Do as The Italians Do: The typical Italian meal

Do as The Italians Do: The typical Italian meal

On our tours to Italy, we try our best to achieve a balance between each day by incorporating a light picnic or pizza party amongst the various feasts (and even then, most of our travelers tell us there is more than enough food!). We encourage our travelers to eat what they can and try new things! After all, there may never again be another opportunity to eat some of the dishes the chefs have prepared with such pride and passion! 

Below you will find what a typical Italian’s day of eating may look like. It also demonstrates how and what you will eat in a day on one of our tours! So whether you’re prepping for one of our tours, travel on your own, or just wanting to incorporate a little bit of Italy into your daily routine, read on!

Meal #1: Breakfast or Colazione

  • Italians like their breakfasts simple and sweet. Many Italians will stop at a cafe (or as they call it, un bar) and order a quick espresso or cappuccino and maybe a pastry. On our tours, we will enjoy breakfast each morning at the hotel. You can typically expect cappuccinos, assorted pastries or cornetti, yogurts, and possibly a buffet of fruits, cereals, cheese and meats.

Meal #2: Lunch or Pranzo

  • For the sake of today’s blog, let’s say that we decide to have a lighter lunch (those cornetti were too delicious to just have one!). Many Italians on-the-go may stop at a bar again or sandwich shop (paninoteca) to grab a sandwich (panino) or buy just a slice or two of pizza (pizza al taglio). If you still want a light lunch, but have some time, stop at the market to pick up some bread (pane), cheese (formaggio), meat (like prosciutto), and even wine (vino). Walk to the park and bring a blanket or find a bench - voila! A picnic!
  • On one of our tours, a light lunch may consist of appetizers, a main course, and then dessert only, instead of the full 5-course Italian meal. But don't worry..there will always be wine!

Meal #3: Dinner or Cena

  • The time has come! La cena! As you probably already know, food is so important in Italy. Everything revolves around it: the day, conversations, socializing, even health. Italians have organized the order of their meal based on digestion. Each course is in a particular order because they believe that the food will be the easiest to digest that way. For example, the side dish (contorno), usually a salad or vegetable, is saved for the end of a meal. They believe the fiber from the vegetable will aid in - you guessed it - digestion!
  • A meal in Italy is a long, leisurely event lasting several hours, usually ending with un caffe (an espresso). We will typically begin dinner around 8 or 8:30p.m. Let’s take a look at our typical five course meal:
      • Antipasto - Slightly heavier starters, and usually consists of several different dishes. Examples would be various charcuterie, cheeses, bruschetta, vegetables, mixed seafood, frittata, etc.
      • Primo - The first course, heavier than the antipasto, but lighter than the secondo. Usually a pasta, risotto, or soup.
      • Secondo - This course would include the main protein of the meal - a meat or fish.
      • Contorno - A contorno is a side dish and commonly served alongside the secondo (but in a separate dish.) Usually a vegetable.
      • Dolce - Dessert!
      • Digestivo -
      • A digestive
      • - could be an espresso (un caffe) or a liqueur like Amaretto.

Coperto & Tipping:

  • What is the coperto charge on your bill? This is a restaurant service charge, which covers things like cutlery, napkins, laundry & supplies. It is usually just a couple of euros/person. 
  • Tipping in Italy is not expected but always welcome! It would be considered a bonus for exceptional service, and would make it clear that you appreciated the service provided. 

And there you have it! A full day of eating like an Italian - whether you are looking for a way to romanticize your life here in the States, on your own in Italy, or traveling with us! Keep in mind that Italians may add some “snack times” too. Many will have a second coffee drink in the late morning. Also popular is the aperitivo, or what we could compare to our Happy Hour. Just remember to take your time and enjoy! Mangia!!

Comments 0

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published