Or where Can We Get a Good Latte in Italy?
If you go into a coffee bar in Italy and order a latte, that’s exactly what you’re going to get: a glass of milk, usually hot. A “latte” does not exist in Italy.
Ordering coffee in Italy is a highly nuanced affair. If you order a “caffe” in Italy, what you get is about one-half inch of delicious strong espresso coffee served in a little cup. If you want the same espresso but twice the amount, you order a “caffe doppio” (it’s just two coffees of the same strength put into the same cup). If you want the same espresso, but diluted in strength, you order a “caffe lungo”. If you want the same espresso, but stronger, you ask for a “caffe ristretto”; in this case you get a smaller quantity of coffee, but more concentrated in strength. If you want American-style coffee, you order a “caffe americano”, which is the same espresso with a bunch of water added; this is very commonly ordered in coffee bars nowadays, but it is considered by barmen to be beneath contempt.
Want milk with your coffee? If you want that same espresso with just a little milk added, you order a “caffe macchiato” (“stained” coffee). Often, the barman will ask you “caldo o freddo”, i.e., whether you want the added milk to be hot or cold. If you want mostly hot milk with a touch of coffee added, you order a “latte macchiato” (“stained” milk), generally served in a glass.
If you want espresso with a lot of (hot but not steamed) milk, you order a “caffelatte”: this is similar to the “latte” you wanted in the first place. If you want it with steamed, foamy (as opposed to just hot) milk, you order a “cappuccino”. It Italy, a cappuccino is ordered in the morning only. The notion of ordering a cappuccino as a sort of “finishing touch” to lunch or dinner is anathema to Italians; some restaurateurs adamantly refuse to serve it; others do so as a concession to American taste, but it is done with contempt. We ourselves order cappuccino in a coffee bar in the evening with impunity, and it’s just fine.
Coffee in “flavors” does not exist in Italy, so forget it. You can, however, have a liqueur added to your coffee, in this case called “caffe corretto”, literally “corrected coffee”. In this case you have to tell the barman what you want your coffee “corrected” with, typically grappa, amaro, sambuca, or Fernet Branca.
Hot weather? There is nothing more heavenly to be ordered in Rome than an iced coffee, “caffe freddo”, or, even more divine, the so-called “cappuccino freddo” (especially in Rome and Naples), which is really a “caffelatte freddo” (and can be ordered as that, too), i.e., coffee with cold milk and sugar added, mixed together, and put into whatever empty wine bottle the bar has hanging around and refrigerated. It is heaven.
The barman will really consider you a sophisticate if you order a “caffe shakerato”, which is coffee put into a cocktail shaker along with shaved ice and shaken like crazy for a while before being served in a glass. Also heaven.