True Italian Taste 2022 - Italian Breakfast & Aperitivo Guidebook (English edition)

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Online Guidebook

Italian breakfast & aperitivo




Dining with Italians: The Italian Diet


History of the Italian Breakfast


Italian Breakfast: What and Where?


Breakfast in Tuscany


Origin of Aperitivo


Aperitivo: What and Where?


Aperitivo in Tuscany




THE ITALIAN BREAKFAST & APERITIVO Dining with Italians: The Italian Diet For Italians, the day revolves around eating. Since Roman times, Italians have always had a specific meal with its own rules for every part of the day. After thousands of years, not much has changed. In fact, nowadays, the Italian diet is still divided Roman people enjoying food into several meals that differ from themselves according to the time when they are eaten. The three major meals are breakfast, lunch, and dinner, which are followed by two lighter and purely Italian meals: merenda (a mid-afternoon snack) and aperitivo (a predinner moment where you can have a drink and eat a little snack). Despite the relaxed nature of eating and drinking in Italy, all these meals have their own rules and etiquettes: knowing how, where when and why to consume them is a must if you want to truly understand the culinary life of an Italian. Breakfast, which usually takes place between 7 am-10 am, is enjoyed at home with your family members or at the bar with your friends. While at home people love to have rusks with fruit jam on top or biscuits while drinking a cup of hot espresso, at the bar the most loved combination is cappuccino and cornetto (croissant). Lunch or pranzo is between about 1 pm - 2.30 pm. If time allows, it is preferred to be eaten at home rather than at the restaurant. Most of the time lunch has this layout: a first course (pasta or risotto), a second course (like a steak with vegetables on the side) and usually dessert or fruit. From 3.00 to 4.30/5.00 pm many children and adults like to have merenda, a mid-afternoon snack that can be something sweet like rusks with jam, cornetti, biscuits or something salty like pane e olio or pane e pomodoro.


THE ITALIAN BREAKFAST & APERITIVO Between 6:00 and 8:00 pm it is the Italian aperitivo time. This is an idyllic moment where Italians go to a bar to catch up with friends or with colleagues after work. Aperitivo consists of a glass of wine or spritz (wine-based cocktail) with cold meats and hams, cheeses, and sandwich-like foods. Dinner takes place at the end of the day, usually at 8:00 pm. Italians usually prefer having a light dinner at home with soup, broth, salad, or pasta. However, most Italians love dining out for dinner, and pizzerias and restaurants are popular choices. The way Italians eat, and drink aligns with their familyoriented culture, balanced lifestyle, and heary sense of pleasure, passion, and creativity. In short, we can say that Italians follow a unique life principle “live to eat, not eat to live”. History of the Italian Breakfast A historic turning point for Italian breakfast was the First World War. During that time, the soldiers in the trenches were given coffee, milk, biscuits and chocolate. These ingredients survived the conflict and gradually became part of everyday breakfast. In the 1950s, Italian peasants used to have mainly stale bread, polenta, cheese, pasta or a soup of milk and bread. At Italian Breakfast in the 40s and 50s: the time, only a few people were lucky polenta and soup of milk and bread enough to eat biscuits and drink coffee for breakfast. Italian breakfast in the 50s was unbalanced towards an excess of fat as well as carbohydrates, but the high energy expenditure of the time did not have impact on health. The 1960s, known as the “dolce vita” years, coincided with the birth of the sweet Mediterranean breakfast as we know it today, which broke down the local differences that in rural Italy wanted the first meal of the day to be salty. With the Italian economic boom on the tables of Italians arrived croissants, biscuits, butter, spreads, jam, honey, fruit. If just 10 years before coffee was considered a luxury good, in the 1960s it became the most loved drink to have for breakfast. 05

THE ITALIAN BREAKFAST & APERITIVO During the 1970s, the concept of “light breakfast” started to emerge. In Italian breakfast started to appear, not by chance, yogurt, and rusks - called until that time biscotti della salute biscuits of health. During the 1980s, cornflakes made with fibers, bran, oats, and muesli started to appear. Moreover, chocolate spread, and marmalade are among the most popular products chosen for breakfast. Starting from the 1990s, began a healthy wave that continues today.

