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When we need a quick bite in the U.S., most of us end up going for greasy fast food burgers and fries. Not exactly gourmet. However, in Italy, even fast meals manage to be fresh and delicious! Italians have mastered the art of tasty, quality food that can be grabbed on-the-go, which makes sense with all their zippy mopeds and tiny cars buzzing through narrow streets.

If you have ever spent time in Rome and traveled across Italy’s diverse regions, it will become clear that their style of fast food puts sad American combos to shame. None of the soggy tacos, limp subs, or cardboard pizza found in the States. Here, people can enjoy light and crispy pizza by the slice, fried rice balls oozing with molten cheese, and luscious gelato made with high quality ingredients.

Italy’s busy cities and laidback small towns all offer tempting on-the-go eats. Even when they have just a few euros in their pockets or a short lunch break from work, delicious fast snacks abound. From Sicily’s arancini to Emilia-Romagna’s piadina, they’ve perfected the art of flavorful food that can be eaten while walking or during a quick pause in our action-packed days.

Here are some of the top spots to try awesome Italian-style fast food that will leave your taste buds happy:

For Pizza on the Run: Pizza al Taglio

These Roman-style pizzas baked on big trays allow for grabbing a single slice on the go. The thin, crispy crust comes topped with fun flavors like broccoli and sausage, eggplant, or fresh mozzarella and basil that beat plain cheese or pepperoni any day. The portions are generous but easy to eat by hand. Pizza al taglio is found at bakeries and hole-in-the-wall shops all over Italian cities, making it the perfect portable snack.

For a Taste of Sicily: Arancini

These fried rice balls stuffed with a melted cheese center are addictively delicious. They provide the perfect snack to fuel up on while exploring Palermo’s chaotic street markets and sunny piazzas. The rice gives us substance while the gooey cheese injection brings joy. Other fillings like meat ragu or spinach also feature regional flavors. Make sure to grab some napkins, as the crispy breadcrumb coating flakes off with each bite!

For a Flatbread Sandwich: Piadina Romagnola

Piadina hails from our Emilia-Romagna region and offers a portable quesadilla-like flatbread sandwich. The thin, unleavened piadina bread gets filled with ingredients like prosciutto, figs, cheese, and arugula. It then gets folded into a tidy half-moon package that’s easy to eat on the move. Piadina stands and food trucks all over Italy serve quick and customizable versions of this satisfying sandwich.

To Satisfy Our Sweet Tooth: Gelato

No excuse is needed to pop into one of our gelaterias and order a cup or cone of incredible Italian ice cream. The intense and creamy gelato flavors like pistachio, chocolate chip, hazelnut, and fresh fruit beat sugary American soft serve. Toppings like whipped cream and chocolate sauce make our sweet tooth even happier. It’s the best kind of cold treat to enjoy while strolling down the street on a hot day.

For Savory Baked Goods: Pizza Rossa

In bakeries across Tuscany, we can find schiacciata alla fiorentina, also called pizza rossa. These oval yeast-risen flatbreads get topped with olive oil, salt, black pepper, and sometimes rosemary before baking. The resulting bread has a crispy crust and chewy interior perfect for a snack or light meal. Pizza rossa combines tastiness and portability. We often grab a slice to munch on-the-go.

For Chickpea Paninis: Panelle

Panelle street food hails from Palermo, Sicily. Chickpea flour gets mixed with water and seasoning then fried into flaky, savory fritters. These golden panels of fried goodness get tucked into soft bread rolls to create hot and hearty panelle sandwiches. They make for a protein-rich fast food option with delicious Mediterranean flair.

Hopefully you’re now hungry for something more satisfying than a fast food burger and fries. Italy proves that eating on the run doesn’t have to mean sacrificing freshness or flavor. Pizza al taglio tastes better than McDonald’s any day of the week. When visiting Italy, eat as we Italians do. Your stomach will be glad you did! Our fast food offers quick bites that still feel authentic and celebrates regional Italian specialties.