It’s not enough to know WHERE and WHAT to eat when you travel. You also need to learn a little about the HOW of it. Following the local food customs can significantly reduce friction between visitors and locals while increasing the overall enjoyment of your stay.
When it comes to food and drink, every culture has its rules. And Rome is no exception.
Take a minute to check out these 14 tips so you can eat like a local in Italy’s capital.
- Don’t eat within 10 feet of any monument in the Old Center (including the Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, Pantheon, and the Colosseum). You could be slapped with a hefty fine!
- Romans don’t walk around eating their food, regardless of the neighborhood. The only exception to the rule is…
- Grab a cone for the evening stroll (passeggiata) along Via del Corso. Both the stroll and the gelato are an essential part of daily life in Rome.
- Don’t ask to sample a bunch of different flavors. Pick one and commit.
- If the person behind the counter asks ‘con panna‘ (with cream), the answer is YES!
- Only order cappuccino in the morning. And never with a meal! Anytime after noon, you should order an espresso. In Italy, espresso is the exclamation mark at the end of a meal!
- Drink your coffee standing up at the bar. It costs extra (sometimes as much as 3 euro per person!) to sit down.
- Don’t ask for your coffee to go. There are no paper cups and no such thing as take-out. (You also won’t find any sprinkles or syrups to drizzle on top.)
AT THE MARKET
- Don’t touch the tomatoes! Or anything else. Ask the vendor for what you want. (Point if you’re Italian isn’t up to snuff.)
- You don’t need to tip in Italy. You’re probably already paying a supplement through the servizio (service charge) on your restaurant bill and/or the coperto (cover charge), sometimes both.
- If you still want to tip, just round up the bill a few euros.
- The proper way to eat long pasta is with a fork. Just a fork. No spoon. No knife.
- Take three or four strands, then twist them around your fork until you have the perfect bite.
- And for heaven’s sake, don’t slurp! 🙂
Want to learn more about the intricacies of the Eternal City’s culinary culture? Then take a delicious self-guided food tour through Rome’s historic center where you’ll discover some of the city’s finest prosciutto, pizza, pasta, and more.
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