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Italian food is delicious and trying the world’s best pasta, pizza and gelato is no doubt a highlight of any trip to Italy. In episode four we share our love for Italian cuisine, some favorite restaurants and experiences and let you know what to expect from your eating adventures in Italy.
Co-hosts Josie and Katy share a love of Italian food and are excited to share it with you. From classic Roman pasta dishes to the seafood of Sicily and street food of Milano. We love it all. But, there are a few things we have learnt on our many trips to Italy that you should know before you arrive.
Italian meal times are different to many countries like the USA, Australia and UK. And they’ll likely serve different dishes than you might expect. If you’re after a traditional large breakfast on your vacation you might be disappointed. Coffee is also different (but delicious!) As is the tipping culture in restaurants.
We say, embrace those differences as it’s all part of the culture in Italy as there is so much to explore. For example, do you know what aperitivo is? You’ll find out why we love this mini meal. And why joining a food tour is a great idea especially if you’re nervous about trying new dishes or want to know the best places to eat.
We promise you that you’ll return home from your trip dreaming of the pasta dish you had in Amalfi or that gelato you enjoyed wandering around a small town in Tuscany. And maybe you’ll be inspired to recreate those dishes on your own.click here to subscribe to podcast updates
What you’ll learn in this episode
- Italian meal times and dishes to expect at each sitting
- The importance of regional cuisine in Italy
- Why a doing a food tour is a great idea
- Tips on ordering coffee in Italy
- How to avoid having a bad meal in Italy (unfortunately it can happen)
- Where to find the best gelato
- All about the magic of aperitivo
- Do you need to tip at restaurants and what is a ‘coperto’?
- How much to budget for food expenses on your trip
- Things to look for if you have food allergies / intolerances or preferences
Places mentioned in this episode
- Roscioli – our favorite restaurant in Rome
- Eataly – upscale grocer with inhouse restaurants found all over Italy
- Campo de Fiori – popular produce market in Rome
- Mercato Testaccio – neighborhood market in Rome
- Mercato Centrale – upscale food court in Florence – perfect for a quick bite
- Luini – Milan’s best street food
- Giolitti – traditional gelateria in Rome
- Fatamorgana – modern gelaterie in Rome with amazing flavors
- Perche Non – wonderful Florence gelateria near the Duomo
- Sbrino – artisan gelato in Florence’s Oltrano district
- Bologna’s Gelato University and Museum
Recommended food tours
- The Roman Guy / The Tour Guy Trastevere food tour (Rome) – explore this much loved neighborhood’s best eateries with the enthusiastic experts from the Roman Guy. As one of our listeners / readers you’ll get 5% of your tour if you book after clicking this link
- The flavours of.. Rome / Florence / Venice / Naples / Milan (10 tastings!) – wonderful private food tours by Withlocals > more info
- Eating Europe’s Testaccio twilight tour – explore Rome’s most foodie neighborhood with a local > more info
- Dine around Florence: an authentic evening food and wine tour with Walks of Italy / Take Walks > tour details
- Rialto market and cicchetti food tour in Venice by Raphael tours on GetYourGuide > tour details
- Rome’s Ultimate Vegan Food Tour – yes you can eat Italian food if you’re vegan – let Roberta show you how > more info
- Best food tours in Rome – our complete guide to amazing food tours in Rome
- Cookly – platform to find small and unique cooking classes and food tours across Italy
- Eating Europe – interesting neighborhood food tours in cities throughout Italy
- EatWith – unique dining and food experiences in Italy and beyond
- Best gelato in Florence – where to get your daily fix in the Renaissance city
- Rome food guide – where to eat in the Eternal city
- Happy Cow – find the best vegetarian and vegan restaurants on your travels
- Allergy translation – useful app and translation cards to help you communicate food allergies
- How to plan a trip to Italy – our article that takes you step by step through trip planning
- Italy Travel Planning – the FREE Facebook group where you can ask questions and get inspiration for planning your trip
- Travel shop where you’ll find items mentioned in the show
Prefer to read along as you listen? Below is a full transcript of our episode conversation. Unfortunately it does not pick up our lovely Australian accents however!
Josie: 00:04 Ciao and benvenuti to Untold Italy. I’m Josie.
Katy: 00:07 And I’m Katy and we’re here to help you plan your trip to Italy.
Josie: 00:11 Between us, we have many years of travel experience and we want to help you uncover your own as yet untold stories and adventures in Italy.
Katy: 00:19 Each episode you’ll hear practical advice, tips and ideas to help you plan your own trips to the magical land of history, stunning landscapes, and a whole lot of pasta.
