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Short guide to understanding eateries in Rome

One of the most exciting aspects of traveling is discovering the local customs and traditions, though this can also be a little daunting where there is a language barrier involved. If you’re planning on visiting Rome, you’re almost certainly going to want to eat as much of the delicious local cuisine as possible but there are a few things you’ll need to know before stepping foot in Rome’s restaurants – here are one local’s tips to a successful Italian dining experience.

cappuccinos before noon

Pay attention to the local customs when eating in Rome, and avoid excessive amounts of parmesan cheese on your pasta

Bars aren’t just for booze

We might associate the word ‘bar’ with a place to consume alcoholic drinks, but in Rome, a bar is actually what we would consider to be a café. As well as coffee drinks you’ll also be able to purchase sandwiches and light snacks in a bar, but here’s a tip to always remember – try to stand at the bar instead of sitting at a table, as many establishments in Rome will charge you more for occupying those seats. In the afternoons and evenings, you can even enjoy free snacks with your drink as part of the authentic aperitivo experience.

Cappuccinos before noon only

In many countries, we’re used to drinking milky coffees morning, afternoon, and sometimes even at night – but in Italy, they’re strictly for consumption before midday. This is because Italians don’t really eat breakfast, and many believe that the milk in a cappuccino would upset the digestion if consumed after a meal. Therefore, you’ll usually see people drinking a humble espresso as a post-dinner beverage, as plain coffee is considered to actually help settle the stomach.

Parmesan is a pizza no-no

Another thing I’m particularly used to is sprinkling handfuls of parmesan cheese all over my pizzas and bowls of pasta. Over in Italy, that would be considered a sin of enormous proportions, so the rule of thumb to follow is that unless your server offers parmesan to you in your Rome restaurant of choice, don’t ask for it!

Ask for your bill

In restaurants in Rome, and the whole of Italy in fact, it’s considered extremely rude for a server to take away your plates and immediately plonk down your bill on the table. You’re actually invited to spend as much time as you like at your table, and to order more drinks or coffee, so if you do want to pay up as soon as you’ve eaten, you’ll need to ask for your bill to be brought over.