Today I learned an interesting coffee tidbit from a couple of Italian friends and coffee connoisseurs; the best coffee in Italy, can often be found in the rest stops on the highway  (Autogrill). In fact, some Autogrill/rest stop restaurants apparently even make it into Italian Guide Books!We were on our way to Sestri Levante a small beach town about 45 minutes from Genova, and as it was only  8 am, caffè was on our minds. I admit I was a bit surprised to hear this info as in France and the US highway coffee is among the worst that can be purchased anywhere.

crowdautogrillThe line to pay for a coffee at the Autogrill

Well, as was explained to me, the volume of consumers is so steady and high that the non-stop action gets the barista into a groove, and since the machines are well maintained  the coffee and milk stay fresh. Also, apparently there are strict quality controls on Auto Grills to regulate cleanliness and proper functionality of the espresso machines.

The crowd that received us when we arrived at our Auto Grill at 8:15 am seemed to confirm this theory. The line to pay the cashier (in Italy at the rest stop you pay first and then give your ticket to the barista) was 10-people thick and the sipping throngs around the bar seemed content. Luckily, the Italians move in and out quickly making place for the new arrivals. Coffee is a quick and natural start to the day, but rarely does it involve lingering. You order, you get, you stand at the bar, you quickly drink it down, you move out of the way to leave an opening for the next coffee drinker.


Coffee In italy is almost as important as pasta, maybe more (depending on who you talk to) so I guess it should be no surprise to see that even at the Auto Grill, quality coffee is no laughing matter (apparently the pastries are also up to snuff, as is the restaurant if you would like a full meal). And the price tag? Well, this is sort of a laughing matter, or should I say, smiling? Under a Euro for a cup of coffee, and around a Euro for a cappuccino! No advantage taken here, honest prices for quality product. I can attest that you will not be disappointed. Drink up!


Slow Travel Article on Autogrills

NY Times article on Autogrills


Erica Berman

Erica Berman grew up in Lexington, Mass. After graduating from Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Journalism and an intensive summer at Middlebury College (Vermont), Erica went to Paris with hopes of submerging herself in French culture and perfecting her French — and she stayed 20 years. Erica is the founder of the HiP Paris Blog and Haven In her former company. She now splits her time between Paris (Montmartre) and Maine (Midcoast). She recently started a non-profit growing organic produce for the food insecure in Maine called Veggies to Table. In her all-too-rare free time, Erica likes to travel off the beaten track, explore Paris and Maine, read, take photos, cook, kayak, hike and enjoy long Sunday brunches with her friends.


  1. Just got back from Rome/Milan. I was so surprised by the quality of Autogrill stops. They are actually in the cities too. Fresh squeezed orange juice and pastries were amazing and cheap.

  2. Absolutely true! I was in Sicily a few years ago and the tour bus would stop at these places and the coffee was amazing and cheap-less than a Euro for a cappucino.

  3. yes, definitely!!! besides the coffee, you can find at autogrill the delicious Bufallinos.

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