Italy is a stunning paradise that’s known globally, not only because of its rich culture but for its sensational cuisine. When you talk about Italy, you’ve got to include their wonderful food. Looking at the whole of Italy, you’ll certainly be left perplexed as to which region you should go to eat and what places you should visit in reach of your Italian food nirvana. So, to support all the food lovers heading out for an Italy food tour or foodie getaway, we’ve put together a guide to the best Italian food by region.
Abruzzo (The Abruzzi)
Truly eclectic, the cuisine in this region is leaning more on the mountain, pastoral, and coastline side. The staples in this region include meat, pasta, cheese, bread, and wine.
If you have a sweet tooth, don’t forget to try to visit Sulmona for its sugared almonds, a treat that’s mostly started in here.
When in Basilicata, try their local bread, the Pane Cotto – a tasty bread mixed with onions, hot pepper, and olive oil. The place is also known for its Pasta Mollicata, a traditional pasta dish mixed with onions, olive oil, red wine, and stale bread.
Simple, traditional, and filling, that’s what you’ll expect to eat here.
Flavors so strong and unforgettable, the first things you’ll notice in Calabrese cuisine is their love for chili pepper and Tropea onions. As you visit here, don’t forget to eat their traditional Pitta bread; you’ll have a lot of options here, so don’t stop until you find a perfect recipe.
If you want something tasty, a plate of ‘Nduja’, a spicy and flavorful cold cut, will fill you up.
For the pizza lovers, don’t miss this place as this is known to be the birthplace of this dish. In Naples, don’t forget to order one or even two Neapolitan pizzas. If you want a traditional take on this dish, a Margherita would do.
And if you want to eat something more savory, their Polpette or meatballs should be added in your next food pilgrimage list.
Emilia – Romagna
To those who want to experience a food coma, then head out to Emilia-Romagna where dishes are seasoned generously and olives, meats, salami, fish, and cheeses are abundant.
Parmigiano Reggiano is quite popular here as well and balsamic vinegar and prosciutto are often used in dishes that use lasagna, tortellini, cappelletti, and the like. Emilia Romagna is culinary travel heaven!
Friuli – Venezia Giulia
Do you love wine? If so, this is where about 35 varieties of wine are cultivated in the region. They’re also famous for their white wine, which is often served as a drink or as a food enhancer.
Pair all of these amazing wine with their air-cured raw ham, and you’ll be in heaven in no time.
Home to Rome and the Vatican City, this is a bustling region in Italy that’s visited by tourists, looking to explore the birthplace of the Roman Empire and to take a tour of the Vatican because of its religious significance. It also attracts tourists because this region has the best cuisine in Italy too.
Have a taste of their rich carbonara and drown in their famous arrabbiata sauce for that unforgettable dining experience.
Another region where bread is the star, Liguria is infamous for its Focaccia – super delicious when paired with a sauce or spread, but it’s quite delectable on its own too.
And for all the Ravioli fans out there, this place is said to be the birthplace of the said dish, so you can eat the most authentic ones here.
This region is popular for their Risotto too, especially ones that are infused with saffron. Polenta is also usually used in a lot of dishes, mostly paired with cheese, butter, and meat.
To complete a meal in this stunning region, get a chocolate salami for dessert.
Marche (The Marche)
For a unique and varied experience, each village in the Marche region has its local dish, so you’re surely going to have a long time getting to know this region’s culture and food, but that’s okay as they’re all exciting and equally scrumptious. For instance, their Moscioli, mussels, is one of the freshest seafood dishes you can try.
And just like lasagna, you can enjoy a plate of their Vincisgrassi too.
The most prominent dishes in this region are kinds of pasta drenched in sauces made from pork, lamb, chili peppers, and ground pecorino.
And if you want to experience something unique and truly regional, give their composta molisana a go – a marinated mix of fruits and vegetables kept in an earthenware jar for a month.
If you’re an adventurous eater, for a raw experience (literally), give their meats a taste – Carne cruda, veal sausage, Carne Battuta – they are all traditionally eaten raw. But, you can have them cooked as well.
Most of the time, meats in this region are braised with red wine, creating that strong and tasty flavor profile.
To those who don’t eat meat, this region prefers to prepare their dishes with fruits, fish, and vegetables. Wine is also used here, mostly as a drink or food enhancer.
The food in this area is known as a cuisine of the poor, but don’t get the wrong idea – everything here is simple, thus the name, but it doesn’t mean their food is not flavorful. Quite the opposite, here is a beautiful place that’s not the obvious choice of many.
Another place where meat is less used as the main star of the dish, this region often uses fish instead. Whole-grain bread and pecorino cheese are also usually paired with their main dishes.
If you want something extravagant, give their fresh lobsters a try.
To be in Sicily means eating the best arancini around, a ball of risotto breaded and deep-fried to perfection. Caponata is also something you should try, a dish with its main ingredients consisting of vinegar, pine nuts, raisins, and aubergines.
And before you leave, have a seafood feast as this island has the freshest prawns, lobsters, and fishes that you can think of.
Now, who could forget Tuscany on our list? This region has restaurants even in the most remote spots, so this only means that they’re serious about their food. This region is the chill capital and the perfect place to rent a luxury Tuscan villa with a pool and relax with a large glass of Isole e Olena Chianti Classico.
If you’re making a day of it, for starters, have a tray full of cold cuts; this must include meats such as lardo, finocchiona, prosciutto, crudo, and sbriciolona. Don’t forget to pair these with a variety of toasted bread and sauces for a complete experience.
Never leave Trentino without trying their canederli – bread balls flavored with cold cuts and combined with eggs, cheese, milk, and the like.
Also, have a plate of strangolapreti or what’s commonly known as gnocchi, definitely a treat that you can only authentically get in these areas.
If you want an extravagant meal, bring your friends and family and eat their whole pig that’s cooked in wood-fire or is roasted over a spit.
As per their pasta, the regional dish here is the strangozzi or stringozzi – a long, rough, and thick noodle that’s packed with flavor.
Though very much a region in Italy, you’ll find less pasta here and more, just, meat. Hearty meals and filling starch-rich dishes are served here, which are often supplemented by the meats they get from a hunted game.
Their style of cooking here revolves around warming soups, polenta, rice, potatoes, bread, and gnocchi. Here you’ll eat big and eat well.
A region near the Adriatic Sea, one can only expect that the seafood here is high-quality, and they never fail to impress. They have the best prawns, crabs, mussels, and clams in Italy.
The area is popular for their quality olive oil and white asparagus too, something you may not have tried at home before.
Where will your Italy food tour get started? Let us know in the comments below.