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Photo courtesy of mintfoods.com.au

One of the joys, arguably the principal joy, of staying at a B&B is the breakfast part of the equation. We almost always seek out small B&B’s when we travel. Sometimes the decor is plain, sometimes fussy, the beds sometimes too small or not terribly comfortable. We almost always find a level of cleanliness Expatriate could only hope to emulate in her own home. And of course, the best part: breakfast! In Germany and Austria the array of cold sliced meats and cheeses is mouth-watering. In England the FEB (full English breakfast) with fried tomatoes, mushrooms and cold toast in that silly toast-holder is a good reason to get up early.

If you visit Liguria I encourage you to stay at a B&B if that is your preference (and I can even supply the names of a few superb ones), but I must warn you, don’t come anticipating a full cooked breakfast. It’s not that the hosts are lazy or unimaginative; they are simply not permitted to serve anything other than packaged foods for breakfast.  Isn’t that crazy?

There’s a good reason for this sorry state of affairs.  B&B’s are regulated on the regional level in Italy, and there is no inspecting agency to check hygiene and food preparation standards at B&B’s in Liguria.  It’s hard to believe there is a place in Italy where the bureaucracy has declined to put out another tendril, but so it is.  So to protect guests the Ligurian regulations decree that only packaged food can be served.  Ick.  Some (not all) other provinces have such an inspecting agency – and that’s why you can get a ‘real’ breakfast in, say, Tuscany.

So the next time you’re at a B&B and you wonder why your highly anticipated breakfast has turned out to be only buns in a plastic bag, some cookies in a plastic sleeve, cereal in a small box and that’s it… it’s possible that those are the only available permitted foods.  Who knew?

I asked the friend who explained all this to me if eggs were allowed – after all, they come in their own rather elegant packaging.  But one would have to eat the egg raw since cooking is not permitted, and that carries its own risks.  Besides, no self-respecting Italian would eat, or serve, an egg for breakfast. Benvenuto a Rapallo and enjoy your cereal!