top of page

The Tradition of the Italian Sunday Lunch

Any Italiophile who's watched movies that take place in Italy knows that Sunday (domenica) is the day that Italian families stop everything and share a meal together.

The tradition runs deep. I didn't realize this, but it's more common in the south of Italy to share a meal on Sunday than in the north. Here, 60% of Italians share a meal together every week.

Italian Sunday lunch

But sadly, the tradition is changing. Years ago, la mamma or la nonna spent all day in the kitchen making sugo and fresh-made pasta. Today, women still prepare a home-cooked meal, but more often than not use store-bought pasta. Still, the meal is made with love and is an invitation to slow down and savor.

The Italian Sunday lunch is an opportunity to catch up with family on the goings-on of the week, to share a few jokes, and to nourish the body and soul.

My Italian Sunday Lunches in Davoli

Growing up, my family rarely ate together once I became a teen and started inserting my will to do things my way. It was just the three of us; my brothers had grown and flown the nest years before. My mother worked at the hospital, so Sundays weren't as sacrosanct as they are here.

While it's not a requirement to attend the midday meal on Sunday, Fra and I tend to migrate to his house like magnets, drawn in by the promise of pasta con sugo or maiale (pork stewed all day on the bone).

I'm not sure what I was expecting of the Italian Sunday lunch. Maybe something more formal, more regal. Instead, it's simply a family who cares enough about one another to sit down, phones put away, to connect.

Usually, it's his parents, brother, and us in attendance, but occasionally, like for a holiday or when there's a special dish on offer, his aunt and uncle, cousin and her family, and another aunt or two flock like bees to flowers.

Francesco comes from a family with a sense of humor, so there are always jokes being batted around the table. His father pours the wine (homemade, of course) and his mother plates the pasta. She knows me well enough by now to give me half as much as everyone else, though his father scoffs that if she gave me any less, there wouldn't be anything at all on my plate!

Food is very much the subject of discussion for much of the meal. I've learned that Francesco and his mother prefer the pasta al dente, while his father and I want it cooked longer. His brother and I love sprinkling cheese like snow thick on top of our pasta while Francesco foregoes the cheese entirely (and still I love him).

I'm a curious foreigner, so I ask questions about everything. What's this? How is it made? Where do you buy it? Will you teach me to make it? I wonder what this Italian family thinks of my childlike curiosity about everything around me.

After the pasta (which everyone eats at alarming speed), we eat meat and vegetables, followed by salad to clear the palate. The bowl of fruit is presented, and after the table is littered with orange peels and apple cores, we drink a quick coffee.

It's not an overly long meal, but somehow I feel refreshed and satisfied, ready for the week ahead. Once we leave the table, the magic disperses and we go back to our lives until next Sunday.

59 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page