Chi mangia bene, mangia Italiano! who eats well, eats Italian!
Italy is an incredibly diverse country when it comes to dishes, ingredients, cooking times and seasonings change dramatically from one region to the next. Italians take food very seriously. Each region, and sometimes even a city, will have regional specialties that they are very proud of. The basic philosophy of the meal however is generally seen as an occasion for friends or family to get together around the table and relax remains constant.
Breakfast normally consists of a coffee or cappuccino and a pastry. However lunch and dinner are considered important meals.
Traditional Italian menus have five sections and a full meal consists of an appetizer (antipasti), first course (primo) and a second course (secondo) with a side dish (contorni) followed by desert (dolce). It's not necessary to order from every course, but usually people order at least two courses. Italian meals can last one or two hours or even longer.
Italians usually eat fairly late meals. Lunch will not start before 1:00 and dinner not before 8:00.
Italian food is very healthy and balanced; carbohydrates from the first course and the bread, proteins from the first and second courses, vitamins and minerals from the vegetables and the fruit. Not to mention the extra virgin olive oil!
If you want to eat good Italian food when in Italy avoid restaurants offering tourist menu's and hunt out a place where locals go. The service and the food will be much better quality.