Emphasizing on the dining etiquette in Italy for Tourists is important in order to ensure that they do not unnecessarily or accidentally offend the locals. This holds true not only in Italy, but virtually anywhere that you want to go. It is not surprising to find out that some of the etiquettes in Italy may considerably differ from those in other countries. For example, it is considered taboo to bring food into the church or sip from a water bottle while inside.
The table manners are generally formal, which means that it would be an extremely rare instance to see Italians share their food, and you should be aware to follow it. Calling for waiter service across the room is likewise highly regarded as impolite. Tourists who smoke should be aware that smoking is prohibited in every public establishment. When it comes to dining etiquette in Italy for Tourists, here are some of the more important tips to remember.
1. Pasta and Pizza
These are considered as staple food in Italy. Tourists should do well to remember never to use spoon when eating spaghetti or noodles, unless you want to be laughed at. The acceptable manner is to use the plate to twist the noodles on the fork. The pasta is always eaten before the salad, and these two foods must never be on the same plate, this is a huge sin for Italians. The salad is served on dinner plates, while lasagna will be placed in shallow bowls.
When it comes to pizza, never eat it with your hands; make use of the fork and knife that comes with it. Tourists should never expect their pizza to be served pre-cut. Pizza is the equivalent of steak in the United States, which means bite-sized pieces should be cut off. The crispiness should be enjoyed by chewing it slowly. Salads do not have a choice of dressing, which means salt and olive oil are standard.
2. Holiday Food
Travelling there during the holidays may be quite different than expected, which further highlights the need to understand dining etiquette in Italy for Tourists. Pasta is not the traditional dish served for Christmas and New Year, but lentils. Hearty lentil dishes are commonly served with cooked salami or a whole pig’s leg. The lentils are believed to symbolize financial luck for the New Year.
There will be an abundance of special holiday cakes that contain nuts and fruits. It is similar to fruit cake, but definitely lighter. This type of sweet is called Panettone and represents just one of the special holiday confections available in bakeries.
3. Cup of Joe
Tourists who travel to Italy also expect to get their fair share of coffee-based treats. However, before ordering your cup of Joe, you should consider the dining etiquette in Italy for Tourists. When ordering before noon, cappuccino is the only acceptable form, and in the afternoon, espresso is the choice. After meals, it is usually espresso that is served upon ordering.
When you drink espresso in a bar, do not expect to be seated. Normally, drinking espresso means standing, because this is not intended to be a lingering drink. Its name literally translates to fast, which means get in, drink, and get out, no need to be seated. If you intend to have only coffee, you will have to be content drinking standing up.
4. Wine Experience
House wines in many Italian restaurants usually come in white and red selections and are widely considered affordable. To have that unique Italian experience, you must try the local wines aside from the house wines, which is also specially blended. You must be aware that house wines do not mean lower alcohol content, so if you cannot handle your alcohol, you must take caution. Normally, multiple servings of wine come with every meal, including desert. Despite the culture for chugging beers, sipping cocktails, and other alcoholic drinks, public drunkenness is extremely frowned upon.
5. Understand your water
There are two kinds of water usually served when dining in Italy; the Aqua Gassata or Frizzante, which contains bubbles, and Non-Gassata or Naturale, which has no bubbles. There is also the choice of tap water which is considered safe for drinking. Bottled water though is preferred by Italians mostly because of its taste. It is acceptable to order tap water, but be aware that in many parts of Italy the flavor may not be good and can be hard due to calcium content.
6. Sit or Stand
Tourists must realize that in majority of bars in Italy, they will be charged higher if they occupy a table, even if it is self-serve. This is because the focus of bars is the fast turnover rate of customers, which is why a table service charge is in effect. This does not sit well with Tourists who want to rest their feet and catch the scenery. Bars usually want to make the most profit from the space they occupy, which is why you may find the price of cappuccino ridiculous when served at your table.
7. Service Tips
Another dining etiquette in Italy for Tourists that must be observed comes when paying for your meal. The bill will never be placed on the table unless the customer asks for it, unless it is already closing time. Expect to see 1 to 3 Euros on your bill as service tips are automatically added to your check, and must be placed on the receipt. In restaurants that do not automatically add service tips, exceptional service can be rewarded by as much as 10 Euros.
It is important to be aware that in some localities customers may be charged for the silverware, tablecloth, and others. Tourists must take their receipt before leaving as proof of payment and that the restaurant actually rang it in the cash register; this is for tax purposes. Tourists must be aware that there are plenty of plain clothes police that can stop them before leaving the restaurant and ask to see the receipt.
Being aware of the proper dining etiquette in Italy for Tourists not only allows you to conform with the customs of the locality, but with existing laws as well.