Anyone who follows my twitter feed will know that I enjoy the occasional coffee break.
Like many football fans of my generation, I grew up watching Gazzetta Football Italia on a Saturday morning. I wasn't so keen on the football itself, but loved watching smooth-talking host James Richardson pore over the exotic Italian papers from some sun-drenched piazza, usually with an extravagant gelato in front of him. Although I tend to avoid the sun-drenched piazzas (too expensive for my tastes), I do love reading the Italian papers with a decent splash of coffee.
While the health benefits of drinking coffee are well documented, my coffee breaks are of course more than simply medicinal. Italian bars are a great place to hang out (although Italians tend not to), catch up with the news, exchange small talk about the football or simply just enjoy the perfect coffee.
My tastes have Italianised over the years and I no longer drink caffè latte or cappuccino. In fact my tipple of choice in these cold winter months is currently a piping hot Americano (shot of expresso + boiling water). After lunch I'll have a caffè liscio - a straight espresso and then perhaps another Americano in the afternoon.
It only takes a couple of trips to the same bar for you to be accepted as a regular. If you go to the same place at the same time every day you'll probably get to know some of the locals as well. In fact, I still occasionally pop my head into the very first bar I frequented 6 years ago when I first arrived in Verona. The barman hasn't changed. Always friendly and welcoming, it remains one of my favourite spots in Verona.
Anyway, here are five suggestions for an authentic Veronese coffee break
Caffe' Dell Ammiraglio, Corte Melone, 2c
Tucked away in a small piazza between via Mazzini and Corso Porta Borsari, a friendly welcome and a superb Club Sandwich await you at this great neighbourhood bar.
Bar Caffetteria al Duomo, Piazza Duomo, 4
Opposite the Duomo, the lush courtyard through the back is the perfect place to enjoy a late continental breakfast.
Oste Nero Coffee and Wine Bar, Via Barbarani Berto, 12
Located in the San Zeno area, this intimate bar is warm, snug and inviting. Delicious home baking too!
Bar Columbus, Piazza Cittadella 14
Located in Piazza Cittadella, this is a popular old school bar that serves a mouth-watering range of sweet and savoury snacks.
Elk Bakery, Via IV Novembre, 1A
Just across the Ponte della Vittoria, if you're craving something a bit different, Elk Bakery is a popular American-style diner that serves tasty cookies, pancakes and smoothies.
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Richard Hough writes about history, football, wine, whisky, culture + travel.