Italy is known all over the world for its culinary tradition and this is why this nation often relies on food to attract tourists. But what is proposed in the online guides is not always true. Often, in fact, especially in the most tourist areas, there are real "tourist traps", or places that do not reflect or respect the Italian tradition and are shown to tourists as the greatest example of culture and tradition.
We want to help you with some tips.
First of all, each region has its own typical dish that is not present in other places. Carbonara is a typical Roman dish, and it will be difficult to find a good one outside Rome or Lazio. As well as pizza, particularly good in Naples, which is made and prepared with precise procedures that are not found in the rest of Italy.
The main rule, therefore, is not to order typical dishes of a region when you are in another city! This may seem like a limitation, and instead it is one of the greatest riches of Italy because it means that everywhere you will go, you will find new food, new dishes and eating habits different from each other and it will seem every time to discover something new and unique. This difference between the north, the center and the south is part of the wealth of Italy.
One of the most successful activities in Italy is in fact the culinary tour. These are guided tours that usually end with tastings of typical products, as well as a journey that allows you to know the production process of some of the most famous Italian dishes. In Reggio Emilia, for example, it is possible to observe closely the production of parmesan cheese, or in Florence it is possible to observe the production of their famous focaccia.
The fundamental rule, however, to best integrate in Italian cuisine is to respect some basic rules!
Italians are very attentive to what they call "culinary crimes", that is, the alterations and modifications of traditional dishes often made by foreigners not too careful to respect the "rules" of the kitchen. For example never eat pasta with a spoon, and do not cut spaghetti! Never put cheese on seafood, or pineapple on pizza. Likewise, never ask to put cream in carbonara. Big risk! There are some differences between Italian culture and what you think may be Italian culture! For example in Italy there is no garlic bread, fettuccine alfredo with chicken or anything like that!
Compared to other European countries, in Italy wine is very cheap. Any restaurant has a few bottles ready to be served, and even if it is not on the menu if you are a lover of good wine always ask the waiter and he will show you a viable alternative!
There is something called "vino della casa" (house wine), a wine that is very cheap and usually brand-free that is served in jugs instead of the classic bottle with label.
Other differences that exist compared to other European countries is the fact that bread is often not free, as well as water. Each of these things is paid separately on the final bill, except in some trattorias or places where there is typical food where in fact bread is offered by the owner of the property. But never take it for granted and ask the waiter before you get a big bill! And speaking of salt... be careful. In many Italian regions bread is served without salt, this is because it must accompany cold cuts, cold cuts and cheeses.
In Italy there is no concept of compulsory tipping. This is indeed optional, but often you get to pay for services and covered costs for just sitting at the table. To consume a coffee, for example, it is advisable to consume it standing up and not sitting down because this could cost even 5€ when it costs only 1€!
Some substantial differences also exist in the conception of bars. In some of these it is only possible to have breakfast, in others it is also possible to make aperitifs. Be careful as these are the places where you can pay less.