Time To Pause and Refresh

Hotel in Rapallo

By Tim Turner

Summer is a great time to pause and refresh by taking a vacation. My wife Melissa and I have been so blessed to be able to go on an annual anniversary trip.  Well to rewind, the first few years were just dinner out, not a trip.  We have over the years as the kids gotten older worked our way up to bigger trips like Quebec, Napa, and St. Lucia.  Our in-laws come to spend time with their grand-kids while we go on our trip.

This year for our 24th anniversary we took a trip to Italy and Greece. I could fill pages telling you about the incredible food, beautiful views, and all the historical sites.  For this article, I want to focus on the idea of what it means to “pause and refresh”… and slow down.

cappuccinoAs a coffee drinker, I love going to Europe because there is a cafe ready to serve you top quality coffee about every 25 feet. You think Starbucks is everywhere… go to Italy and count the number of places you can get espresso and cappuccino. Even if you stop at a “rest area” by the highway, they have no coffee “to go” cups.  Instead they have a $30,000 coffee machine just like in the cafes with a real person making high quality espressos and cappuccinos. In a gas station, people were 15 deep to belly up to the “bar” to get an espresso before continuing on their way. There were no instant press-a-button coffee machines there to quickly fill a cup and run… No, they paid a skilled person to be there and run a high end espresso machine. In a gas station.

One tidbit you might not know is that in Italy they don’t ever serve coffee in a “to go” cup. In fact, they don’t even have “to go” cups.  Trust me.  I asked. I asked at many places. I asked at small cafes. I asked at espresso bars and street carts. I asked at high end hotel restaurants. “No no no” I kept being told. This was very odd to me. We had a rental car and needed to hit the road. I need my

Hotel grande Fasano

Hotel Grande Fasano in Lake Garda area of northern Italy

coffee for the trip. “No no no Senore”.

Our rental car was an Audi and i

t had no cup holders. Let me repeat that… NO cup holders.   Why? because Italians don’t drink coffee to go and they don’t drink anything while driving. I think because it takes too much focus to drive over there. Having lived through Atlanta traffic for 18 years, though, I held my own pretty good against the Italian drivers. Contrast this with America where my new son-in-law, who sells cars for Toyota is most frequently asked “how many cup holders does this car have” as a major buying criteria.

One of the hotels we stayed at was the Hotel Grande Fasano on Lake Garda. It was a historical palace converted into a hotel with glorious views of the massive lake. Before we were to leave one night to go to Verona, I asked one of the ladies working there if I could get some coffee to go. She said “sure you can take the china up to your room”. I said, “No I meant a paper cup to take in the car.” She said “no no no we don’t have any. You are in such a hurry. If you want coffee you need to slow down and take the time to enjoy it, even if it’s 5 minutes.”


View of harbor in Rapallo while sipping capuccino…

OK at first I was annoyed by this, but as our trip went on I realized that it was definitely better to have high quality coffee while pausing to enjoy it, rather than running out the door with a “to go” cup. Even when we went to a cafe for lunch, we saw people popping in at all times of the day for an espresso. They stayed for a few minutes and were off. But for those few minutes they stopped to pause and refresh… and slow down.

Besides the coffee though my wife and I found plenty of places to stop and pause and refresh. In Rappallo, a city near Portofino on the Italian riviera, we would take a daily walk through and around town for our exercise, and also to see the town on foot. We found a guy with a coffee stand by the harbor and would get a cappuccino every day and just sit by the harbor… and pause for just a few minutes. We enjoyed the view of the boats and the people walking by…the morning sunshine warming our faces…while enjoying our cappuccinos… and fancy that it was served in a real china cup….from a guy running a “coffee stand” down by the water.

The Italians are definitely onto something. Taking the time to enjoy a cappuccino or espresso is the perfect way to “pause and refresh” so that you are ready to face the rest of your day…

Opera in Verona

Opera in Verona inside the Roman Arena right before the start of “Don Giovanni”

gondola ride

Gondola ride in Venice

View from hotel in Rapallo

View from hotel in Rapallo

Perfect Cappuccino

The most perfect and delicious cappuccino ever… or at least on that particular day!

Cappuccino at Hotel Excelsior in Rapallo

Cappuccino at Hotel Excelsior in Rapallo on fine china with the logo of the hotel on every piece.

The water

The azure water of the mediterranean. Lots of rocks and no beaches in Rapallo.


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