I can’t help it: food for me is a key part of every travel experience.
Every time I plan a new trip, I also do some research about traditional foods and great culinary experiences to be had in the country I’m visiting.
I can’t split a destination from its food and my memories are filled with flavors more than other things.
If I think of my days in Mexico, my mind goes back to the big bowls of fresh guacamole served with homemade nachos in Isla Mujeres or the super tasty tortas ahogadas eaten under a shady patio in Guadalajara. New York for me is the smell of roasted nuts on the street, while San Diego is a big, fresh fish taco. Tokyo is a huge bowl of spicy udon soup eaten in Shinjuku or an incredible mori soba in a restaurant I’ll never be able to find again, somewhere near Ebisu metro station.
I tend to forget a lot of things, regarding my travels abroad, but I’ll never forget the emotion that food gave me.
That’s why I want to share with you some simple experiences you cannot miss if you come to Italy. I decided to list some things you can do wherever you are in Italy, no matter which city or area you visit. These are things we Italians do quite often, little habits that shape our days and make us what we are. If you try them, you’ll feel a bit more part of the country.
Just one tip, (the most important of all): choose authentic places, the ones where locals go. Ask the manager of the hotel where you are staying, ask the house owner (if you are renting a place), ask a local, or just ask me. I’ll be more than happy to help you pick some cool places to visit, keeping you away from tourist traps allowing you to have a great time.
Here we go! Your not-to-be-missed Italian food experiences!
1. Have breakfast or just a quick coffee at a bar.
Enter a small bar (here in Italy we call bar what is commonly called café everywhere else) and order un cappuccino e una brioche or simply un caffè (you do not need to ask for an espresso, there’s mostly no other coffee here in Italy) and enjoy it at the counter.
Don’t sit down for coffee, we hardly ever do so. Stay at the counter and look around while sipping your coffee. If you master a bit of Italian, chat with the barista or take a look at the daily newspaper which can always be found somewhere in the bar: that’s part of the ritual.
2. Find a pizzeria and enjoy a traditional pizza.
Is there something more typical than a wood-fired pizza in Italy? Going out for a pizza is one of the easiest and more relaxed ways of meeting friends and spending a night out. The quality of the pizza is very high everywhere in Italy, so it is very difficult to make mistakes here. Just choose one that you fancy. Make sure that there is a wood-fired oven and you can’t go wrong.
3. Enjoy a nice aperitivo before lunch or dinner.
In my humble opinion, this is the Italian way of life at its best. Sitting down and relaxing while sipping a glass of wine and munching on some snacks – is there something better? I really don’t think so. Take your time, enjoy your wine, and chit chat about this and that. Just the thought of it makes me relaxed. Wherever you are, if the weather is nice, find a bar with some tables outside, sit down, order your aperitivo and soak in the sun while watching passersby. You won’t regret it.
4. Eat Sunday lunch in a trattoria.
Sunday lunch is a very serious thing here in Italy and you must not miss such an experience. Being something so important, you have to find a good, typical restaurant, possibly a bit far away from the tourist crowds and allow at least a couple of hours to slowly enjoy the food which will be served in heaps. If your choice is right, there will only be good memories.
5. Take a stroll while eating gelato.
You already know, right? This is Italy at its best.