Coffee at the bar in the 60s in the film “Il Posto” by Ermanno Olmi, 1961

The modern Italian breakfast follows the Mediterranean diet, it is rich in fibers and vitamins.

Breakfast with chocolate spread and bread in the film “Bianca” by Nanni Moretti, 1984


The demand for health results in the spread of wholemeal products such as low-fat biscuits and whole-grain rusks. Moreover, an increasing number of Italians prefer to reduce the daily amount of caffeine, preferring a hot cup of tea or herbal tea instead of a cup of espresso or cappuccino.

THE ITALIAN BREAKFAST & APERITIVO Italian Breakfast: What and Where? As we’ve seen, Italian breakfast has changed a lot throughout the years. Breakfast in Italy during the twentieth century had to cover the calorie needs of the entire day, therefore it was quite filling and high in fats. Today, Italian breakfast is lighter and follows the Mediterranean diet. In general, Italian breakfast is made of tiny low-fat biscuits, whole grain corn flakes, rusks, cornetti (croissants), yogurt, marmalade, and seasonal fresh fruit. Coffee, cappuccino, caffè latte, and tea are the most popular drinks. However, the elements that make up a classic Italian breakfast vary greatly depending on where you eat it. Cappuccino and cornetto, In fact, there are two places where the Italian a match made in heaven breakfast is typically consumed: at home and at the bar, the Italian cafè. The worldwide famous combination cappuccino e cornetto doesn’t really find its place in Italian households, but is rather consumed at bars, the heart of every Italian town, where from 6:00 am to 10:00 am people of all ages enjoy their time together or find a moment to relax before starting with their daily activities. While some bar customers choose to sit and have their breakfast served at the table, where they can have a chat with friends and coworkers until work time, those who are in a rush usually consume their breakfast standing up the bar counter, where they’re promptly served a frothy cappuccino along with their cornetto (Italian croissant) of preference. Sometimes, a freshly squeezed orange juice accompanies this evergreen combo, or a simple shot of espresso can be chosen over the classic cappuccino for a stronger energy boost in the early morning. Caffè macchiato gives coffee lovers a middle ground between an espresso and a cappuccino by adding a small amount of milk, usually foamed, to a cup of espresso.


THE ITALIAN BREAKFAST & APERITIVO When consumed in private households, Italian breakfast varies a lot, according to people’s taste, morning habits, and regional preferences. For those who don’t have much time, one of the quickest combinations to prepare is biscuits with a warm cup of either milk, tea, or caffè latte, a coffee drink mixed with hot or steamed milk. As mentioned earlier, breakfast biscuits in Italy come in all shapes and sizes, and they tend to be lighter and less sweet than dessert or tea biscuits. Another popular alternative combines cereals, cornflakes or muesli, with either milk or yogurt. Fresh fruit, such as berries, apples or bananas, can be added on top of it to ensure some extra nutrition before starting the day. Last but not least, when there’s leftover dessert from the previous night, Italians love to finish it for breakfast. Dessert can be even better the next day! Then, some people prefer toasted bread or fette biscottate (rusks), which are considered a healthier breakfast option over biscuits. If the name “rusk” doesn’t ring a bell, you should know that fette biscottate are slices of baked wheat bread that have a lot more in common with plain Typical fette biscottate with strawberry jam on top crackers rather than biscuits, as they’re unsweetened and very crunchy. If not consumed on their own, fette biscottate are extremely versatile and they can be perfectly combined with different toppings, such as butter, jam, marmalade, honey or hazelnut and cocoa spread. As for fruit jams and marmalades, there are hundreds of them in the Italian market: strawberry, peach, apricot, orange, raspberry, plum, cherry, fig, lemon, blueberry, and so on. Grocery stores in Italy are stocked with dozens of jars and bottles, and if we add spreads — such as hazelnut, pistachio, and almond — and all the different types of honey, we obtain an infinite number of possible combinations. 08

