Know Your Food’s Worth in Italy

Budgeting in an important aspect of planning your travels, and an element that usually takes up a prominent space in the budget is food. Exploring the culinary culture is mandatory when in Italy, but exactly how much should you set aside to enjoy all the delicacies this food haven of a country has to offer? Here’s FoodSocial’s handy guide to knowing your food’s worth in Italy.

Breakfast

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The first meal of the day in Italy is no big affair. It is kept simple and to the point with simply a coffee accompanied by mostly a bread or pastry; occasionally a sandwich. An espresso will cost you less than €1 whereas a classic cappuccino is for €1.3 approximately . Add to it a cornetto (Italian rendition of the French croissant) worth €1.5 and you get yourself an Italian breakfast in under €3.

Pro-tip: Most cafes charge you more if you’re sitting down, so be sure to check the menu for ‘standing-up’ and ‘sitting-down’ prices before you order!

Meal #1 = € 3

Lunch

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While lunch is definitely more substantial than breakfast, for most people it isn’t as elaborate as they would like it to be as they may have work to get back to. You too may have activities planned for the day,  so it’s best to keep lunch short and stick to a quick picnic meal such as a sandwich (€4), wholesome soup (5) or maybe even a pizza (€8). Pair it with a beer for €4 and follow it up with a €2 gelato for dessert, and you have your lunch chiming in at 15 max.  

Meal #2 = €15

Dinner

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Ah, the great Italian dinner. Now, this is the meal you really want to account for in your budget. As we know, dinner in Italy is an elaborate and lavish affair.  Use this as an opportunity to unwind and indulge – perhaps even attend a food event near you. Here’s how much a 7 course dinner should will cost you in a mid-range ristorante:

Aperitivo = €8
Antipasti = €6
Primo = 9
Secondo = €14
Contorno e Insalata = €15
Dolci = €6
Digestivo = €4

Meal #3 = €62

Total Food Budget Per Day = Meal #1 + #2 + #3 = €80

Psst!

You most definitely will not be having a 7 course dinner everyday. It’s likely you’ll end up with 3 courses at max for €20; which will lead to a revised Total Food Budget of €38 per day.

Total Food Budget per day = €38

Total Food Budget per day with a 7 course dinner = €80

What Italy Eats for Breakfast

Unlike most of the world, breakfast is definitely not considered as the most important meal of the day in Italy. However, the first meal of the day in Italy, la prima colazione, can be considered the most functional meal of the day, with just enough food to get you going. When looking for breakfast near you, you’d expect to see eggs – one of the most popular breakfast ingredients around the world. But as it turns out, eggs are a big no in Italian breakfasts. Colazione is kept simple with just a warm beverage and a single accompaniment of choice, sweet or savory. Here’s what Italy eats for breakfast:

Coffee

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Coffee is the most favored choice of beverage for colazione. It could be a strong shot of espresso, the classic cappuccino or a cup of cafe latte for those who prefer it milkier. It is generally served with a biscotti or a cookie on the side. Espressos are usually taken standing up at the ‘bar’ (coffee shops are referred to as coffee bars in Italy), as it’s not a drink that is to be sipped upon and is cheaper compared to sitting at a table.
 

Accompaniment

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As the Italians like to keep their breakfast light, they don’t go for any complex recipes or anything that requires too much cooking. A serving of baked goods works perfectly as an accompaniment to their coffee. Plain breads and rolls, or croissants with butter and jams are found commonly on breakfast tables in Italy.
 

Savoury Option

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Starting off the day with just a coffee and a biscuit might not be everyone’s preference. For those who want something savoury and slightly on the heavier side, opt for a simple Italian panini. These sandwiches will usually have some fresh veggies, leaves and cured meat slices served in between freshly baked Italian breads.
 

Yogurt and Fruit

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While not really authentically Italian, yogurt, cereal and fruits are being consumed for breakfast in increasing number of Italian households. These are usually sweet based, as most Italians consume maximum sweetness during the first meal, and not much through rest of the day.
 
 
If you’re wondering what then is the most important meal in an Italian household? Well, it’s none other than le cena or the dinner. Dinners in Italy are often an elaborate affair, that take time in both preparation and consumption. It is considered as an opportunity to catch up and connect with family & friends. Dinners are also taken at a late hour compared to western countries, which perhaps explains why Italians aren’t very hungry for breakfast. Check out our post about what a traditional 7 course Italian dinner looks like.

Italian Food Culture: How to Eat Like The Italians Do

A prominent element of Italy’s fame is it’s exquisite culinary tradition. Every traveller who comes to this Mediterranean country comes with a food bucket list, keen to explore the food culture and Italy doesn’t disappoint. While there are some food traditions that are standard throughout the country, each region has its own distinct variation to offer. If you’re travelling to Italy soon, then allow us to help you navigate through the country’s food scene and eat like the Italians do!
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Meals through the day

Do you remember the age old adage – eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper? Well, if you do then forget it when you are in Italy.

Colazione or breakfast for Italians is no big deal, quite literally. It’s meant to be kept light, mostly just a coffee and a croissant.
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Pranzo (lunch) and Cena (dinner) on the other hand are more substantial in terms of quantity and intricacy. While lunch tends to be slightly hurried especially for those who are working, dinner time is regarded as an opportunity to catch up with friends and family over elaborate meals. A typical Italian meal structure is 7 courses – aperitivo, antipasti, primo, secodo, contorno e insalata, dolce and digestivo. This is the perfect time to indulge in ethnic food near you. Additionally, an entire course can be added dedicated to just cheese and fruit – formaggi e frutta.

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Street Food

When in Italy, it is a very real chance that you may be tempted to have pizza for every single meal of the day. It’s going to be difficult to resist this temptation but we urge you to do so for there is a whole gastronomical journey for you to undertake on the streets of Italy. Some of the must try dishes while exploring the streets of Italy are, Sgagliozze (fried polenta), Polpette (meatballs), Cannoli, Olive all’Ascolana (fried stuffed olives), Cuoppo Napoletano or Pesce Fritto Al Cono (paper cones with deep fried meat, veggies and seafood) and Panelle (chickpea and polenta fritters).

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Types of Eateries

While traversing through streets of Italy, you will come across various different types of eateries that are broadly categorized as enotecas, osterias, trattorias and ristorantes.

Enotecas are actually just wine bars, a pit stop for people before they head to an osteria or ristorante. Traditionally, they served no food, but more recently a lot of enotecas have started serving limited antipasti (appetizers) along with drinks.

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Osteria & trattorias are usually family owned casual neighbourhood eateries with rustic settings. Osterias traditionally have no set menu, and their offerings change daily. Tattorias too have a limited menu serving authentic local & ethnic food.
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A Ristorante in Italy is your standard full service restaurant, ideally with a host/hostess. Visit one if you’re looking for maximum choice, and someone who can guide you through your options as most of the wait staff is knowledgeable in food & wine.

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