Buon Appetito!

A common question I get from friends about travelling to Italy is, "can you recommend a couple of good restaurants there?" This is practically impossible to answer given the number and the variety of restaurants and other eateries throughout Italy; as well as the vast gastronomic traditions found in all regions, towns and villages.
My first suggestions would be not to give up on your curiosity, but instead accept the challenge. Ignore the potential language barrier and let your eyes guide you (fig. 1) as you begin to wander around historic cities or small, remote villages. One-of-a-kind, family-run panini shops are easy to find and typically will have a nice variety of choices for the tourist with little time to spare. Usually, the shops reflect the local specialties (fig. 2), certainly a better choice than any of the well-known fast food chains (fig. 3) becoming surprisingly popular particularly among teenagers and tourists.
The gamut of available restaurants goes from the simple osteria or pizzeria (figs. 4, 5) to the trattoria (fig. 6) to the more formal ristorante (fig. 7). Tavola calda mostly offer buffet-style prepared foods, economical and ideal for a fast meal and generally of good quality.
Once you are set at your table and have ordered some wine, what should you choose from the menu? If you love pasta, you are probably at the right place. Look for locally made varieties which are usually prepared with sauces and ingredients typical of the region you are visiting such as funghi porcini or tartufi in Umbria (fig. 8). Lamb, pork chops and steaks are often grilled alla brace (fig. 9) and usually are accompanied by a wide variety of delicious vegetables. If you prefer fish, expect it to arrive at your table with its head and tail (fig. 10) to prove that it was fresco di giornata!
At the end of a glorious meal, as you enjoy the evening al fresco (fig. 11), why not try a slice of the torta della nonna or at least some biscotti (fig. 12) to dip in your wine, before your next espresso.
Buon appetito!