4-5 Meals A Day? The Italian Eating Schedule

With busy schedules, some only manage to fit one large meal in a day. However, Italians actually eat 4-5 meals a day AND stay healthy and fit.



Italians eat breakfast early in the morning, usually between 7-9 am. Breakfast is a light meal and may include a croissant and an espresso.

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At around 11 am, Italians have a light snack. The snack may consist of some fruit, yogurt, or cheese.

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Italians eat lunch at about 12:30-2 pm. Lunch breaks typically last about an hour. Unlike in America, lunch in Italy is often the largest meal of the day and consists of a first course, like pasta, protein, and vegetables. After lunch, they have a caffè.


At about 4-5 pm, Italians have another light afternoon snack. This snack may be a simple cup of coffee or tea. The 4 pm snack is called the Merenda and refers to the time children eat as soon as they get off school. It may include a piece of bread with Nutella.

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Between about 6-7 pm, it’s “aperitivo”. Aperitivo is a word derived from Latin that means “to open,” as it opens the stomach before diner. Aperitivo consists of an appetizer and a drink such as Prosecco or an Aperol Spritz. The snack may include something light, such as olives. Not all individuals in Italy have an aperitivo.

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At around 8-9 om, it’s time for dinner. Dinner is served earlier in the North and later in the South. Dinner is usually light and may consist of pasta and meat with vegetables on the side.

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