Italy for Food Lovers
Sample some of the world’s best cuisine in the gem of the Mediterranean
From Sicily to The Veneto, Italy’s reputation for fantastic food makes it the ideal location for a gastronomic getaway.
If there is one thing that Italy is famous for, it’s the food. Simple, full of flavour and made with love, it inspires a passion that other cuisines just can’t match. What’s also great about Italian food is the sheer variety. The cuisine varies hugely depending upon which region you’re in. And there can even be significant variations within the one area, meaning that around every corner is a potential gastronomic adventure.
With so much to choose from, the main problem can be deciding where to start. Read on to learn about some of the top foodie regions in Italy and which gastronomic delights you can expect to sample in each.
Emilia Romagna in northern Italy is one of the most productive and fertile regions in the country, and is known for its rich cuisine. Home of balsamic vinegar, Parma ham, tortellini and Parmigiano-Reggiano to name just a few, it is certainly a must-visit destination for any foodie. The region’s capital is the vibrant university town of Bologna, which of course is famous for the ubiquitous pasta Bolognese that we all know and love – although you might find it differs slightly from the one you cook at home!
Tuscany is a favourite with many tourists, and it’s not difficult to see why. As well as medieval towns and romantic rolling hills, the region also boasts great food. The area is perhaps best known for more traditional, rustic fare such as beans, stuffed pasta, salami, cheeses, crusty bread and hearty soups. There are also prized local meats on offer such as wild boar and beef from Chianina cattle. And of course, the area is renowned for its wine – so be sure to wash it all down with a glass of local red.
Due largely to its location between Europe and Africa, the island of Sicily has a variety of culinary influences – most notably, African, Greek, Spanish and Arabic – giving the food a distinct feel from the rest of the country.
Traditional Sicilian ingredients include tuna, shellfish, citrus fruits, nuts and ricotta, but these are then fused with more exotic ingredients such as couscous, saffron and raisins. It is also a great region for those with a sweet tooth, as there is typically more of a focus on dessert than in other parts of Italy. Specialities of the region include granita, pignoli cookies, and of course, the famous cannoli.
Situated on the Adriatic Sea, Venice is the most famous town in the Veneto region, and its coastal location means that fresh seafood is the order of the day. Similarly, Verona’s proximity to lakes and rivers means that there is a lot of fish on local menus.
However, further inland, away from the coast, you’ll find simpler, more traditional cuisine – and unlike many other parts of Italy, this is mainly based around polenta and risotto rather than pasta. Dessert-lovers might also be interested to know that the famous Italian dessert, tiramisu, has its roots in this region of Italy.
Located in the ‘heel’ of the Italian ‘boot’, Puglia offers great variety and flavour when it comes to food. The inland plains are ideally suited to growing wheat and vegetables, which means that bread and pasta are a big focus of the region’s cuisine. Meanwhile, the western coast of the region is known for its fantastic shellfish. What really marks Puglia out is the area’s ability to marry bold flavours with more delicate ingredients – to delicious effect!
Italy’s reputation for fantastic food is certainly well-deserved, and whether you’re looking for pizza or pasta, shellfish or salami, there is an area of Italy to suit you and your taste buds. Whichever region you decide to visit, make sure you organise your European travel insurance – so the only thing you will need to worry about is what you should eat for dinner!