7 food and drink tips when visiting Italy

If you’re anything like me, you will agree that Italy has some of the best food in the world! Each time we visited Italy, we learnt something different about what to expect when it comes to eating and drinking in this special country.

These 7 tips will help prepare you for your visit.

#1 Be prepared to pay coperto [koh-PEHR-toh]

You may notice coperto [koh-PEHR-toh] on your bill, this is a per-person fee, due in many restaurants in Italy. It’s basically a cover-charge and from our experience, averages around €2 per person. You can expect this just about everywhere, except Rome. I have been told that the Lazio region is legally not allowed to charge a coperto and Rome is part of the Lazio region.

#2 Ordering coffee in Italy

Our first trip to Italy, I asked for milk to go with my cappuccino. Well, let’s say my coffee taste improved over time and thankfully I learned how to enjoy espresso so ordering coffee in Italy is a breeze for me. Give it a go, after all, you’re ordering coffee, not a cup of milk with a dash of coffee, right?

#3 Be prepared for 5-course meals!

I remember our first trip to Italy was with a tour and each meal consisted of 5 courses. Antipasto, primo, secondo, contorno and dolce. This translates to appetizer, first course, second course, side dish and dessert. You will find that primo is usually a pasta option and secondo meat. This amount of food is normal for the Italians, but for a tourist, it’s quite tricky to get through!!

#4 Pizza should have minimal topping

Living in Australia, the more toppings on your pizza the better. WRONG!

Traditional Italian pizza’s in our opinion, are just the best. The bases are so thin and often so soft that you need to fold the slice in half just to get it in your mouth without the topping sliding off. The topping is usually minimal, but buffalo mozzarella is a must in my opinion. If you go asking for extras on your pizza, especially tomato sauce or mayo (yes, apparently some people do this!!?), it is considered rude to the cook and shows bad taste (I tend to agree!).

Look for where the locals buy their pizza and order it there. You’ll find you won’t need to add anything to it! We did it Naples and this was the result (the best pizza we’ve EVER had)

#5 Visit a family owned Trattoria outside of the tourist area

The hotel Concierge can be extremely, helpful- ask them where they would recommend eating and where their family would go. You’re really looking for a restaurant or trattoria a few blocks away from the main tourist area. I guarantee you will have a much nicer meal and probably half the price.

Highly recommended, but don’t expect the menu to be in English!

#6 Gelato options!

Firstly, you have to get Gelato, there is no way around that. But, if you are noticing the colours are a bit bland it is because they don’t put any artificial colours or flavours in their ice cream. It is natural and pure quality. As an example, if you see a banana gelato, it may look greyish rather than bright yellow. My personal recommendation is a lemon sorbet – on a hot Italian summers day, you can’t go past it!

 #7 Visit a local food market

Even if you don’t buy anything, it is a great experience. However, if you have some time you will be able to explore and get some delicious local goodies. Some vendors will offer you free samples of cheese, pieces of bread, olives etc. Why not check it out!

Visiting Italy

If you are looking for some Italian inspiration, check out our Italy page for some suggested itineraries and holiday ideas.

Do you have any other suggestions on this topic? Let me know in the comments below!

“It is not down in any map; true places never are.” – Herman Melville

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