Before my first trip to Italy, I read a lot of articles: how to order food, how to be polite, and so on. From many textbooks and blogs I also learned that under any circumstances, even if you are dying from thirst and hunger, you should never ever order a cappuccino after 11 am! Otherwise the barista will drop dead from the offense and all the other customers will point their accusatory fingers at you and scream in horror: "Foreigner!".
So the first few days I meticulously checked my watch before ordering any coffee based drink, while asking myself why bother at all. If the barista is not deaf, he would definitely pick up from my accent that I am not local. And if he is deaf, what's the point of talking to him anyway?
But then one day it happened: I was walking around Genoa with my friend Mila since early morning. We were getting hungry and tired, and ended up in small cafe with brunch on our minds. I asked for a farinata and two cappuccinos, when I suddenly realized it was already 11:30. I shut my eyes in horror, expecting to hear a loud "thump" from the barista's fallen unconscious body. After no such sound came, I carefully opened one eye and looked over the counter. He was steaming the milk as if nothing happened.
'Wow! This man must have nerves of steel', I said to Mila. She looked at me and I recognized that adventurous spark in her eyes. 'Let's test other places!' she suggested. And so we did. We offered ourselves to the altar of science. That's the dark side of having a background in science...
As an experiment, we had two cappuccinos at 2 pm, gulped another couple at 4 pm, shared one at 7 pm... None of the baristas had so much as blinked! By evening we were trembling from all the caffeine streaming through our veins. In the morning, we entered our hotel’s breakfast hall and when asked: ‘What would you like to drink?’, answered in unison: ‘Milk, no coffee, please!’
And that's how we learned that Genoa's baristas can't be taken down so easily!