A nice start of the day: what Italian breakfast is like


A good beginning bodes well, and here, we usually have a rich, sweet breakfast with our family. Those (really few) who switch to some savory food, usually change their mind in a short time: sweet breakfast always prevails because of taste, variety and convenience- it is fast to prepare. Do you want to know more? Well, read the article, you will find out everything about it.

In our routine, breakfast is an important, actually the most important meal of the day. We wake up when the sun is rising, lazily and sadly we leave our beds…we need something to boost us: something which provides us with a good start of the day!

Of course, we can choose among a wide range of breakfasts: super rich elaborated breakfasts for special days, and everyday’s simpler ones: we put a place mat on the table and have a quietly breakfast at home before rushing to work.

I have always have the same breakfast for long time: aromatic hot tea, three chocolate cookies (I can’t do without chocolate in the morning) 2 pieces of fruit, usually kiwis, very rich in fibers and vitamin C.

I can still remember the Sunday breakfast used to take when I lived with my parents: a warm toothsome brioche to celebrate the special day in the family, maybe in front of TV.

We may have breakfast at home or at the bar (mainly in the cities). It is a nice ritual before going to work: you drink a coffee, lazily read the papers, talk with our children or partner.

According to the nutritional criteria is not the best breakfast you may have, but we can’t do without it.

But when we are on holidays we feel like trying something different: the typical International breakfast, and we usually come back home with a lot of souvenirs and some kilos more! Italian people on holiday exaggerate: we load our plates with plenty of food, because …we want to eat as people do around the world do. Bacon and eggs, a slice of that tempting home made cake…, a croissant, some fruit, some coffee, and a little orange juice! On holiday, we can’t hold ourselves back: we eat much, too much; after this huge breakfast we don’t have a light lunch (as they have all around the word) we have a big lunch as well…it’s  holiday time! 

Typical Italian breakfast means cornetto (sweet bun) and cappuccino, hot coffee poured into foamed milk. Cornetto, the Italian for croissant, is stuffed with custard, chocolate, or jam.

Well, let’s make a due distinction: are brioches, cornetto, or croissant the same? Not at all!

From the North to the South, they are three different sweets, but they are amazingly scrumptious for breakfast.

From the North of Italy, brioche is made of butter (a lot), flour, sugar, eggs, yeast, and lard. Soft, light, silky, it may be stuffed with custard, chocolate cream, or jam-it is perfectly paired with a hot cappuccino. A toothsome start of the day, you will definitely feel happy; anyway, it is a very rich breakfast you may have only on special days.

Cornetto (little horn) came from Vienna (in Austria) in the 1700 century. It consists of flour, milk, eggs, sugar, yeast, and salt…it looks like a small horn, hence its name.

Croissant came to Italy from Paris in the 1900 century; this recipe doesn’t want any eggs, and the quantity of sugar is lower than that in the cornetto.

From a nutritional point of view, a healthy and good breakfast should be composed of varied, seasonal, fresh, organic food, rich in precious nutrients for our metabolism. A balanced breakfast should provide about the 20% of the daily calorie intake from carbs, protein, fibers, and sugar.

A nice start of the day: what Italian breakfast is like
A nice start of the day: what Italian breakfast is like

For the ultimate start of the day, ideally, breakfast should be very rich in seasonal fruit to hydrate our body: green light to whole (not filtered) orange juice without sugar: the fibers in the pulp stimulates the guts as a natural laxative. Then fruit should be combined with carbs and proteins: (better whole-wheat) bread, cereals, yogurt, shell-fruit, to make you sated longer and to prevent you from feeling hungry in the middle of the afternoon. That’s the best way to keep your weight  under control too.

We often say: I don’t have time for breakfast: we must find it, we may get up 10 minute earlier. Italian breakfast is quite rich: hot drink, milk, yogurt or shell-fruit, toasted bread or a brioche with a little jam, and for the most virtuous ones, some fruit. Quite a lot of sugar and few proteins which  must be well paired with a balanced low glycemic lunch, and a diner rich in proteins and vegetables.

Let’s talk about what we have every day:

  • Coffee: out of curiosity, goats were the first who tasted coffee! They like to eat berries similar to cherries from an odd plant (the coffee bush indeed), and they were always quite restless. So, shepherds and a few monks used it to make an energizing and revitalizing drink. The “black drink” became the second most popular beverage in the world after water. 
  • Aromatic tea: if it didn’t exist, they would have to invent it! It is the best drink in the world. I’m not very fond of coffee, but I go crazy over tea. I can’t do without a good cup  of  hot tea in the morning. I like aromatic green teas: which ones do I prefer? Rose scented, jasmine scented, and more!

What is breakfast like?

