Fork with a bite of pizza with the pizza and a knife below.
Home » Italian Food Basics » How Do Italians Eat Pizza? – Answers From A Large Italian Family 

How Do Italians Eat Pizza? – Answers From A Large Italian Family 

Last updated on June 22nd, 2024

So you have learned how to order a pizza in Italy, you have familiarize yourself with authentic Italian pizza toppings and you have read all about pizza in Italy and now you are asking yourself how to eat your pizza without making a fool of yourself?

I asked myself the same question countless times when I first came to Italy over 15 years ago. There are so many different kinds of pizza so what is the right time and place for eating pizza with your hands? But wait, you heard Italians eat pizza with a fork and knife? Yes, that too but only sometimes!

Now that I live here, I have a pretty good answer to how do Italians eat pizza in any possible situation. In this article, I will cover exactly how Italians eat pizza with detailed explanations for each scenario you might find yourself in when eating pizza in Italy.  

How Do Italians Eat Pizza?

Italians Eat Pizza In Italy Standing

hand holding a piece of pizza wrapped in parchment paper

Usually, Italians don’t eat standing because food is a sacred moment of sharing and coming together with friends and family. 

BUT this is not always true in terms of eating pizza in Italy. Pizza is one of the few Italian foods that’s acceptable to eat ‘on-the-go’, standing with a coke in hand. 

Most of the time, I see businessmen eating pizza standing for a quick lunch before rushing back to the office. In other cases, I see kids eating pizza standing as an afternoon merenda or snack

Usually, these pizza options include pizza alla pala, pizza pinsa, pizza a taglio, also called pizza al trancio when slices are sold by the slice, not by weight.

Italians Eat Pizza In Italy Sitting

street view of a large wooden door front with golden writing of pizzeria on top with a stand and a menu outdoors. bricks on either side of the building wall.

Italians eat pizza most often sitting when they are at a pizzeria, restaurant or at home. 

Eating pizza in Italy is a very informal affair and is considered a very casual night out with plenty of kids running around, rowdy waiters, and great people watching. Yet, this is the most formal situation in which Italians eat pizza.

How Do They Do It? Read how Italians stay so svelte while eating pizza and pasta every day.

Kids eating pizza from white plates. They're sitting in green plastic chairs and eating at a small kids' table. They're smiling.
My two boys eating pizza sitting down with their hands at home after we made pizza as a family

Initially, Italians will usually eat this pizza with a knife and fork when sitting down instead of their hands. As the pizza cools, they may decide to move on and cut what is left of their pizza into wedges, fold it over and eat it. 

Italians Eat Pizza In Italy As Take-Out 

Woman holding takeaway boxes of pizza in front of a pizzeria in Italy.
Me holding my take out pizzas to bring home for dinner in Montepulciano

Pizza is one of Italy’s most popular forms of take-out. Many Italian families, including mine, get pizza for an easy dinner, especially on the weekends. 

You will also see many young students eating a pizza to go on a stoop, sitting on a sidewalk or even on the steps of a historical monument or church (usually frowned upon). 

Do Italians Eat Pizza With A Fork?

Hands holding fork and knife over a pizza with eggplant and parmigiano toppings.

Italians eat pizza with a fork and knife or with their hands. But when?

Italians eat pizza with a fork and knife when they are eating a whole pizza that is fresh out of the wood fired oven. These pizzas do not come pre-sliced and because they are served at such high temperatures, the pizza would fall apart if you tried to eat it with your hands. 

To learn more about how and when Italians eat pizza with a fork and knife read my in-depth guide Do Italians Eat Pizza With a Fork?

Do Italians Eat Pizza With Their Hands?

side view of a glass case of various rectangles of pizza lined up with white tags indicated price on top of each slice.

Italians eat pizza with their hands when they are eating pizza a taglio or by the slice or square. This means pizza that has been purchased either at a pizza a taglio window, a bakery, a bar or even an Italian grocery store

When Italians get take out pizza, it’s generally cool enough to cut with a fork and knife into slices and eat it with their hands by the time they get home.

How Italians Won’t Eat Pizza

Table with pizza, schiacciata, and olive oil on a plate in Italy.

You will never see an Italian dipping their pizza into any form of sauce, olive oil or eating it side-by-side another dish such as a pasta or secondo

Italians will never dip their crusts into olive oil either. 

You might see an Italian drizzling a bit of spicy chili oil on their pizza but other than that, no condiments! 

Italians generally won’t order pizza to share. Everyone picks their own and eats their own. This isn’t to say that you will never see an Italian trading slices with someone but Italian pizza won’t be ordered for the table and passed around. 

And don’t ask for grated parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes!

Traveling in Italy? Be sure to check out my guides to the Best Pizza in Florence and the Best Pizza in Venice!

How Do Italians Eat Pizza – FAQ

What is the correct way to eat pizza?

The correct way to eat a pizza if you are sitting down at a restaurant is to start with a knife and fork. If you are eating pizza a taglio or pizza by the slice that you have purchased at a bakery, grocery store or pizza a taglio vender, you can absolutely eat it with your hands. 

Do Italians eat pizza with hands or fork?

Italians eat pizza with hands and forks and knives, depending on the circumstance. Street food, snacks and pizza by the slice is enjoyed with your hands. A whole pizza pie isn’t pre-sliced and requires a fork and knife. 

Why isn’t pizza sliced in Italy?

Italian pizza isn’t sliced because it’s cooked at such high temperatures and served immediately, making it impossible to pre-slice. The freshly baked pizzas in Italy are so hot that they would just fall apart if you sliced them straight out of the oven. The only pizza that is pre-sliced in Italy is pizza a taglio, pizza al trancio, pizza alla pala or pizza pinsa and even in these cases, the server often cuts what you want right in front of your eyes, not straight out of the oven. 

Is it rude to leave pizza crusts in Italy?

It’s not considered at all rude to leave your pizza crusts in Italy. Many Italians do so, especially in thicker crust pizzas such as Neapolitan style pizzas.