Italy is home to some of the oldest wine-producing regions in the world and is nowadays the second largest wine producer, exporting all around the world.
The wine culture is strictly interwoven with the traditional cuisines, which reflect their indigenous wines and vice-versa. And even if the first thing we associate with Italian food are pizza and pasta… it doesn’t end there at all! The delicacies offered by regional gastronomies are a constant surprise for everyone.
The only way to get all the details is to taste them in first person and this is the reason behind our special regional enogastronomic tours! Let’s have a look down the peninsula:
In Northern Italy there are many kinds of stuffed pasta, polenta and risotto are equally popular if not more so. Ligurian ingredients include several types of fish and seafood dishes while Emilia-Romagna has ham (prosciutto), parmesan cheese, and tomatoes (used in the world famous Bolognese sauce or ragù).
Truffles, garlic, seasonal vegetables, cheese and rice are all used, combined with fish and especially meat. Raw meat, the famous Carpaccio and Brasato al vino are only some of the special dishes that you can find. Being one of the Italian capitals of pastry and chocolate in particular, Piedmont can boast products like Nutella, marron glacé and Gianduiotto chocolate, a specialty of Turin.
Finally, wines from the Nebbiolo and the Barbera grape have many variations, including the three famous “Killer Bs”: Barbaresco, Barolo and Barbera have a well-deserved fame.
The Adriatic coast is a major fishing area, but the region is more famous for its meat products: Parma’s culatello, Piacenza’s pancetta and coppa, Bologna’s mortadella and salame rosa, Modena’s zampone, cotechino, different salami and many other products. Another specialty is Gnocco Fritto, a kind of flour stripes fried in boiling oil, enjoyed in combination with ham or salami.
A list of the most important regional wines should include Sangiovese, Lambrusco, Cagnina di Romagna, Colli Piacentini and Trebbiano.
One of the best known products is Prosciutto crudo di San Daniele, dry-cured ham, that is followed by speck and different sausages and meat dishes. Montasio cheese is another famous products, and is the main ingredient of the regional plate Frico. Fishing is also well developed, and popular dishes are the fillets of smoked trout, stockfish, seafood soups.
Famous wines include: Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso, Moscato, Verduzzo and Prosecco.
Some special pasta shapes, like trofie, are usually combines with pesto sauce, perhaps the best-known regional product.
Colline di Levanto and Cinque Terre also produce local wines.
Other specialities include cassoeula (cabbage and pork dish), Valtellina’s Bresaola and Pizzoccheri (pasta made with buckwheat flour) and cheeses: Robiola, Crescenza, Taleggio, Gorgonzola and Grana Padano, a variety of Parmesan Cheese.
Famous wines come from Franciacorta and Oltrepò Pavese, followed by grapes from the lakes and mountain areas.
The most renowned product is traditional speck juniper-flavored ham, the Speck Alto Adige. Sausages, polenta, yogurt, cheese and freshwater fish are common in Trentino, while in the South Tyrol subregion Austrian and Slavic influences prevail. Goulash, knödel, apple strudel and spätzle are regular dishes, along with potatoes, dumplings and lard.
The territory of Bolzano is also reputed for its Müller-Thurgau white wines.
Perhaps the most popular dish of Venice is fegato alla veneziana, thinly-sliced veal liver sauteed with onions and the worldwide famous tiramisu.
The most celebrated Veneto wines include Bardolino, Prosecco, Soave and Valpolicella wines.
Typical ingredients are smoked bacon, game and butter and cream, used in stewed, roasted and braised dishes.
Typical regional products include Fontina cheese, Vallée d’Aoste Lard d’Arnad and Génépi Artemisia-based liqueur.
Traditional Central Italian cuisine uses ingredients such as tomatoes, all kinds of meat, fish, and pecorino cheese. Tuscany stands out with steaks, legumes and oil, accompanied by excellent wines. Umbria and Marche have a strong tradition in a variety of meat dishes, as well as Abruzzo and Molise. Emilia Lazio offers some other famous pasta sauces and more besides.
Typical products are pici, a typical pasta, white truffles from San Miniato, beef from the Chianina and Maremmana cattle breeds, used for the traditional Florentine steak. The rich game of the region, especially wild boars, hares, deers and pheasant are often used as main course or to prepare sauces for pappardelle, another typical pasta.
