Must-Try Italian Cuisines on Italy Culinary Tours

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Declaring Italian cuisine the best in the world is a bold statement, but it won’t necessarily elicit indignant reactions. Experts and connoisseurs alike have considered this form of gastronomy to be an international treasure deserving of great appreciation. But is it truly worth the hype? See for yourself through an exclusive Italian culinary tour.

The hidden beauty of Italian cuisine

Why is Italian food so widely loved? It’s not because Italian dishes are loaded with expensive ingredients or made with fancy techniques. If there’s one word that encapsulates the cuisine perfectly, it’s “simple.”

Authentic Italian dishes tend to use only a handful of ingredients. As a result, each flavor is distinct, with no single component overpowering another.

Furthermore, Italian cuisine is known to have the following characteristics:

  • The use of staple ingredients

Italians are all about tradition. A 40-year-old recipe can be passed down from generation to generation with little to no changes, preserving each dish’s flavor. After all, why fix something that’s not broken?

One of the greatest examples of tradition in Italian cuisine is the use of staple ingredients. You’ll almost always find three components in any Italian dish: tomatoes, cheeses, herbs, and spices.

If you’re an avid foodie, you know exactly why these ingredients are ubiquitous. Tomatoes are everywhere in Italy, adding a sweet, tart, or tangy finish to any dish. Cheeses are just as versatile—they can be creamy and slightly acidic, salty and pungent, mild and sweet, and so much more.

Plus, a blend of high-quality herbs and spices can add a mouthwatering aroma to any dish, making you crave for more.

  • Freshness and healthiness

Not a big fan of vegetables? You’ll change your mind once you step foot into an authentic Italian restaurant. Italians emphasize using only the freshest ingredients, going as far as planting their own herbs and greens.

And if you’re used to buying dried pasta at the store, be ready to experience a whole new world of flavor in Italy. Many Italians prepare their pasta fresh, enhancing its flavor with a special ingredient: eggs. Fresh pasta is light and delicate, perfectly paired with creamy sauces and simple dishes.

Culinary hotspots to check out on your Italy culinary tour

Italian food is just as diverse as its home country. There are 20 different regions in Italy, and as you may have guessed, each region offers something special. It’s always best to start your tour in one region and get to know the local cuisine:

  • Roman food

When thinking of Rome, you might envision the grand Colosseum or the historical Pantheon. And while they’re both significant to Roman culture, don’t let them distract you from Roman cuisine.

If you remember your history classes, you might recall that the Roman Empire was incredibly powerful, conquering large parts of the world. Centuries may have already passed, but Roman food still reflects the city’s history and is known for its aggressive flavors and rugged ingredients.

Consider Roman pizza, for example. Unlike Neapolitan pizza, which is thick and chewy, Roman pizza is thin, flat, and crispy. The toppings used are quite simple: oil and salt, potatoes, and tomatoes are just some examples.

The Romans also have a love for bitter vegetables, often served fried. Artichokes are classic in Roman cuisine, but you may also come across dishes containing chicory, squash blossoms, zucchini, and carrots.

  • Sicilian food

Sicily is one of the most diverse regions of Italy, and its cuisine is solid proof. At first glance, Sicilian cuisine may seem quintessentially Italian, but one bite will tell you all about the island’s rich history. Its dishes contain influences from all over the world, namely Greek, Spanish, French, and Arab food.

One popular Sicilian specialty is arancini, a bright orange ball of risotto that has been breaded and fried. It contains traditional Italian ingredients like tomato and mozzarella, but its roots can be traced back to the 9th century when the Arabs ruled the island.

That said, Sicily’s cuisine is not just influenced by its settlers. The island owes a lot of its recipes to its surrounding seascape: the Tyrrhenian to the west, the Ionian to the east, and the Mediterranean to the sound. Pasta con le Sarde, a pasta dish with fennel and sardines, is a Sicilian favorite that pays homage to the seas.

  • Tuscan cuisine

Tuscan food might just offer the closest thing to a classic Italian experience. This cuisine is heavily based on freshness and simplicity, which are essential elements of Italian food. Not only that, but Tuscans also love using seasonal ingredients and taking weekly trips to the local market.

There’s also a heavy emphasis on maximizing ingredients in Tuscany. The locals try not to waste food, even using stale bread as a base for dishes like ribollita and pappa al Pomodoro.

If Sicily is famous for its seafood, Tuscany takes pride in its meaty dishes. The most famous example is Bistecca alla Fiorentina, a savory steak sourced from Chianina cows and served with roasted potatoes and beans. And for those who want to try something new, wild boars, hares, and pheasants are widely used in Tuscan food.

  • Venetian food

It’s no surprise that staple ingredients and cooking styles can vary between the regions of Italy. Even so, Veneto is a unique case. Not only does the region’s cuisine differ greatly from that of its northern Italian neighbors, but the area itself has a considerable disparity in terms of food.

This is because Veneto has a distinct geography, dividing the region and its cuisine into three categories: the coast, the plains, and the mountains. Venetian food in the coastal area is heavily based on seafood, while people in the mountains rely on game meat. Meanwhile, food in the plains is very similar to classic Italian cuisine, featuring dishes such as ravioli, risotto, and grilled pork, beef, or chicken.

What’s your favorite Italian dish? Explore Italy through your tastebuds with a private Italy culinary tour package prepared by certified travel operators. A package trip will take you to the region of your choice, whether you want to experience the global influences of Sicily or challenge your palate in the heart of Rome.