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may 02 2008

Affordable Europe: Save on lunch in Italy

Say "basta!" to pasta! Lunchtime in Italy does not always mean the two course pasta (primo) and meat/fish (secondo) meal with several bottles of wine. Leave the feasting to the evening. Economize at lunch instead. My secret weapon? The tramezzino.

The tramezzino is the small, triangular, white-bread finger sandwich, akin to a crust-less tea sandwich. These sandwiches accommodate every eater, from vegan to carnivore. They range in price from one euro for a simple cheese sandwich to €4.50 for the more fancy club. Standard tramezzini are tomato and cheese, cheese and ham, and tuna.

However, my favorites are bresaola, arugula and Parmesan cheese; crab or chicken salad; or the triple-decker club.

Tramezzini can be found at any bar (Italian café for coffee drinks, cigarettes, and lottery tickets) at the counter.

Runner-up to the tramezzino is pizza al taglio, pizza by the slice, technically by the weight. Instead of simply picking a slice, you pick the size of slice you want—from demure to glutton, and with different styles, from margherita (simple mozzarella cheese) to potato and rosemary.

Pizza al taglio shops should also serve, depending on region, some finger food such as suppli (riceballs with mozzarella cheese in the center), and croquette (potato finger like thing). Like most bars, these shops serve stand-up and take-out—perfect for a park bench picnic.

—Erica Firpo, who is blogging from Rome as part of our Affordable Europe series.

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Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

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