Guest Blog - What makes the Italian “Third Places” so special by Anna Kay

The world of coffee is full of passionante people that connect in many ways.  Anna saw my post Turning to the Dark Side while creating some simple rules for travellers to Italy so they can understand and enjoy Italy's coffee and Cafe culture.  Read her Guest Blog and let me know what you think.  Enjoy!

What makes the Italian “Third Places” so special?

Walk into any café in Italy, and you can easily imagine Ray Oldenburg, the author of the influential book “The Great Good Place”, sitting somewhere in the corner, enjoying his caffè and smiling to himself.

That inspirational book looks at our lives as balancing acts between the three places: the home being the “first place”, the place of work the “second place”, and the place where you meet friends, socialise and “where everyone knows your name” - the “third place”.

An Italian café is a perfect example of a “third place”, and the peculiar rules of the Italian coffee drinking culture are on full display there as well. It has defined the Italian way of life for centuries, and you can explore and learn about the 10 key, unwritten Italian coffee drinking rules in this helpful infographic below created by Med Cruise Guide.

Perhaps one of the most surprising rules of the Italian coffee culture is that there is no take-away coffee in Italy (rule #7 below). But there is a very good reason for that. The fact is that Italians love their café. They love going to their “third place” and to meet friends, exchange gossip with baristas, and escape the madness that the daily life has become.

It is a place where they can put aside their professional and family worries for a moment, engage in friendly talk with the regulars and welcome newcomers. It’s a special bond which simply does not exist when you rush out with a take-away coffee into the busy streets and choose not to enjoy that precious moment.

And if you’d like to have a double shot of espresso, yes, you can order a caffè doppio. However, if you want to enjoy the coffee as the Italians do, what you’ll do instead is visit your favourite café 5-7 times a day (rule #4 below). Such is the power of the “third place” and socialising with friends in the Italian culture. Work can wait, indeed.

Unfortunately, the modern, frantic way of life has forced people into their own tunnel vision where they rush about their daily to-do lists non-stop. They forget to pause for a moment, and enjoy the precious break in a café with friends and baristas.

It’s a good idea to do yourself a favour and try the Italian approach to enjoying coffee. After all, Italy has given the world la dolce vita, and we all need a bit of joy in life. And we will surely find it in a café with friends over a perfect cup of coffee!




Anna Kay is an avid traveler, photographer and editor at She loves exploring and island-hopping across the Mediterranean, and enjoying local food specialties.