By Michelle Yastremsky
Truffles in the north, olive oil in the south; touring the culinary creations of each region in Italy is more like taking a bite through the country's present and past. Each specialty dish, cheese, and even meat is a reflection of the landscape, history, and culture of the region.
Join us as we embark on a culinary tour of Italy’s regions – from nord (north) to sud (south).
Trentino-Alto Adige • Capital City: Trento
The cuisine of this north-east Italian region takes inspiration from both its German and Italian roots, which explains the presence of these savory bread dumplings as both an appetizer and main dish.
Fruili-Venezia Giulia • Capital City: Trieste
Aged cheese, melted and fried, is blended together with a mix of potatoes and onions, then in a skillet for the perfect savory bite. Serve alongside the region's spiked staple of Grappa, a grape-based brandy with a serious kick.
Veneto • Capital City: Venice
Risi e Bisi (Rice & Peas)
Remnants of Veneto's historical cucina povera (peasant cooking) can be felt with a simple serving of their most popular staple dish of rice and peas. In Veneto you'll also find a variety of wines produced, from Prosecco to Merlot to Chardonnay.
Lombardy • Capital City: Milan
Risotto alla Milanese
Many of the staple dishes throughout this region have one thing in common: the color yellow. This custom dates all the way back to the medieval ages; the common believe was that consumption of gold promised good health, leading courts to coat food with gold before serving it to guests. The "secret" yellow color in this risotto dish? Saffron.
Valle d'Aosta • Capital City: Aosta
No travels through the Valle d'Aosta is complete without sampling their rich and famous cheeses, especially the iconic Fontina. This classic cheese has been made in the Aosta Valley since the 12th century and is the perfect flavor and constituency for a steaming bowl of fondue.
Piedmont • Capital City: Turin
Translating literally to warm bath, Bagna Cauda is essentially a savory broth-like fondue for meats and vegetables. This perfect cold-weather creation is a blend of garlic, anchovies, olive oil, butter, and sometimes cream. Serve alongside a young Barbera wine!
Liguria • Capital City: Genoa
This chickpea flatbread can be served on its own, but also adapts well to almost any flavor; serve it with your favorite sweet or savory spread alongside a glass of delicious Liguria white wine in Genoa!
Emilia-Romagna • Capital City: Bologna
Prosciutto di Parma
Throughout the various regions of Italy, you'll encounter prosciutto handled in a variety of different ways. This Emilia-Romagna specialty however, can only be produced from Italian born and bred pigs and follows an age-old curing tradition.
Tuscany • Capital City: Florence
What makes a Florentine steak so special? It all starts with a cut from Chianina beef, raised in the Chiana Valley, cut thick, and served rare to very rare.
Le Marche • Capital City: Trieste
Brodetto all' Anconetana (Soup of Ancona)
This spicy fish stew celebrates the seafaring history of Le Marche. Traditionally made from the catch of fish left behind in the net, the recipe for this soup varies from village to village and city to city.
Umbria • Capital City: Perugia
Fatty, crunchy, moist and savory, porchetta is truly a celebration of indulgence! This boneless pork roast has even been chosen by the Italian Ministry of Agricultural Food and Forestry Policies as a traditional Italian food that holds cultural relevance.
Abruzzo • Capital City: L'Aquila
Maccheroni alla Chittara
Translating to Macaroni from guitar, this spaghetti-shaped egg noodle is made using a chitarra for shape. In Abruzzo you will traditionally find these noodles served alongside veal meatballs and topped with tomato sauce.
Lazio • Capital City: Rome
Crisp on the outside and soft on the inside, Rome's fried artichokes are a must on any culinary tour of Italy. You will find the world's best/most famous fried artichokes at Giggetto, located in the Jewish Ghetto of Rome.
Molise • Capital City: Campobasso
Allulur (tripe dumplings)
The region of Molise is known for its lamb specialties, particularly its use of almost every bit of the livestock. This practice can be seen in the regional dumplings, which are encased in parts of the sheep's stomach and boiled.
Campania • Capital City: Naples
No trip to Italy would be complete without sampling the local pizza, and what better place to sample a slice than the birthplace of the pizza we know today! Hungry for more saucy, cheesy goodness? Check out our favorite pizza variations from around the world.
Puglia • Capital City: Bari
The region of Puglia is no stranger to the art of olive oil; in fact, this region produces more olive oil than any other region! Start your meals off the right way by sampling one of the many vegetable-infused olive oils. A bottle of this flavor masterpiece also makes perfect decorative and practical souvenir to bring back to loved ones who couldn't join on your culinary adventure.
Basilicata • Capital City: Potenza
Pork cuts tanned with fennel seeds and red chili powder blend beautifully together to produce the savory Lucanica sausage.
Calabria • Capital City: Catanzaro
This spreadable pork salami is made using a variety of parts from the pig, from the shoulder to the belly, and blended with roasted peppers and mixture of spices.
Sicily • Capital City: Palermo
This versatile eggplant spread can be easily customized to appease all taste buds. The best part? The longer the ingredients blend together, the more flavorful the spread becomes!
Sardinia • Capital City: Cagliari
Maialetto (Roasted Pig)
This suckling pig is split in two and roasted on a spit until the skin is crust and the inside is tender and juicy - truly a dish worth celebrating!