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Latte!

She flew into Rome’s airport early in the morning, she got to her hotel near Piazza Navona around 10:00 am and the receptionist told her the room wouldn’t be ready any sooner than 2:00 pm. Too bad, it would have been nice to unpack and take a shower before starting to walk the streets of Rome. The concierge told her she could use the restrooms downstairs to freshen up and they would keep her luggage in storage and move it to her room once it was ready… So, she freshened up and went off to the nearby Piazza Navona. The air was nice and fresh, the water spilling from the fountains sounded like a carillon and there weren’t that many people around yet, but all the restaurants and coffee shops had their tables and chairs out already. And there weren’t that many people around yet, but all the restaurants and coffee shops had their tables and chairs out already.
She was tempted by the pastry she saw displayed on the counter as she walked to her table, but she decided they looked really fattening. “Maybe tonight after dinner” she thought. The waiter came with the menu and tried to hand it to her, but she gestured she didn’t need it and just said: Latte please!” The waiter was surprised to hear this attractive, well dressed, American lady speak Italian and automatically replied: “Caldo o freddo?” Now, she didn’t speak any Italian, but she liked to pretend she did and “caldo” sounded like cold, so she supposed that “freddo” meant hot, “freddo” she repeated. “Who wants their latte cold?” she thought. A nice cup of hot coffee with milk, was exactly what she needed after that long flight and the coffee she was served on the plane.

Seconds later the waiter returned with a glass of cold milk, he put it on her table, smiled and walked away.
She stared at the useless glass of cold milk and started to look around in search of the waiter.
She was in no hurry, but she wanted her “Latte”.
She  got a waiter’s attention as he walked past her on his way to serve clients at another table. 
“My “Latte” please.” She said again.
“Latte” the waiter replied pointing to the glass of cold milk on the table.“Freddo” She almost shouted. “Freddo” repeated the waiter and, knowing almost no English at all, he tried to tell her by gesticulating that he brought her exactly what she asked for: a glass of cold milk!
She couldn’t catch sleep on the plane, she was tired from the trip and consequently a bit nervous plus really couldn’t see why it was so difficult for the waiter to understand what she wanted, after all “Latte” is an Italian word, isn’t it? “No” she said accompanying the word with gestures, “No-cold” pronounced distinctly “No-cold, latte-no-cold, latte HOT!” 

“Ahhh! HOT!” Said the waiter repeating one of the few English word he knew. “Latte no-cold, latte HOT! OK! Subito! (right away)” Seconds later he returned with the same glass of milk which had been warmed up. She was ready to scream and she did scream: “COFFEE!” “Coffee?” The waiter asked, smiling because “coffee” was another one of the few English words he was familiar with. “No milk? Coffee?” “Yes,” she shouted “NO-MILK! COFFEE!” The waiter took the glass of milk from the table and walked away. Two minutes later he returned with this tiny little cup filled by one third of thick stuff that looked like mud to her: “espresso”. Just a few steps away my friend Guido was opening his “shop”. Guido sells paintings right on the square, the ones he paints, and better ones painted by talented artists. He’s lucky to have the hard to obtain license to sell on the square. For what I know, he still has all the pictures he painted, and his money comes from selling the works of the real artists. As they aren’t authorized to sell them in public spaces, they have to go through him. Guido is what you’d call a womanizer. He’s good looking and speaks good English, so he has it easy with the ladies from all over the world. He noticed that lady sitting there just as he arrived and while he was unpacking his stuff, he was thinking of an excuse to go over to her table and talk to her.
When he heard the lady shout at the waiter, it was like music to his ears, it was obvious she was in distress because she couldn’t make herself understood and he was there to help! “Can I help you?” he said once he’d come close enough. She explained what the trouble was and Guido, while he told the waiter to bring the lady a Caffellatte [kaffelˈlatte] and ordered an espresso for himself, sat down next to her and explained that what he just had said to the waiter, “Caffellatte” was what she wanted. “Caffellatte?” she asked. “Yes” confirmed Guido and continued, “that means coffee with milk but, should you like more coffee and less milk in your drink, you can ask for Cappuccino“.

In the meantime, Guido was keeping an eye on his Moroccan helper, who had continued to unpack and display the paintings by himself and didn’t look happy about it.
“Earn your pay” Guido thought as he crossed eyes with his helper, but took his time to explain further:
“Of course, when you go to a place like Starbucks, coffee is what you go there for and so they don’t think they have to specify you’ll be served coffee, they just mention what can be added to the coffee. In your case the addition is milk, “latte” in Italian. Why they call it latte and not milk is a mystery to me.
So, you ask for “latte” and they bring you coffee with milk, but in Italy, if you just say “latte” you get milk, because that’s what latte means!
If you want coffee with milk you have to ask for caffellatte”. The lady loved her caffellatte and asked for another one.
Guido loved the lady and asked for more coffee. They kept conversing until the Moroccan helper walked over to their table and told Guido that some clients were asking for him.
Before leaving the table, Guido asked the lady out, but she told him her husband was flying in later that day from Germany where he had spent a few days for his business. “Too bad” Guido said as he was leaving her “Thank you for coffee. Ciao.” He slowly walked toward his clients checking out the tables of the other coffee shops in the meantime,  hoping to spot another interesting lady in need of some help with her order…

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