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Food, Dining, & Drinks in San Marino

Culinary Influences

San Marino's culinary history is similar to that of Italy's, but on a smaller scale. The only true influences on the local cuisine are from the native foods available and their contact with the Italians.

Due to its location, San Marino's foods are primarily Mediterranean as far as what is available, including garlic, onions, and later lemons. Due to the Italians though, the food contains a lot of pasta and other ingredients synonymous with Italian cuisine such as the tomato and liberal use of olive oil.

San Marino's food is most closely related to the Italian region of Emilia-Romagna, but there are various local differences.

Staple Foods

Pasta: the base in many dishes
Piada: thin Italian flatbread served with most foods

Regional Variations & Specialties

Faggioli con le Cotiche: dark bean and bacon soup generally served at Christmas
Nini di Rondine: pasta with ham, cheese, and beef in a tomato sauce, then topped with a white sauce and baked
Pasta e Cece: chickpea and noodle soup with garlic and rosemary

Dining Etiquette

Eating in San Marino is nearly identical to dining in Italy, which is similar to most of Europe. Whether you are eating at a local restaurant or invited to a local's home, take your time, you aren't expected to arrive any earlier than 15-30 minutes late. Perhaps you can occupy that extra time by stopping somewhere to pick up a gift for your host; chocolate is probably the best choice as the locals take great pride in their wines and getting the wrong bottle isn't a good idea. Once you arrive and find a seat (your host may or may not direct you to a chair), wait until your host sits down before getting too comfortable and once seated, remember to keep your hands above the table at all times, but don't put your elbows on the table.

Once the food arrives, be sure to take a small portion at first, as you'll most likely be offered seconds and taking them will be a great compliment to your host. Before beginning though, follow your host's lead as you should not eat or drink until your host does and this may not start until after a toast. As you dine, be sure to eat in the continental style (knife in the right hand, fork in the left), and leave your wine glass at least half full if you've finished drinking (otherwise it will be topped off).

As you finish your first plate, wait for your host to offer you more food and be sure to accept as this is a great compliment to the chef. If you truly are finished eating, it may take turning down additional food a couple times before your host is finally convinced that you are done, even if you do place your fork and knife together at the 5:00 o'clock position to symbolize that you have finished.

If you're at a restaurant, getting the bill at the end of the meal is a challenge; it will not be given to you until you ask for it, no matter how long you remain seated. If you invited your guests, be prepared to pay for everyone's meals, whereas if you are the invited guest, offer to pay, but expect to be turned down.

Tipping in San Marino is optional if there is a service charge included in your bill (which it often is). If no service charge is included or if service was superb, a tip of about 5-10% is appreciated.

Drinks

San Marino has nearly ever common non-alcoholic beverage available, including juices, soft drinks, tea, and coffee, although none are particularly authentic to the region. Perhaps coffee and cappuccino are among the most popular of these drinks.

On the alcoholic side, wine dominates San Marino and the two most commonly produced wines are sangiovese, a red wine and biancale, a white wine. In addition to these two local products, other wines are also popular, particularly Italian wines, although there is a strong preference for drinking the local wines. Beers and hard liquors, including many international brands are also available.

Generally speaking, the tap water is safe to drink in San Marino, but check with locals for any particular regional differences. Also, many people may have troubles adjusting to the local tap water, as it will most certainly be different from what your system is used to.

This page was last updated: March, 2013