L’osteria: from the Latin “hospes” meaning “guest”. A public place which served drinks; traditionally wine. Derived from the ancient Roman “caupona”, in the Middle Ages the osteria was a place where the traveler could find food and lodging.

Along the main roads it was customary to locate various taverns spaced apart on a typical day‘s journey. It was important to arrive before sunset in order to find a good place to eat before going to bed.

The name osteria reflects the standard practice of supplying one simple meal for the price of the evening’s stay. Most taverns consisted of one or two floors, occasionally up to three with a room for dining, drinking and conversation. This room was on the ground floor along with the kitchen with the rooms for guests occupying the upper floors. Behind the inn was usually a courtyard with stables for holding the horses and wagons.

At the dinner table, the traveler rarely found any plates, but rather a wooden plank with a large piece of rustic bread on which the main meal would be placed. For cutlery, the knife was the predominant utensil, along with the occasional spoon. The fork was not introduced until much later.

And to this day, the ‘osteria’ continues to play an important role in the life of both rural and urban Italian societies.


L'Osteria | 104 Salem Street | Boston, MA 02113 | Tel 617.723.7847