This was a place recommended by a friend, who’d never actually been there. I took it on as a mission to verify whether it was indeed worth recommending.

Therefore, I didn’t exactly know what to expect. It wasn’t the easiest place to find, and it’s not very prominent among the hairdressers and property shops on St Stephen’s Street. What gave it away, was a couple of tables outside with a man lazily reading a paper and smoking a cigarette; and the bright sign over the door, of course.

Inside seemed not very spacious, bright and homely, but more like you entered someone else’s flat and felt like a kind of an intruder into someone else’s private space. There’s a shelving unit in the middle of the room, newspapers scattered around the place and a domestic kitchen at the back (which you have to cross if you need to use the loo). Only when I ordered my mocha and took a seat did I realise that the radio station was Italian, and so were the table mats, and magazines on the shelves. A customer who started speaking Italian with one of the bar ladies was a final confirmation that I ended up in an Italian cafe.

Mocha at Sprio

This is a Mecca for a person who recently discovered love for all things Italian. Or at least, I really wanted it to be. I consumed the magazines like they were the last thing I’d read in life; smiled hearing the conversation between the customer and the bar lady; cherished the fact that whatever I said in my broken Italian was understood; and was hoping that the coffee – in a epitome of a coffee house, which were, after all, first established in Italy – would not disappoint. And yet, it did; although it was good quality, strength and temperature, it did not have the wow! factor I had built up my hopes for. It was tasty and definitely beats mochas from many other places, endorsing their “amazing coffee-bar skills”. But, although all the elements were there: the sun on a clear sky, the fat guy smoking outside, the loud Italian broadcaster on the radio and the warm, motherly bar lady behind her counter-like-desk, it didn’t live up to the ideal of a lazy, cosy cafe in Rome it created (especially that the price, £3.00, seemed to fit Rome more than a nook in Edinburgh!).

Nevertheless, a lovely experience for all those who love the Mediterranean life-style, as Sprio also offers a variety of Italian, home-made snacks to accompany your cultural procrastination.


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