When in Rome: Italian Croissants and Cappuccino For Breakfast
The smell of fresh coffee fills your nose as you're salivating over the many croissants staring back at you. But it's hard to stay focused. Orders are being shouted out in Italian at what seems like a thousand words a second, you can't seem to identify a line, elbows are out in full force, and the fast paced atmosphere leaves you feeling confused. You start to feel overwhelmed until you refocus on the goal - cornettos.
Most vegans probably think they’ll never be able to indulge in this doughy goodness ever again. But we have great news for you, when you’re in Italy you can enjoy these horn shaped Italian croissants daily, even as a vegan!
In fact, Rome has a lot of excellent vegan restaurants, make sure you check out our vegan food guide to Rome.
The Many Different Kinds of Delicious Italian Croissants
A cornetto is the Italian version of a croissant and they are as holy to Italians as pasta and pizza. In fact, a cornetto with a cappuccino in the morning is the quintessential Italian breakfast, and you can find them at pasticcerie throughout Italy. At most of these pasticcerie, also called bars, you can order a cappuccino con soia (a cappuccino with soy milk) and choose from the many different types of vegan croissants on offer.
Some cornettos are semplice (simple), others are filled with different kinds of marmellata (jam) and can include everything from albicocche (apricot), arancia (orange), frutti di bosco (berries), melagrana (pomegrante), mela (apple), and whatever else may be in season. You'll also find cornetti integrale (whole grain), with pasta di mandorle (almond paste), and if you're lucky enough you might even find a vegan cornetto filled with cioccolato (chocolate) or pistacchio (pistachio).
Not only is a cornetto and cappuccino one of the best breakfast duos out there, but it is also very affordable. A vegan cornetto in Rome normally sells for between 0.90€ to 1.50€ and a cappuccino with soymilk costs between 1.20€ to 1.50€. Note that you have to pay a little bit extra for soymilk.
Where Can You Find Vegan Croissants in Italy?
Before we continue, we want to clarify that most cafes don’t blatantly advertise vegan croissants even though they offer them. It’s part of the beauty of veganism in Italy. Vegan food isn’t necessarily separate from non-vegan food, it all sort of co-exists, which in our opinion shows others who aren’t vegan just how easy it can be. Some Italian pastry chefs even think croissants bake better if you use oil instead of butter or lard. Life is always better as a vegan, right?
As we were saying, most pasticcerie will always have at least one vegan croissant option but sometimes they are time limited depending on the demand. You simply have to walk in to any bar and ask, buongiorno avete i cornetti vegani? Which translates to, good morning do you have vegan croissants? Then, they can point you to which ones are vegan and as they list off the different flavors, you can relish in the fact that you've found heaven on earth here in Italy.
But wait! Cornettos are not the same as croissants.
An important tidbit to note is that a cornetto is not actually a croissant per se. The Italian cornetto is typically sweeter and softer than the crispier French croissant. Italian cornetti are also commonly filled with different kinds of jams, chocolate, cream, and other goodies whereas French croissants aren't usually filled with anything.
Italian Coffee Culture and Cappuccino in Rome
A croissant should always be paired with a cappuccino or a caffè (espresso). They go hand in hand, and we're guessing most Italians would agree that you can't have one without the other. So far every bar we’ve visited in Rome offers soy milk so there is no need to limit yourself to espressos. Just don't forget that you aren't suppose to order cappuccinos after breakfast! Apparently, Italians think it is bad for digestion and it's frowned upon. This is something we had to learn from experience when Victoria's Roman aunt cringed at for us ordering cappuccino in Rome in the afternoon. Oops!
Speaking of coffee, the coffee culture in Italy is on another level. It is with confidence that we challenge you to find another place in the world that can make coffee as good. Where else in the world can you get an espresso that's so well prepared and strong that it has a layer of foam on top of it, without being overwhelming? Or a cappuccino that is so creamy that you start doubting simple physics? Nowhere we've been at least.
You see the Italians have a love affair with their beloved caffè. An Italian’s full day is defined by coffee rituals beginning early in the morning with a cappuccino and lasting all day until the evening, ending with an espresso after dinner. So you better believe Italians have perfected coffee down to an art, just like seemingly everything else they do.
But don’t forget the unwritten rules and rituals that go along with drinking caffè in Italy. As mentioned above, having a cappuccino after 11:00 am is a big no-no! In Italy, an espresso is called un caffè, so order correctly. Lastly, a latte doesn’t exist. If you ask for one, you’ll end up with a glass of cold milk.
*Important Tip - Try to be early for breakfast because a lot of places run out of vegan cornettos, and by early we mean before 9 am. Otherwise you can head over to Cornetto Imperiale for some of the best cappuccino in Rome or an all vegan cafe to ensure you can find a cornetto later in the day.
You can also do what we usually do and pre-order them the day before so you can sleep in. Most bars will let you reserve a couple of vegan croissants for the coming day, especially if you've visited the place a few times already. This is the perfect life hack that ensures you get to eat vegan cornettos every day while visiting Rome.