Josie: 00:28 We’ll have interviews from experts and focus on local destinations and frequently asked questions about traveling Italy.
Katy: 00:35 Thanks for listening and make sure to subscribe to our show.
Josie: 00:38 Now let’s get started on your regular dose of bella Italia,
Josie: 00:47 Ciao and benvenuti to Untold Italy. I’m Josie.
New Speaker: 00:50 And I’m Katy and we’re here to help you plan your trip to Italy. In episode four we’re giving you the inside scoop on eating in Italy. Yes, it’s our favorite topic and the best thing to do in Italy.
Josie: 01:00 I love food in Italy. Katy in this episode, we hope you will learn what to expect. The when, where and how, how to avoid the tourist traps because Katy trust me. I have really been caught in that. What to order and how much should you budget for food?
Katy: 01:18 Fantastic. Well, before we get into the bad meals, which I can’t believe that Josie, really, I’m shocked. Let’s start by telling everyone what our favorite meals in Italy have been so you can get an idea of what to expect from the food in Italy.
Josie: 01:33 So many choices. Favorite? I love anything. Sea foods. I’m going to say a seafood marinara. But I do say in Rome, the carbonara is my favorite from Roscioli.
Katy: 01:45 Oh, Roscioli. I had a life changing sandwich there recently. It was so good. So I also love seafood and one of my favorite meals was in Santa Margarita Ligure, and it’s on the Italian Riviera and yeah, the just the scampi pasta. Oh my gosh. I’m still thinking about that. But I think the place where I’ve had the best food in Italy is actually Sicily.
Josie: 02:10 Yep. I have to agree with you. Oh, the arancini. The granita, everything,
Katy: 02:16 everything. It’s just so good and so fresh. We had a seafood platter there in in a place called Avola just on the coast. And it was just, it was about, I think it was about 10 Euro. My husband and I just looked at each other and went, Oh, my goodness. It’s, you know, it was in abundance and it was so fresh and delicious. It was beautiful. And then we had a delicious salad, which, you know, you may not think of Italy for salads, but this was a blood orange, fennel, red onion and caper salad. And I’m not joking, I keep thinking about that salad all the time, especially now as we’re coming into summer here.
Josie: 02:53 Yeah, I think that definitely Sicily and we were talking about it when we were in Puglia as well. The food in Puglia is amazing. The bread, the Orecchiette – everything. Amazing, amazing, amazing. I can’t, I can’t even tell you if I have to pick a favorite. I, I’m not sure I can, but I think it’s the way, and I say this to my husband, it’s the water, it’s the land, it’s the sun, the tomatoes. I don’t think you can taste a tomato salad like you’ve had in in Italy.
Katy: 03:21 No, I, I agree. And I think, you know, sometimes when I go there and I have a tomato and I think, Oh my goodness, I can’t even remember that a tomato tasted like that. It’s got that, the sunshine in it. And there’s just a such a big respect for ingredients and what’s local to the area. And I think that’s a really important thing about Italian cuisine that people need to know is it’s actually very regional so you can, whatever’s popular in or whatever’s good in Lombardy or up near Milan, it’s very different to the food in Sicily.
Josie: 03:53 So it’s because what’s available. So there’s a lot of history behind the way the food say from where we came from, from Calabria on how we made, depending on what was on offer, how they made it, how the pasta was made. Because did they have flour or did they have potatoes or how did they, what did they grow? So everything’s about what locally they grew and then it becomes a from the past they, it’s just got so much tradition and the way they make things and how they make it. Because really a pizza in Napoli is different to a pizza in Calabria, which is different to a pizza in Puglia, which is different to a tasty pizza in Milan because everything is a little bit different. It’s all about local food. So we’re going to be showing you this and what do you think Katy? I mean food everywhere is amazing.
Katy: 04:40 It really is. But I think you know the, the best thing to do is just to, when you’re going to Italy, you just got to have an open mind and also just try different things and see what you think you like. You might prefer the pizza in Rome to the pizza in Naples. You might prefer the pasta in the North, which has got more buttery, creamy sauces. The two, the pasta in the South, which is more tomato base, who knows? But that’s just part of the adventure I think. And I just, I just love that exploration.
Josie: 05:09 But Katy. I have to tell you, it’s not always good. And look, we made a mistake and I think it’s about also not going to the first place that’s so touristy. So what we’ve learnt was we were tired. We just saw this place and we thought we’d go in and it was just not where we needed it to be.
Katy: 05:28 What were the alarm bells like? If you look back on it now, how do you, how do you know that it was, it was not good.
Josie: 05:33 So my daughters have told me, don’t go to a place that has photos at the front.
Katy: 05:38 Right.
