Donald MacInnes: Coughing up the price of Italian coffee is a real choker

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The Independent Online

In a thrilling first for this column, the words you are currently reading are being written some 35,000ft above… well, I'm not entirely sure where exactly. However, as we left Rome an hour ago, I would guess we are somewhere over Austria's strudel-strewn boulevards.

As promised a couple of weeks ago, I'm winging my way back to Blighted after our honeymoon in Italy, hoping that you haven't forgotten me and moved on to someone altogether more, well, literate and entertaining.

The budget airline with which we are flying (let's call it Not-As-Difficult-As-That- Airline-Run-By-The-Irish-Bloke… Jet) being as it is, I have been called upon to carry out the safety briefing for the other passengers. Thankfully, the tan I acquired during 10 days on the Amalfi Coast and in the Eternal City means my face is the same colour as a bottle of Orangina, so I merge well with my fellow cabin crew.

I will no doubt drip-feed you various bits and bobs from the aforementioned nuptial tour over the coming weeks (meaning I don't actually have to talk about anything, you know, too contemporary). And possibly the No 1 topic to which I shall no doubt be turning will be the price of a cup of Joe in some of the Italian capital's more pavementy cafés. We paid as much as €10 (about eight quid at today's exchange rate) for a cappuccino. Those are crazy prices! There were no more chilling moments during our balmy snog-fest than those times when we noticed that we were expected to cough up this kind of wedge for hot milk and 47 ground beans. "Cough up" is actually a fine choice of words, as we did just that the first couple of times we were stung for €20 for two coffees.

What made things worse was that we couldn't find anywhere to get a takeaway coffee, as places like Costa or Caffè Nero or wherever seemingly just don't exist in Italy. I don't know if it's a matter of pride for the Italians to only have sit-down, here's-your-waiter, grab-a-seat-by-the-gutter coffee emporia. Either way, when we finally (by that, I mean at the end of the trip) did find a place that would sell us a coffee to go, what made things worse was that it only cost us €2 each. The outrage we felt (having been spending €20 for two coffees for most of the trip) was the fact that this reasonably priced caffeinearium was situated ACROSS THE STREET from our hotel. Not even a street! A LANE! We could have ordered coffees from our room!

First lesson of marriage learned: always check out where you can buy cheap coffee.

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