coffee culture.

    In fact the founder of Starbucks said he was “inspired” by the coffee bars of Italy. The Sopranos had a hilarious rant by Paulie Walnuts in the middle of a Starbucks-type place about how folks (he actually used a more colorful word) ripped off the Italians and with them they wouldn’t have “bleep” to eat.

    I agree with the other posters. Starbucks will probably make money. You know many tourists will be happy to find “real” coffee like back home. ugh!

  19. Gil

    Boycott starbucks just like they did in Portland, Maine a few years back. Just what you need €5 coffee!

  20. Anonymous

    I was studying in Rome when the 1st Mickey D’s opened in Piazza di Spagna. Many famous stars staged a free spaghettata in protest. But it’s still there.

    Good luck fighting Starbucks.

  21. susan

    It’s bad enough that Starbucks has saturated the US (not that I would be willing to give up my fix) but in the most romantic cities in the world? That just seems so wrong…

  22. Bonggamom

    I’m against the death penalty as well, and sometimes I find it hard to believe that there are people who passionately speak out for the “right to life” with respect to abortion, yet will condemn a man to death without blinking. If you’re going to be pro-life, at least be consistent!

  23. sognatrice

    Cleopantha, yeah, it’s the paper cup that gets me too….

    Flutter, aw, come on–I bet it’s close though!

    Jeni, your last line basically sums up how I feel. Or, put another way, killing is wrong no matter who does it.

    Farfallina, yes an odd sight to be sure! I’m really imagining all thos young kids who already have all the designer clothes, phones, scooters, etc…what’s left but a 5 euro coffee?

    Enza, the horror! Don’t joke about things like that!

    Kaffebohne, a strike just may happen (we love them here!), although as someone else mentioned, it didn’t do much against McD’s.

    What might be interesting is that if some of the bars take some of the ideas of Starbucks (flavors and whatnot) and start offering them in competition…but cheaper and in a more traditional way. Hmm….

    Sara, you make an excellent point about the Italian/English thing. I’m wondering if we’re going to have to start saying “mah-kee-AHT-o” emphasizing all of the syllables instead of the Italian pronunciation, which is much smoother (mah-KYAT-o).

    And I could picture your tongue-biting perfectly. Brava for the description and the action πŸ˜‰

    The cappuccino is most certainly digitally enhanced (but wouldn’t you love to meet the barista that could do that?!). If you click on the image, it’ll take you to Image Chef–fun site.

    Qualcosa, how did I know you wouldn’t be taking your coffee at Starbucks? My pleasure to include the review. Had me thinking!

    NYC, completely agree on the death penalty; when you look at how it’s administered, or even sought by district attorneys, it becomes clear really quickly that race and economic background have a lot to do with it.

    As for Starbucks, look at you ahead of the times! I think I’ll look for that Sopranos clip on YouTube πŸ˜‰

    Gil, you’re very right about the 5 euro coffee. I mean, um, people down here pay 60 cents right now. Hello?!

    Anonymous, I’m afraid you’re right to doubt the effectiveness of any protest. As NYC said above, money talks.

    Susan, agreed (with the second half…I’ve never had a Starbucks coffee so I didn’t have any fix to give up).

    Bonggamom, the old “Wait and kill ’em when they’re older!” thing. I completely agree with you.

  24. Wanderlust Scarlett

    Haven’t seen Dead Man Walking, but heard it was great.

    Love your stamp, that’s so COOL!!
    Is it in a denomenation that you use often? Or will it only be for special expensive stuff?

    Hey did you get that camera yet?
    I’m aching for photos.

    And… Starbucks is going to Europe? Why am I not surprised. I am sickened though. Perhaps they won’t make it as far as Calabria hmm? We hope? I like Starbucks in little quantities… and they haven’t been little in a decade. Boo.

    Scarlett & Viaggiatore

  25. Leanne

    I am not surprised Starbucks is coming to Italy, and I think it will thrive in places like Rome etc.. I work in the tourist trade (well just with poms a.k.a people from the UK) and they do not really like our italian coffee. They are always too cool, or strong or there is not enough milk…I will be here forever if I state all the reasons they dislike the coffee.

    Sad but true. I must also admit to liking the Starbucks ice coffee. Is this wrong?

