Last year I thoroughly enjoyed an outing to Estepona (West of San Pedro de Alcántara, heading towards Gibraltar) and compared it to a less developed and less touristy Marbella. My companion and I discovered a clothing chain called Baileys - mainly due to their shop being one of the few open during siesta. Rico, my friend, discovered that the Spanish body-shape used by the store’s suppliers suits him better than that used by UK clothing retailers. And so we decided on another visit. Rico ended up with a couple of pairs of new jeans and some new tops. Even I was persuaded to purchase a lightweight over-top, which has come in rather useful here in Benalmádena, where the days are more often than not as warm as an English summer, but where, once the sun sets, the coolness of an English Autumn quickly saps the diurnal heat.
Naturally, after some serious shopping, we were in need of refreshment. We would have settled for tapas, but Rico espied a small square (more rhomboid really!) we had not discovered previously. We crossed the road and were pleasantly surprised to determine that it was solely filled with eateries, other than a classy (high-end) lighting emporium.
La Italiana’s outer façade (see image above) is nothing special: it appears as hundreds of other café-bars in Spain. What lured us inside was the enticing aroma of fresh coffee…
Inside (see image above), we were still prepared to go for savoury until we spotted the cake counter (see image below), filled with mouth-watering confections.
I opted for a meringue-topped, vanilla and light pastry concoction; Rico for the world-renowned Torta de Santiago [de Compostela], a dense yet unexpectedly light almond cake. Yet even the sweetness of the cakes did not detract from the smooth, delicately nutty, just the right side of bitter, Lavazza coffees.
The Italian waiter was on his own whilst the waitress was away on her lunch-break, but he coped admirably - with grace, amiability and politeness - with the large numbers of constantly changing covers. As ever in Spain (unlike in some Italian tourist spots), there was no rush for us to go. We took photos; we people-watched; we used the spotless conveniences; we had a second coffee. And so we were totally relaxed when it finally was time for us to take our exit.