While the food of Calabria ranges from super spicy peppers, to fresh fruit and vegetables to meat, seafood and pasta, the breakfast food is sweet and simple. While it is true Italians eat pancetta–and they love a good frittata-they’ll probably scoff if you offer them for breakfast.
In fact, one of my young neighbors asked me once about a typical American breakfast.
“Bacon?” She exclaimed! “… and eggs?!? Non! Non ho capito … cosa mangiate?!?”
She was slightly disgusted by the thought of meat and eggs in the morning-until she tried it on vacation in Berlin, but that’s another story, I suppose-and couldn’t understand why anyone would want such heavy food for breakfast.
So, if you are heading to Calabria, here’s the what, when and where of eating a Calabrian breakfast.
What to Eat
Like other places in Italy, a Calabrian breakfast is usually little more than a cornetto with caffè or cappuccino … but that by no means, makes it boring. There are dozens of varieties of cornetti, or croissants, that vary from plain to those filled with cream, Nutella, hazelnut and even an assortment of fruit flavors, such as peach, apple or pear. There are also light pastries that are filled with lemon cream, apples or my personal favorite, black cherries, as well as the brioche, a type of sweet bread.
Contrary to what some might think, Calabrians don’t typically eat fruit for breakfast. However, one of my favorite summer breakfast meals is figs and homemade bread, which is apparently an exception … at least in Catanzaro.
Sometimes Calabrians will also have fruit juice, usually pear, peach or apricot. They very rarely drink that good ‘ole American fruit beverage of choice … OJ.
Where To Eat It
I know some Calabrians who have breakfast at the bar every single morning. Others prefer to take their morning coffee at home and either munch on light cookies or store-bought croissants.
If you are traveling to Calabria for vacation, your hotel or B&B will likely include breakfast in your nightly rate-and if you are staying at a resort hotel, they might even throw in those bacon and eggs. However, I suggest you skip breakfast at your hotel at least once and head into a local bar for a real Calabrian breakfast experience.
How To Eat It
Some of my favorite bars around Catanzaro have little or no indoor seating and in fact, it was one of the first things I noticed when I visited southern Italy. However, if you do break away from your B&B one morning, you’ll understand that bars don’t have many tables, because Calabrians don’t sit. They order their coffee and cornetto and eat it while standing at the bar, usually taking no more than a few minutes for their whole meal.
Depending on the type of cornetto or brioche they ordered, they might also dip it into their cappuccino … so dip at leisure.
A few hours later, typically after 10:00 AM or so, most Calabrians will have a mid-morning snack, usually a panino or in some cases, especially for those old-timers back in the historical center of Catanzaro … morzello and pitta bread.
What is your favorite part of an Italian breakfast? What kind of pastry do you prefer?
Traveling to southern Italy? Why not sign up for my newsletter to get even more inside information on living and traveling in Italy.