Josie: 05:39 Which is true because I think we just picked a place that was easy access and it had photos and it was just, it just wasn’t right. And it was just in a tourist area. So really what we needed to do was walk a little bit further walk around a little bit and even check online, ask the concierge at the hotel, what is a really good restaurant.
Katy: 06:01 Yeah. I think a little bit of research goes a long, long way. You know, it does happen when you’re tired and you sort of, you’re wandering around Piazza Navona, it’s sort of like I need something to eat or in even in Florence around the Duomo area, like there’s plenty of like fairly, you know, questionable places to eat. But you know, if you just go a few streets back, you’ll be able to find some gems, you know? And I think that if you research or you and you, or if you’re adventurous, you just hit a little a little further away, you can definitely find those restaurants that you’ve been dreaming about. Really. I also like going to, the markets.
Josie: 06:40 The markets are amazing. Yeah, I totally agree with you.
Katy: 06:43 And it’s not even if you’re going to be buying fresh food, which it’s so fun to explore like a fresh food market in Italy and some of the really good ones. I like the Testaccio market in Rome. It’s a little bit out of the way, but if you want to a market that’s right in central Rome, the Campo de Fiore market.
Josie: 07:01 Campo de Fiore is great.
Katy: 07:03 Yeah, it’s fun. And like it’s not just the market stalls, it’s actually the shops around the market. So you’ve got some salumerias and some, you know bakeries or forno where you can buy a slice of pizza and that’s the way you can taste some really great food.
Katy: 07:19 So another awesome place which I recommend it’s a bit more upscale is have you been to Eataly?
Josie: 07:26 Ah, I love Eataly. We went out of our way and caught a taxi in Puglia to go to the Bari Eataly.
Katy: 07:33 So, basically what it is. It’s a, an upscale food market where they’ve gone around Italy and selected the best producers of the cheese, the pasta etc, In Rome, I think it’s got two floors of restaurants where you can go and try them. And it’s really, that was really fun. I really enjoyed that.
Josie: 07:52 And I think for the first timer as well, there’s one in Florence that we went to and we went there every morning cause we could have our breakfast and we’d buy a one Euro coffee espresso which was really reasonable. So I think it’s definitely a great place to go. And it’s also where you can get your water bottles and stuff. And fruit as well. So we would go and get our fruit for the day if we wanted it.
Katy: 08:13 Great. Well the only other thing that I like to do, and this is like, I’m kind of obsessed with this and I’ve done so many in Italy, it’s not even funny, but I like to do a food tour. A really smart idea is to do a food tour as soon as you get to a city. And that way you get to taste the local dishes. And usually the best food tours actually, they would tell you places to eat after the tour. So you don’t have to do all that research yourself. They’ll tell you where to go and where to try the best, the best whatever is local in that area
Katy: 08:45 So I’ve done food tours in Rome, Milan, Bologna, Venice. Actually Rome several times, but you just always learn something new. And I think the really good thing about a food tour is you don’t just learn about the food, you learn about the history and culture and you have like a, just a potted cultural lesson and plus you get to eat and drink wine and just have a great old time.
Josie: 09:13 I’ve never really done one, so that is definitely something that I’ll be doing my, my next trip to Italy food tour.
Katy: 09:20 Yeah, it is. Look, it’s really good. I think maybe people don’t know what to expect, but.
Josie: 09:23 yeah, I don’t know. Tell me like, what do you expect on a food tour?
Katy: 09:27 Well, usually you would go and stop at maybe five to six or seven or eight places, depending on how long the food tour is and they’ll explain a bit about the provenance of the food and where it’s come from. And if it’s so they might be showcasing some cured meats and they’ll tell you about the animal and how it’s been prepared and how long it’s been aged for. Similarly withcheese. In Bologna we saw some people making pasta. The fastest pasta makers I’ve ever seen. They were making tortellini and it was amazing and you know, and then you go around tasting all little bites. Now you don’t go on a full stomach because it’s not advisable because you get a lot of tastings and it’s, they’re usually very generous and they usually finish on gelato, which is always my favorite. But but yeah, I find it really a great way to get to know a city because especially in Italy, food is such a big part of the culture that it’s ingrained. So everything that you do, wherever you walk around the city, you’re going to learn about the food and how it relates to the local culture.
Josie: 10:35 Great. Well I will definitely do a food tour next time.
Katy: 10:39 All right, well I’ve got a few recommendations, actually a food tour, so I’ll pop those in the links in the show notes so that people can see the food tours that we did if they’re interested in, in doing that. But it’s a really good way, especially if you’re nervous about going around and ordering new dishes or, trying restaurants. It’s a really good way to introduce yourself to the local food culture.