THE ITALIAN BREAKFAST & APERITIVO Either way, coffee is never missing in Italian households: nowadays, most families own an espresso machine, but some still enjoy the traditional way and prepare their coffee with a moka pot first thing in the morning. As the country’s most consumed beverage, coffee is an essential part of Italian life, and an institution that has become part of the national identity: a shot of this intense brew is a daily ritual linked to the culture, traditions, and habits of Italians, and goes back almost half a century. Caffè Florian (opened in 1720) is the second oldest operating bar in the world

In 1570, the Venetian physician and botanist Prospero Alpini introduced coffee to Italy after traveling across Egypt, where he had observed how locals managed to extract a beverage from roasting coffee beans. At the beginning, the drink was sold in Italian pharmacies as a high-priced commodity for the wealthier class, but in 1683 the first coffee shop opened in Venice, followed by many others, and their success was so vast that in the mid-17th century the number of coffee shops in Venice alone was around 220.

The “Oriental Room” of Caffè Florian, adorned with paintings by Giacomo Casa


THE ITALIAN BREAKFAST & APERITIVO Coffee shops and bars, which had first attracted local intellectuals, gradually shifted to a social space for wider society. Probably due to both its caffeine content and sensory appeal, but also thanks to its status as a symbol of conviviality and sharing, the popularity of coffee in Italy has never diminished ever since.

Freshly-baked cornetti, each with a different filling

But if coffee is an essential element of Italians’ cultural identity, so are cappuccino and cornetto, the staples of the perfect Italian breakfast that has become known throughout the world. To an untrained eye, an Italian cornetto can look like a French croissant; however, the two are quite different: for instance, while the croissant is butterier, has a crispy texture and usually comes with no fillings, the typical cornetto is sweeter, softer and is usually ripieno, or has fillings. Apricot jam, chocolate spread, pistachio cream, and custard: these are some of the most popular picks when it comes to cornetto fillings, but whole-grain, vegan options, and empty cornetti are also available in most bars. If you visit a bar in Northern Italy, don’t let yourself be fooled by the word brioche, which still refers to the Italian cornetto despite being a French word. For an extra rich bite, Italian people sometimes love to dip their cornetto into the cappuccino, which can also be served with a light sprinkle of cocoa powder on top of the foaming whole milk. Cappuccino, which features equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and foamed milk in that order, is a worldwide popular drink that has been reinvented in many ways throughout the years.


THE ITALIAN BREAKFAST & APERITIVO In Italy, though, the traditional cappuccino is typically a breakfast beverage only, and is rarely consumed during the rest of the day and especially not after meals, when something lighter on the digestive system such as a simple espresso is usually preferred. Before serving it to the customer, some Italian baristas like to decorate cappuccino with a drawing technique called latte art to reproduce shapes, symbols or letters on the milk foam. While latte art has become even more popular abroad, where it can get very artistic and creative, Italian baristas usually prefer to make simple and minimal shapes, such as hearts and tulips, in order to fit the hectic pace of Italian bars and at the same time stick to the traditional 1:1:1 ratio of espresso to milk to foam, a feature that is much appreciated by the Italian customer.


The execution of simple and delicate latte art on a cappuccino


THE ITALIAN BREAKFAST & APERITIVO Breakfast in Tuscany The most characteristic Italian regional breakfasts are rooted in local traditions, which are different from region to region. Tuscany has a rich food tradition, and breakfast can include some typical products of the region, such as cantucci, ricciarelli and panforte. Cantucci are crunchy Cantucci can also be prepared with different flavors, almond biscuits that are traditionally such as chocolate and coffee prepared without adding either yeast or butter and are baked twice for a satisfyingly hard bite. Although their origin goes as far back as Ancient Rome, the modern version of cantucci that we all enjoy today has been reinvented during the Renaissance by bakers in Prato, a city near Florence. The traditional way to eat cantucci is after meals, by dipping them in a small glass of Vin Santo, a typical sweet dessert wine — however, cantucci are also ideal for breakfast. Ricciarelli, which come from the Sienese tradition, are a different type of biscuits made with almonds, sugar, honey, and egg whites, decorated with a light sprinkle of powdered sugar on top. Just like cantucci, they can both be dipped in Vin Santo as a dessert or consumed for breakfast with the usual cup of tea or coffee. Dating from the 12th century, panforte is a fruit cake also originating from the Siena area said to have been first made by nuns. Its soft and chewy texture comes from mixing a boiled syrup made from sugar and honey with nuts, chocolate, spices and candied fruit. Despite being a typical Christmas dessert, the fruit and nuts contained in the recipe are a perfect energy source in the mornings.


