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Gastronomy in Italy

Italian gastronomy is an integral part of the Mediterranean diet, which is itself listed as an intangible cultural heritage of humanity by UNESCO. For the Italian population, cooking is a way of life in its own right. Italians make it a matter of honour to use mainly fresh, seasonal and local products, all the while seeking a balance that enhances the flavour of each dish. Italian gastronomy is simple, elegant and delicious: a cherished legacy handed down from generation to generation.  

Gastronomy in Italy - Italy

The typical menu in Italy

Traditionally, an Italian menu consists of a series of dishes with a wide variety of ingredients. The aperitivo includes a drink (wine, cocktail or spritz), and stuzzichini (hors d'oeuvres). Then come the starters (antipasti), which include fish, marinated octopus, fried squid, fried courgette flowers, ham in chiffonade, or spinach pie. These antipasti can also be marinated vegetables, salads, bruschettas or croquettes.... each region has its own specialities.

The primo piatto, or first course, features gluten in all its forms: spaghetti, tagliatelle, lasagne, stuffed cannelloni, or tortellini. Risotto, gnocchi, soup and minestrone are also part of the primi piatti family. The main course, or secondo piatto, is meat or fish, served with cooked vegetables or salad (il contorno). Cheeses are served next as an interlude. The dessert is made up of fruit and/or cake. As a digestive, espresso coffee or a liqueur such as grappa, amaro or limoncello may be served.
 
Discover the specialities of a few regions best known for their excellent gastronomy:

Lombardy

Capital: Milan

Signature dishes: risotto, osso bucco

In this region of northern Italy below Switzerland, rice and polenta are more widely eaten than pasta, butter is used more than olive oil, and meat is consumed in abundance. Dotted with lakes and picturesque hills, northern Italy is a cheese lover's paradise, with specialities such as Gran Padano, Gorgonzola, Taleggio, Provolone and Robiola.

Gastronomy in Italy - Italy

Emilia Romagna

Capital: Bologna

Signature dishes: Parmigiano Reggiano, tortellini, bolognese sauce, balsamic vinegar di Modena
 
Emilia Romagna is a region renowned for its pasta and meats. Curing is a real art. Here you can taste the famous prosciutto di Parma and the "king of cheeses", Parmigiano Reggiano.

Gastronomy in Italy - Italy

Tuscany

Capital: Florence

Signature dishes: Pecorino cheese, steak alla fiorentina, Chianti wine

The ancestral home of the wealthy and influential Medici family, Tuscany produces some of the best olive oils, sheep's milk cheeses and meat dishes. Bread is king, and locals use it in many salads and soups, including ribollita (vegetable soup) and panzanella, a salad made with breadcrumbs, tomatoes, onions and basil.

Gastronomy in Italy - Italy

Lazio

Capital: Rome

Signature dishes: bruschetta, spaghetti alla carbonara, artichokes alla Romana

The region of Lazio, on the west coast of central Italy, is famous for its fresh and dried pasta, high-quality artichokes and courgettes and porchetta (roast pork). Try the artichokes cooked in garlic and herb oil before ordering a plate of bucatini all amatriciana ( a hearty spaghetti dish with tomato, onions and bacon) or spaghetti carbonara (a pasta dish with egg, cheese and black peppercorns).

Gastronomy in Italy - Italy

Campania

Capital: Naples

Signature dishes: pizza, buffalo mozzarella, calzone, limoncello liqueur

Sunny Campania is characterised by fertile volcanic soil, which is the source of quality products such as San Marzano tomatoes, aubergines, peppers, greens, figs and lemons. The pizza we all know and love today is a descendant of the first pizzeria in the world, founded in Naples.

Gastronomy in Italy - Italy

Sicily

Capital: Palermo

Signature dishes: caponata, Marsala veal

Sicily, the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, is home to Mount Etna and therefore has rich volcanic soil which yields an abundance of lemons, blood oranges, almonds, olives and other fruits. Pasta is usually topped with a spicy tomato sauce.

Gastronomy in Italy - Italy

Discover our selection of luxury villas for your next trip Italy

Villa Pamina

5 Bedrooms

Villa Gaillarde

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Villa Pisano

12 Bedrooms