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La Bella Vita: Italy's 'secret' Unesco sites and the unwritten rules of Sunday lunch

Clare Speak
Clare Speak - [email protected]
La Bella Vita: Italy's 'secret' Unesco sites and the unwritten rules of Sunday lunch
Customers sit at a restaurant in Ravello, Campania. Photo by Sterlinglanier on Unsplash

From enjoying a traditional Sunday lunch Italian-style to finding the the country's lesser known World Heritage-listed sites, our weekly newsletter La Bella Vita offers you an essential starting point for eating, talking, drinking and living like an Italian.


La Bella Vita is our regular look at the real culture of Italy – from language to cuisine, manners to art. This newsletter is published weekly and you can receive it directly to your inbox, by going to newsletter preferences in 'My Account' or following the instructions in the newsletter box below.

A Sunday lunch with the family is a much-loved tradition back in my own country, too, but nothing could have prepared me for my very first pranzo della domenica in southern Italy.

Picture 30-plus impeccably dressed people elbow-to-elbow at a long table, eating more courses than I could count, all talking over each other at top volume, while the temperature outside nears 40 degrees Celsius: on my first week in Italy, this felt more like an endurance test than a relaxing afternoon.

By the time the limoncello bottles had been cleared away and the uncles were dozing on nearby armchairs, it was nearing 6pm.

A few years later, the same lengthy meal has become much more enjoyable than strenuous; but no matter how long you've been in Italy or how many Sunday lunches you've attended, you'll no doubt recognise some of the implicit rules and etiquette norms that take many non-Italians by surprise:

Dressing up and slowing down: The unwritten rules of an Italian Sunday lunch

Speaking of lunches, if you've been invited for a meal at an Italian friend or relative's place, it's always good manners to bring a bottle of wine as a gift for the hosts.

In Italy, there's a very good chance you'll be able to get a decent bottle of wine at the supermarket, and that it will cost a lot less than it would in your home country.

But if you're hoping to impress, it can be disappointing to find not all bottles of rosso, bianco and spumante found on Italian supermarket shelves are quite as good as you might hope.


There are a few expert tips however that will help you pick the right bottle off the shelf and make a good impression on your hosts:

How to choose the best wine in Italian supermarkets

Italy is famously home to a large number of UNESCO World Heritage sites – in fact, Italy has more protected landmarks than anywhere else, with a total of 59, followed by China (57), Germany and France (both at 52).

From Pompeii and the Royal Palace of Caserta to the Leaning Tower of Pisa, you're probably familiar with quite a few of them already.


But there are some lesser-known attractions that you may not have heard of yet, and they're equally worth visiting - plus they draw smaller crowds. Here's our pick of seven favourites that we'd recommend:

Seven ‘secret’ UNESCO World Heritage sites in Italy you need to visit

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