Josie: 11:00 Yeah, that sounds great. So I think something we do need to talk about as well. Katy’s meal times you need to lead. They’re a little bit different than what we do here. And I know that it took me a few days to get used to eating at 9:30 / 10 o’clock at night, but it is very normal. So let’s talk about breakfast and what, what we expect from that as well.
Katy: 11:21 Yeah. So I guess a typical Italian breakfast is not what we would have in Australia, which, you know, everyone eatss different breakfast here in Australia anyway. And, but I guess when people are on vacation or holiday, they, they maybe like to get a big egg based breakfast and you know, with lots of toast and eggs and bacon and maybe fruit, I don’t know. But that’s not what they have in Italy.
Josie: 11:46 No. And I think, you know, a lot of the stuff that they do is very seasonal that area too. So if it’s fruit or it’s I call it dry toast. Ah, they don’t really have toast like what you do with butter and that, but I do say coming from a hotel background that if you are staying in any of the global hotel chains, they do have American breakfast. We’re talking about a smaller area or if you’re doing Airbnb and you’re going out to a bar area or different Italian hotels would have sort of different breakfasts to what you’re used to.
Katy: 12:24 Yeah. So I mean, you’re really, really a typical Italian breakfast is a coffee and a pastry. Which I actually really enjoy. And and so that time in the morning when you would have like a cappuccino or like a milk-based coffee and it’s, you know, it’s small, it’s fairly light. Well if you think pastry is light, but you know, come on, we all enjoy a pastry every now and again if we can. And it’s, you know, it’s one of the life’s little pleasures and it sort of eases you into the day for, you know, maybe the main event, which is lunch or dinner.
Josie: 12:57 Yeah. And that’s really important. So the traditionally for an Italian, a lot of breakfast and a, and a pasta for lunch.
Katy: 13:04 Yup. And, and I think that’s, you know, like we have a totally different meal structure I think. And so therefore our heavier breakfast probably makes more sense. So before we move on to lunch, how about coffee? Josie? I think,
Josie: 13:18 I love coffee. I love coffee. So Katy and I were talking about this the other day around coffee and, and again, this is one of those things that you’ll learn as well. So when we were at the Vatican, I said to my husband, I want to sit down and have a coffee. Wow. Can I tell you that was expensive. So again, be prepared. The coffees, there’s different ways of getting a coffee. If you stand up in a bar and you ask for an espresso or it is going to be cheaper than you sitting down in the bar. And if you were in a tourist place like the Vatican or anywhere around that, you’re going and you’re sitting down, you’re going to be paying a little bit more than you would for an espresso or just standing at a bar.
Katy: 13:59 And I think the classic is Piazza San Marco in Venice. It’s, people have been charged exorbitant amounts for, for meals. But I think part of it, I think the coffee is seven euros. Or something similar, eight euros. But you know what? In Piazza San Marco, you’re actually not just paying for the coffee. You’re paying for the experience. There’s a band and you know, it’s amazing. It’s an amazing square. So I choose to think of that as part of the experience. And I’m happy to pay eight euros for the coffee and sit down and enjoy it. And I’m not going to get sort of disappointed because I know that’s coming. But if you are on a budget or you just don’t want to pay that amount for a coffee, then be aware that you should probably just head to a small bar around the corner and have your coffee standing up.
Josie: 14:48 Yeah, I agree. I think that that’s something that I, every time we travel, it’s a big question that people comment that they made that they feel that they’ve been ripped off by coffee, but I don’t think you’re ripped off. I’ve got to say it’s the best coffee in the world. It doesn’t matter. Does not matter where you have a coffee. The coffee is amazing.
Katy: 15:05 We used to, when we were living in the UK, we used to drive from the U K through France down into Italy. And this is a bit of a sequel. It’s not a secret and, but please, if you’re French, please don’t get offended. But the coffee in France is not that great. So as soon as we get over the border, I was like, I need a coffee right now. And we’d, we’d stop and get a coffee. But I think as well, we’ve got a lot of American readers and listeners, and I think it’s important to explain what is meant by coffee because it’s very different in Italy to American coffee.
Josie: 15:38 Correct. So I have lots of family in New York and they talk coffee, so it’s more of an American coffee, more water based, longer coffee. So it’s more of a dripulated coffee, whereas the coffees in Italy are espressos and they’re from a percolator. So it’s more condensed and longer. If you want longer, you’d need to ask for an American or and you might even need to ask them what different coffees they have because for them, a coffee is an espresso, which is a very short darker concentrated coffee that comes out of a machine or a percolator. Yeah. And you know, it’s strong and it’s good. And.
