This tip for travelling in Italy that comes from our much-loved Florence tour guide, Brenda.
Don’t over-order food.
On any holiday in Italy, it’s tempting to want to try as many different foods as possible. Indeed, many people travel to Italy just for the food (and with good reason).
It is however considered bad manners not to eat all that is on your plate. Not finishing your meal in a restaurant may result in concerned questions from the wait staff or even the chef coming out to see what was wrong with the food.
Italians have a lot of respect for food, which forms a large part of their culture. From cultivating the best quality fresh ingredients right through to serving the carefully prepared recipes, much care is spent. To be wasteful is thus almost an affront.
Considering that for most Italians, a meal is comprised of a starter (like pasta or risotto) and a main (occasionally with a vegetable side), you will find that portions are usually generous but not exaggerated.
Wait staff are usually quite good at suggesting how many dishes you should order. Indeed, some will even tell you if you are ordering too much!
If you’re not that hungry, it’s customary to ask for a smaller serving size. Instead of a main meal, it is also possible to order an ‘antipasto’ – an appetiser – in its place.
Some dishes can also be shared amongst the table, like the sides and even the famous Florentine beefsteak, where one is divided amongst two or three people.
Keep in mind that Italy does not have a doggy-bag culture, and indeed most restaurants are not equipped to provide leftovers to take away.
Bonus tips for eating in Italy:
– Cappuccini is a breakfast coffee, not for consuming after a meal due to it being too heavy on the stomach. Order an espresso or a macchiato (an espresso ‘stained’ with a dash of milk) instead.
– Don’t put parmesan cheese on top of seafood pastas and risottos. Most Italian dishes will not mix seafood and dairy.
– You don’t use a spoon to eat spaghetti, use the plate as the base on which to twist the strands around your fork.