Before your next vacation to Italy, review these Italian eating and drinking customs.
It goes without saying that Italians are serious about their food and beverages. Italians have been honing the art of the table for more than 2,000 years since the Romans invented wine and staged extravagant feasts. If you’ve ever visited Italy, you may have observed that there are a lot of unwritten laws governing mealtimes, dining manners, and the best time of day to enjoy a cappuccino. Learn about these (unofficial) guidelines for dining and drinking in Italy before your next trip.
1- Breakfast is a delicious way to start the day
In Italy, a standing cappuccino or espresso with a cornetto or other pastry constitute the ideal breakfast. There are regional pastries that are definitely worth trying, such as maritozzo (a soft bun split and filled with cream) in Rome, sfogliatella (a seashell-shaped pastry with orange-scented ricotta) in Naples and the Amalfi Coast, and brioche with granita in Sicily. You can find cornetti (croissants served plain or filled with jam, cream, or occasionally Nutella) pretty much everywhere.
2- Italians exclusively have cappuccinos at this time of day
While Italians will consume espresso at any time of the day, cappuccinos are only consumed in the morning. This is so that your digestion won’t be hampered by drinking milk after eating. Try a macchiato (espresso with a dollop of milk) or a caffè lungo if a shot of espresso is too powerful for you (coffee with a larger ratio of water to espresso). Although it still uses espresso, caffe americano most closely resembles American-style drip coffee. You may get a caffè freddo (cold, sweetened espresso), a caffè shakerato (similar to an espresso Martini without the alcohol), or a caffè crème di caffè during the sweltering summer months (a creamy, icy coffee drink that comes out of a machine).
One more thing: Requesting your coffee “to go” may mark you as a tourist. Italians are seldom seen strolling about sipping huge mugs of coffee. Why would they do that when it’s so quick and simple to grab an espresso at the bar?