Just to update you on my UPS delivery. On Friday I was told the man would phone me on Monday for a John Le Carre type handover today. Sure enough he phoned and we met on a rainy morning in the car park of our local hospital in Martina Franca. I will cover healthcare in anther post. I tapped on the door of a very battered white van and out he got. Amazingly he picked up from my Italian that I was the foreigner ( must practice more) and opened the back of the van to reveal a hundred of so packages. After finding mine he found the UPS reader from about 5 other various worldwide courier companies on his front seat and I signed. “Get a better phone” he said,” I could barely hear you and wasn’t sure if I would wait ” and with that the door closed and away he went.
I was going to rant a bit on this customer service but then found this amongst a host of others !
I reckon I did okay .
I was asked to expand a little on my visit to the bar for coffee and the etiquette involved for a first time visitor which I am happy to do. Each Italian drinks on average 600 cups a year and so it is big business and there are 130,000 coffee bars which serve coffee mainly in the morning and then alcohol at lunchtime and early evening as well as coffee for the post lunch and pre and post dinner crowd . Most bars in Puglia open early ( ours opens at 5a.m.) and close around 8-9 in the evening. Other more pub type bars take over then .
Whilst not a hard and fast rule you tend to go to the cash till first and place your order having made your mind up before hand what too have. There are a few easy choices, caffe corretto which is a small expresso with a dash of liquor in it ( usually but not exclusively drunk by workmen that are outside all day), caffe macchiato ( macchiato means stain in Italian) which is a dash of foamy milk in an expresso, Caffe lungo which is an expresso filled with hot milk, freddo which is obviously a chilled coffee, caffelatte which is a small measure of expresso with loads of milk and finally cappucino which is the famous one. Now Italians will tell you that you should only drink it in the morning preferably with a cornetto ( a croissant either plain or with a filling) and never after 11ish. That is fine but I happen to like cappucino and so order it all through the day. Nobody has ever got upset, I am clearly a foreigner given my accent and hey I am offering my euro to pay for it ! So you order and get your bill ( scontrino ) from the cash till and give it to often the same guy or girl who has dashed from the till to serve you. You will be asked if you want water and if you want fizzy or still. Fizzy is frizzante and still water seems to have a variety of different names though naturale is the one you use in a restaurant but not it seems in a bar (!) so either go for the easy word frizzante or point at the still water tap. Most people stand at the counter to drink and some places charge more to sit at a table but I have only found one of those in 3 years here. Most bars have a range of daily papers so you can practice reading Italian while you drink. Italians tend to treat the coffee stop like a Ferrari pit stop in Formula One motor racing,. They roar in, order, down in one and are out through the door again but don’t worry the bar owner is happy if you want to stand or sit there all day. One of my local bars in Villa Castelli has a lovely outdoor area that is a real sun trap however the old retired guys from the town who have been tossed out of the house to allow their wives to clean make a beeline for it every morning and sit in the sunshine until lunchtime depriving all the customers of its use but never ever buying anything. The owner has never asked them to move on.
A small bit of grammar : cappucino is singular drop the o and use i at the end when you order more than one. Also pronounce both vowels when there are two together in a word. Petty you might think but essential when you get to words like anno ( year) and ano (anus) don’t want to be wishing everyone a happy new backside over New Year do you !!