7 Things to Know About Eating and Drinking in Italy

You’ve just gotten the big news that you’ll be heading to Italy for business and you’re ready to start packing! But as you begin throwing items into your suitcase a cold chill runs down your spine. You realize that you have no clue what food and drink etiquette is like in Italy! Don’t let fear of a faux pas keep you from taking that exciting journey though, instead consider these 7 food and drink mistakes you should avoid while in Italy:

1. Keep cappuccinos for the morning.

Italy is legendary for its amazing coffee, which may tempt you into chugging down those tasty cappuccinos morning, noon, and night. A true Italian, however, reserves his or her cappuccino for breakfast and usually drinks it while munching something sweet. If you simply MUST have some coffee at lunch or dinner, never drink it during the meal, instead order yourself an espresso once you’ve polished off your plate!


2. Don’t put ketchup on your pizza or pasta.

This is a major no-no and most Italians will be shocked if they see you doing it. Italy is the home of pasta and pizza, so it truly doesn’t get any better than this! Why ruin the delicious flavors by dumping a bunch of tomatoey sauce on your food?

3. Italians love late dinners.

If you ask an Italian, they’ll generally tell you that dinnertime is around 7 p.m. but this is in fact not the case. Perhaps locals start thinking about what they want to have for dinner when the clock strikes 7, but most won’t get around to eating until closer to 9. You’ll have to train your stomach to hold out if you’re used to early 6 p.m. dinners!

4. Drink only wine or water with food.

Italians take their food very seriously which means that drinking a soda while eating pasta is a no-go. Sugary drinks like these will mess with your palate, making the food experience less intense; which is why you’ll generally see tables set with sparkling water and wine for the optimal food-enjoying experience! Not to worry, if you are craving a cocktail, you can order one – just make sure you wait until after dinner is finished.


5. No salad dressing.

Locals are purists when it comes to their salads so you’ll only get weird looks if you start asking the waiter to bring you Ranch or French dressing. Instead, reach for the olive oil and vinegar. Once you taste this combo on your salad, you’ll never want to go back to your old way of decorating your veggies again!

6. Take your time eating.

There’s no rush in Italy. As mentioned above, Italians take their food seriously and love putting in the time to enjoy it. Don’t scarf down your food, eat slowly and take your time. As locals also believe eating quickly is bad for the health, you may get one or two health lectures if you start eating too fast!

Penne Rustica

7. Don’t order pepperoni pizza and expect meat.

That’s right, everything you’ve known your whole life about pepperoni pizza is a lie. In Italy, the word ‘peperoni’ is plural for bell pepper so if you cry out that you want a pepperoni pizza you’ll end up with a bunch of veggie slivers on your pizza instead. ‘Pizza al salamino,’ ‘pizza diavola,’ or ‘pizza calabrese’ are all pepperoni-style pies, so memorize these words and keep them close at hand for when you crave some meat on your pizza!

Enjoying Italy’s food and drink is a way to also take in this vibrant country’s culture. But don’t get left behind when it comes to placing your order or chatting with colleagues over long and drawn-out, late dinners. Work on your Italian skills with some top-rate language classes or take a free online placement test to find out your language level. These great classes should leave you more than ready to say ‘Ciao!’ to Italy’s wonderful food ethos!