How to eat in Italy and still fit into your jeans when you get homeMy best friend once gave me sage advice: never travel with drawstring pants.

You see, she had backpacked her way through Southeast Asia and her wardrobe staple consisted entirely of drawstring pants.

She lamented she was the only person who travelled Indonesia and got fat. Usually you expect to return from backpacking through Asia emaciated from a few bouts of dysentery and the lack of cheese staring you down at every meal. But it didn’t work out that way.

My friend simply didn’t realize the pounds she gained cause she didn’t pack her jeans. Her jeans were her barometer of ass fatness. If they were too tight – she cut out the cheetos. If they were too loose – she got to eat more cheetos. Get it?

Does Travel Devastate Your Fitness Routine?

I asked people on Facebook if travelling devastated their fitness routine (if you’re the type who has this sort of thing).

Most said: hell yeah!  Except for my friend Tim. She said, “Hell no. I still drink wine every night”. Now you know why we’re buds.

So today, I share with you my 10 commandments on how to eat in Italy.

How to Travel Italy and Fit into Your Jeans upon Return.

(Or: How Not To Get A Fat Ass On Your Two Week Italian Vacation)

1. Thou shalt not eat gelato alla fragola, gelato alla crema and gelato al chocolato after each and every meal.

2. Though shalt not eat those bloody brioche filled with cream every bloody morning.  Yes, even if they’re free at your hotel. Apples are also free at the hotel. Coincidence? I think not.

3. Thou shalt follow my 80/20 shoe rule. Wear really comfortable shoes 80 percent of the time – so you can walk all day in joy.  Cause else you’ll be slumming it in a cafe at 3pm cause your feet are aching. Wear your “these devastate my feet but look damn hot” heels for 20 percent of the time – preferably at night when you’re sitting down eating. It’s my 80/20 #winning strategy.

4. Thou shalt not drink soda pop in Italy. Instead drink “una spremuta” (fresh squeezed orange juice made to order) served at most bars and cafes and yes – even in the train stations. For realz. Check out the gal below to see how you order one of those bad boys.

5. Thou shalt not eat like a tourist into a gluttonous stupor. Of course one night a week of food hangover is reasonable. Being a tourist has its perks.

6. Thou shalt learn to eat like an Italian girl.  Eat “antipasti” (appetizers) then skip the pasta and have “il secondo” (fish, meat etc.) Also try “i contorni” (sides of vegetables). Stick to “Il primo” (pasta, rice, polenta etc.) when you won’t be eating anything else. Like, ever.

7. Thou shalt learn the words for salad: “insalata mista” (mixed green salad) “insalata di tonno” (salad with tuna and sometimes corn) or “insalata caprese” (tomatoes and cheese). Yum.

8. Thou shalt love carpaccio. It’s fish or meat — thinly sliced and tasty as can be. Ask the waiter to suggest a wine pairing for the carpaccio you’re diving into.

9. Thou shalt spend an entire day rejuvenating oneself with exercise in the countryside. Bike through some olive groves. Walk a dirt trail to a remote village. Swim in a grotto.  Organize these experiences with a map and a prayer or join our trips some day.

10. Thou shalt adopt the coffee ritual of an Italian gentleman. Espresso in the afternoon and cappuccino in the morning. Multiple cappuccino shouldn’t be consumed all day – it’s too heavy. Cappuccinos were designed for mornings.  Or for children. Just kidding.


What’s your favourite commandment? What commandment can you offer up? What the hell should I do with my drawstring pants? I’m all ears.

Thanks for adding to the conversation. xx Bianca

32 Responses

  1. oh Bianca this may be true if you’re lucky enough to marry a handsome Italian and live there for awhile, but my strategy while in Italy was to stuff in every delicious morsel I could.
    I remember my sister and I ate so many pastries (those ricotta filled ones I could not resist) for breakfast that to avoid embarrasment we would cross the street and resume at another bakery.
    Then we’d go for lunch… Travel with extra large drawstring pants if you must!

  2. Your first commandment was one I broke every day once I tried the gelato. It looked like yogurt to me, which I do not like, but Mama Mia! It’s delicious!! And I did not gain any weight from all the walking we did. Wonderful trip to a wonderful country!

  3. You did not mention gorgonzola with olive oil poured all over it and consumed with or without bread. Not sure if this falls into the Do or Don’t category. Maybe not every day but definately every other!!! Run up and down some stairs if you must ….

  4. I have heard that Italy has some of the best food in the world. This was a really funny read, and some of the tips were actually quite helpful.

  5. So funny! Loved reading this. And I agree about skipping the primo…way too heavy for every meal. My daily favorite is an insalatone and spremuta! Greetings from Lago Maggiore!