Tuscan panforte

THE ITALIAN BREAKFAST & APERITIVO But the most popular traditional breakfast in the Tuscan region is the typical schiacciata, a traditional variety of bread consisting of flour, olive oil, yeast, water, and sugar. Tuscanians, for example, love to dip small bits of schiacciata into their morning caffè latte or cappuccino, just like people from Genoa, in the neighboring region of Liguria, do with their focaccia.

Schiacciata and cappuccino for breakfast

Tuscan Easter breakfast, which happens once a year during Easter celebrations, includes savory products as well, such as toasted bread with liver, hard-boiled eggs, cheese, capocollo (pork cold cut), finocchiona (scented salami seasoned with wild fennel seeds), Tuscan salami and salty ham. Then, accompanied by a good glass of red wine, we have A traditional Tuscan Easter breakfast, the star of this traditional breakfast: rich in flavor and genuineness the ciaccia di Pasqua, a baked dish that looks a lot like bread but is actually a savory pie that is filled with lots of cheese, meat and many other ingredients. Another popular Tuscan baked good that is typically consumed during festive times is the so-called berlingozzo, a simple, but dense cake in a ring shape that, according to the tradition, goes back to the time of Cosimo de’ Medici, around the 15th century. This cake, which is a traditional carnival dessert in the region, is also eaten for breakfast, dunked in a hot cup of caffè Berlingozzo toscano, a Carnival dessert that latte just like it is often done with schiacciata. can also be consumed for breakfast 13


Roman gustatio with appetizers (flatbreads)

To continue our cultural and culinary journey about Italian rituals throughout the day, we have to introduce to you the Italian Aperitivo. Even though Aperitivo can’t be considered a proper meal like lunch or dinner, it holds an important cultural and social value for Italians. Italy is a country famous for its history, food and culture, and all these elements are reflected in the Aperitivo.

This traditional event that takes place at the end of the day, between 6 to 9 pm, has a long history behind it and after thousands of years it evolved to the contemporary version that we can appreciate today. The Italian expression “Aperitivo” comes from the Latin word aperire (“to open”), meaning to open and stimulate the appetite before a meal, usually dinner. The first form of Italian Aperitivo dates back to the Roman Empire (2000 years ago), when Romans from upper-classes used to gather together for the gustatio, banquets where they consumed mulsum, an alcoholic wine mixed with honey and spices, and vinum absinthiatum (white wine with absinthe, with the addition of sage and rosemary to balance its bitterness). These drinks were usually accompanied by appetizers like flatbreads with cheese, fruits and raw vegetables, that were served to open the digestive system before the main meal. Going forward, we arrive at the contemporary era of the Italian Aperitivo. During the XIX century, Aperitivo was more about the drinks that people used to enjoy together and less about the food. Italians during that time often headed to a Caffè, the “ancestor” of today’s Italian Bar, before dinner to prepare themselves for the main meal that would follow. It was a period of creativity and development for the evolution of Aperitivo, since that was the time when many Italian distillers and wine makers invented some of the staple drinks that we can still enjoy nowadays. 14

THE ITALIAN BREAKFAST & APERITIVO An important year to recall is 1796, widely recognised as the birth year of the modern Italian Aperitivo. In that year, in fact, Antonio Benedetto Carpano from Turin created the famous Vermouth (from the German word Wermut, “absinthe”), mixing Moscato white wine with 20 aromatic herbs and spice.

