Marco found this photo from an Italian bar. This tongue-in-cheek window ad lists all the things you get when you come in: an espresso, a glass of water, unlimited sugar, napkins, little spoons and little plates, the daily newspaper, chatting with psychological and moral support, bathroom, weather update, and info about where the bus stop is. And all of this for only one Euro!
The simple ritual of heading into the local bar and saddling up the to counter for a caffé is one that you will witness and experience in Italy. It is a quick interaction, but look at all the possibilities in that short amount of time. . . the quick chat with a friend, news about the weather, the latest events, and all those extras that go with it. I’ve written other times in this blog about the power of some of the common rhythms and rituals I’ve grown to appreciate in Italy: the Sunday lunch, the aperitivo at the local bar before a meal, the after meal nap. . .
National Public Radio’s (NPR’s) Shankar Vedantam, host of the podcast Hidden Brain, has an episode that explores the psychological effects of rituals. He points to research by Nicholas Hobson. “He’s a Ph.D. student at the University of Toronto, [who], along with researchers Michael Norton, Francesca Gino and Michael Inzlicht, Hobson recently ran some experiments to measure the effect that rituals have on people.” (Social Science Research Explores Psychological Effects Of Rituals) What they found is that rituals increase trust and cooperation among people.
Marco and I enjoy the simple ritual of the espresso together when we have the chance. Even at work, we each have a Nespresso machine in our offices, and, when our schedule allows, we phone on FaceTime and enjoy our break together. It is a great tasting espresso every time, and it comes with all of the extras. . . a quick break from work, a hello to my husband, a supportive word, and so much more. . . ours only for 75 cents!