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La Bella Vita: Italian culinary shocks for foreigners and alternative places to visit in Lazio

Giampietro Vianello
Giampietro Vianello - [email protected]
La Bella Vita: Italian culinary shocks for foreigners and alternative places to visit in Lazio
Diners sit in the shade of large parasols at a restaurant in central Rome in July 2022. Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP

From avoiding eating and drinking faux pas to exploring the region of Lazio beyond Rome, our weekly newsletter La Bella Vita offers you an essential starting point for eating, talking, drinking and living like an Italian.

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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.

From first courses like pasta alla carbonara or creamy saffron risotto to desserts such as cannoli and tiramisu, many delicacies of Italian cuisine are well known (and replicated) all over the world.

But, despite its international popularity, the ideas many people abroad have of Italian food and the way it's eaten don't always match up to reality.

While Italians themselves don't always follow some of their own culinary etiquette, there are some faux pas holidaymakers and new foreign residents tend to make when first eating and drinking in Italy.

From confusion over what a caffe’ corretto really is to requests for incorrect pasta condiments, the Local's readers told us about the culinary shocks they had when they first arrived in the country.

'No cheesy fish': The food rules foreigners break when first arriving in Italy

With its world-famous attractions and timeless artistic heritage, Rome is the most popular Italian destination among international visitors, which means that many of its sites and central areas often get hopelessly crowded during peak tourist season.

Whether you’ve already visited the city multiple times or you just want to escape the chaos of the summer months, you may be happy to know that the Lazio region is home to many wonders beyond the capital.

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From small towns and villages frequently overlooked by holidaymakers to lakes and beaches, we’ve put together 16 of the best places to explore around Rome.

16 alternative places to visit in Lazio other than Rome

A general view of the Castel Gandolfo gardens

A general view of the Castel Gandolfo gardens, south of Rome. Photo by VINCENZO PINTO / AFP

And we had a cheeky language lesson for Italian learners this week: from sedere (butt) and fondoschiena (bottom) to chiappe (buttocks), the Italian language has no shortage of options when it comes to talking about the human ‘rear end’.

But unlike other bottom-related nouns, the term culo, which is the closest Italian equivalent of ‘ass’ or ‘arse’ in English, can be found in a number of popular phrases that have very little to do with human anatomy.

Though you won’t learn them in any Italian course or find them in language textbooks, these expressions are extremely common in everyday Italian and are well worth getting familiar with if you’re looking to add some (slightly coarse) flamboyance to your speaking skills or simply want to know what Italians are talking about when they use them.

Nine of the most popular Italian 'bottom' expressions

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Is there an aspect of the Italian way of life you’d like to see us write more about on The Local? Please email me at [email protected].

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