Cafes across Naples recently 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 from here,” 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.
1. suspend v.
延後某事發生 (yan2 hou4 mou3 shi4 fa1 sheng1)
例: The judge suspended the hearing for one week.
2. by word of mouth adv. phr.
口耳相傳 (kou2 er3 xiang1 chuan2)
例: We found this hotel by word of mouth.
3. lean adj.
(pin2 ji2 de5; pin2 fa2 de5; shou1 yi4 cha1 de5)
例: Those were lean years for the company.