Vermouth by Carpano

Decades later, a box of Vermouth was gifted to King Vittorio Emanuele II, who loved the bitterness of the drink so much that the Vermouth (with China Carpano) became the official drink for aperitif at the royal palace. Turin was also the city where, in 1863, wine makers Alessandro Martini and Luigi Rossi mixed white wine with spices like china, oregano, lemon balm, cinnamon and many other ingredients, creating the Martini.

In the XIX century, also one of today’s go-to drinks, the Spritz (a mix of Prosecco and sparkling water), was created. There are different versions regarding the birth of Spritz, but the most accredited one narrates that: Austrian soldiers in northwestern Italy during the Hapsburg occupation thought that the local wines were too strong, so they asked for a “spritzen” (a splash) of water to dilute it and the Spritz was born. At the end of the XIX century, the habit of accompanying the drink with something to eat spread. As a result of that, simple snacks became more commonly consumed before dinner with a drink on the side. But only in the XX century the food assumed a bigger role in this tradition, and with that also grew the size of the portion and the range of snacks and dishes available, arriving at the current version of Italian Aperitivo that is becoming more and more appreciated and replicated in other parts of the world. 15

THE ITALIAN BREAKFAST & APERITIVO Aperitivo: What and Where? Aperitivo for Italians represents a cultural ritual that embodies relax, friendship and conviviality and it perfectly shows the quality and variety of Italian products. The typical time for aperitivo is around 6 to 9 pm., since it usually takes place at the end of the Aperitivo as a social gathering workday or at the beginning of the night, intended to be a prelude to dinner. It’s the perfect form of social gathering that can be enjoyed by everyone, from family to friends and colleagues. It is so popular that if a survey on the most exchanged messages between Italians everyday was to be conducted, a message like “Would you like to meet for an Aperitivo?” would be one of the most popular messages sent and received. It’s easy to understand where its popularity comes from: it allows people to spend time together, chatting about their life in front of a drink and some snacks, bonding with friends and family, or meeting new people in a pleasant environment. Many Italians after work love to go to a bar to consume a glass of wine or a cocktail in company, to unwind and have fun after a long or stressful day. Aperitivo doesn’t have defined rules, but it’s all about sharing, having fun and enjoying each other’s company. Millions of Italians like to gather in a piazza (“square”), café or bar to consume a glass of wine or a cocktail and share a moment with others, taking the opportunity to have a drink with some food on the side. Aperitivo doesn’t necessarily have to be outside, but it can also be enjoyed at home. It’s not rare for Italians to invite people to spend some time at their places, hosting an Aperitivo in a more familiar and intimate setting. Something fun and useful to remember when in Italy is that before taking the first sip of their drink, Italians usually toast saying “cin cin” while clinking their glasses. 16

THE ITALIAN BREAKFAST & APERITIVO During Aperitivo, a drink is consumed, usually wine or a light mixed cocktail, accompanied by a small meal. The drink and accompanying snacks are intended to stimulate the appetite and set the stage for the meal, so the drinks are often herbal, bitter or sparkling.

Famous Aperol Spritz

Typical Italian aperitivo

When it comes to selecting a drink for Aperitivo, the Spritz is the go-to choice for many, thanks to its variety and flavor. There is a wide selection of different Spritz: Aperol, Bitter Campari, Select (a Venetian variety), Cynar, Hugo etc. Spritz is a cocktail obtained by mixing a base of prosecco (Italian DOC white wine) with bitters (Campari, Aperol, Select) and soda water. It is usually served with ice and a slice of orange or lemon, and some bars might add a green olive.

