Few cuisines can rival the taste of Italy’s delicious dishes. Fresh Caprese salads made with juicy, ripe tomatoes and decadent, creamy pasta dishes are just two of the endless delicacies to sample, select and savour. We’ve come up with a list of traditional food in Italy to try from the regions we visit.
Among the most well-known culinary exports, caponata is a quintessentially Sicilian dish of stewed aubergines, tomatoes, raisins, capers and pine nuts – best accompanied with a thick, buttery slice of ciabatta.
The acidity of the tomatoes, deep umami of the aubergine and zest of the capers merge their flavours to create a distinctive sweet and sour dish best served at room temperature.
Interestingly, there are over 30 different variations on a caponata depending on the province in which it is prepared. Some versions substitute pine nuts for almonds, while others use the addition of honey to balance its savoury flavour.
Farinata, also known as socca, is a traditional Italian flatbread made from a batter of chickpea flour, extra virgin olive oil and saltwater. Vegan and gluten-free, this satisfying meal can be enjoyed by all.
As legend has it, the dish was invented by Genoese sailors returning from the battle of Meloria. One stormy day the ship’s galley was flooded with seawater, wrecking their barrels of olive oil and chickpea flour. Sodden and destroyed, the precious cargo formed a sludgy pulp which, when left to dry in the sun, miraculously transformed into delicious farinata!
Tegame alla Vernazza
Vernazza is one of the five centuries-old fishing villages that make up the Cinque Terre on northwest Italy’s rugged Ligurian coast.
Its most typical dish is a baked seafood gratin made of layers of thinly sliced yellow potatoes, anchovies and tomatoes accompanied by a generous glug of olive oil, white wine and fresh herbs. Complement the rich, salty flavours of this dish with a crisp glass of local Cinque Terre white wine.
Risotto alla Milanese
A perfectly crafted recipe that is as simple as it is refined. Enjoy a comforting bowl of golden yellow risotto alla Milanese.
A staple of northern Italian cooking, the dish uses saffron to give the rice a spectacular golden hue. A velvety texture is achieved by cooking the rice in butter, white wine and high-fat beef stock. Parmesan cheese is piled on top for extra decadence and flavour; the perfect remedy for hungry walkers.
Those in need of an afternoon pick-me-up may wish to sample some of the local street food in southern Italy. This delicacy, originating from Bari, is a deep-fried square of polenta; hot, morish and deliciously greasy.
Take in the sights of Bari's old town like a local, with a piping hot bag of sgagliozze as you wander the historic cobblestone streets.
Hungry for more? Why not take a look at our guided holidays in Italy and book your getaway today.