First coffee after winter

Early morning light filters in through the shutters and the household begins to stir. The villages in the sleepy foothills just beyond Florence are still quiet. Outside only the rustling of leaves and distant birdsong break the silence. Life here takes on a different rhythm in spring as streets, which have been quiet during the colder months, reignite with activity. A gradual bustle of activity and the aroma of freshly ground beans begins to fill the warm kitchen air and the stovetop pot bubbles, producing a rich, dark espresso that signals a familiar prelude to the day. 

The air outside is crisp but refreshing. Although the sun rises slowly, the light, which casts a gentle glow through the trees and over the rolling olive groves feels reassuring. Amongst family and friends we set to work early in the garden and vineyard, checking on the crops and gathering fresh herbs and vegetables for the meals in the day ahead. Later we gather at a small table, prepared alfresco in the dappled shade of the trees and climbing vines.

The first cup of coffee enjoyed outside after the long winter is really a marvel in miniature. Served in a small, thick-walled cup, the potent shot brewed to perfection is bold, yet remarkably smooth. Here, the focus is about enjoying the intense flavor and the quality, not quantity. This ritual gathering for coffee is an entirely social, unhurried pleasure and a cherished time of connection in the changing season. 

As the pace of life quickens, the coffee ritual continues to punctuate the day. Our roaming in the local town is marked by a brief pause when, in the post-lunch tradition, we join our friends in the coffee bar. In Italy, ordering coffee is an art in itself. The options are simple yet precise: an espresso, rich and intense; a macchiato, marked with a touch of milk; or perhaps a lungo, a longer pour for those who want a slightly milder taste. As conversation flows easily, an elderly gentleman eases back with a newspaper, a young professional finds a quiet corner to disconnect, while tourists marvel at the experience and it really is an experience; one which Italians take seriously - often visiting their favorite coffee bar multiple times a day to enjoy this cherished drink.Streets and piazzas, quiet and subdued during the winter months, are now alive with activity in the town.  Fresh produce, flowers, and handmade goods spill out on to the pavements as the markets offer up the very best of the new season.

The customary coffee tradition encapsulates the essence of Italian culture. It is a reminder to slow down, savor each sip and appreciate the moments that unfold in the company of good coffee and good people.

Roaming With RUSKIN in the foothills of Florence

Bags we roamed with: Elvet in Cognac and the Petite Camille in Chocolate

Imagery: ceciliaavolpi_ph