1 Al bar
Il bar is a very important part of Italian life. There are an estimated 121,000 in Italy, usually open from early morning until late evening. The bar is more like a café than an English bar, a place where one can drop in for un caffè during the working day (the so-called pausa caffè) and have a chat with friends and colleagues. Customers often share opinions on a variety of subjects ranging from politics and football, to work, gossip, cinema and fashion.
The Italian bar is probably at its busiest first thing in the morning, when people grab a coffee and a cornetto (‘croissant’) at the counter. It is busy again at lunchtime when those not going home for lunch eat a sandwich or a snack. Finally, in the early evening (at the end of the working day) people drop in for an aperitivo before dinner. Some people might also come and have a drink or an ice cream later in the evening. Most bars, however basic, have small tables on the pavement outside where you can sit and watch the world go by.
Another role played by the bar is that of a corner shop. Most of them will sell you milk if you run out.
The bar-gelateria will sell you ice cream in polystyrene boxes (vaschette) to take home for a special occasion, while at the bar-pasticceria you can buy trays of pasticcini ('little cakes') or dolci such as tiramisu to take to friends’ homes if you are invited for a meal.
Think about bars and cafés in your country. When do people go to them and what for?