MAMMA MIA - It's all about Mangiare!

A very important topic, if not THE topic in Italy: MANGIARE. EAT! Mangiare plays an elementary role in Italy. The most important things for breakfast, lunch and dinner...

In other countries, people ask "how things are going". In Italy they ask: "HAI MANGIATO?" Have you eaten yet?

The question of all questions. "Hai mangiato" Means something like, "Did you pay off your bank loan, get through rush hour traffic and settle your argument with the neighbours?", are you well aka "did you, or rather, were you able to eat"?

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The breakfast

The day in Italy starts notoriously frugal when it comes to food. An espresso, coffee or cappuccino, accompanied by a few dry biscuits. A mini cornetto is perhaps the ultimate indulgence.

The colazioneThe Italian breakfast is very modest. If you're expecting a hearty lumberjack breakfast à la omelette pan with bacon - not a chance.

Small breakfast in Gallipoli, Apulia

Bella Ciao


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A side note: If you don't want to stand out as a tourist in Italy, you shouldn't order a cappuccino after 11am. And you can't get a cappuccino with cream anyway.

The lunch

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Lunch, il pranzoIt starts around 1 pm, but you should start by 2 pm in any case. The less touristy a region is, the more sacred the midday siesta. And to keep it, you have to eat halfway on time.

Pasta Porn from Rome


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The dinner

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If you are health conscious and don't want to eat late, no problem. You will always get a seat in Italy. Provided the restaurant is open at all.

The cenaDinner is usually served around 8 pm. The further north you are, the earlier you eat. The further south you travel, the later you eat.

Some restaurants in the south even open at 8 pm in summer. In Calabria, it often happens that the pizzeria is still empty at 8pm, but is packed from 10pm.

Yummy, yummy


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P. S. When you visit Italians at home, the question usually comes up, actually always: "Hai mangiato?" To shorten the following conversation, just say "no". Of course you want to try a little something. And of course it will taste fantastic.

Alternatively, you can spend the next 30 minutes talking about if and what you ate and why you didn't, if it was enough and if you really don't feel a bit hungry. Mangiare is a very, very important topic...

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written by Pietro Perroni, first published on 15.11.21

Cover: MStudioImages/Getty Images Signature via