I’m about to post reports for the different Italian cities I just finished visiting. But I’d like to share a few general tips first.
What you have read about Italians eating dinner late is true, especially in the cities. Most restaurants don’t open until 7:30, and what few patrons they do have until around 8:30 are mostly tourists. In the countryside, things are on an earlier schedule, with a lot of places only opening from 7:30-9:30, so plan to eat earlier there.
Reservations are highly recommended for most dinner places. I saw people without reservations get turned away more than once. We never needed a reservation for lunch.
It’s true that a lot of places close down in August. The beginning of August wasn’t so bad, but in the second week of our trip, a lot of the restaurants we had wanted to try were shuttered. It’s hard for an American to comprehend, but Italians really will just totally shut down their business for 3 weeks or more. It can also be hard to find a good open restaurant on Sundays. I’d recommend researching closing days and planning your Sunday meals ahead.
Forget what you’ve read about the 4 course Italian meal and pasta sizes being smaller. This is true at the fancier restaurants, just as it would be in the US. But at most of the places we ate, the pasta was definitely big enough for a meal, and I have a very big appetite. This is a good reason not to be the first person at a restaurant when they open. You can scope out other peoples’ tables and see what the potion sizes look like. There was only one time when we under-ordered by only getting one primo and one secondo. But there were many times when we ordered two primi and one secondo, and we should have ordered less.