I’ve been fortunate enough to find myself invited for dinner at an Italians home and I have learned many lessons through trial and error along the way. If you ever find yourself in this situation you might want to take a few things into consideration to have the most successful evening possible and leave a good impression.
First of all, dinner in Italy is eaten much later than people are accustomed to in the United States and other parts of the world. The European standard of time really exists, as they eat dinner anywhere between 8 o’clock and 10 o’clock, depending on the region. Don’t show up around 6 or 7 PM ready for a full course meal, if anything you will most likely partake in Aperitivo during this time (explained in post #2).
It’s not usually expected but standard, when going to dinner at an Italians home to bring something to offer. This could be a bottle of wine, fresh cheese of any sort, bread, biscuits, or even gelato from a gelateria in town. When you arrive, kisses on the check are customary as a greeting and if you want to wow them the first time you meet you can say “piacere” which translates as “pleased” or “pleasure to meet you”.
When the feasting begins and your plate becomes full, you likely won’t see a vegetable in sight. Don’t worry, this comes with the second course of the night. Until you hear the words “Buon Appetito” it’s courteous to wait until you dig in. If there is dessert, you may be offered a coffee, no matter the hour- be wary of the caffeine- an Italian espresso is nothing to mess around with!