The Caffe della Stampa is one of the cafes in Brescia’s main Piazza della Loggia. If the walls look unusual that is because centuries ago they were faced with the ancient Roman slabs that had covered the floor of the piazza. It was thought a good way to preserve them.
At five o’clock or so everyone in Italy stops what they are doing and has a Campari spritz. Or an Aperol spritz. Something bitter and frankly on the verge of undrinkable. And for some reason drinks at this time of day are accompanied by a platter of food which is brought just for you. How can poor Italian cafes make a living if they are giving away free food? I guess they have taken it into account in their prices. Nevertheless it is a pleasant surprise for the English traveller who has forgotten about the tradition. It started in Milan and you should find it all over northern Italy.
At the Cafe della Stampa I ordered a Campari Spritz and received popcorn, my drink and a plate of pizza and other unexpectities*. I took a picture of the bowl of popcorn, but frankly everyone has seen popcorn before. So here is the platter of food. Ham and salami on thinly sliced ciabatta, Margherita pizza, biscuits, olives and gherkins. And a lonely piece of cheese that looked like a typical bit of Cheddar but had a kick that wasn’t made in Somerset.
This was to go with the Campari Spritz. If you have never tried Campari then I cannot say Rush out, try it, you’ll wonder why you haven’t been drinking it all your life. It would be misrepresenting it to merely say it is an acquired taste. I think you should really have been brought up on Campari to like it. Otherwise you really have to put the hours in. Day after day of sipping away at the orange liquid. You can make it if you really commit to it. I used to say No thank you very much when offered a Campari, but now I actively enjoy it. Well, enjoy might be a step too far. It’s one of those drinks that you keep coming back to just to check how unusual it is.
Once you have your drinks and snacks, all you have to do is drink and nibble and watch the passagiata taking place in the piazza. Enjoy!
*Many people have pointed out that unexpectities is not a word. To which I reply, not yet. English is evolving and unexpectities will soon be in the OED. To find new words in the dictionary is one of the great unexpectities of life.