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destination • November 2nd, 2021

Food culture in Italy


The world-famous Italian food culture goes beyond checkered tablecloths, plates of pasta, and fine red wine. There are many food choices and eating methods to explore when traveling through different Italian regions. Let’s dive into the subject of traditional Italian cuisine, and explore how the Italians like to wine and dine.

Home food

In Italy, food is more defined by its quality and simplicity than by the variety of ingredients it contains. In most authentic Italian dishes, there are only a few ingredients: pizza Margherita, for instance, has only four. Food culture in Italy focuses on fresh ingredients and simple recipes that let the natural flavours shine.  

Italians usually start the day with a strong cup of espresso and a cornetto, a small pastry similar to a croissant. Lunch can consist of a quick sandwich or a slice of pizza, or a more elaborate meal with several dishes. A popular lunch option with the Romans is the ‘tavola calda’, where food is ordered at a counter or selected from an array of pre-made dishes. This is an inexpensive and relatively quick way to have a nice hot lunch.  

For dinner at home, Italians tend to eat sometimes soup, salad or pasta, followed by a second dish that may include different meats and types of fish.

Restaurant food

Italian restaurants typically open for lunch from 12 pm to 2 pm and close until 7 pm, when they will re-open for dinner. Italian menus are usually divided into antipasti (appetizers), primi (first courses) and secondi (second courses) followed by contorni (side sides) and dolci (desserts).  

You can end your dining experience with a coffee and digestif. Typical Italian digestives are limoncello (a sweet lemony liquor), amaro (bitter liquor) or the popular grappa (made from distilled grape skins).  

Italians like to eat slow, take their time, and enjoy an excellent culinary experience in good company. Good to know: Italians never cut their spaghetti, but twist it around their fork like a pro.

Discover Italian food for yourself

Find an overview of the best Italian restaurants here. You can easily book your table through our website and experience the exquisite Italian food culture for yourself.

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