When people think of Italy, they think of its rich history, culture, and, of course, its food. The land of pasta, pizza, gelato, and risotto beckons to the culinary-minded traveler. However, many don’t realize that there is an intricate set of rules that must be followed when eating in Italy, and they’re definitely more complicated than just knowing not to ask for pineapple on a pizza. Don’t worry, though. I’ve got you covered with this comprehensive list of food and drink dos and don’ts:
1. Don’t order a cappuccino after 12 pm
It’s considered a drink for the morning only.
2. Do order an espresso after any meal
There’s never a bad time to drink espresso, even after dinner. It’s a common practice.
3. Don’t drink to get wasted (if you’re trying to blend in).
It’s just not a part of the culture and makes you very obviously a tourist. If you’re with your friends and want to party, by all means — we’re college students on the trip of a lifetime — have fun and be safe. Just don’t expect to seem like a true Italian.
4. Do drink wine with dinner and end the meal with a shot of grappa or limoncello
5. Don’t take the bread that’s served when you sit down and douse it in olive oil and balsamic vinegar
It’s actually a very American thing to do. Note, I still did it anyway — it’s delicious.
6. Do use the aforementioned bread to wipe up and eat any leftover sauce from your meal
This is called “fare la scarpetta.”
7. Don’t eat bread with a pasta dish
8. Do feel free to get both a pasta dish and a meat dish
It’s technically what you’re supposed to do.
9. Don’t put cheese on a seafood dish
This has old, old Catholic origins relating to lean and fat days. I actually had a friend who asked for parmesan to put on her salmon risotto and our waiter refused at first, telling her it was wrong.
10. Don’t buy gelato from shop that has it stacked high
Those are tourist traps. The best gelato shops have the gelato in canisters that are often closed.
11. Do try everything and anything
You never know if lampredotto might be your next favorite food.