In traditional Italian meals, protein based secondi piatti are served after a primo piatto rich on carbohydrates. In consequence, secondi piatti normally consist of meat, poultry, fish or egg-dishes served with a salad or some other moderate side dish or contorni.
The Italian way of dividing a meal up into separate courses tends to confuse tourists, and many give up and go for pizza after an unfortunate restaurant experience, where they have been served steak with only a wedge of lemon and parsley leaf as accompaniment. Many non-Italians find it hard to understand why pasta and meat do not go together, while Italians think this is self-evident. After all, you don’t have to order and eat all four courses in a traditional Italian meal. And you can always ask for some salad or vegetables to go with the secondi piatti or settle for a pasta dish containing meat or fish.