THE BEST OF ITALIAN
FOOD & WHERE TO FIND IT
Traditional Tuscan wines, rich creamy pasta, freshly baked pizzas and scoops of gelato in every kind of flavour - Italian food is simply spectacular. Whether you're planning a long weekend in Rome, exploring the vibrant city of Naples or flying to authentic Florence, our guide on eating your way around Italy is sure to get those tastebuds tingling...
PIZZA IN NAPLES
If you want to experience the best pizza in Italy, then Naples should be your first stop. Dig into an authentic Neapolitan pizza baked in traditional wood-fired ovens, from the simple yet superb Pizza Marinara, combining tomatoes, oregano, garlic and olive oil, fiery fried calzones. You'll find a mixture of fancy pizzerias and pop-up street parlours on almost every street corner, but one of the most iconic (and a must-visit) is the ancient-old Antica Pizzeria Port'Alba, one of the world’s first official pizzerias. Take a stroll down Via Tribunali street, where you'll find several old pizza joints or head to famous Friggitoria - perfect for pocket-size pizzas when you're feeling peckish! If a slice alone doesn't satisfy, why not book a walking food tour of Naples with Food Tours of Naples and learn how to make an authentic pizza in the land where it was born?
Find out more fun-loving things to do in Naples, with our go-to guide.
FLORENTINE STEAK IN FLORENCE
If you’re in Florence, settle down for some trademark Bistecca Alla Fiorentina - not to be mistaken for any ordinary T-bone steak! This succulent cut meat comes from a Chianina cow that has been raised in Tuscany. The Buca Lapi restaurant on Via del Trebbio is famous for its juicy steaks, but make sure you're hungry as this cut of bistecca meat is huge - weighing a whopping kilo or more and served rare once seared on a traditional wood grill. You can also sign up for a Florence Food Tour for guided tastings in local bars and a trip to the famous San Lorenzo Market and wine shops - perfect for picking up souvenirs, too.
While the food in Florence is undoubtedly a major draw, there's certainly more than meats the eye in this cultural city - take a look at our guide to Florence.
GELATO IN ROME
If you’re in Italy, it's pretty much a sin if you don't indulge on copious amounts of creamy gelato every day. Feast your eyes on rainbow-coloured parlour windows featuring a multitude of delicious flavours, including pistachio dark chocolate, grapefruit and wild berries. Rome has over 2,500 gelato shops, with some of the best artisanal, all-natural gelaterias to treat your sweet tooth to. Giolitti is one of the city's iconic ice cream shops, but you'll find some the best gelato in Campo de’ Fiori, in a parlour called GROM, or head to the Trastevere area for the Gelateria del Teatro, offering unique mixes like raspberry and sage or the Ciuri Ciuri, a Sicilian patisserie! You'll get a taste of traditional Italy on an espresso, gelato and tiramisu food tour with Gourmet Italy, before exploring our list of things to do in Rome, with a full belly!
HAM IN PARMA
Parma ham or Prosciutto di Parma is known for its high-quality and delicate flavour. It follows a centuries-old process, preserved with salt and some rosemary or pepper, stamped with the Ducal Crown after 12 months, if it passes a stringent test. The ham can be aged up to 36 months and the older it is, the better it tastes! The city hosts a festival every September to celebrate its delicious ham and also has a dedicated Museum of Ham and Salumi of Parma, where you can enjoy a day of tasting and shopping. Head to La Prosciutteria at No 9 on Strada Farini, near Piazza Garibaldi in the centre of town to try some of the city's best ham. You can also book a walking tour of Parma's superb street food with Food Valley Travel & Leisure.
SPAGHETTI BOLOGNESE IN BOLOGNA
When visiting Bologna, most visitors tend to order the famous spaghetti Bolognese. However, the foodie city of Bologna has little or nothing to do with this dish, but actually serves up its speciality ragu sauce with tagliatelle, lasagna or penne pasta. For an authentic taste of Tagliatelle with bolognese ragù, drop in at Trattoria Annamaria on Via Belle Arti, a restaurant that’s been around since the 80's and dishes out handmade pasta with slow-cooked ragu. If this has got your tummy rumbling, why not join a food tour of Bologna with Taste Bologna, which takes you through the city’s historical markets and to visit a pasta artisan?
PASTA IN PUGLIA
Puglia, a southern region forming Italy's famous "boot", is known for its lush rolling farmlands, quaint whitewashed houses and coastal towns - but of course, its fantastic food is also a tasty talking point. Delicious full-bodied wines, olive oil and the hard durum wheat, from which we get its trademark pasta, can be found in this scenic town. Puglia pasta is identified by “little ears”, termed orecchiette, but you’ll find several other unique varieties too, such as troccoli, cavatelli and gruessi, usually served with lamb and grated canestrato pugliese or sheep milk cheese. Stroll down the narrow lanes of the Old City of Bari, where you’ll find several restaurants around the squares, serving great, traditional food.
BALSAMIC VINEGAR IN MODENA
Traditional balsamic vinegar, made even today mainly in Modena and partly in the Reggio Emilia region of Italy, finds mention in history for a bottle being gifted in 1046 to Roman emperor Henry III. Made from locally grown grapes, the balsamic vinegar is fermented and concentrated for at least 12 years in wooden barrels. You can enjoy its rich flavours as an aperitif, drizzle the syrup over salads, gelato, risotto or Parmesan cheese - the options are endless! Drive down to Modena (located on the highway between Bologna and Parma), or take a high-speed train from Florence to discover its culinary tradition.
SICILIAN CANNOLI IN PALERMO
Cannoli, a fried pastry dough filled with creamy ricotta cheese, is a dessert that’s truly and deliciously Italian! The burst of flavours can include candied fruit peels, dark ricotta and chocolate. This sweet treat first graced our counters in 1751, when it was considered a symbol of fertility and a popular snack during the Carnival, and has since been made famous by the pastry chefs of Palermo. Don’t leave the capital of Sicily without trying the cassata, a traditional sweet introduced by the Arabs - a round sponge cake moistened with liqueur or juice and layered with ricotta cheese, covered with marzipan and filled with candied peels and vanilla - heaven! Drop in at the tiny Bakery Rosciglione, near Ballarò Market or Pasticceria Cappello on Via Colonna Rotta, for some authentic desserts on your Sicily holidays, which also includes Biscotti di Mandorle or almond cookies, washed down with some sweet Marsala wine. You can also take a Palermo street food tour, which introduces you to the colours and flavours of the city.
Tuscany is world-famous for its fine wine and the Chianti region is where you can sample some of the best. Known for its winding roads, forested hillsides, silvery olive trees and, of course, vineyards, this picture-perfect part of Tuscany (located between Florence, Arezzo and Siena), is the place to visit if you enjoy time spent wine tastings at local farms and wineries. Drop in at the family-run Viticcio winery estate - you may need to make an appointment - for a tour of the vineyards and wine tasting.
TRUFFLE HUNTING IN ALBA
The white truffle is a gourmet treat found in Piedmont, known as Italy's truffle region. The truffle season begins in October with the Alba White Truffle Fair, which has been held for the last 85 years between October and November in Alba, and now frequented by Michelin-star chefs. Alba, known for its hazelnuts too, is also famous for being the birthplace of Nutella - so if you weren't tempted to visit this gorgeous town before, you certainly should be now! A truffle-hunting tour is certainly a unique experience which is lead by fully-trained truffle dogs, so if you're intrigued, check out Savini Tartufi for a 4 -5 hour tour!