  • Milk: is rich in proteins, calcium, phosphorous and most of all mineral salts. Those who are lactose intolerant may opt for lactose free milk. If you enjoy a sourer taste, you may opt for white healthier yogurt.
  • Shell-fruit: almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, and all the other kinds of steel fruit. They provide you with plenty of “good fats” to balance your breakfast. I prefer something to crunch, but someone else opts for tasty drinks, sugar free, of course, to keep the calorie intake under control!
  • Ham, eggs, smoked salmon: Italian people have this food only on holiday, at the hotel buffet!
A nice start of the day: what Italian breakfast is like
A nice start of the day: what Italian breakfast is like

And then something to crunch:

  • Fette biscottate: light and crunchy pre-toasted kind of bread, they date back to the 19th century when people needed something that lasted for long time to avoid any wastefulness.  They are not common outside Italy.
  • Toasted bread: it is part of the Italian tradition. Our grandparents used to dip pieces of dry stale bread into hot milk (the well known bread and milk “soup”): it is the simplest and most filling kind of morning meal in the countryside. Someone still enjoys it! Of course, it is perfectly paired with butter and jam, so bread fits every taste!
  • Cookies: the Italian word ”biscotto” comes from the latin “panis biscoctus”, which literally means “baked twice”. They are the result of a quite coarse mistake: a tired cook put his “bread” into the oven and then he fell asleep; when he woke up, he had over cooked thin, crunchy, small cylindrical pieces: a toothsome kind of mistake! Nowadays we may encounter countless kinds and shapes of cookies!
  • Traditional cakes: The embracing fragrancy of the apple pie you have just baked, the rich tempting taste of a chocolate cake, a carrot home made cake, some rustic muffins, or a yogurt and fruit plum cake: there is nothing better to start the day with. A slice of cake you have baked with rustic flour and some fruit: you are ready to face the day ahead!
  • Breakfast cereals and muesli: At the beginning of the 60s muesli used to be considered the perfect breakfast for those who were on a low calorie diet, nowadays things have changed, and it is mostly popular among the people who want a healthy and rich morning meal. The original recipe was invented by a Swiss doctor who needed the provide the patients of his hospital with a balanced and healthy breakfast. A mix of oat flakes, almonds, walnuts, sunflower and flax seeds was soaked in water and lemon juice overnight, then it was combined with yogurt for the breakfast of the the following morning. Today, the wide variety of cereal and fruit mix, which can satisfy any tastes and nutritional needs, is either combined with yogurt and milk, or it provides the main ingredient to make porridge. So, plenty of choices are available. 
  • Cornetto and Co: Croissant, cornetto…they may have different names, yet everyone does enjoy its soft and embracing texture, both children and grown-ups. It is the most beloved and common breakfast you may have at the “bar” (a kind of café) in Italy. They are quite difficult to make, but I’ll take on this challenge, and, soon or later I will bake them!

Some delicacies to make your breakfast richer:

  • Jam: on bread orfette biscottate’, plays a very important role in the typical Italian breakfast. You my enjoy plenty of flavors, as plenty of legends tell about its origins. According to one of them, jam, actually marmalade, was born in Italy to satisfy the desire of a Spanish Queen who missed the oranges from her beloved country.
  • Chocolate spread: hazelnut chocolate spread (you know Nutella, don’t you?) was invented after the Second War World by a Piedmontese confectioner, just where I live myself- that may be the reason why it is at the top in the chart of my favorites. The first recipe was quite different from the modern one: it used to be a kind of sweet solid stick made of hazelnut, sugar and little available cocoa powder; it was cut with a knife and spread onto a slice of bread. Since then, it has “spread” all around the world and conquered every taste. It makes the beginning of your day really much happier! 
  • Honey: millefiori (thousand flower honey) or from any other flowers according to your taste. Spread it on fette biscottate or warm toasted bread: unforgettable! Top with a handful of toasted shell fruit…can you image? So toothsome and satisfying !

Don’t forget some fruit!

Some fresh fruit, fruit juice or a bowl of fruit salad provide your breakfast with plenty of fibers and vitamins. Fruit satisfy your taste and its fibers make you feel sated longer.

Have a different breakfast in every Region you go! Breakfasts on special days!

Every Region in Italy has got its own typical breakfast :

  • Piedmont combines Zabaione a kind of sweet custard made with eggs, sugar Marsala wine with delicious krumiri biscuits (we will bake them together);
  • In Veneto you may enjoy apple strudel paired with wonderful coffee (a super breakfast);
  • In Liguria you may have a very scrumptious savory breakfast: focaccia (flatbread) from Genoa and tea;
  • You can’t miss maritozzo (a sweet bun) with whipped cream (a blast of taste…and calories) if you are in Lazio;
  • Sardina is famous for its crepes with the typical pecorino cheese and honey (super yummy); 
  • Sfogliatelle, delicious pastries stuffed with custard will make your breakfast in Campania unforgettable; 
  • In Sicily, they start the day with a soft tasty sweet bun stuffed with silky granita; don’t miss cannolo, which they stuff just right in front of you!

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