Updated: Apr 17, 2019
One of the most important aspects, when you travel, is to keep yourself well hydrated – always drink sufficient water. Keep a bottle of water in your backpack so that you are prepared in case you don’t have time to look for reasonably priced water. In this article, I discuss the times between Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner, looking at the different snacks that are available. In fact, you may even decide to skip some of your meals so that you can snack more often.
Remember although we all love our Cappuccino – in Italy, you should only drink Cappuccino with breakfast, until 11am and with no other meal, unless of course, you don’t mind the locals looking at you strangely. If you are still unsure about all the different types of coffee, here is a wonderful article that explains everything about coffee – 10 Types of Italian Coffee Decoded and Pronounced
Although most of the water that comes from the taps is safe to drink it is always safer to drink bottled water. If you want to drink water rather order a bottle of water. When eating in a restaurant you may find it a challenge to try order a simple glass of water, as it is not a concept the Italians understand. The cheapest place to buy water is in supermarkets.
Gelato (Ice Cream)
Always have space for Gelato, the truly authentic Italian frozen dessert. It is generally a mixture of custard, cream, and milk, without eggs. Gelato is made with a base of milk and sugar. You will find Gelato shops everywhere and you may just eat too much, but Gelato is generally lower in fat than other styles of ice cream.
The French have croissants and in my opinion, the Italians have improved on that with Sfogliatella (Italian pronunciation: [sfoʎʎaˈtɛlla]), this shell-shaped confection is made of hundreds of flaky golden leaves and traditionally filled with sweet ricotta, semolina and candied orange peel. This delicious pastry was originally prepared only for the Italian aristocracy during the Renaissance.
Apperitivo (Cocktail Snacks)
Milan is known for the tradition of Aperitivo, you could think of it as ‘happy hour’ but instead of peanuts and chips, the food is small nibbles like bruschetta, focaccia, or even meats and cheeses. In some places, there are Apperitivo buffets, where there will be even more choice including pasta and salads.
The whole idea is to have a small plate of snacks with your drink, helping you curb the hunger pains until dinner which starts at 9pm and is not meant to be a replacement for dinner. The rule of thumb is generally one plate of snacks with your drink, and if you want some more snacks order another drink.
Apperitivo is generally from 7-9pm and is a glorious time spent chilling after a day of sightseeing where you can unwind with a drink, whilst sharing your experiences with friends, or simply watching people.
Drinks – Beer, Wine, Prosecco, Limoncello and Soft drinks
Wherever you go you will find the local beers and even more so now that artisanal craft beer has become popular.
Italy is the world’s largest producer of wine and wines are classified as follows – top wines will have the Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) This is the highest classification Italian wines can be awarded. It means that there are (controllata) controlled production methods and (garantita) guaranteed wine quality with each bottle. The Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC), Indicazione Geografica Tipica (IGT) and the blends or table wines will have the VDT ‘Vino da Tavola’ (Table Wine).
Prosecco is an Italian white wine. Prosecco controlled designation of origin can be spumante, frizzante, or tranquillo. It is made from Glera grapes, formerly known also as Prosecco, but other grape varieties may be included. Reference: Wikipedia
Limoncello is the traditional liqueur of Italy, produced in the south of Italy. However, most Italians make it at home using family recipes passed down. It is normally produced from lemon peels, alcohol (mostly Vodka) water and sugar, here is a simple recipe. In the North of Italy, it is called Limoncino.
Soft drinks that you should try and have unique tastes are Chino (Italy) which has a distinct citrus taste and is very refreshing, then there is Almdudler (Austria) which can be described as a thirst-quenching mix of citrus and ginger ale.
When it comes to street food there are so many more options besides Pizza al taglio (pizza by the slice) and the famous Gelato.
Try savory options like Arancini (deep fried risotto stuffed with gooey cheese, peas and minced meats), Olive all’Ascolana (breaded olive stuffed with spicy ground meat), Piadina (classic flatbread filled prosciutto, squacquerone cheese and rocket), Cuoppo Napoletano (paper cone filled with fried seafood), Sgagliozze (fried polenta with salt), Cartoccio di mare’ (an array of fried fish), Folpetti (salty boiled octopus with a dash of parsley sauce and lemon juice) and so many more to add to your taste adventure.
There is also a newcomer called Trapizzino (the iconic Italian pizza pocket with fillings like oxtail or chicken with peppers). Trapizzino was invented 10 years ago in Rome by Stefano Callegari, a professional pizza maker.
When it comes to the sweet options you will find a variety of delectable treats including Zeppole (similar to doughnuts that come filled with custard, cream, chocolate or jelly, and are always dusted with sugar), Crema fritta (deep-fried custard cream), Cannoli (ricotta-filled pastries with candied cherries and oranges on each end) and the list goes on.
Please note: when you come across the shops selling Kebab – Pizza – Chicken – Burgers and Gelato you can be almost sure they are not Italian food, but rather fast food that you could get anywhere in the world.
No experience is complete without a visit to the local markets. Markets have been part of the Italian culture for centuries. You can get anything at the markets but they are the best way to get the freshest produce, cheese and all sorts of other foodstuffs.
Markets in the smaller towns are usually one specific day of the week and they repeat weekly on that same day. Some of these markets have been around for more than 900 years and if you really want to see day to day life, you will find this at the markets.
Some of the markets are permanent like the Campo de’fiori in Rome that has been in operation every morning since 1869.
These markets don’t just sell fresh produce, you will find specific and general markets all over that sell everything from antiques to clothing, then you will also find seasonal markets like the Christmas Markets and Festivals.
Discovering what is available in local supermarkets is fascinating, from the meats and cheeses all the way to pre-prepared desserts and imported sweets. If you unsure buy things that are on special first, and then if you like the taste you can always try other more expensive options. Whatever you do, this is part of the travel education that should never be missed.
Travel and what we eat is so part of what we do in our culture, but we did not travel just to drink and eat, although some may think so. Travel is about discovering new places and seeing new things. In the next article in this series, I look at the ‘things to do’ and how to find an experience that will be different from the norm.
Whether you are travelling for business or pleasure this series of posts will give you the necessary guidelines and assist you in finding the easiest and most cost-effective way of booking and planning your itinerary.
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