Laura Lesèvre is a visiting Italian journalist visiting from Milan. In the leadup to Italian Week, we recruited an Italian to look over Brisbane with an Italian eye.
Smiling people, amazing weather, great coffee: This is all I knew about Brisbane before arriving in Australia. It’s not much to start on perhaps, but definitely worth looking into and finding out more about.
Sure enough, the first thing I noticed after a few minutes here were the smiling faces: no stress, no “no time, no time” frowns which are so common to big cities. Here, people smile at you, even if they don’t know you for no special reason, simply for the sake of it. It makes you feel so welcome.
And the weather: no wonder Queensland is called The Sunshine State. To arrive here from Milan at the tail end of the north Italy winter is taking a jump into a different world: a world of sunshine and blue sky.
And then, there’s the coffee. Italians drink coffee at every hour of the day and think no other country has good quality coffee. They are wrong. The cappuccino from the New Farm Deli & Cafe and the espresso at the Death Before Decaf with its hardcore soul 24/7, are amongst the best I have had in my life. I couldn’t believe it: it took me 16,000 kilometres from Italy to taste such great coffee.
Smiling people, amazing weather, great coffee. But there is more to Brisbane. If Italians are picky about coffee, they are definitely fussy about food. Italian food is excellent – that’s a fact. But while Italian food is great, there is not as much focus on foreign cuisines – even in the main cities. I am speechless at the number of restaurants, takeaway and bars that suit any taste. From the Japanese to the French, passing through the Thai to the Nepalese and the Indian to the Mexican, it feels like you can travel across the world without actually leaving Brisbane – and that’s just going out for dinner.
People here clearly enjoy good food and good company. You can get a grasp of this lifestyle from Jan Powers Powerhouse Markets at the Brisbane Powerhouse: start your tour with coffee and a French croissant while being entertained by live musicians. Pack your bag with farm-fresh fruit and vegetables, meat and fish and find more time to indulge in crepes, dumplings, Italian pizzas and Dutch pancakes. This colourful market with its social slant reflects Brisbane’s personality: lively, fun and vibrant.
Another reflection of its fresh personality is in Brisbane’s music scene. There are so many places to listen to great live music, especially in the Valley. The bars are so close to each other that you can literally jump from one place to another, and always find absolutely cool music. And the Festivals: from Buddha’s Birthday Festival to International Film Festivals, the Jazz Festival, the Paniyiri Greek Festival and Italian Week: there’s a Festival every month of the year celebrating so many different things.
Brisbane offers the best things typical of a big international city with the laidback lifestyle of a small town. While it’s been a month since I first arrived, there are so many things I still have to discover about this city. So far, I can say, Brisbane is absolutely my cup of coffee.