How to eat cheap in Italy

IMG_7559Pizza al Taglio in Venice. 

One of the things I look forward to most when travelling to a new city or country is the food! Ok, who am I kidding, I look forward to food any time, full stop. But, when visiting a new place I get extra excited about all the NEW food I can try.

But as you all know, travelling itself can be incredibly expensive and that’s before factoring in food each day. So for some, it’s pretty easy for food to take a backseat and to prioritise experiences and sites rather than wasting money on food.

However, eating out while travelling doesn’t always have to break the bank, you just need to know where to look and where not to. If you steer clear of restaurants and cafes on the the busier, more touristy streets, you’ll find that there are definitely cheaper alternatives out there. In fact, in Italy you can avoid restaurants all together and still eat like an Italian.

So in the spirit of all things food, I thought I would share with you some cheaper but delicious food options while travelling in Italy.

Aperitivo or Apericena 

This is Italy’s equivalent of the ‘happy hour’ if you will, except it involves food. Also, often referred to as the ‘students supper’ for it’s affordability. Typically, if you order a wine or spritz between 6pm and 8pm it will be accompanied by a selection of finger food or a buffet type situation. Think bruschetta, homemade pastas, focaccias, cold meats and cheese, pizza etc. Each cafe and bar is different and will offer different options particularly in the differing regions but basically you can buy drinks and eat a selection of food for free.

€€ – An apericena can you set you back anywhere between €5 to €15, depending on how high end and touristy your choice of bar is. But in the smaller towns like Padova you can enjoy a decent and hearty apericena for about €6.

Tramazzini 

IMG_8155.JPGBest tramezzini in Padova at Bar Nazionale. 

Or tramazzino for singular, are by far one of the best discoveries I’ve ever made since living here. They are basically small sandwiches on soft, white bread with no crust in an assortment of flavours. Again, each region adds their own spin on them but some of my favourites include speck and fontina (aka cured ham and cheese) and porchetta and zucchine (aka thinly sliced pork and zucchini). What’s also great is that you don’t need many of these bad boys to fill you up.

€€ – Typically one tramazzino can cost anywhere between €1 to €2.

Pizza al taglio

Or also known as pizza al trancio, is basically a slice of pizza. No need to sit at a fancy restaurant to get your pizza fix, a pizza al taglio will do just fine in satisfying your cravings and are half the price! Sometimes, they’ll be proper pizza bases and others  focaccia, either way both super delicious and super cheap. Grab a flavour or two, and find yourself a comfortable spot in a piazza and enjoy the good life. Or la dolce vita as Italians would say.

€€ – Depending on where you are and how big the slices are, a pizza al taglio can set you back anywhere between €2 to €4 per slice.  

Cicchetti 

vetrina-dei-cicchettiCicchetti goodness. 

These amazing little delights are Venice’s equivalent to the Spanish tapa and are quite similar to what is often served in an Apericena. Anyways, cicchetti can be anything from small fried fish dishes to arancini to crunchy bread topped with cured meats. Basically, a whole heap of yummy, Italian goodness. Majority of the time, they are eaten standing at the bar with a drink, spritz or glass of wine.

€€ – Typically cicchetti are €1 to €4 per dish and are offered all day until about 8 or 9pm when the bars either close or start serving dinner.

Panini 

IMG_0461Best panino EVER! 

Hands down one of the best Italian meals I’ve had, was a this amazing, cheap, fresh bread roll bought from a little whole in the wall deli in Corniglia, Cinque Terre. It was filled with some of the freshest ingredients and was the simplest yet tastiest lunch ever — prosciutto, home made pesto, mozzarella, tomato, lettuce and a little olive oil, salt and pepper and oregano. So next time, why not try a fresh panino as the Italians would call it and find a sunny spot with a view to eat it.

€€ – A fresh sandwich or bread roll should never be more than €5.

DYI antipasti picnic

FullSizeRender-4Deli specialising in cheese & cured meats in Verona. 

Skip the antipasti plate and make your own. Italians are incredibly fortunate in that almost every town, regardless of how big, small or touristy, there are daily farmers markets selling fresh produce. With that, close by you’ll also find some amazing butchers and delis, selling fresh and cured meats. So go on a little wander and find yourself some fresh cheese, cold cuts along with some seasonal fruit and veggies and make yourself your own amazing, tasty and fresh antipasti plate. Find a nice grassy spot under the trees in a piazza or sit along one of Italy’s many rivers that surround the big cities like the Arno in Florence or the Tiber in Rome.

€€ – Prices vary depending on season and region, but usually you’ll get more bang for your buck than you would buying the equivalent at a restaurant.

Panzarotti IMG_5177Panzarotto while people watching. 

These bad boys are another cheap but delicious fix and you can find them in just about any city, particularly one’s with large universities near by like Padova and Bologna. They are basically a calzone with an assortment of flavours inside and are incredibly cheap, like super cheap! My local panzarotti place even does sweet variations with nutella and sweet ricotta inside. Delicious!

€€ – Typically between €2 to €3 depending on ingredients.

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