Italian Food Customs and Traditions



Italian food customs are many and they vary throughout the peninsula but there is consensus over some rules of Italian food culture. These are some of the Italian food culture rules accepted all over our country.

Meal Times

Timing of meals is crucial. Lunch is served at 1.00 PM and dinner at 8.00 PM. In northern Italy it can be a little earlier and a little later towards the south but don’t dream of eating at 4.00, the restaurant kitchens are closed until dinner time.

Italian Food Menu

A complete menu is composed of an “antipasto, primo, secondo, contorno, dolce, frutta e formaggi”. Nobody is capable of such a feat on an ordinary day. Most meals are composed of two courses, a “primo” (pasta or rice) and/or a “secondo” (meat or fish) and a “contorno” (side dish).

Never in the Same Plate

Every dish is served in a different plate, mixing is strongly discouraged.


Salad is considered a side dish and, even if you order it as a starter, your request will be probably ignored.

Fruit and Cheese

Meals are generally closed with fresh fruits, often cheeses and coffee.


Cappuccino is served only for breakfast, never at the end of a meal. If you can’t resist the impulse of ruining a good meal with milk, ask for a “caffe’ macchiato”, coffee with just a drop of milk. It is considered an acceptable alternative to cappuccino.

Drinking Milk

Drinking milk at lunch or dinner is simply unheard of, it will kill the flavor of whatever you are eating and the relationship with the waiter.


Acceptable drinks during a meal are wine, mineral water, beer and, only for kids, sodas.

No Cheese on Seafood

Never sprinkle or grate cheese on seafood or fish. The strong cheese flavor would murder the seafood aroma. Try it only at your own risk, most restaurants will decline any responsibility over the results.


Most of the best Italian dishes start with a “soffritto”. It is generally made with onion, carrot and celery, finely cut and lightly fried in a little olive oil.

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The author of this article was born and raised in the Italian region of Le Marche. In her site you will find insider tips on the attractions, typical food and wines of this beautiful and still undiscovered Italian area. Article Source: