For Americans, the typical Italian meal looks like pizzas piled high with toppings, pasta with thick alfredo sauce and hearty meatballs and never-ending garlic breadsticks.
The reality, though, is that the Italian stereotype is all-American.
When U of M student Faith Roane left the U.S. for a semester abroad in Florence, Italy, she knew that her diet would change dramatically, but said it's primarily been a positive experience.
“I am always full after eating a decent meal in Italy, but I am never full of regret,” Roane said. “It’s a healthy full, and most of the foods aren’t so heavy that they’ll make you sick."
Although Italian foods like pasta and pizza are high in carbohydrates, almost all the vegetables and fruits are fresh. At restaurants, menu items that have been frozen are marked.
"Processed foods are few and far between in Italy," Roane said.
In Italy, a pizza Margherita, like most Italian pizzas, is closer to the size of a medium pizza, but the crust is thin, the sauce is thick and the toppings are usually limited.
In the U.S., a Margherita pizza might have cherry tomatoes, oregano, extra cheese and garlic. The Italian pizza Margherita only has sauce, cheese and basil.
Like pizza, pastas are much lighter than what might be served at an Olive Garden. Cream-based sauces like alfredo aren't as common as thick tomato sauce.
Pasta is generally undercooked, also known as "al dente," so that the sauce can properly stick to the pasta.
In lieu of breadsticks (which are usually packaged and served to tourists), Italians often have a basket of hard-crusted bread, and it's brought to the table with bottles of extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
One of the few Italian stereotypes with some merit is the country's appreciation for wine.
Roane said dinner almost always features a bottle of wine between friends.
"When the boys cook, the girls bring a bottle of wine, and, if we cook, the boys bring the wine," Roane said.
Even when she leaves Florence for the land of barbecue and burgers, Roane hopes to continue eating like an Italian.
"My eating habits here have definitely shaped the way I will probably eat for at least the foreseeable future of my young adult life," Roane said. "I have learned to snack less and simply eat enough when I eat at meals."