Italy has obvious attractions as a gastronomic destination. The country has rich and varied regional cuisine, ranging from rich dishes using maize, beef and butter in Lombardy, to light seafood specialties on the coast, to the saffron and other spices that signal Arab influences in Sicily. Here are some of the most famous culinary destinations in Italy.
The region is dotted with olive trees, grape vines and the occasional farmhouse or villas. As with all regions in Italy, uniquely bold food traditions pervade the area, such as a liberal use of beans, hearty soups, crusty loaves, fennel-scented salami and sheep’s-milk cheeses. Chianina cattle and wild boar (or cinghiale) are among the prized Tuscan meats, and locals enjoy stuffed pastas like ravioli. Tuscany produces some of the best-loved wines in all of Italy.
Location: Central Italy
Nearby sights: Piazzale Michelangelo, Piazza della Signoria, Piazza del Duomo
Nearby hotels: Portrait Firenze, Grand Amore Hotel and Spa, Hotel David
This is a very popular tourist destination filled with art, romance, quiet canals and stunning beauty everywhere you turn. Venice gets much of its seafood from the Gulf of Venice and the Adriatic Sea beyond it. The traditional meals of the region include risotto and polenta, commonly cooking with such ingredients as radicchio (leaf chicory) and chicken and calf livers. And while most Italian desserts are simple and on the less-sweet side, the beloved tiramisu supposedly has its roots in the Veneto region.
Location: Northern Italy
Nearby sights: Grand Canal, Doge’s Palace, St. Mark’s Square
Nearby hotels: Cima Rosa, Hotel Moresco, Al Ponte Antico Hotel
Here, there is often a deliberate attempt to make the richest, most decadent foods in Italy using such ingredients as local white truffles, gorgonzola, butter and world-renowned chocolates, as well as a liberal use of gnocchi and polenta. Piedmont is also the home of fonduta, a cheese dip similar to fondue but enhanced with truffles and egg yolks, and bagna cauda, an olive oil-based dip deepened with anchovies and truffles. The region’s wines include the unparalleled Barolo and Barbaresco, their vines benefiting from time spent on cool mountain slopes.
Location: Northern Italy
Nearby sights: Egyptian Museum of Turin, Juventus Stadium, Piazza San Carlo
Nearby hotels: Palazzo Righini, Park Hotel Villa Belvedere, Turin Palace Hotel
Puglia is home to a cuisine that can easily be characterized by its artful marriage between such aggressive flavors as lamb, goat, bitter greens, spicy peppers and urchin with delicate ingredients like fava beans, milky pillows of fresh burrata cheese and generous anointments of olive oil.
Location: Southern Italy
Nearby sights: Cattedrale di Trani, The Trulli of Alberobello, Basilica San Nicola
Nearby hotels: Hotel Belvedere, Orchidea Blu Hotel, Masseria Torre Coccaro