About Careers Internship MedBlog Contact us

Naples Marks 'Suspended Coffee Day' a Remarkable Tradition Amid Social Crisis

by Bidita Debnath on December 11, 2013 at 10:52 PM
 Naples Marks 'Suspended Coffee Day' a Remarkable Tradition Amid Social Crisis

Across Naples, cafes marked "Suspended Coffee Day", spotlighting a remarkable tradition of social solidarity in the crisis-hit Italian city that is now more needed than ever.

Using chalk board signs in cafes and by word of mouth, dozens of cafes have let the city's growing army of poor -- Neapolitans and immigrants alike -- know they can come for a free coffee with money left by better-off customers.


The practice of "caffe sospeso" is simple: leave money for a coffee when you are getting one yourself and someone who cannot afford one gets it for free.

"It is something you used to do when you passed a university exam, or won the lotto or had your birthday. Pay for a coffee for someone you didn't know," said Maurizio del Bufalo, a former UN aid worker and founder of the "Suspended Coffee Network" which now includes 200 cafes in Naples and around the world.

"We want to re-launch this custom. Suspended coffee is a typical expression of the popular culture of Naples. It could only have come here," he said, on the sidelines of a human rights festival he is also organising in the city.

The custom is based on a system of trust in the bar as generous customer and needy recipient never meet and there is no formal way to keep tabs.

"I think of it as a gesture of civility, it's not charity. It's a really great tradition," said Ivan Esposito, 74, a retired maths teacher, after leaving a "suspended coffee" at the city's most famous cafe, Gambrinus.

The cafe's owner, Antonio Sergio, said the tradition began at Gambrinus at the start of the 20th century when the first coffee machines were introduced.

"It used to be something offered to the carriage drivers," he said.

Nowadays, he said, Napoli football club owner Aurelio De Laurentiis regularly comes and leaves 15 or 20 "suspended coffees" at a time.

"Coffee used to cost a lot and people couldn't afford it, that's how suspended coffee began," he said, adding that he hoped initiatives like "Suspended Coffee Day" would encourage younger people to adopt the practice.

"They haven't known real poverty. I hope young people take it up," he said.

At Nea bar on trendy Piazza Bellini also in Naples, the owners have even published a guide to cafes where the practice is customary.

Co-owner Luigi Solito said he saw it as a "genius" grassroots initiative.

"It is about neighbour helping neighbour without intermediaries," he said.

The custom became most widespread during the lean days after World War II -- when the sprawling port city suffered a devastating social crisis.

While the situation may not be as desperate as back then and the poverty not as visible, need is growing amid Italy's longest post-war recession.

"The increase in poverty and the economic crisis in the last few years have brought back habits from the post-war period," Del Bufalo said.

"There is a need for these systems of mutual solidarity," he said.

At Pizzeria Oliva in the working-class Sanita district north of the city centre, the "suspended coffee" has been replaced by "suspended pizza".

"We noticed there were a lot of people coming who had a real economic need," said Ciro Oliva, the 21-year-old manager of the restaurant.

"Pizza is the daily bread that Jesus left us. We have to share it," he said.

Customers leave something extra and depending on the amounts, the owners write up on a chalk boards how many free pizzas are going that day.

"People are often ashamed to ask. It's tough for people who have always been able to afford food," he said.

The pizzeria even offers a delivery service for the free pizzas, bringing them to humble homes or the homeless in the streets.

Oliva said around 20 percent of recipients are Neapolitans and 80 percent are immigrants -- mostly Romanians and Sri Lankans.

They give out around 15-20 "suspended pizzas" a week and generous customers leave around two a day.

One recipient on the night AFP visited was Peppe Bocchetti, a scruffy 50-year-old unemployed local who used to work as a fruit vendor and now survives with a portion of his sister's pension.

"I get 350 euros a month and I can't live on that," he said.

Source: AFP
Font : A-A+



Recommended Readings

Latest Lifestyle and Wellness News

Work Breaks - Need of the Hour to Counteract Prolonged Sitting
Prolonged sitting among office goers, pose risk of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, hypertension, and certain types of cancers.
Fear of Garlic Bad Breath? Try Deodorizing Effect of Yogurt
Yogurt's protein and fat content demonstrated its unidentified deodorizing properties against garlic's pungent odor.
Smoking Tobacco and Cannabis Tied to Depression Risk
People who smoke tobacco and cannabis have an increased risk of depression and anxiety than those who use either substance alone or not at all.
Prevent Cognitive Decline in High-Activity Jobs
Research reveals the association between cognitive impairment and physically demanding careers, emphasizing the need for preventative strategies.
Physical Activity's Importance in Combating Sedentary Lifestyle
Excessive and protracted sedentary mode of life can result in cardiovascular problems, loss of muscle mass, increased body fat, and more.
View All
This site uses cookies to deliver our services.By using our site, you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Cookie Policy, Privacy Policy, and our Terms of Use  Ok, Got it. Close
Greetings! How can I assist you?MediBot

Naples Marks 'Suspended Coffee Day' a Remarkable Tradition Amid Social Crisis Personalised Printable Document (PDF)

Please complete this form and we'll send you a personalised information that is requested

You may use this for your own reference or forward it to your friends.

Please use the information prudently. If you are not a medical doctor please remember to consult your healthcare provider as this information is not a substitute for professional advice.

Name *

Email Address *

Country *

Areas of Interests