A Short Guide to Having Fun with Italian Cuisine

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The impact of Italian cuisine on gastronomy is indisputable. In fact, an international survey found that 84% of people in 24 countries think Italian food is among the best in the world. Whether a casual foodie or a serious epicure, you will surely enjoy a holiday experience that centers around food and wine, like a Bologna food tour.

Not sure where to start? Here are some of the best food destinations to explore in Italy:

  • Bologna

Bologna is not known as La Grassa or ‘The Fat One’ for no reason. As one of Italy’s most popular food destinations, this city is the birthplace of tortellini—a pasta dish stuffed with meats, cheese, eggs, and nutmeg.

But despite its influence on Italian cuisine, Bologna is often dwarfed by more popular cities like Venice and Rome. This makes it the perfect destination for tourists longing for the road less traveled, giving you a chance to explore the city without dealing with large crowds and heavy traffic.

  • Naples

Naples is most widely known for the Neapolitan pizza, a classic dish made with nothing but pizza dough, mozzarella, and fresh San Marzano tomatoes and traditionally cooked in a wood-fired oven.

Nevertheless, there’s so much more to Naples than its pizza. If you’re craving authentic Italian street food, for instance, you can spend a day strolling through the Pignasecca market and enjoy a bite of deep-fried calamari, artichokes, or whitebait.

  • Rome

Rome may be best known for its history and architecture, but don’t be fooled—the Romans love their food. You’re most likely familiar with the spaghetti alla carbonara, a creamy pasta dish that surprisingly doesn’t contain any cream. Instead, the original recipe only calls for three ingredients: eggs, cheese, and pancetta.

For a deeper dive into Roman cuisine or Cucina Romana, you can visit the Testaccio food market or spend a morning at Campo de Fiori.

  • Florence

Like Rome, Florence is famous for its culture and influence on art. However, the central Italian city also has a lot to offer in terms of food. For instance, it is the best destination for tourists who want to experience the best steak dish of their lives: Bistecca alla Fiorentina, made with Chianina beef.

Florence is also home to numerous world-class restaurants, and you can find them in the Sant’Ambrogio and Santa Croce districts.

  • Palermo

Craving for a taste of fresh seafood and the beach? Then, it’s time for you to visit Palermo. The Sicilian capital is the ideal summer destination, boasting local dishes made with freshly caught fish and prawns.

Not only that. Sicilian food is also heavily influenced by Arab culture, and you can find proof of this in dishes like the pesto Trapanese, pasta con le Sarde, and Cύscusa.

Must-try dishes on your Bologna food tour

You won’t be disappointed no matter which Italian region or city you choose to visit. But if you’re particularly drawn to Bolognese cuisine, then here are some delicious dishes you shouldn’t miss:

  • Tagliatelle al Ragu

If you’ve ever eaten at an Italian restaurant, chances are you’re already familiar with this dish—it’s more commonly known as pasta Bolognese. But unlike American renditions of this famous dish, authentic tagliatelle al ragu is often made with a thicker, egg-based type of pasta. This pasta can hold the sauce better, making the dish taste richer and fuller.

  • Piadina

You can’t leave Italy without savoring a loaf of freshly baked bread. Piadina is a Bolognese flatbread made with three simple ingredients: flour, salt, and lard. This widely loved bread goes with almost anything, from Mortadella and Pancetta to the sweet and thick Nutella spread. It’s the perfect breakfast food, energizing you for another day of exploring.

  • Aperol Spritz

Need a refreshing drink after a long day of walking through Bologna’s streets? Stop by the local bar and order a glass of Aperol Spritz. This tasty Italian cocktail is a combination of Aperol, Prosecco, and soda, popular among natives and tourists alike. Plus, it’s often served in a large wine glass with a slice of orange, helping you cool down in the northern Italian heat.

  • Balsamic vinegar

Looking for a savory souvenir to bring back home? Taking an entire wheel of Parmigiano would be impossible, but nothing will stop you from keeping a bottle of authentic Balsamic vinegar.

Found in the small town of Modena, this bitter-sweet sauce is a staple of Bolognese cuisine, often paired with Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, onions and tomatoes, sliced steak, and even strawberries.

Not to mention, balsamic vinegar is great for your body. This world-famous ingredient helps improve the skin, reduce blood sugar, lower cholesterol, and relieve congestion.

  • Shakerato

Pizza, pasta, and cheese are just a few of Italy’s most famous food products. If you’re an avid fan of coffee, then you likely know that espresso hails from the southern European country as well.

But Bologna has a slightly more creative take on the classic wake-up drink. The shakerato is what many would refer to as Italian iced coffee, made by shaking two shots of espresso with ice and sugar in a martini shaker. It’s a great drink if you want to start your morning in a happy mood!

  • Gelato

Speaking of sweet treats, there’s one dessert everyone must try when they’re in Italy: Gelato. Bologna is home to three of the country’s most renowned gelaterias, and you shouldn’t miss out on tasting the ricotta e fichi or gelato with ricotta and figs.

While you’re in Bologna, make sure to visit the local food factories producing Parmesan cheese, balsamic vinegar, and Parma ham. In addition, you can learn to make your own pasta with experienced local artisans and learn more about the city’s history with food and wine!

Can’t wait to taste everything Bologna has to offer? Consider planning your Bologna food tour with a luxury tour provider! Pre-planned trips are more convenient than exploring a new city by yourself, and you can be sure that you don’t miss a single restaurant or street food market during your stay.