Liquore di Caffe della Nonna (Grandma’s Coffee Liqueur)

Tom, a Toscana Mia reader currently living in Jordan, takes his stove-top espresso maker wherever he goes and he has moved around a lot! Tom’s family comes from the enchanting region of Puglia (in the ‘heel of the boot’) where life is till slow and wonderful.

Tom makes his own Italian liqueurs (limoncello and Liquore di Caffe) at home.  He has generously sent in his Italian grandmother’s recipe for Coffee Liqueur.

Liquore di Caffe della Nonna (Grandma’s Coffee Liqueur)
Printable Version

  1. Make a cup of very strong espresso with a stove-top macchina – stove-top coffee maker (of course).
  2. When it is done, pour the coffee into a measuring cup.
  3. Clean la macchina and re-pack it with espresso and ready it for another pot of coffeeBUT, do not use water the second time, use the coffee from the previous pot thereby making it very, very strong —   too strong to drink.
  4. Pour into 50%/50% alcohol and water (pure alcohol is too strong to drink but diluted with water is a good base for liquore (I don’t know if you can get pure alcohol in the U.S. but it is sold in Europe).  Or use vodka and sweeten to taste.


Recipes from Authentic Italian Women – Tuscan Ribollita Soup

As you may realize by now, my desire is to connect you to the real, authentic Tuscany.  A large part of that, of course, is the food.  Who better to consult about Tuscan cooking than authentic Tuscan women? 


I am presenting a series of recipes from friends, family members and colleagues who are authentic Tuscan women or women from other regions of Italy.  The theme is authentic recipes, not Americanized versions. You will find plenty of those online, in cookbooks and on television!


The first thing you should know is that Italian recipes are written with weights (not measurements for cups or spoons).  The second thing you must know is that recipes are guidelines and suggestions since everyone has different tastes and traditions.  For example, everyone in Tuscany has a different twist on their soups.  So, if you want to add an accent of your own (such as a favorite herb), feel free to do so.  Just make sure to pay attention to the freshness of each ingredient and that any additions you use be “in tune” with the taste of the recipe.Recipes from Authentic Italian Women - Tuscan Ribollita Soup

Manila – Florence, Tuscany, Italy

My friend Manila is a beautiful, doe-eyed woman who lives in Florence. Her husband owns the Ancre jewelry store near Piazza San Marco which is a favorite boutique of the locals.

Manila has raised her three sons in Florence and has taught pre-school and elementary school for many years. Her dream, however, is to own a catering business.

Manila’s passion for Tuscan cuisine is well-known and she is considered one of the best cooks around. My cousins and I were blown away by a meal Manila cooked entirely based on fresh Tuscan mushrooms.  When she smilingly opened her front door and the aromas wafted towards us, it was heavenly. And I will never forget about the bone-in prime rib cooked in the wood-burning oven in her courtyard in downtown Florence.

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Current “In” Italian Words and Phrases

Each time I visit Italy I notice new words currently in use. I always have fun at the italianization of English terms too. Here are a few current ones:

  • S.U.V. (sports utility vehicle): SUV (pronounced soov)
  • Feeling: feeling
  • Muffin: muffin (pronounced mooffeen), very popular in Italy right now
  • The Bold and the Beautiful (soap opera): Beautiful (pronounced bee you’ tee ful)
  • Sunny and vivacious (referred to a person): solare
  • Pod/pods (as in coffee pods for espresso machines): cialda/cialde
  • Could not be nicer (or more gracious): carinissima/carinissimo
  • Martini aperitivo: refers to a vermouth drink, not the martini served in the USA. That is “Martini Americano”
  • Caffe Americano: This is ordered by many English and American visitors as a substitue for their own coffee. It is an espresso with enough hot water added for a large cup.
  • Americano: Ordered at a bar/caffe, this is a (strong) aperitif with bitter Campari, red vermouth and soda water. Do not confuse this with a caffe Americano as a lovely lady in one of my groups did at 10:00am one morning. I must say, she was a good sport and drank it all anyway!

I hope this helps with your Italian. Ciao, Serenella