Piccoli Momenti Italiani

Piccoli momenti Italiani are ‘little Italian moments’—those simple things that help to shape a culture. Learn about these traditional snippets of daily Italian life to get inspired for your next trip to the sunny shores of Italy.


Stopping at a bar mid-morning is a ritual for many Italians. Many choose to sit on a terrace as the world passes by. Others may simply saunter up to a counter to enjoy their espresso and croissant. A ‘caffé’ could be a macchiato, a doppio or a lungo, or of course, the coveted cappuccino. Just don’t expect to have your drink ‘to go,’ as more often than not it will arrive in the classic porcelain set.


‘Il sugo della nonna’ literally translates to ‘grandma’s sauce’ and could, really, be anything. Perhaps it’s a rich ragù (Bolognese sauce), sugo al pomodoro (tomato sauce) or a simple pesto. Generally, ‘il sugo della nonna’ is something fresh and homemade that you take home every time you visit your grandma. It must be so delicious that it will inevitably make you want to do a ‘scarpetta’—finish the sauce with a piece of bread. Sometimes, when students leave their hometown, their nonna will give them plenty of food to ward off homesickness. Nostalgic and heartwarming, it’s a staple for most families in the country.


This could translate as a mere afternoon snack, but it is much more than that. ‘La merenda’ is deeply connected to Italian childhood where, in the middle of the morning or the afternoon, life would briefly stop for a little treat. At school, Italian children can often buy ‘merende’ of different kinds from a stand. Perhaps it’s a slice of cake, a mini pizza, or a simple slice of ‘pane e marmellata’.


The famous Italian ritual of drinks before dinner. Yet, what makes an aperitivo an aperitivo, is that it must always come with food. Whether it’s a small plate, a buffet or a selection of gourmet finger food, we love this ritual because a delicious spread of snacks automatically arrives with your tipple. The most typical ‘aperitivo’ is a refreshing Aperol Spritz. Italians also love a glass of sparkling wine, whether that’s Prosecco, Franciacorta or Champagne.


On a visit to Italy, have you ever been asked if you’d like an ‘amaro’ after dinner? Often when you go to restaurants, the final touch to a meal is a small glass of liquor to help you digest your meal. As you travel across Italy, you’ll find that there’s an incredible variety of ‘amari’—liquors—which differ per region. Often you’ll find Amaro Montenegro or Amaro Lucano, as well as Limoncello or Averna. But you may also be served Bargnolino, Nocino, Braulio… an endless list of delicious drinks awaiting discovery.


Like many European countries, August is holiday time for Italians. Often, towns empty and businesses close as locals flock to the coast. The beach is a sacred space for Italians, full of memories and traditions from summers past. Swimming is popular, or you could while away the day with ‘la Settimana Enigmistica’—a little booklet sold at Italian newspaper stands filled with crosswords, games and jokes. A trip to the beach wouldn’t be complete without ‘la Briscola’, card games played in the shade.


In Italy, ‘la pasta’ is queen of the first course, both in restaurants and at home. But did you know that pasta varies according to the region? In the very North you’ll find ‘pizzoccheri’, while in the centre many favour pici, bucatini, rigatoni, tagliatelle and tortellini. As you head south, you might find busiate, orecchiette, paccheri. Confused yet? For Italians, pasta is a way of life—don’t be surprised if you see them eat it twice a day.

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