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What can be better than visiting Italy?  Eating the food in Italy!

Here are some tips that will help you eat like a local:

Choose the right restaurant–

  • When the sign says Authentic Trattoria but the menu is in 12 different languages, walk on by
  • When there is a “host” standing in the front (or worse-outside), walk on by.  Most great local restaurants don’t need one

Don’t butter your bread–

  • Most Italians don’t butter their bread.  Some may use olive oil but many will use the bread as a utensil— to help scoop up the food before putting it in your mouth!

Salad doesn’t come before the meal—

  • In the US, we eat salad first but not so in Italy.  Salad will come with the main plate.
  • Don’t expect mixed salad dressing.  Just use the oil and vinegar which will be on the table.

Eating Pasta is an art—

  • Never cut pasta with a knife and fork and never use a spoon to swirl your spaghetti.  The only utensil Italians use for their pasta is a fork.
  • If you want pasta with meat, it’s call ragu style
  • If you want a cream sauce, then order pasta with panna
  • Serving spaghetti with meatballs is not Italian.  If you want meatballs, order Polpette as a 2nd course.

Coffee etiquette–

  • Cappuccino is for the morning only.  Don’t make the mistake of ordering it after dinner
  • If you want a coffee after your meal, order expresso
  • If you are in a cafe and you just want to sit down and have a cup of coffee, the charge will be 2 or 3 times as much as if you stand to drink your coffee.

Tipping in Italy–

  • Tipping in Italy is very different than tipping in the US where we typically leave between 15 and 20%.
  • If there is a service charge (servizio) listed on the menu, then no tipping is required or expected.
  • If there is no service charge listed, the standard tip would be 5-10%.
  • If you’re not sure if the service charge has been added it, you can ask for an itemized bill (il conto dettagliato)


Thank you to the Bettoja Hotels for these great tips.