Katy: 16:24 I encourage you to give it a go, you know, really. So it’s one of those, it’s an experience. It’s part of your trip to Italy, but if you’re not into that you don’t have to be and, like, as Josie said, you can have an Americano or maybe a cappuccino.
Katy: 16:38 Now a lot of people say that you shouldn’t, you can’t get a cappuccino after 11:00 AM. And I want kind of want to talk about that because you can get a cappuccino.
Josie: 16:48 Never had that.
Katy: 16:49 Oh, well it’s, but I don’t think many Italians would have a Milky coffee after 11:00 AM. And the reason for that is around digestion is that they believe that milk doesn’t get digested so well. So they prefer to have it in the morning while it has a longer time to digest. I don’t know. That’s what I’ve heard. But I think, you know, the coffee is different. If you’re going to go looking for the coffee that you have at home, unfortunately you might be disappointed. Have you seen, I don’t know about the different nondairy milks. Have you seen, I think I’ve seen soy milk,
Josie: 17:24 but I’ve seen soy. I haven’t seen any other ones, but not to say that every, we have, I haven’t been since June. So there is different updates and different places have different things. So I would just ask the question but be open to experience whatever they had.
Katy: 17:40 I think so. So after we have coffee then it’s time for lunch. All right. What time do they have lunch?
Josie: 17:49 In Italy my auntie would serve lunch at about one or two. Yeah. Or even, yeah. So maybe from 1230, 1230 but it depends on where, where you are and what you’re doing. But definitely later lunch because you have a later dinner. And my favorite time is lunch, the aperitivo hour and dinner. So I think you’re right in the middle of my, my favorite foods. So all of the above.
Katy: 18:14 And what can we expect at lunchtime?
Josie: 18:17 Anything really. And I think this is where as travelers be ready to experience. So if you’re in Rome, you definitely can sit down and have a plate of pasta. No problem. Right? Cause that’s definitely something. But you can also just go to a deli and get a fresh bread roll and make yourself one. And they’ve got a whole heap of mortadella ham, different cold meats that you can have with cheeses. So they can make that up. So I think you can have anything you can also have in certain places arancini, which is a like a croquette a rice thing. So there’s a, there’s lots of different things you can have. You can even just have a tomato salad really if you want to sit down. So I don’t know, what did you, what have you experienced? Because you can also have the pizzas.
Katy: 19:02 Oh, you can pretty much have anything. And I think one of the big misconceptions is that Italians ate three courses for both lunch and dinner and every day. And you know what, if you want to do that, go right ahead. You can definitely do that. And I have done that a couple of times and not every day, but you know, of course you’ve got to enjoy, you know, it’s part of the, the food is part of the journey. Really. but I think that you don’t need to eat three courses for every meal and you can just enjoy what you want to try. There’s no need to order a pasta and a main you can have just a plate of pasta as Josie said. And, or you can have like some antipasto, some cured meats or you could have and you could have a main dish, which is usually like meat or fish and vegetables and you know, you can make it as light or as heavy in sort of Western sort of talk as as you want. You can have salads, whatever you want. You know, it’s a very modern place. The only thing I would say that you can’t get a lot of is anything that’s non Italian food.
Josie: 20:07 Yeah, I agree. I think Italian food is easy, but if you wanted say a different cuisine that you would find harder.
Katy: 20:14 Yeah. If you want a Mexican, you’re in the wrong spot, you know, which is, for Australians, we can get pretty much everything, you know, but in Italy you can get Italian food, so just embrace it and enjoy it. After lunch, it’s a bit of a break and you’re, I usually go for a gelato. That’s my gelato time. And that gets followed by a aperitivo,
Josie: 20:37 which is my favorite time.
Katy: 20:38 Oh, I do love aperitivo. So what, why, why do you love it, Josie?
Josie: 20:44 I think it’s the time of the day when you’re traveling. You’ve been going, so you might have, we usually just grabbed something quick on the way for lunch because we want to go and see something. So come that four o’clock. We just want to sit down wherever we are, whether it’s near the Spanish steps or, you know, anywhere. Like, honestly, I think we even sat last time we sat up at Villa Borghese and we sat there and there was a little cafe and we just had an aperitivo. And again, it’s just having, I have my Aperol spritz and depending on where you are in different regions, what they give you with that so they can give you olives. And when we were in Lake Como, we got like a whole food. We’ve got this pasta dish and we got olives and we got chips and we got, so we got this whole array with the, with the our Aperol spritz. So for me, it’s that downtime where you actually sit back and become a little bit Italian where you watch the world go by and you sit there and you talk. And if, if you just watch the world go by wherever you are. So for me, I love it because it just, it’s the, it’s the middle of the day. It’s hot, you’re just sitting down, you’re relaxing and you’re talking. And I think I love it.
