A very important part of  Italian culture is “Eating”, this spans through many ways of life so it’s not that much of a unique facet of it, but as every other culinary culture there are certain rules that make it unique. Plus, we’ve got to keep in mind that all of our articles revolve around Italy. Starting off from the first meal of the day all the way to how to take your caffè after dinner. There are a lot of different Italian habits in the dinner table etiquette, but don’t be afraid you’ll learn them nice and quick.

We could talk about the historic Galateo, a tome that was left by Bishop Galeazzo Florimonte in 1558. A book that put in word the manners that one should have at the dinner table, and one of them is how one should put their napkin on their lap while eating. Plus there are a whole lot of different table etiquette manners that I won’t really be putting in here, cause that isn’t the focus today. Today we focus on table etiquette, at the Italian table. To make it shorter and SEOy Italian dining etiquette.

From what I see many of you are asking yourselves “What is table manners and etiquette” that is a question we can answer in part in the next paragraphs, we’ll teach you about Italian etiquette for tourists in Italy.

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Let’s look at this Italian dining etiquette and Italian etiquette tips together from Breakfast to the Amazzacaffè.


La Colazione, or Breakfast, isn’t as slow and heavy as in many other countries. What is a typical breakfast in Italy? Italian eating etiquette promotes a quick coffee and a pastry that you usually will eat while standing at the bar. I’ll tell you when I first realized this I was a bit baffled, I personally used to enjoy sitting down for breakfast and taking my time, but now I take my coffee standing up even when I’m at home. Also, there is one unwritten rule that we’ve already talked about in another article, and that is how you should only have a Cappuccino in the morning, but really do whatever you want, I’ve seen Italians be all cool and dandy about the laws of Italian food culture, and then jones for a Grande Caramel Macchiato at SB.


Lunch time is a bit more convivial, and the main focus on this time of the day is the way you consume bread. It’s the norm in Italian manners and customs that for lunch you’re probably going to mostly eat carbs. So, let’s say you order a nice place of Pasta al Pomodoro (see I’m including everyone) and while you’re waiting at the table, you have a nice plate of bread right in the middle of the table, a centrepiece fit for the Gods of Old Olympus, the Gods Old and New (getting those Game of Thrones references cause I’m excited) and you have the urge to have a piece before you eat. DO NOT, I mean you can, but Italian table etiquette imposes that you wait for the main course to arrive, so you don’t spoil your appetite. Plus, you need that bread to clean the plate at the end with the famous “Scarpetta”. Epitome of Italian manners and etiquette.


Merenda, is our snack time, a very important part of Italian Culture, I placed it here after lunch, but it can be anywhere between Breakfast and Lunch, or Lunch and Dinner. I won’t talk about it that much, but I’ll point out one thing that many foreigners find odd. How can Italians always be at the bar having a coffee? Well that’s their Merenda, when you’re a kid it’s probably a piece of bread with Nutella when you grow up it becomes a shot of caffeine and a cigarette cause you just need some stress relief (I’m not promoting smoking, so don’t be blaming me)


A must, something so intricate in Italian culture, that you can’t not do it at least once a week. It’s a great get together after a long day of work, before dinner so if you want to go home early you can. If you’re in the UK it would be no different than grabbing a pint at the pub behind the office with you co-workers. The main difference is that in Italy while you enjoy whatever you want to drink, you’ll also get a plate to nibble on, you’ll love it, cause even if you don’t drink it’s always a beautiful moment to talk and enjoy some company.


When it comes to Italian dinner etiquette you’ll see that it doesn’t differ too much from that of lunch, except for the way you decide to finish your meal. Let’s say that you’ve ordered too much food cause everything looked so good, and you’ve learned that food portions in Italy are a bit more contained, so you want to exaggerate a bit. Don’t ask to take it home with you, I mean probably the place won’t even have doggy bags on offer. It’s an odd Italian table etiquette, and it doesn’t come from a sense of elitism as one could think, it’s a tradition that dates back to the end of WWII, implying that you were wasting food if you weren’t finishing it.

Caffè e Amazzacaffè

Even though they are considered part of dinner, these two need their own section. Italian manners and etiquette impose that you order your coffee after having dessert, you shouldn’t be sipping on coffee while having a tiramisù. That is because you’ll mess up the flavors of the espresso (ten type of italian coffee) . So, always have your coffee after dessert. For the daring ones, there is the amazzacaffè, something that can be a grappa, an amaro, a digestive of any sort. This is something you’ll need if you had one of those super heavy dinners and want to enjoy a nice rest, without feeling like you just ate the whole world’s supply of food babies.

What is the biggest meal of the day in Italy?

So, based on what you read up until now it’s pretty obvious that there isn’t only one big meal, but 2. Lunch or Dinner, and it depends on what day of the week it is. Cause nothing can beat a Sunday Lunch, but also nothing can beat Christmas dinner. So, get ready to feast on in Italy.


  1. […] Now, what to eat in Italy? That is a very fair question, a couple months back we posted an article that showed you all the specialties per region. So that is a good place to start no doubt, but here I want to focus on a smaller scale. I want to show you what food to eat in Italy, you know? That amazing Italian food you’ve heard about so much, and you probably have back home as well, but the real deal the real Italian dishes that are so mouth-watering that you’re gonna put that diet you had in mind on the side ( read more about italian table etiquette) […]

  2. […] Just in case you were getting some weird ideas that we offer cooking classes, you can get that out of your head, cause we personally don’t, but we do know of all the best places to learn to cook Italian food in Italy, that’s a fact. You can rely on us to find some places to stay while you’re here to learn how to cook Italian food and Italian food recipes. And you can also rely on us for knowing how to eat like an Italian as well. […]


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