Inspiration Destinations Europe Italy Buon Appetito: An Epic Italian Food Journey

Buon Appetito: An Epic Italian Food Journey

October 10, 2022

A foodies’ most rewarding pilgrimage is a culinary odyssey through Italy: from Venetian tapas to Tuscan wines, Bel Paese’s gourmet treasures feed both body and soul.

It’s easy to see why Italy is widely applauded for its tantalising cuisine: here, every bite is an explosion of flavours, recipes are carefully guarded and the most successful dishes are simple but refined. Whether you dream of swirling aromatic red wines in Tuscany, twirling ribbons of silky tagliatelle in Bologna, or crave a cold and creamy gelato as you wander the medieval piazzas of Florence, read on to discover our pick of Italy’s must-eat dishes. 

Feeling hungry? Join the 9-day Italy First Class Rail Tour from Rome to Venice for a delicious journey into Italian food. 

Rome: Pasta Carbonara

The mere mention of this creamy pasta dish is enough to get the bellies rumbling. Carbonara originated in Rome so it’s only fitting to enjoy this heavenly plate in the motherland. There are only three ingredients used – and surprisingly cream isn’t one of them. A mesmerising combination of fresh eggs, Pecorino Romano cheese and cured pork epitomises the Roman way of simple but excellent cooking. Twirl a fork through the pasta and savour a melt-in-your-mouth moment alongside a full glass of chianti (red wine from Tuscany).

Florence: Gelato

What’s a trip to Italy without a scoop (or three) of gelato? While you can enjoy this sweet treat across the country, Florence is the birthplace of ice cream’s more sophisticated Italian cousin. A mastermind by the name of Bernardo Buontalenti was a Florentine man of many trades who, during the 1500s, invented the modern gelato for a duke’s banquet feast. So, make like Bernardo and get stuck into some drool-worthy flavours. At Gelateria Pasticceria Badiani, you can even try a scoop of the trademarked Buontalenti, flavoured with milk, eggs, cream and sugar for a rich and creamy gelato experience. 

Naples: Pizza

Whether you eat it off a paper napkin on the street or in a candlelit trattoria, there’s no wrong time to enjoy a slice of this quintessential Italian food. Pizza Napoletana is not simply just a world-famous dish for the people of Naples, it’s embedded into the very fabric of the local culture. As such, the rules for the perfect Napoletana pizza are very strict: the ratio of San Marzano tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella and fresh basil leaves must be perfect. You’ll understand why once you sink your teeth into a slice and experience a flavour bomb of gooey cheese and rich red sauce, cut through by the green tang of basil. 

Venice: Cicchetti

Along the dreamy canals and cobbled alleyways of Venice, discover Italy’s answer to Spanish tapas: cicchetti. Venetians have perfected the art of cicchetti for centuries, so if you want to eat like a local, head to a bàcari (wine bar) and stand at the bar with a glass of house wine that comes with a selection of small plates. Thanks to the Floating City’s location on the water, these cicchetti often feature seafood. Try uovo sodo con aringa (hard-boiled egg topped with herring fillet), sarde in saor (sardines in an onion and vinegar sauce), or seppioline alla griglia (grilled baby squid). If there’s one mouthwatering morsel you must try, it’s polpette (fried meatballs).

Val d’Orcia: Wine

Tuscany is blessed with spellbinding landscapes of cypress trees, medieval towns and golden hills, and Val d’Orcia is no exception. The picturesque region is home to sprawling vineyards renowned for their incredible varieties of sangiovese and trebbiano grapes. Savour a tipple or two of ruby-red Orcia Sangiovese Riserva or velvety vin santo over a local Tuscan lunch – the region is well-known for its rare white truffles, salumi and pecorino cheeses. In between mouthfuls of truffle ravioli or a hearty bowl of ribollita (traditional vegetable soup), clink your wine glasses together and say saluti. 

Bologna: Tagliatelle al Ragu

You might visit Bologna for the famed spaghetti bolognese, but the city’s true culinary hero is tagliatelle al ragu. Explore the medieval lanes and piazzas, dipping and diving into local cafés, restaurants and trattorias in search of the rich and hearty pasta dish. The recipe requires ground meat (everything from prosciutto to beef, pancetta or pork) to be slowly simmered with garlic and onion for hours, resulting in a tender, rich ragu that’s tossed with freshly made tagliatelle and finished with a generous grating of Parmigiano Reggiano. Add a little lightness with a fizzing glass of lambrusco red wine, another gem from the Emilia-Romagna region. 

Feeling hungry? Join the 9-day Italy First Class Rail Tour from Rome to Venice for a delicious journey into Italian food. 

For more mouthwatering foodie inspiration, read New York City’s Best Hidden Bars & Under-the-Radar Restaurants.

About Felicia Arhontissas
A keen traveller and a margarita enthusiast, Felicia is all about getting to the nitty gritty of each destination she visits and discovering its hidden gems (and then running home to write about it).

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