Katy: 21:55 Oh yeah. It’s so true and aperitivo has sort of like morphed into different, into more of a meal actually. So you can get this version called apericena, which is like a meal based one, which is a buffet of different food that you can go and order your drink and then you get access to this buffet. It’s pretty amazing. So you can do that instead of dinner. So if you had a big lunch then you can go out later and they usually start at around seven or eight and you can, you can take advantage of that and it’s sort of a bit lighter.
Katy: 22:29 And then there’s dinner, which usually starts at about eight doesn’t it?
Josie: 22:32 That’s early. Cause when we were in Puglia earlier this year, even the aperitivo, or we’d sit down and in Puglia and they make special biscotti things. They’re sort of savory that you would have. So everywhere you go in, each region has a different, a different type of aperitivo or food that you would have. And then you would go out at eight o’clock. We found that when we were ringing around that eight o’clock was too early in the locals from the BNB. When we’d say, Oh, can you book us a restaurant? And then say what time? And you’d go eight o’clock. Oh that’s a bit early. Try nine o’clock. So we found in Puglia, or even nine o’clock was perfect. Eight eight you can go. But definitely nine, 10, 11 last sitting can be anywhere between 12 and one o’clock in the morning.
Katy: 23:16 So if you are traveling with kids and they’re used to, or you just would prefer to eat earlier, then I would recommend having your lunch as the main meal of the day and then grab snacks later. And it’s just one of those different cultural things that you need to experience. And , I think it’s fine. I mean when I was last there, I mean I’m used to eating fairly early now cause I’ve got small children and it was quite relaxing really to have a later meal and just really enjoyable to take your time. No one’s expecting you to rush through your meal either. So expect your meal to take about two hours and it’s part of the experience I think. So the waiting staff will not be rushing and you know, they’ll, there’ll be there to help you and serve you, but they’re not, they’re not there to rush your meal through because it’s all about the experience of enjoying your food and sitting down and relaxing.
Josie: 24:06 Yeah, I agree. And I think they, they definitely don’t rush you. They want you to enjoy the experience and really be open to asking on the menu. When we were in Puglia too some of the local stuff, I probably wouldn’t eat here. So one of the, the menu items that my husband decided to eat was a ragu cavallo, which as much as I don’t like it, it was actually horse, but it is a delicacy there. So they also have it in Sicily. So again, I wouldn’t, you know, if the, if you are offended by that, please do not, but there is local delicacies. So ask because there is things that you won’t understand on the menu and just ask what they are.
Katy: 24:49 Yeah. And just on that, read on those regional differences. In Venice, they have a concept of cichetti, which is like Spanish tapas. So these are small bites that you go from bar to bar and you have the different ones like polpette, which are meatballs or bruschetta and lots of different fish dishes. And I love that actually because you can go and try different places and it’s really a fun way to see the city. So, just go out, try everything and really enjoy yourself when you’re in Italy and embrace the local customs, I think.
Josie: 25:21 Yeah, I agree. I love, I love it. So that’s a bit about dinner. So, and what about the costs? Katy, what do you think? Like what would you budget for the meals?
Katy: 25:32 Well, I’m a bit of a foodie, so I probably spend a little bit more on food than maybe a lot of people. But I think you know, you can eat very well, very well for around, I would say 30 to 50 euros a day per person. That’s all meals and snacks. I think that’s, that’s a very generous budget. And if you want to go more higher end, higher scale restaurants, then obviously you can pay a lot more. But if you, you can even go lower than that really, you could really, you could really eat well for under 20 Euro I think. But I’m a generous budget would be 30 to 50 Euro a day for food. And if you’re trying to, you know, save some money, there’s a lot of street food options that you can try. And I think, even breakfast, I would think we’re paying like maybe three or four Euro for a coffee and pastry, which is great.We pay $4 for a coffee in Australia.
Josie: 26:29 And I agree. And I think Eataly where you mentioned before, they have in Florence, I remember we went there for breakfast there, their coffee is one Euro. So really you can get a budgeted or really good food, not even budgeted food. You just can get really good food for not a lot. I think it’s just a matter of what you like. I mean my family and I, we love bistecca fiorentina the Florentine steak when you get to Florence, but that’s expensive. So again, look at the local dishes, because if you have like a pasta pesto that’s cheaper, so the pastas you will find a little bit cheaper. And then you could also have pizza and panzerotti for lunch, which is like a pizza or a bread based pizza.
Katy: 27:12 Oh my goodness. We tried this one in Rome. It’s called a trapizzino and it’s a very new, newish. It’s like a new street food that’s been invented and it’s, it’s basically a pizza pocket.
