Italy is one incredible country to visit and I’m not going to tell any porky pies by saying otherwise! It’s one of Europe’s most diverse countries, with completely different landscapes, culture and weather. This ‘big boot’ of a country has shed loads of things to see, do and, of course, my favourite – EAT!
No trip to Italy is complete without devouring your whole weight in delicious grub – especially when it’s so tasty. I swear, with every trip I take to Italy I somehow gain a bulbous amount of weight that somehow (despite my very conscious effort to eat as much gelato and pizza as humanly possible) seems to surprise me every time!
Anyway, if you’re anything like me your trip to Italy will be filled with delicious treats – the way a holiday should be!
This made me want to create and share the ultimate food map of the key places to get some of Italy’s most famous dishes, drinks and desserts… It’s all about going right back to the birthplace of these amazing meals! Take a look below for where to visit for the very best that Italy has to offer (disclaimer: I take no responsibility for potentially expanding your waistline when you visit Italy 😉 ).
🇮🇹 Swipe left to right on the map to see each region and what they’re famous for 🇮🇹
1.) Cotoletta all Milanese in Lombardy
Close to the border with Switzerland and relatively close to Austria and France, the Lombardy region of Italy has many delicious influences when it comes to food. Unlike the warm, south of Italy, the Lombardy region is much less dry and a little cooler too, which reflects in the dishes. Make sure to try Cotoletta all Milanese which is very similar to an Austrian Schnitzel. Head to places like Como or the town of Bellagio on Lake Como and chow down on at the waterfront.
2.) Truffles in Piedmont
Truffles are an expensive little treat, to say the least! These prized fungi are known across the world for their fragrant smells, taste and high prices, with bigger truffles selling for the price of a car! If you’re wanting to head out truffle hunting, visit Piedmont in fall, when the truffle season is in full swing.
3.) Pesto Genovese, Genoa
Yummy, Basil pesto is one big reason you should visit Genoa. Made from a little parmesan cheese, pine nuts, oil and basil, Pesto is one delicious addition to a simple pasta meal.
4.) Risotto alla Milanese, Milan
Risotto’s origins come from the northern regions of Italy, with Milan truly embracing this thick, creamy, rice broth… would you call it a broth? Anyway, it’s often served as a first plate in many places in northern Italy but in Milan, they sometimes choose to serve it with shanks of meat, called Ossobuco. Work up an appetite and eat like the Italians – slow and with lots of wine!
5.) Parma Ham, Parma
Yup, Parma ham is a pretty big deal in Italy. Head to Parma to try some of the local cured ham that is truly delicious. Perfect for a little nibble with wine and olives in the late afternoon.
6.) Ragù with Parmigiano Reggiano, Bologna
Ragù is a meat based tomato sauce that is often served with plenty of meat, so if you’re a vegetarian or vegan, you might want to steer clear. Created approximately 300 years ago, Ragù has become a firm favourite in and around Bologna.
7.) Cappuccino, Northern Italy
Technically not just present in the north of Italy, Cappuccino has made its way into the hearts of most Italians. Typically a breakfast coffee (mixed with frothed milk), Cappuccino is best served before 10 am. Apparently, it’s frowned upon to have it after midday but I’m sure I’ve drunk one in the afternoon and no Italian wrath was experienced.
8.) Spritz Veneziano, Venice
On a hot summers day in Venice, take a sip of a Spritz Veneziano that is made up of Aperol or Campari with lashings of sparkling water. These refreshing drinks are best on a really warm afternoon… though, I guarantee, once you’ve had one, there will be no stopping you.
9.) Cinque Terre, Calamari
Perched on the ocean front, the region of Cinque Terre is a historic ‘land’ made up of five old fishing towns (and surrounding landscape) that are truly stunning. Obviously, you’ll want to come here for the views and quaint charm but don’t forget to grab a bite to eat in one of the region’s restaurants, with many serving fresh catches every day.
10.) Espresso, Pisa
Technically not just Pisa, espresso has made its way all over Italy. This after dinner drink is the perfect ‘pick-me-up’ after a long day sightseeing and climbing to the top of the famous leaning tower.
11.) Florentine Steak, Florence
A Florentine Steak is not for the faint hearted! This beast of a steak requires a hefty amount of willpower, plenty of guts and a huge appetite that has to be tried in Florence. If you can’t finish it whole all, have one to share.
12.) Chianti, Chianti region of Tuscany
Produced in and around Tuscany, Chianti is often served in that straw like baskets that cup the bottle. A typical wine to have in this region, it’s best served with an afternoon meal or an evening relaxing in the Tuscan countryside. We decided to rent our very own farmhouse on our last visit to Tuscany and boy was it special. See more of the idyllic Tuscan farmhouse, right here.
13.) Carbonara, Rome
Yup, now we can say that Rome is official to blame for my incredulous weight gain… damn its delicious carbonara. I have no idea what sorcery came about to create this beast of a meal but I just love it! This creamy pasta is served with egg, bacon and sprinkles of black pepper.
14.) Pizza, Naples
Napoli is the home of Pizza and the perfect place to indulge in a little comfort food! Personally, I love the anchovy thin crusts, but they’ll almost make you any type in the city.. as long as it’s not deep dish!
15.) Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Puglia
Puglia is one of the best regions in Italy for extra virgin olive oil. Make sure to visit the towns of Bari and the small towns around Polignano A Mare. You won’t be disappointed!
16.) Limoncello, Amalfi Coast
Limoncello is the drink of the Gulf Of Naples, with any trip to the Amalfi Coast almost guaranteed to include it within. Traditional Limoncello is made from the strongly scented zest of the lemon and mixed spirit and dollops of sugary goodness. Just be warned, home-made Limoncello varies in alcohol content so make sure you know the strength you’re drinking.
17.) Gelato, Sicily
My favourite of them all! Gelato. I swear the majority of the world’s problems can be solved with a big cone of gelato! Head to the island of Sicily for some of the best, in almost every flavour you can imagine.
18.) Cannoli, Sicily
This delicious sweet treat is the perfect dessert if you’re a sweet-toothed fiend, like me! From the island of Sicily, this fried pastry dessert is accompanied by a sweet and creamy ricotta that is soooooooo more-ish
19.) Seadas, Sardinia
This traditional fritter is created on the island of Sardinia by frying semolina dumplings with a hearty filling of delicious pecorino cheese that is finally smothered with lashings of local honey.