I didn’t expect to drink a caffè macchiato on top of the Saint Peter’s Church at the Vatican City that day. And it became one of the most valuable memories I got from Rome.
Back in 2010, I traveled with my parents to Rome. After we enjoyed the typical spots, like La Fontana di Trevi and Il Colosseo, we couldn’t wait any longer to visit the Vatican City.
At that time, a small coffee shop was sitting there, on the highest spot in Rome. Arguably, it was the cup of coffee anyone could get so close to Heaven.
The place was humble in stark contrast with the rest of the Vatican City splendor. I don’t have any clue about its looks today. But back then, it felt like stumbling upon a regular Italian caffè in a small town.
If anything, it didn’t fit there, inside one of the most famous spots in Rome.
The place had such a simple aura that was hidden in plain sight. Dozens of tourists walked away from it, completely ignoring it.
Before the Vatican
It was late autumn, and days were getting colder. Even Rome was way too chilly for us. It was my first time in the old city, and I look forward to returning ever since.
Rome had much to offer, and although we met a few locals that weren’t too happy to have so many tourists around, I hold that trip very close to my heart.
Before and after visiting Vatican City, I enjoyed lots of coffee cups. I couldn’t count how many delicious cappuccinos, café lattes, and espressos I indulged in during those few days.
Additionally, Italian coffee shops have great desserts to enjoy with coffee. I can’t be objective here because Italian pastry is one of my favorites!
Drinking coffee along with a sweet treat is one of the most pleasant routines anyone could have. Back in the old city, I enjoyed cannoli, biscotti, and gelato, as much as I could.
Regarding the most coffeeish dessert I know, I prefer to eat Tiramisu after lunch or dinner. It has a coffee punch on its own.
Il Foro Romano was special. It was exciting to find an old ancestor name among the ruins. According to some sources, Valerio seems to descend from the highest Emperors in Rome.
However, I can’t compare anything in Rome to Vatican City. Not even finding solid proof of my Imperial lineage (ha!)
551 Steps: From the ground to the Dome
We thought the elevator to the Dome was overly expensive. Back then, we all were in good condition to climb the 551 steps to the top.
We agreed to do it at our own pace, and so we did. Still, it was a bit of a challenge.
Like trekking, it’s a mix of both mental and physical endurance. Unlike trekking, climbing the steps isn’t an enjoyable process.
It felt like walking through an impossibly long, steep aisle. We just wanted to reach the top as soon as possible.
And when we did, we knew it was completely worth the effort!
Un caffè macchiato per favore, Padre
Although the caffè was invisible for most people, I couldn’t omit it. We were warm after climbing the steps, so I didn’t understand why I wanted to drink a hot cup of coffee.
However, if I don’t need to explain my preferences to someone, that is definitely to myself.
I walked toward the bar, and after closer examination, I noticed the barista was wearing a priest’s habit.
Raised a Catholic, I couldn’t afford to lose the opportunity to try a cup of coffee there. I looked back, and I asked my dad if he wanted a cup of coffee too.
My dad’s favorite is the caffè macchiato, so when he said yes, I ordered two.
More than ten years have passed since that moment, and I can still remember the taste, the smell, and the mouthfeel of that coffee.
The scene was extraordinarily unexotic. Neither the chairs, the tables, or the bar had any salient feature. But, when I had my first sip, I couldn’t resist closing my eyes.
From that very moment, I knew it was going to be one of the best cups of coffee of my life.
My dad and I enjoyed that cup, slowly, sitting on the plastic chairs of that bizarre caffè. My mom didn’t want coffee, but she joined us. We laughed a bit. It felt a bit silly but heroic to climb so many steps to get there.
When we finished our coffee, we got up and tried to absorb the beauty of that view, as much as we did with the taste of the coffee we just had.
Luckily, we took some pictures, the best ones we had in Rome.
Then, from time to time, we remember that trip.
Occasionally, we talk about the bitter encounters with some rude locals.
Other times, we smile when we look at the picture of the ruins with the Valerio name carved on it.
But we always remember that cup of coffee.