Dancing in the street; “The best espresso this side of Milan”

More on our trip to the UK.

I have mentioned this before but it was particularly noticeable as I haven’t been back to the UK for a while.

People here, in Milan (and maybe the whole of Italy), walk just like they drive. There is no forward planning and manoeuvres are made at the last minute and only if absolutely necessary. Except that, the difference between people and cars is that, if you bump into another car with your vehicle there will be a lot of time spent sorting out the insurance; shouting and screaming at each other with a lot of gesturing; many years of paying extra for your insurance.

Bumping into people does not cause any of those things. So, as a result, people manoeuvre a lot less when walking and there is a lot of bumping. And, more importantly for the people from the UK – no apologising!

Whilst in the Scottish city, we had spent a couple of hours walking round the shops and dancing in the street – by that, I mean the little two-step dance whilst trying to avoid other people.

I asked V if he had noticed that, in all the time we had been walking, not once had anyone so much as brushed past us. He replied that he hadn’t but that now I had mentioned it, it was true. It was so pleasant. I must admit that, having been here for almost 4 years now, I no longer apologise when bumped into or even when I bump into someone else. It has taken all this time and a great deal of personal resolve to stop saying ‘sorry’. There is a way of walking here that means head up, stare straight ahead, ignore the fact that the person is approaching you without any intention of moving slightly out of your way and, if they are much bigger than you, only move slightly to one side at the very last possible moment. If there is any physical contact, whatever you do, DO NOT say ‘sorry’ – after all, it’s their fault for being in your way.

But it was so nice to stroll around without having bruises at the end!

I did drink a lot of tea whilst there and it was very, very nice. But I did miss the Italian coffee. So, whilst out, we saw a Café Nero and decided to go in and have the ‘real Italian coffee’ that they purported to sell.

Of course, here, a café latte is not taken so often and, certainly, is not as big as the Café Nero ‘regular’ let alone ‘large’. However, we were in the UK so a large café latte seemed in order.

Maybe it’s the water; or the coffee; or the milk – whatever it was, it did not make it particularly nice. And I very much doubt (although I didn’t try it, so I can’t be sure) that their espresso is not the best this side of Milan. After all, we have quite an area of Italy between Milan and the French border and, I can assure you, coffee in any part of Italy is superb.

I do remember that, when we still had the flat in Hay and returned to help out at the festival 3 years ago, we brought our moka back with us along with a supply of coffee so that we could make our morning fix.

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2 thoughts on “Dancing in the street; “The best espresso this side of Milan”

  1. Hi,

    I don’t make it back to the UK all that often, but I am struck by just how polite and considerate in general the British are compared to Italians.

    The way Italians tend to act as though they are the only ones on the pavements is very odd. I once met a Swede, who just happened to be complaining about the same thing, so it is not just Brits that notice this strange behaviour.

    Good manners and consideration for others are not really as important to Italians as Britons, is about the only conclusion you can reach, I suppose.

    And as you say, both walking, and driving are must more relaxing in the UK.

    Yes, I miss Italian coffee when I’m in the UK too!

    Nice to hear that these things are not just me!

    All the best,


  2. Hi Alex,
    I don’t make it back so often either so these things were more noticable this time as it had been about 18 months since I last went back.
    I think it’s probably more or less the same for all ex-pats!

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