    1. Hi Jillian,

      Yes, living in Italy you would know what I mean. Just say no to the primo…or the secondo…or the dolci. Or die trying : )

      Lago Maggiore — wonderful! It was totally fogged out when I was there a decade ago but it made it super romantic and moody. xx Bianca

  6. and as they say “when in Rome” . . .
    And while we are on the subject I wear drawstring pants “there” and “here” and of course those stretchy yoga (don’t do) pants so I can really try everything at least once! While dear Sister Gillian attempts to stick to her glutton-free (no spelling mistake) diet I will continue with my tried and true advice to self – tomorrow I’ll eat a little less . . .

  7. You know, one of the only “bad” things I think of when I consider vacationing in Italy is the fact that I will probably gain 10 pounds in a week! Lol…so I am not the only one with this miserable nagging fear. So f*#king funny 🙂

  8. I’m always afraid to “just say no to the primo…or the secondo…or the dolci.” as I don’t want to offend. At times I would order everything and then be asked if something was wrong if I didn’t finish it all! What a conundrum! I now order what I can consume, which is dictated, hopefully, by the amount of activity during the day, and when they see the wonder and delight on my face, that brings more joy than anything else!

  9. I LIVE to eat so when we head to the Aosta valley and Cinque Terre next fall I’m looking forward to the 153 steps every day up and down from our apartment to the sea! That’s one way to be able to eat guilt free….some of the time!

  10. I put a thousand stars by number 8 & 9!! Carpaccio and long romantic summer days! Ahhh… makes me long to be in Italy again.
    My advice for commandment number 6 is travel with a lover or a friend, or if you can’t, don’t eat alone. Order whatever you like, try everything, indulge in every course, but just don’t eat too much of it. I’m lucky to have a boyfriend who loves to eat so we can order anything and everything and I don’t have to feel guilty about leaving extra food on the plate. Eat in good company and deny yourself nothing. However, if you break commandment 6, make sure to practice commandment 5!!!

  11. Love this post. That is one of the reasons I am doing walking and hiking tours. Maybe I can earn and burn off the great food.

  12. So glad I found you – your posts are hilarious! My daughter and I travelled to Italy with a school group in 2011. We broke your first commandment every day, at least twice a day, and enjoyed every minute of yumminess!!

    1. Geri,
      So glad we’re connected too! Looking forward to hearing more from you,

  13. I can’t wait to try the food and wine while doing a lot of walking. We will be spending 10 nights in Venice, Florence and Rome my goal is to track at least one 5k run in each place along with all the walking. Just connected with you Bianca and love your tips. LOL I’m forwarding them to my wife she LOVEs the sweets.


    1. That’s the great thing about Italy, isn’t it, Lemmie? All the walking and climbing counteracts the eating! Have a great trip with your sweetie 😉

  14. Bianca that was such a good read am heading to Italy in August and simply cannot wait , will definitely try to keep to your 10 commandments , but honestly not sure I will be able , wish me luck , oh and so love your page

  15. love your tips i will print and take with me!! any suggestions of where to buy shoes in florence thanks

  16. Bianca, I gotta say it ain’t necessarily so. I am 67, postmenopausal (read, easily can gain weight) and live in Florence. For breakfast I have a panino stuffed with 4 meats and one cheese on schiacciata bread, lunch– a big plate of pasta and wine with a bit of focaccia, brioche with whipped cream for dessert, chocolate with nuts for afternoon snack, gelato while I’m out, prosecco when I get back, and maybe whatever was leftover from the panino for dinner. I have lost weight or stayed the same. (I am a slender 5’6″.) How?? I walk every day at least 2 1/2 miles, usually 5-7, visiting all the beauties of my town or just exploring. My shoes may look dumpy but they are always comfortable. And I am very happy. susan

    1. I’m with you Susan. I’ll be in Italy for a couple of weeks in June and I can’t wait to stuff myself with all those delectables found in Italy. I do however plan on counteracting the calories by hiking like a mad woman for much of the time. Having said that, I think I can manage some of Bianca’s commandments except for not ordering the primo. I’m a slave to pasta and plan on eating every dish I can get my hands, or mouth, on!

  17. I was totally captured by your CT blog, it really gave me a good feel of what to expect, couldn’t of been written better, I LOVED IT!!!! ????

    So that being said, I will be in Italy the month of July. I’m thinking about going 3 days to Rome, 1 day in Pisa, 3 days in CT, 1 day in Napoli, if that and 5 days in the amalfi coast.

    What do you think? Is it doable, or should I leave out some places to really endulge in others? Btw, traveling with family, young, adventurous and ready to explore and see new places.

  18. Love this ! I love all things Italian and your story is amazing !
    I was wondering if your company provides day tours in Rome or Florence ?
    If not could you recommend personal guide to hit the highlights of both cities .

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