Eat Italy: learn about Italian food culture with Lonely Planet’s new book

Although the Italian dining scene has turn into ever more advanced over the past several decades, incorporating new foodstuff developments these as food vehicles and uncooked bars, the spouse and children run trattoria is even now the country’s most popular eatery. Conventional dining practices also continue to be potent, and distinctive venues keep clearly described roles. One detail to recall: really do not choose a area by its decor. Wonderful food can be served anywhere in Italy. But how do you know an enoteca from a tavola calda, and which a person is ideal for you?

Lonely Planet’s new book Consume Italy is the entire companion to Italy’s cuisine and food items tradition, covering every little thing from regional specialities to cafe etiquette and essential phrases, aiding website visitors get the most out of their gastronomic practical experience. From the frenetic vitality of pizzerias to heat 3rd-technology-operate trattorias, from stylish bars laden with apertivi banquets to contemporary osterie restaurants, this extract from Consume Italy will aid you pick your dining expertise in accordance to your mood and your pocket.

Three plates of lovely vegetarian Italian food on white plates on a table on a lovely outdoor terrace overlooking a beautiful, calm lake, with antique buildings and alpine mountains in the background
Restaurant eating in Italy is saved for special instances fairly than daily meals © photoinnovation / Shutterstock


An agriturismo is a functioning farm presenting lodging, as well as food items created with farm-developed make (some provide foods for lodgers only). They are usually really reasonably priced and rustic, serving regular community foodstuff that the farmer’s family has been cooking for several years. Most are open up only for meal and weekend lunches.


The Italian bar/caffè is a superb establishment, open all working day long (usually from 7:30am to 10pm), serving breakfast pastries, lunchtime sandwiches, spuntini (treats) and aperitivi alongside espresso, delicate drinks, standard cocktails and wine. When buying at a fast paced bar, do so at the till (cassa), then choose your receipt and repeat your buy to the bartender. If the bar is silent and/or you are identified there, the bartender make take your buy and you pay at the finish. There is no difficult and quick rule on this – just observe what the locals do.

A quiet backstreet in Rome with people sat at tables of a corner bar
The bar/caffè serves snacks, meals, and drinks by the day © Catarina Belova / Shutterstock


Ordinarily found in the north of the nation, a birreria is a bar that specializes in promoting beer (usually nearby labels) together with the usual café choices. In the much north, don’t be astonished to see anyone leaning on the bar and consuming a beer for breakfast.

Braceria and rosticceria

A braceria serves a meat-centered menu, usually with a counter exhibiting distinctive cuts of meat. The picked part is then cooked to purchase on an open grill. In the south, several bracerie adjoin the neighborhood butcher’s store. A rosticceria (roastery) is a equivalent strategy, but serves roasted meat instead and also gives the ubiquitous roast-rooster takeaway.


Italians seldom drink without taking in, and you can eat well at quite a few enoteche, wine bars that generally serve snacks this kind of as bruschette (grilled bread topped with tomatoes), crostini (toasts with toppings) and platters of cheeses or chilly meats, salads, and a several uncomplicated incredibly hot dishes.

A group of three female friends eating ice cream in an Italian street
Having ice cream is a large element of Italian life © SolStock / Getty Illustrations or photos


Consuming gelato is as a lot a section of Italian lifetime as early morning espresso – in Sicily, ice product in a brioche bun is a favored breakfast snack. In artisanal gelaterie, flavors are strictly seasonal and ingredients sourced from the very best areas (pistachios from Bronte, chocolate from Turin and so on). In summer months, sorbetti (sorbet) and grattachecca (pretty much “scratched ice” topped with fruit and syrup) also strike the menu. Most gelaterie open up from noon to 1am.


In the previous, osterie were relatives run spots specializing in 1 dish and a vino della casa (property wine). Very similar to a trattoria, their target is on properly-priced, conventional cooking. Present day osterie can be fairly fashionable, and normally activity quick meal-only menus featuring deceptively very simple dishes based mostly on regional ingredients.

A panino (type of sandwich bread) stuffed with offal and a green herby topping
Sample a specialist sandwich at a paninoteca © Susan Wright / Lonely Planet


With a rough translation as a bread roll (panino) put (-teca), this is a professional sandwich shop. Even the most straightforward of fillings, for illustration prosciutto and pecorino, can be a pleasure to eat. Most paninoteche are open up all through regular daytime hours.


Italian sweets and pastries have quite a few influences. Pastry-generating was a regular pastime of nuns, who would provide their wares on festive instances. The Sicilian sweet tooth is motivated by Middle Jap flavors, even though chocolate was brought to Sicily and Naples by the Spaniards. In the north, pasticcerie are modelled on French patisserie parlors and Austrian cake retailers. Pasticcerie also double as cafés, with sweet and savory pastry. Most open from 7am to 7pm.

Pizza entering a wood-burning oven in Napoli
Pizzerias with right wood-fireplace ovens tend to open in the evening only © CatherinaUnger / Getty Photographs


Each and every Italian’s favourite informal (and low-priced) food is a gloriously uncomplicated pizza with a effervescent topping. Most Italians precede their pizza with a starter of bruschette (grilled bread topped with veggies, usually tomatoes) or fritti (mixed fried foods), and wash it down with beer. Pizzerias normally only open up in the night, as their wooden-fired ovens just take a even though to get likely. For a snack on the run, pizza al taglio (pizza by the slice) destinations are open up day-to-day.


For Italians, dining establishments symbolize fine dining venues with dressed tables, smart waiter support, complex menus, thorough wine lists and correspondingly higher costs. Italians usually reserve restaurant dining for dates or distinctive situations relatively than each day foods.

A shot of a plate full of spaghetti on a wooden table
Enjoy merely bowls of spaghetti with a preference of sauces at a spaghetteria © Susan Wright / Lonely Planet


Spaghetterie are simple locations that originated in the road-stalls of Naples, where punters could get easy bowls of spaghetti with a decision of sauces. The identify indicates no-frills but frequently mouth watering pasta and secondi, with correspondingly reduced rates. Spaghetterie are found predominantly in the south, but are a lot less popular these days.

Tavola calda

The old-college quick meals venue, a tavola calda (virtually “hot table”) serves affordable pre-ready pasta, meat and vegetable dishes which you line up for, generally with a tray, cafeteria style. Most are open all day from about 11am.

A stack of baked aubergine with oozing cheese between each slice
Eggplant (aubergine) is in time in August © Antonmaria Galante / Shutterstock


Customarily, trattorias are household run locations that provide a primary, economical community menu. The foodstuff is selfmade and hearty and the provider down-to-earth and amiable. High quality can change in main vacationer metropolitan areas, but exterior of these very hot places the cooking is typically reliably great. Trattorias usually open for both lunch and supper.

How to buy espresso in Italy

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Barbara J. Miriam

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