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Enogastronomic group tours in Italy

Wine & Dine

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:

Northern Italy

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).

Highlights: Piedmont
Point of union of traditional Italian and French cuisine, this region offers the most refined and varied cuisine of the Italian peninsula. With the largest number of cheeses and wines of controlled origin, it has also given birth to the Slow Food association and the most prestigious school of Italian cooking.

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.

Highlights: Emilia Romagna
The region is carachterized by some special products that nowadays can be found in many cities worldwide. There are pasta dishes like tortellini, lasagne and tagliatelle and traditional products with very strict rules in the making: Aceto Balsamico (from Modena and Reggio Emilia) and Parmigiano Reggiano, the famous Parmesan Cheese. This latter is produced in Reggio Emilia, Parma, Modena and Bologna, while the Grana Padano variety comes from Piacenza.

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.

Friuli
The regional cuisine is influences by the Austro-Hungaric heritage, successfully combined with italian traditions.

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.

Liguria
Vegetables and seafood are protagonists, together with farinata, made from chickpeas, and focaccia, a flat oven-baked bread topped with various ingredients, not to be confused with pizza.

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.

Lombardy
One of the best known plates version is risotto, especially in the milanese version, which can be served also with ossobuco. Cotoletta alla milanese is another well-known traditional plate as well as the Panettone Christmas cake.

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.

Trentino
This particular region has a refined blend of cuisine from Renaissance Rome, the Republic of Venice and the Austrian Habsburg Empire.

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.

Veneto
Known for risotto and polenta, Veneto has also many other prized products: sausages, garlic salami and Asiago cheese, high quality vegetables such as red radicchio from Treviso and white asparagus from Bassano del Grappa. Beans and pasta and rice and peas are also common, as well as stockfish, squid and cuttlefish.

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.

Aosta Valley
Bread thickened soups are customary as well as cheese fondue, chestnuts and polenta.

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.

Central Italy

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.

Highlights: Tuscany
Simplicity is central to the Tuscan cuisine, with legumes, bread, cheese and vegetable: a typical dish is ribollita, a notable Tuscan soup whose name literally means “reboiled”.

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.

Highlights: Lazio
Famous pasta sauces of the region include amatriciana and carbonara, (sauces made with pancetta or guanciale), Alfredo, cacio e pepe and gricia. As a matter of fact, there is a pasta museum in Rome called the Museo Nazionale della Paste Alimentari (the National Museum of Pasta). Another pasta dish of the region is arrabbiata, with spicy tomato sauce.

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.

Abruzzo & Molise
Pasta, meat and vegetables are central to the cuisine of Abruzzo and Molise. Chilies, or peperoncini, are typical of Abruzzo, where they are called diavoletti (“little devils”) for their spicy heat. Lamb is very used, both with pasta and in the typical arrosticini.

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.

Marche
On the coast of Marche, fish and seafood are produced. Inland, wild and domestic pigs are used for sausages and hams, usually cut into bite-sized chunks.

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.

Umbria
Many Umbrian dishes are prepared by boiling or roasting with local olive oil and herbs. Vegetable dishes are popular in the spring and summer, while fall and winter sees meat from hunting and black truffles from Norcia. Meat dishes include the traditional wild boar sausages, pheasants, geese, pigeons, frogs, snails. Freshwater fish include lasca, trout, freshwater perch, grayling, eel, barbel, whitefish, and tench.

Orvieto and Sagrantino di Montefalco are important regional wines.

Southern Italy

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.

Highlights: Puglia
Puglia is a massive food producer: wheat, vegetables and especially olive oil, being the largest producer in Italy. Cheese, like the traditional caciocavallo, mozzarella, burrata and stracciatella. The sea offers abundant fish and seafood, especially oysters and mussels. All these ingredients are featured in traditional pasta dishes.

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.

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.

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.

Calabria
The cuisine of Calabria has been influenced by conquerors and visitors: Arabs, the French ruleand the Spanish influence, affected the language and culinary skills.

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.

Campania
Campania extensively produces fruits and vegetables which all take on the flavor of volcanic soil. The Gulf of Naples offers fish and seafood and the region is well-known also for its mozzarella production (especially from the milk of water buffalo), used in a variety of dishes, including “parmigiana”.

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.

Sicily
Sicily shows traces of all the cultures which established themselves on the island over the last two millennia. With a predominant Italian base and may other influences, Sicilian cuisine is really unique.  Antique Roman dishes based on goose, sweet and sour Byzantine flavors, Arab spices and fruits and the Norman fondness for meat dishes. The Spanish finally introduced items from the New World including chocolate, maize, turkey and tomatoes.

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.

Sardinia
Sardinia produces many special types of bread, made dry, which keeps longer than high-moisture breads. Popular breads are carasau and pistoccu, often served with tomatoes, basil, oregano, garlic and a strong cheese. Rock lobster, scampi, squid, tuna, sardines are the predominant seafoods.

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!