  26. sognatrice

    Scarlett, unfortunately I won’t be buying and using the stamp unless I go to the Vatican City State–it’s not an Italian stamp πŸ™

    No camera yet, so double πŸ™

    As for Starbucks in Calabria, I’m thinking it’ll take a while, and it’ll probably go right next to the McD’s in our “mall.”

    Leanne, don’t worry, there’s nothing wrong with owning your like for Starbucks…we all have our guilty pleasures πŸ˜‰

  27. Sara, Ms Adventures in Italy

    Michelle, there is a “Starbucks in Milano” group on Facebook…and in August they got a response from Starbucks about coming to Italy…

    Thank you for your email. We are interested in the Italian market However, at this time we do not have a specific timetable for entry.
    Please feel free to reach out to me at any time regarding our progress.


    Edna Sawyer
    international business development
    Starbucks Coffee Company”.

    I don’t think we need a Starbucks in Italy. I enjoy paying only 1 euro for a great caffe’!

  28. sognatrice

    Sara, so you mean there is an organized group that actually is asking Starbucks to come here? Wow.

  29. american girl in italy

    As a fan of Starbucks I have to admit I would be kind of excited if they came here. However, since I don’t work, and walk around downtown Seattle anymore, I am not sure how often I would frequent a Starbucks.

    However, I don’t really think of Starbucks as a competitor to the caffe here. The coffee bars in Italy offer espresso, cappuccinos and macchiatos.

    Starbucks offers sweet, dessert type drinks, frosty blended drinks, chai teas, flavored teas, iced beverages, fruit blended drinks, and delicious breads, rolls, cakes, and sandwiches.

    I mean, you don’t really go to Starbucks for an espresso…. You go for a $5 venti, iced, non-fat, no whip, vanilla chai tea latte, to go, or a triple mocha latte, with whip and a slice of soft gingerbread.

    I can see room in Italy for both. But again, that is jsut me, cuz I love me some Starbucks! Plus, they are a great place to sit and relax, and use the restroom, when you are traveling. They are comfy, and clean, and have real toilets. haha They about saved my life (my feet) in London.

  30. sognatrice

    Sara, I think you’re right that they’d be catering to a different crowd–in my opinion, besides tourists and expats (!), it’d be the younger, like-all-things-American kind of people with disposable income (i.e., live with their parents)…starting out in cities and then spreading, much like McD’s did. I don’t think it’d ever replace the quick shots of espresso, but it really wouldn’t have to in order to be successful.

    For your sake, I do hope you get to see Starbucks up your way someday πŸ™‚

  31. Jen

    Again, fascinating stuff, and I’m so grateful for your blog. I had the cold from &^%$ last week, so I got behind on reading.

    I agree wholeheartedly on the death penalty and yeah for Italia for taking action! I wish the U.N. had more teeth.

    And starbucks just makes me sick. Especially in a country where coffee has long been an art form.

  32. sognatrice

    Jen, glad to keep you posted, and I do hope you’re feeling much better!

  33. My Melange

    I saw Starbucks all over Paris…and it was busy there! My French friend frequents it…and really likes it! It wouldn’t be my first stop….but I do like them here in the US. Consistently a good cup EVERY time πŸ˜‰

  34. sognatrice

    Robin, well there definitely *is* something to be said for consistency, and that’s definitely what my goal has been in my choice of bars (coffee shops) around here. Some just don’t like to heat my milk enough even when I ask nicely πŸ™

  1. Pingback: What’s Happening in Italy – 2010 – Sandy S Zoo « www.cottoncandycloud.org
    [...] months during which Starbucks plans to open branches in France, Germany, Spain, and (gulp) Italy. http:...
Michelle KaminskyMichelle Kaminsky is an American attorney-turned-freelance writer who lived in her family's ancestral village in Calabria, Italy for 15 years. This blog is now archived. 

Calabria Guidebook

Calabria travel guide by Michelle Fabio



Homemade apple butter
Green beans, potatoes, and pancetta
Glazed Apple Oatmeal Cinnamon Muffins
Pasta with snails alla calabrese
Onion, Oregano, and Thyme Focaccia
Oatmeal Banana Craisin Muffins
Prosciutto wrapped watermelon with bel paese cheese
Fried eggs with red onion and cheese
Calabrian sausage and fava beans
Ricotta Pound Cake