Ligurian Breakfast

April 19, 2011 / Food & Wine
Genova, Liguria

Your usual Italian breakfast consists of a caffè, cappuccino, or caffèlatte, accompanied by something sweet to eat such as a croissant-like pastry called a brioche (aka cornetto), or a piece of cake or some cookies.

However, when you enter any self-respecting Bar (cafe’) in Genoa to have breakfast, you’ll notice an extra option. Alongside the standard brioche there are also slices of focaccia. In the morning, most Genoese like to dunk their piece of focaccia, either the classic variety with just olive oil, or the one topped with onions, in their cappuccino!

If all this seems strange, you need to understand the Genoesi’s relation to focaccia (“fugassa” in the local dialect). It is eaten at all times of the day, not only in the morning.

To enjoy a piece of focaccia at any other time of the day besides breakfast, you have to go to a focacceria (similar to a bakery); but remember, the best piece of focaccia must be golden and crispy, smothered in olive oil, and as thick as your finger. Its deliciousness derives from the slow leavening of the dough (the slower the better!) and from the Ligurian olive oil. And that’s at any time of day.

Breakfast of champions indeed!

Anna Merulla

by Anna Merulla

Founder of Beautiful Liguria, a travel concierge service that offers everything from tour planning, hiking excursions, cooking lessons, personal shopping and much more in this great region. In 2009 she decided to begin sharing her personal knowledge of the beauty, the culture, and the history of Liguria in which she’s immersed every day.

11 Responses to “Ligurian Breakfast”

  1. Penny Ewles-Bergeron
    Penny Ewles-Bergeron

    Thanks Anna, this sounds completely scrumptious and worth a trip up to Genova just for the experience!

    Reply
  2. giuseppe spano (jojo)
    giuseppe spano (jojo)

    ..and so it is,so good so normal,in questo momento e luogo

    Reply
  3. Mairin O'Mahony

    We have a Ligurian bakery in San Francisco’s North Beach which makes several varieties of focaccio, all of them delicious! I guess a lot of people eat it for breakfast, because they open very early and are generally sold out by around 10 am! On major holidays and before Super Sunday the lines stretch around the block.

    Reply
  4. Gale in CT

    My favorite memory of when I came to Italy (1984) was stopping at one of the AutoGrilles very early in the morning and having something that was like a grilled cheese and tomato sandwich, which I was told is a common breakfast item in Italy. I was so pleasantly surprised, because all my childhood that was my favorite thing to have for breakfast, without knowing it was common in Italy. I think there are definitely some things that are passed on in our genes that have unknown influence on our nature as Italians!! BTW, I fell in love with cappucino during that same visit.

    Reply
  5. Roxie Montesano

    Thank you Anna for this wonderful series; I look forward to the Italian Notebook daily!

    Roxie

    Reply
  6. Anne Robichaud

    Yikes. Mamma mia. Focaccia in cafè! Delighted to learn about yet another culinary peculiarity of this amazing country of the countless and varied traditions. I have to tell my Umbrian friends about this one: expecting them to blanch!

    Reply
  7. Grazie a tutti for your comments! When you come here in Liguria, do not forget to try focaccia and cappuccino for breakfast, as a perfect genoese ;-)

    Reply
  8. Toni DeBellea

    Anna,
    This November I finally made the trip from Umbria to Le Cinque Terre. I was so mesmerized by the beauty and tranquility. I wrote a small story about my point of view as a “first timer”. It was spectacular. Funny, but I never thought about it before, but my Genovese companion of 6 years had bread with his caffe’ every morning, and my commuter friend from a town on the Ligurian coast, stops to get bread at a bakery every day on our way to the office. Regional traditions kept alive even when they have been living in the US for over 20 years. Great stuff. Thanks. Toni – Blog: Orvieto or Bust.

    Reply

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