(AGI) Rome, Oct 15 - Italy's most famous cafes responded toreports that Starbucks is planning to open branches in thecountry, stating that they are ready to take on the Americangiant and prove their coffee's superiority. "Coffee istradition and charm, habit and style," said Antonio Sergio, oneof the owners of the Gambrinus bar in Naples. "Starbucks is afrivolous way of enjoying coffee, light-years from ours. Itmight catch on with my children's children, but today, I can'timagine a Starbucks here in Piazza del Plebiscito, just as Icouldn't see a McDonald's opening here despite the chain beingwilling to spend a mountain of money to grab the most visiblecorner of the square, without managing to," he added. Just ashe doesn't fear the Seattle-based company's style, Sergiodoesn't believe in exporting the "Gambrinus model". "We've hadfranchising offers, but it would take a lot to bring ourcharacteristics to London, New York, or Tokyo," he commented.Walter Sanso', head of food and beverages at the historic Covapastry shop in Milan, shrugged at the prospect of Starbucksopening a cafe' in his city. "Asking Cova if it's worried aboutStarbucks arriving is like asking a Michelin-star restaurant ifit's worried about a trattoria [a casual, small Italianrestaurant, ed.]. Cova has a certain kind of target, Starbuckshas a different one. We're quite happy and in any case, wewelcome competition, we consider it stimulating. The historicMarchesi pastry shop opened accross the street recently, anddidn't present a problem." Rome's famous "Tazza d'Oro", adestination for both Romans and tourists that is a stone'sthrow from the Pantheon, also expressed confidence. "The twothings are entirely different. American coffee has little incommon with artisanal and high-quality Italian coffee. If we'retalking Starbucks, we're not talking Italian espresso," theysaid. Francesco Massaro, owner of the historic Massaro bar inone of Palermo's most popular neighbourhoods for street food,had a slightly different take. "I remember when McDonald'sopened in Palermo. Everyone was perplexed and many believed itwouldn't be able to catch on due to the city's unique culinaryhistory, which is very attached to street food," he said."Today, over 10 years later, McDonald's has been successful andI think the same thing would happen with Starbucks: it wouldhave its share of the market that wouldn't take anything awayfrom a bar like mine." (AGI).