When you think of enjoying an espresso in Italy, you probably don’t envision getting one at Starbucks. Italy is the same country that gave us the cappuccino, the macchiato, and—my personal favorite—the affogato, which comes with a big scoop of gelato. Drinking coffee in Italy is an event in itself, so it’s no wonder the country has resisted the super-sized coffee chain for so long. But with the opening of the first Starbucks in Italy, that attitude might be changing.
The Starbucks Reserve and Roastery in Milan doesn’t just serve coffee. It’s a 25,000-square-foot stage telling the story of how coffee is made from the enormous Italian-made roaster to the bronze de-gassing cask, both of which sit in the center of the roastery. Located a minute’s walk away from Milan’s iconic Duomo (cathedral), the Roastery is housed in a historic post-office building on Piazza Cordusio.
In addition to the machinery on display, Italy’s first Starbucks will also feature an affogato station, bakery, outdoor terrace, and second-floor coffee and cocktail bar. With so much going on, the new roastery is sure to be a destination for any Starbucks fanatic visiting Milan.
This isn’t the first time Starbucks has opened a mega-location in hopes of enticing coffee-loving tourists. Both the Roastery & Tasting Room in Seattle and the gargantuan Reserve Roastery in Shanghai rank high among the top coffee shops and attractions in their respective cities. While I’m sure the Milan location will be a hit with visitors, it has yet to be seen how local Italians will react now that the super-chain has gotten a foothold on their boot-shaped country. Starbucks also has plans to open smaller locations throughout Italy later this year.
It would be unwarranted for me to knock a stop at Starbucks in another country as an inauthentic way to travel: I’ve dropped into many Starbucks outposts while searching for free Wi-Fi, a bathroom, or just a hot to-go drink to warm my hands on a rainy sightseeing day. And every once in a while, the views have surprised me. In Tokyo, I got a bird’s-eye view of the world-famous Shibuya Crossing from the Shibuya Starbucks. On a rainy day in Prague, I charged my phone while watching clouds roll over the red-orange rooftops of the city at the Prague Castle Starbucks.
It will be interesting to see how Italians react to the new presence of the new coffee chain, but tired tourists looking for a second wind might be pleasantly surprised.
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Jamie Ditaranto is a writer and photographer always looking for her next adventure. Follow her on Twitter @jamieditaranto.
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