But a cocktail isn’t the only option available for the Italian aperitivo. In fact, many people prefer to consume a glass of wine before dinner, and Italy offers a great selection of different wines, both sparkling and still, that can satisfy every taste according to one’s preference. The most selected Italian wine to consume during Aperitivo is Prosecco, a sparkling or semi-sparkling DOC or DOCG white wine produced in the Veneto and Friuli-Venezia Giulia regions (Northern Italy), that derives its name from the Prosecco village near the city of Trieste (Friuli-Venezia Giulia). On the other hand, red wine is perfect to accompany red meat-based snacks. Wines like Sangiovese, Barbera, Bardolino and Amarone go well with food eaten during Aperitivo. 17

THE ITALIAN BREAKFAST & APERITIVO These drinks are usually accompanied by some type of savory food, from potato chips, nuts and olives, to more elaborate side dishes. Many Italian bars and restaurants during Aperitivo offer slices of bread with local ingredients on top. Some typical cold cuts offered are prosciutto crudo di Parma (an Italian uncooked ham from the city Parma Wine served with a “tagliere” of cheese in Emilia-Romagna), prosciutto cotto (cooked and cold cuts prosciutto), salame (Italian salami, obtained from fermented and dried meat, usually pork) or ‘nduja (a spicy pork sausage from the Calabria region, in Southern Italy). In addition, cheese represents the perfect combination for these types of meats. When referring to cheese, once again, a wide variety of regional products are available: Parmigiano Reggiano (hard and aged cheese from cow’s milk, from the province of Reggio-Emilia), Caprino (cheese made from goat’s milk, that can be tasted fresh or aged), Pecorino (hard cheese obtained from sheep’s milk), Gorgonzola (blue cheese made from unskimmed cow’s milk), etc.


THE ITALIAN BREAKFAST & APERITIVO Every region offers a different variation of Aperitivo. In general, regions in Northern Italy recently adopted the form of “happy hour” or “apericena” that often replaces dinner, a formula that combines one or two drinks with all-you-can eat buffets, where you can try many finger-foods and have a little taste Wine paired with chips and cicchetti of pasta, crudités, fruit salads, cheeses and cold cuts. The Veneto region, on the other hand, and Venezia in particular, is famous for its traditional aperitivo, an occasion of social gathering at a bacaro (the Venetian bar), where people chat and drink a glass of white or red wine (called ombra, “shadow”) or Spritz, and order “cicchetti”, little slices of bread covered by cheese, meats and local fishes. Going South, “happy hour” is less popular, and the importance of local food prevails. According to the different areas, you can taste different typical products of the territory, with many maritime localities that offer fish-based dishes.


THE ITALIAN BREAKFAST & APERITIVO Aperitivo in Tuscany It is now worth focusing on another local variety of the Italian Aperitivo, the Tuscan one. Everywhere in Italy people enjoy and promote the social aspect and cultural value of this ritual and everyone can appreciate it with friends and family, outside at a bar or at home. The true essence of Aperitivo isn’t different in Tuscany from other parts of the country, but Tuscany can distinguish itself for the local gastronomical richness of the products that the region has to offer. It is in fact a region famous for its high-quality wines, thanks to the fertile soils and diversity of its territory, that results in the cultivation of the Sangiovese grape (a red grape variety), used for the production of many different wines, that are well combined with different types of red meats. Aperitivo in Tuscany is the perfect example of great combinations between food and beverages, thanks to the availability of high-quality wines and a wide range of cheeses and meats. The most iconic local wine, that can boast more than three centuries of history, is the Chianti Classico, a DOCG wine that derives its name from the territory where it is produced, the Chianti region, a mountainous area of Tuscany between the provinces Chianti hills of Florence, Siena and Arezzo. This wine is mostly composed by the Sangiovese grape that is cultivated in this area, and is unique and easily recognisable for its ruby color, floral bouquet and an alcohol content of minimum 12%.


THE ITALIAN BREAKFAST & APERITIVO The Sangiovese grape is the fundamental ingredient for many other wines that originate from this region. A must-try wine produced in Tuscany is Brunello di Montalcino, a red wine from Siena, famous for its longevity and scent. The area of Siena is also the home of another Tuscan red wine, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano (DOCG), one of the most antique wines in Italy and usually well-paired to red meats. Sangiovese grape

An intense and dry red wine perfect for different aperitivo combinations is Morellino di Scansano (DOCG) from the coastal area of Maremma in the Grosseto province, that goes well both with red meats and fish-based dishes. The full aperitivo experience in Tuscany can be achieved by combining a glass of a local wine with some typical products like Pecorino toscano DOP, an hard cheese from pasteurized ewe’s milk, often paired with honey or jam and fresh fruits, or stracchino, a more creamy and delicate cheese. Some cold cuts of the area are prosciutto crudo toscano, prosciutto di cinta senese (a pig breed from Siena), finocchiona (salami variety with fennel) and lardo di colonnata (salumi from the province of Massa-Carrara).

