A trip to Italy isn’t complete without one thing: good food. Pasta, pizza, gelato, wine – there’s so much to taste and so little time! What sets food in Italy apart, though, is simply the quality of local products. A simple sandwich from a corner bar will be more flavorful and delicious than you could’ve imagined. Because of that, you can eat well in Italy even on a budget, if you know the right places to go. Here are some tips to help you get started:

Street Food

Italian street food is, in one word, epic. Some of Italy’s best, most traditional foods can be found on a cart or behind a counter, meant to be carried away and eaten while you walk.

  • Pizza al taglio (sometimes called pizza rustica) is pizza by the slice, often sold by weight. Simply tell the person behind the counter how big of a piece you’d like; they’ll weigh it and charge you accordingly. Pizza in Italy doesn’t always have tomato sauce and cheese – experiment by trying some of the variations!
  • Panzerotti are little pockets of dough, almost like mini calzones, that originated in Puglia but have spread through other parts of Italy in the past 75 years. Classically, they’re fried and filled with tomato and mozzarella, but you can find them will all types of fillings, now – savory and sweet! – and can sometimes even find them baked instead of fried.
  • Panino, singular for “panini”, simply means “sandwich”, not a particular type of sandwich like it does in the U.S. You can pick up a tasty sandwich with local meats, cheeses, and veggies for around €5 or €6 in most big cities.
  • Battered and fried foods that are easy to grab and eat on-the-go abound in Italy. Depending on where you are, you’ll see everything from fried chickpea bread, cones of deep-fried seafood and fried balls of rice filled with various meats, cheeses or vegetables. Find out what the local specialties are and try them!
  • Gelato might be everyone’s favorite street food! All over Italy, you’ll see tourists and locals alike walking the streets, cone or cup in hand, in every season. For insider tips on how to find the best gelato, check out my 99-cent guide, “Planning Your Dream Trip To Italy: Tips & Tricks”.

Restaurant Tips & Alternatives

A restaurant isn’t always the best place to eat, though is usually is the most expensive. Restaurants that call themselves “Osteria” or “Trattoria” are typically more casual (and the prices lower), but there are some important budget-friendly tips that will help you enjoy a sit-down experience without the high price tag that can sometimes come with it.

  • Aperitivo” is what Italians call a pre-dinner drink, but in many places in Italy – particularly in northern Italy – it can be much more. Many bars will offer a small tray of food with your purchase of a drink, perfect for a light dinner if you’ve had a heavier, later lunch. Still others, though, will offer an unlimited buffet of food with just the purchase of a drink! The buffet may consist of all cold foods, like charcuterie or finger sandwiches, or may even feature hot food like pasta. There are usually certain non-alcoholic aperitivi that come with these benefits, too.
  • A pizzeria is a great budget option if you want a casual, sit-down meal without feeling pressured to order multiple courses. Pizzas in Italy are all “personal”, meaning each person orders their own, and usually cost somewhere between €7 and €15, depending on…

This article was originally posted on BackpackingBuds.com.  Read the rest of it there or find these and more great tips for your next trip to Italy in my 99-cent guide,“Planning Your Dream Trip To Italy: Tips & Tricks”:


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