Josie: 27:23 Oh wow.
Katy: 27:24 So it’s a pizza slice and it’s stuffed with fillings like meatballs and it’s just so good and so tasty. And they are not expensive at all. And let me tell you, that will fill you up for a few hours.
Josie: 27:38 And ask the people where you’re staying, ask your local person that you’ve met, because we were in Bari in, at our Airbnb, at the bnb that we were at. We asked the guy, where would you eat something amazing? And he goes, have you tried the pizza from this pizza place? And he actually gave it to us and we went there and it was three euros. And honestly it was the biggest size pizza you’ve ever seen. So again, you can eat. So I, I think with cost. I agree. I think it’s, it’s really up to you as to how much and how little you spend.
Katy: 28:06 That’s right. And you know, one tip I’ve got from Milan is, and I know you love this one too, is this shop, it’s right near the Duomo and it’s called Luini. Oh my gosh. They have these little they’re basically fried donuts, savory donuts, aren’t they? They’re called panzerotti and you, they are savory donuts with ham and cheese and they deep fry them. And I’m not joking. This is like next level, next level street food. It’s very good. You need to line up, but the line moves very quickly. Okay. Just on the budgeting side of things, what’s the deal with the cover charge?
Josie: 28:44 Ah, yes. So you will probably, when you go to Rome or different places when you get your bill, you would see that there’s a coperto. I always get that one wrong. Coperto which is a service charge. It can be two to three to five euros depending on what it is.
Katy: 29:05 Yeah. And so that’s a service charge and it’s not a tip. It’s actually a charge for linen and bread on the table and it’s, and you get charged that even if you don’t eat the bread and it’s basically just a standard cover charge and it’s typical and in you’re not being ripped off. And if you’re curious as to what that’s going to be every Italian restaurant needs to publish a menu with their cover charge or their coperto on outside the restaurant. So you can actually see that obviously as we mentioned before, avoid the ones with the pictures, but you can always see the menu with the the items in the window. And that leads us to tipping as well. Yeah. Do we need to tip in Italy for restaurants?
Josie: 29:50 I don’t think so. I think it’s a bit like Australia where we get, where the staff get paid a really good salary. We know that it’s very different for our American and US residents that are traveling. So it really is up to you if you think that you’ve got good service and you think it’s amazing or you got something fantastic and you, or you really would like to it, there’s no, there’s no stopping you. So please do if you want. But it’s not something that I suppose from, from Katy and I point of view. It’s not something we do every day.
Katy: 30:21 No. And I think that [inaudible] so if you get exceptional service or exceptional food and you want to show your appreciation, go right ahead. But a typical tip in Italy would be to round up the bill or a couple of euros per person. No, no one’s expecting a 15 to 20% tip.
Josie: 30:36 No, no, exactly.
Katy: 30:37 So yeah, I think it’s one of those issues that comes up quite regularly just in conversation. And I think it’s worth addressing that. So you’ve got the right expectation.
Josie: 30:49 So Katy, the other thing we need to address as well when we talk about food is food intolerances, allergies and preferences. I think that’s something that obviously with the world that we live in now, we’ve got lots of food allergies. What have you experienced when you’ve traveled, cause I know you’ve got a few people that have allergies that you’ve traveled with.
Katy: 31:05 Yeah, look, I think you just need to be very careful and very aware of some of the dishes that you’re encountering. Generally speaking to Italy and Italians do very well with food intolerances, but you do need to communicate what your intolerances or allergies or preferences are. So as an example, we were in Tuscany a few years ago and we went out for a beautiful meal. It was absolutely stunning, in a very small village just outside of Looker. And it was quite far from the sea there. So my sister in law who is very allergic to seafood and she was pregnant at the time. She wasn’t concerned because, you know, we’re far from the, sea and said – I’m not going to order any seafood dishes. Anyway, they brought out this beautiful plate of bruschetta with olive tapenade and she took a bite and her lips started tingling and she’s pregnant at the time. She became very worried and realized that part of the tapenade had crushed anchovies in there, which is used a lot for flavor and yeah, so she was, you know, quite concerned that if, thankfully everything’s okay and my nephew arrived and he is a feisty little thing. And so it was alls well that ended well, but it was a big learning that you do need to be careful when you’ve got allergies.
Josie: 32:27 And my sister in law is celiac. And so she’s traveled through Italy and again, hasn’t had a problem, obviously can have the rice and lots of the meats. But again, she ask and cheese careful. And they have a lot of gluten free pasta as well. So it’s the bread more so that she runs into trouble if it’s contaminated.