Well-known regional wines include, among many others, the famous Brunello di Montalcino, Carmignano, Chianti, Morellino di Scansano and Vernaccia di San Gimignano.
Typical Roman dishes are carciofi alla giudia, the old-fashioned coda alla vaccinara (oxtail), Saltimbocca alla Romana and Scaloppine alla romana. Iconic of Lazio are also cheese made from sheep’s milk (Pecorino Romano), porchetta (savory, fatty, and moist boneless pork roast) and lamb, often roasted with spices and herbs.
Frascati and Castelli Romani are the most popular wines of the region. The Trebbiano is also renowned and the Malvasia is famous for its exotic perfume.
Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is an important local red wine. Centerbe (literally “Hundred Herbs”) is a strong (72% alcohol), spicy herbal liqueur drunk by the locals.
The most famous dish of Molise is cavatelli, a long shaped, handmade maccheroni-type pasta made of flour, semolina and water, often served with meat sauce, broccoli or mushrooms.
Typical dishes are suckling pig, chicken and fish are often stuffed with rosemary or fennel fronds and garlic before being roasted or placed on the spit. Ascoli, Marche southernmost province, is well known for Olive all’ascolana, delicious olives stuffed with several kinds of minced meats, egg and Parmesan and fries afterwards.
Orvieto and Sagrantino di Montefalco are important regional wines.
Finally, in Southern Italy, olives and olive oil, with Apulia being the largest Italian producer, tomatoes, ricotta cheese, fish and many typical vegetables are important components to the local cuisine. Calabria is characterized by strong spices, and Sicily by some fried delicacies and famous desserts.
Regional desserts include zeppola, and the traditional Christmas rose shape pastry called Cartellate. These are fried and dipped in Vin Cotto which is a reduction of wine or in some cases of fig juice.
Famous wines include Primitivo di Manduria, Salice Salentino and Gioia del Colle.
As for Basilicata, pork is an integral part of its cuisin, and mutton and lamb are also popular. Pasta sauces with meats or vegetables and also spicy peperoncini are largely used. The famous bitter digestif Amaro Lucano is one of the best known regional products.
Aglianico del Vulture and Matera are two of the wines produced in the region, but the best known regional product is probably the famous bitter digestif Amaro Lucano.
Main courses include Frìttuli (prepared by boiling pork rind, meat and trimmings in pork fat), different varieties of spicy sausages (like Nduja and Capicola), goat and land snails. Peperoncino, spicy pepper, is one distinctive trait of the cuisine. Many fruits grow in the region, and melon and watermelon are traditionally served in a chilled fruit salad or wrapped in ham.
Calabrian wines are Greco di Bianco, Bivongi, Cirò, Sant’Anna di Isola Capo Rizzuto and many more besides.
Perhaps the most famous dish in the world, pizza, originates in Neapolitan cuisine. Moreover, Campania is one of the largest producers and consumers of pasta in Italy: spaghetti alla puttanesca is a popular dish.
Desserts include rum-dipped babà and ricotta-based pastiera and sfogliatelle.
Famous regional wines are Greco di Tufo and Taurasi.
Traditional specialties from Sicily include arancini, pasta alla Norma, caponata and a host of desserts and sweets such as cannoli, granita, and cassata.
Typical of Sicily is Marsala, a red, fortified wine similar to Port and largely exported. Cerasuolo and many other, strong, flavored red wines from the Nero d’Avola grape give a distinctive character to the island.
Typical dishes are suckling pig and wild boar are roasted on the spit or boiled in stews of beans and vegetables, thickened with bread. Herbs such as mint and myrtle are widely used in the regional cuisine.
An antique tradition in viticulture has given birth to many wines: Cannonau, Vermentino, Malvasia, Moscato and Vernaccia.
A national liking for coffee and different alcoholic beverages have to be added to the picture and even thus we’re not nearly close enough.
Usually it’s just a few days to give you a starting point for you tour, but you can decide to keep the traditional programme, to join two of the proposed tours or to ask for a special customization if there’s something in particular you’d like to check out. We will be delighted to offer you an unique experience!
Want to know and taste more? Check out our tips for the italian regions and contact us through the form below!