The Best Unsung Food Regions in Italy that You Need to Visit.
With ridiculously stunning coastlines and postcard-worthy sights at every turn, there are plenty of reasons to explore Italy, but the number one reason to visit is, of course, the food.
If you’ve had enough of reading about authentic dishes and dream of learning the culinary secrets from skilled artisans first hand, these are the unsung food regions in Italy that you need to visit.
Credited as the birthplace of the ‘slow food movement’, the vast lands of Puglia are some of the most fertile in the region, harbouring wheat fields for hard durum flour (used to make fresh pasta or bread), acres of tomato fields and olives groves as far as the eye can see. Puglia – the region in the heel of Italy’s ‘boot’ – embraces the spirit of a wholesome, Mediterranean diet where humble, simple fare is elevated to the highest level. You can expect each dish to laden with super-fresh seafood, legumes, olives or olive oil, and the pasta shape of choice is orecchiette pasta which translates to ‘small ears’.
Located on the east of Rome and overlooking the Adriatic Sea, Abruzzo hosts a wealth of gastronomic encounters and while it keeps a low-profile compared to its neighbouring regions, it would be a huge mistake to overlook the culinary treats in Abruzzo. Inspired mostly by its surroundings, be sure to savour Ventricina salami, arrosticini (mutton skewers), stuffed mussels, Pecorino di Farindola and ferratelle for dessert.
For a taste of the north, Piedmont, just a stone’s throw from Turin boasts the largest concentration of Michelin-star restaurants in Italy. If the ultra-rare Alba white truffles, grissini (breadsticks), polenta, agnolotti, and cured meats capture your attention then you’ll be well-placed in Piedmont. Don’t leave without sampling tajarin, a long, ribbon-like pasta that shares a similar appearance to tagliatelle. The culinary powerhouse of Piedmont is a region not-to-be-missed.
In the lesser-travelled region of Umbria, it wouldn’t be uncommon to feel as if each dish came straight from the surrounding woods or forests, and straight to your plate. The regional specialities of Umbria reflect the rare and fresh crops of ingredients nearby such as black truffles and wild boar and accompanied by a glass of wine from Montefalco.
Feast on arancini balls. Experience the delights of fresh granita. Sip wine beneath grape-heavy vines. Sample fresh-from-the-ocean seafood pasta, frittola and pistachio-filled dishes. This is Sicily, and it’s a culinary world of its own. With almost every neighbouring country invading Sicily at some point in history, today these historic influences can be found in each and every dish.
With just one guess, we’re sure you could figure out what dish the Province of Parma is most famous for; Parmigiano cheese and Prosciutto di Parma, but that’s not all. Considered as one of the epicentres of Italian cuisine, Parma can be found between Florence and Venice, and notable dishes include beef stew with polenta, tripe and stuffed breast of veal, torta fritta, and pastries stuffed with candied fruits, walnuts and honey.
It seems almost impossible to talk about where to find the best food in Italy without mentioning Tuscany. While it might be one of the most popular regions to visit in Italy, there are still plenty of off-the-beaten-path trattorias and eateries to find authentic food-filled experiences. The cuisine is simple, yet hearty, and the classics include Florentine steak, cibreo chicken stew, Panzanella salad and a Lampredotto sandwich. If you want to flex your cooking skills, there are dozens of cookery schools across the region so you can take the tastes of Italy back home.