Katy: 32:48 Yeah, sure. So one of the, and one of the really good tips that I have is to download an allergy translation app and I’ll put a link to that in the show notes so you can really you don’t have to learn the translations, although it is probably a good idea to learn some of those keywords. And so you can speak them as well, but if you’ve got an allergy translation app they’ve got all the you know, what you need to say and, and you’ve got, it written there so you can show the staff in the restaurant exactly what you’re allergic to.
Josie: 33:18 fantastic. Yeah. And vegetarians, no problem. No problem at all because the produce that comes out of parts of Italy, like the eggplant and which they call melanzane, there’s different things. So the vegetarians well catered for tomatoes. There’s lots of different things that you can have. So they will definitely be catered, well catered for.
Katy: 33:42 I think even vegans too. There’s some, interestingly there’s some food tours popping up for vegans, particularly in Rome. Again, I’ll leave the link in the show notes. If you’re vegan, you’ll want to understand how you can make Italian food work for you. It’s probably a good idea to do one of those tours before you head off on your adventures. Especially in gelaterie as they always have a vegan option pretty much because the fruit based flavors are really, they’re sort of naturally vegan.
Josie: 34:13 And speaking of gelato, isn’t it so amazing?
Katy: 34:18 It is. It is great, but it’s not, you know, like we were saying before, it’s not, you can run into a few problems and get some bad gelato and I don’t wish bad gelato on anyone. Everyone deserves to have good gelato. So I think you need to look for a few things. Do you know what they are? Josie?
Josie: 34:35 No, I, I’ve got to say I’ve got a husband that can always find a good gelato. So I, I’m interested to hear what your tips on this one are.
Katy: 34:44 So you’re really looking for the artisan producers who use the freshest local ingredients. And I know that’s a bit of a cliche, but it’s true. So if you see a gelateria, it’s, they usually on the main areas in the main tourist areas and you can see them with big piles of gelato, lots of fancy colors and big piles of like fruit sticking out of them. And it’s like a big show. You avoid it all costs basically because the gelato should be in those steel containers and usually with a lid on to keep them at the right consistency, which is that beautiful, smooth, silky texture that is just delicious. And to keep it at the right temperature when it’s all those big fluffy ones, the gelato usually contains a lot of air and it’s not so good. So some of the favorite ones that I know are Perché Non in Florence and Sbrino, which was amazing on my last trip to Florence was so delicious. I’m still thinking about that salted caramel in Rome. If you want to go to a really traditional gelateria go to Giolitti, which is close to the Pantheon. And another one is Fatamorgana, which has a few branches around. But if you’re like looking for gelato and you just, you don’t know quite where to go, there’s two sort of chains that are actually very good. They’re not the best, but they’re pretty good. There’s Grom and Venchi and the, you get gelato there, that’s better than anything that you’ll get at home basically. So you might as well go for that.
Josie: 36:21 I love the fact that you’ve really, really gone through every bit of this one. I think that’s great.
Katy: 36:28 I have, I’ve actually, I’ve actually got an article on gelato as well. I’m kind of obsessed by it. And did you know that there’s a gelato university in Bologna?
Josie: 36:38 Bologna no, I did not know that.
Katy: 36:39 And a museum. Wow. I haven’t been there yet, but I’m going next trip, I think next trip.
Josie: 36:45 So let’s summarize Katy.
Josie: 36:47 Okay. I can go with an open mind. I agree. Yeah. Just open your mind. Do try things, eat at different times. Just enjoy yourself and don’t restrict yourself either.
Josie: 36:58 So no diet, is that what you’re saying?
Katy: 37:00 I say, no diet, just relax. You’re on vacation.
Josie: 37:02 Do a food tour or three?
Katy: 37:04 Yeah. Why not? I like why not go and every place you visit do a food tour. I mean that’s the best way to get the best food I think.
Josie: 37:09 I think that that sounds fantastic. Well everyone, thanks for listening. This episode was a taste of more to come. Food is a big part of our travels and also be part of our life in Italy and we’d be sharing more about eating different in different cities and regions in upcoming episodes.
Katy: 37:28 Buonissimo! I have a feeling they will be our favorite sessions. As always we’ve added the links to the resources we mentioned in the show notes. You can find them at Untold Italy, forward slash podcast and this is episode four.
Josie: 37:42 Coming up in episode five we are going to be talking about catching taxis in Rome.
Katy: 37:46 That’s really important. I think just getting around Rome and when you first get there it can be a bit daunting, so I’m looking forward to that. Everyone, don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast to get all the latest episodes. As soon as they’re released. We’re looking forward to seeing you next time.
Josie: 38:07 Ciao!