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A Foodie’s Regional Guide to Italy

by Suzanne Fluhr on May 30, 2015 · 1 comment

pasta italy

Steeped in history and culturally rich with numerous world-famous attractions and cities to explore, Italy has earned a place high on most travelers’ “must visit” lists. Those lucky enough to actually have the opportunity to visit Lo Stivale (The Boot) soon realize that in addition to the famous monuments, churches, Roman ruins, great art and beautiful countryside, they will also be won over by the fantastic Italian food and drink on offer.

From fresh pasta and wood-fired pizza to a sumptuous selection of wine, Italy serves up some incredible cuisine. However, the delicious and delectable dishes you will find on a traditional restaurant’s menu will often depend on where you are located.

To ensure you don’t miss out on your favourite dishes and vintages, here is a regional tour of Italian cuisine.


Tuscany fields of grape vines

Photo credity: alohamalakhov

With its picturesque landscapes of rolling hills and green valleys, it will come as no surprise that Tuscany is home to some of Italy’s finest wine and olive oil. In fact, many tourists will go to Tuscany, hire out an old farmhouse or villa, kick back with a glass of Chianti and immerse themselves in this region’s laid-back way of life.

In terms of regional food specialties, Tuscany is well known for rich game such as wild boar, sheep’s milk cheeses and nourishing soups, which are usually accompanied by a salt-free loaf of crusty bread.


Campania grape fields

Photo credit: exploder

With destinations including chaotic Naples, serene Sorrento, and the stunning Mount Vesuvius, this coastal region in southern Italy has something suitable for every kind of holidaymaker. The same can also be said for its food, which benefits from Campania’s fertile volcanic soil. Therefore, most regional dishes in Campania contain vegetables and fruits such as eggplant, peppers, figs, and lemons as well as the renowned San Marzano tomatoes. Pizza also originated in Naples, so this will be an essential item on your eating itinerary.


Lombardy Italy

Photo credit: IgorSaveliev

Located in the north of Italy, Lombardy’s capital city of Milan is proud of its fashion, football (soccer to Americans, Canadians and Australians) and cuisine. So, if you exhaust yourself shopping or watching grown men chase a ball around with thousands of other spectators, you will be able to find delicious regional dishes to help you regain your strength.

Lombardy has bragging rights to many famous cheeses such as Grana Padano, Gorgonzola, Taleggio, Provolone, and Robiola. However, due to its proximity to Western Europe, butter and lard tend to win out over olive oil, and you will probably see more rice and polenta than pasta. The simple but delicious saffron-hued risotto alla Milanese is a must-try.


sicily italy

Photo credit: Websi

For an even more diverse dining experience, consider heading south to Sicily where Arab, Greek and Spanish influences have had an effect on the island’s culture and cuisine. Expect to see both couscous and pasta vying for your attention on restaurant menus.

If you have a sweet tooth, you’re in luck as dessert is a much bigger deal here than the rest of the country thanks to an abundance of locally grown citrus fruits and nuts. Even so, many archetypal Italian edibles originate in Sicily, such as meatballs, which are called polpetti.

The Best of the Rest

pasta italy

Photo credit: cwollento

Other regional options include Emilia-Romagna (Parmigiano Reggiano and Prosciutto di Parma), Lazio (Bruschetta and Spaghetti alla Carbonara), and Veneto (Risotto and Polenta). But for the ultimate eating experiences in Italy, make a beeline for Tuscany, Campania, Lombardy or Sicily.

Still hungry? You can learn more about Italian cuisine in this article on the Saga Holidays blog with whom Boomeresque has collaborated.

(All photos used have been dedicated to the public domain pursuant to Creative Commons License CC0 1.0)

Do you have a favorite Italian food?

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Irene S. Levine, PhD May 30, 2015 at 2:17 pm

I’m going to an Italian restaurant tonight to get my “fix” between visits to Italy. One of my favorite cuisines! Thanks for the memories…


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