Wide selection of cold cuts and cheeses


THE ITALIAN BREAKFAST & APERITIVO In addition, drinks can be paired with other more elaborate side dishes. Aperitivo in Tuscany also consists of bruschette and crostini (slice of toasted bread) with different toppings. The most typical one is the crostino di fegatini (chicken liver), but other options can be savored, like pappa al pomodoro (tomato Pappa al pomodoro (tomato sauce) sauce), or a simple crostino with some olive oil on top. In Livorno (a coastal province facing the Ligure Sea and the Tirreno Sea) it is possible to get a taste of cacciucco, a typical seafoodbased soup that can be also served as an appetizer. We now arrive at the end of our cultural and gastronomical Italian journey. We hope to have provided you with some useful information to help you better understand these two essential Italian rituals, Breakfast and aperitivo, and we thank you for your interest and attention. We would like to conclude with an old Italian saying: Italian family enjoying food

“A tavola non si invecchia mai” (translation: “At the table one never gets old”.), meaning that spending time at the table with family and friends, relaxing and chatting, keeps us happy and healthy.


THE ITALIAN BREAKFAST & APERITIVO Labels Considering the great importance that Italy gives to the quality of its agricultural and food product, it is no surprise that the country, alongside the European Union, has acted to protect its products from counterfeits and copies. Therefore, two different labels were created to ensure the quality and the geographical indication of the ingredients commonly used on pizza. By geographical indication it is meant: “A distinctive sign used to identify a product as originating in the territory of a particular country, region or locality where its quality, reputation or other characteristic is linked to its geographical origin.” PDO, Protected Designation of Origin, and PGI, Protected Geographical Indication, are two certifications synonymous with typical high-quality food and wine products. But what exactly do these acronyms mean and what is the difference between them? Let’s say straight away that these are distinctive brands of typical products officially registered and issued by the European Union on a proposal from the Ministry of Agricultural Policies which at the same time commit producers to constant checks by an independent certification body. PDO and PGI are therefore trademarks protected and protected at a European Community level, for the benefit of consumers and against counterfeiting. Remember that Italy is the European country with the highest number of PDO and PGI agrifood products registered by the European Union! 1 PGI, IGP in Italian, Indicazione Geografica Protetta, simply means that a product can be traced back to its geographical origin during at least one phase in the production process. Meaning it can be linked to a place or region where it is produced, processed or prepared. Although the ingredients used may not necessarily to come from that geographical area, all PGI products must also adhere to a precise set of specifications and may bear the PGI logo. 23


European Commission

THE ITALIAN BREAKFAST & APERITIVO PDO, DOP in Italian, Denominazione di Origine Protetta, means “Protected Designation of Origin.” It is the stricter of the two certifications. If a product is labeled PDO, then you can be sure that it has been produced, processed, and prepared in a specific geographical area, using the recognized knowhow of local producers and ingredients from the region concerned. These products, whose characteristics are strictly linked to their geographical origin, must adhere to a precise set of specifications and may bear the PDO logo. Therefore, the difference between PDO products and PGI products lies in the fact that, for PDO products, everything concerning the processing and marketing of the product originates in the declared territory; while for the PGI product, the declared territory confers to the product, through some phases or components of its processing, but not all the factors that contribute to obtaining the product come from the declared territory. More simply, the PDO mark certifies only products wholly obtained and packaged in the declared area of origin, while the PGI mark certifies that not all the production process is linked to the declared area of origin, but the most important phases are, i.e. those that give the product its peculiar character.


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