A complete change of scenery for this one. I was wandering alone round Rome, trying to make sense of the maze which were the streets of the historic centre – in the rain. Yes, rain! In August, in Rome! I wasn’t fazed by it though, as later on the day turned out to be glorious, and the rainfall was rather pleasant considering the scorching temperatures that preceded it.
So there I was, covering my head with a jumper (I needed it to enter the Basilica earlier that morning – remember about the strict dress code I mentioned?), having just left the Pantheon for the second time during my stay, looking up the walls for street names and down to my map for orientation, when I suddenly saw it, bang, just before me: Tazza d’Oro. It was hard to miss it, really, as it’s a pretty big establishment, with several entrances and impressive signage snailing all the way around the building. I dreaded the weather in that moment, because the place looked heaving inside – probably with people looking for shelter.
At the time still not accustomed to the Italian ways, I came up to the barista by the espresso machine and asked if they made coffee with chocolate.
“Yes, marocchino, I can make that for you,” and after a few seconds of consternation on both sides, he added: “Just pay by the till and bring the receipt.”
I felt like doing the so called facepalm when I made my way to the opposite end of the shop to get to the cashier and pay for my coffee. I came back to a closer barista, as they had a few coffee machines on the ready – whilst a dozen of customers already served was sitting on the scarce seats dotted by the walls, leaving me to savour my coffee standing. Not for the last time, of course.
As I was advised by the cashier, my coffee would have cinnamon in it – and it definitely did. Again, despite the minimalistic dimensions, there were many taste sensations to be discovered inside the espresso-sized cup. There was strong coffee, some delicate milk, slightly powdery but sweet cocoa and the cinnamon spice finish. Although, as with Caffe Greco, I experienced a mini-shock when diving into the intense espresso, it was then nicely rounded up by the other complimentary flavours, making for a few minutes of great digestive pleasure.
Tazza d’Oro is considered one of the best cafes in Rome – after all, the proximity to the Pantheon (literally, just around the corner from the monument) would beg for a certain standard, but also it’s long standing tradition should be recognised, as it was opened in 1946 – not as early as Greco, but still quite impressive.
Definitely worth a visit, to ponder on the greatness of ancient Roman architects over a quality coffee.