Here's an handy Food Map of Italy to not get lost in the infinite amount of culinary culture of the Bel Paese. Start your journey by clicking one of the cities icon to discover more about their typical food. Below you can find all the cities and descriptions in alphabetic order.
Agrigento - Parmigiana di
Eggplants are often used in Sicilian cuisine. Some say the name of this dish comes from window blinds (in Sicilian dialect "parmiciane") which have a layer-like structure similar to the dish.
Amatrice - Amatriciana
The famous Italian dish Amatriciana (also spelled Matriciana) has a long and interesting history. Amatriciana was brought to Rome from the Amatrice shepherds who came to spend the winter in a warmer climate. They carried ingredients with them that would stay good for weeks, like Guanciale (bacon form the cheek of the pork), lard and pecorino cheese.
Aosta - Fontina Cheese
Described as one of the best cheeses in the world by the Wall Street Journal, Fontina is made with fresh milk and has at least 3 months of aging.
The origins of this cheese are from the XIII century, and it appears in a XV century fresco painting in the Castle of Issogne near Aosta! It's Protected by the mark DOP (Denominazione di Origine Protetta) since 1996, meaning those who want to make Fontina cheese need to first pass several quality checks.
Aquila - Campotosto's Mortadella
This rare salami from Campotosto (Aquila province) has been around for over 500 years! It's easily recognisable from the characteristic lard stick placed in the middle.
After the pork meat has been ground, it is mixed with cloves and cinnamon. It is ready to eat after 3 months.
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Ascoli - Olive Ascolane
Officially created in the 1800s in the Italian region of Marche. Olive Ascolane (Ascoli's olives) are deep fried brine olives stiffed with soft ground meat.
Olive Ascolane are the best part of the Fritto misto all'ascolana (Ascoli's fried mix) featuring lamb ribs, artichokes and zucchini. Olive Ascolane are popular across all of Italy and often served as starters in pizzerias.
Bari - Orecchiette alle cime di rapa
Orecchiette (little ears in Italian) with turnip tops, are the most typical first course (pasta dish) you can get in Bari and Apulia. The origins of this pasta shape come from France.
These discs of pasta are made concave by sliding them against the table. This shape is great for two reasons: it naturally carries the ingredients of the sauce making your life easier while you eat; and it makes the pasta dry faster and better.
Bologna - Ragù alla Bolognese
Ok, you've probably had a Bolognese about a million times. But have you ever tried it in Bologna? Ragù alla Bolognese is arguably the most famous pasta sauce in the world. A recipe this popular is often interpreted in several ways and reproduced without following the traditional process. First of all, this sauce goes perfectly with fresh egg pasta like: Tagliatelle, Pappardelle and Lasagna or with a typical poor dish, the Polenta. Ragù alla Bolognese doesn't usually go with Spaghetti or any other Semolina pasta, since in Bologna and Emilia Romagna in general, the egg pasta is preferred.
The recipe begins with frying carrots, celery and onions together (soffritto). Later a mix of minced meat is added, and at the end tomato sauce.
In 1982 the Accademia Italiana della Cucina registered the official Ragù all Bolognese recipe to ultimately define what the right process and ingredients of the sauce are.
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Brescia - Grana Padano
Grana Padano comes to us from the XII Century. It was first made in the Abbey of Chiaravelle, few kilometres south from Milan. The name comes from the dense and grainy consistency of the cheese (in Italian "Grana") and the lands where it is produced (Po valley, in Italian "Pianura Padana"). The aging time goes from a minimum of 9 months until over 20 months.
It's often compared to Parmigiano Reggiano for the similar characteristics and taste. However, Parmigiano Reggiano can be seasoned for over 30 months, so it has an higher quality and price.
Brindisi - Panzerotti
Panzerotti are basically small versions of calzoni but are usually fried rather than oven-baked. You'll find this stuffed, deep fried pizza all over Apulia, while in Brindisi you can also find a boiled version of panzerotti, similar to ravioli.
The most common fillings for this turnover are tomato and mozzarella, but spinach, ham and mushrooms are often used and appreciated by Italian street food lovers.
Cagliari - Malloreddus with Sardinian Ragu
Traditional Sardinian pasta from semolina flour and water. It's made by cutting the pasta into cylinders of 2cm (0.8 inches) and rolling them against a straw basket to make the characteristic streaks in relief. The name comes from the word "veal", in Sardinian "malloreddu" because of the rounded shape of the pasta that are meant to remind us of the belly of a veal.
Malloreddus are paired with many sauces, but the most typical is the Sardinian Ragù (malloreddus alla campidanese). The sauce is made by frying together Sardinian sausages and onion in olive oil, and cooking them for an hour in tomato sauce. 10 minutes before the sauce is done, saffron is added. Then, the boiled pasta and sauce is finally mixed together, along with Sardinian Pecorino.
Campobasso - Sheep Ragù Cavatelli
Cavatelli means "little hollows" in Italian. It's a pasta shape originally coming from Molise and subsequently spreading all over the south of Italy.
In some variants it can be made by also adding potatoes to the semolina flour.
The sauce you should pair with this pasta is Ragù, and even better, if from sheep.
Catania - Maccheroni alla Norma
It's a pasta dish (usually maccheroni) made with tomatoes, fried eggplant, grated ricotta salata cheese and basil. It is supposedly named from the opera Norma by the Catania-born composer Vincenzo Bellini.
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Catanzaro - Nduja Salami
Do you like spicy food? Then Nduja is definitely for you! This spreadable salami from Calabria is good with bread, pasta, pizza and even in omelettes.
It was born as peasant food, made of the cheapest parts of the pig stuffed together with Calabrian chilli.
Cesena - Potato Gnocchi
Gnocchi are often included in the Pasta category of food. But there's a big difference in the recipe of the gnocchi, which uses mashed potatoes. You'll find Gnocchi with some of the most famous sauces commonly used for classic pasta dishes. In Rome, they are only served on Thursdays in authentic restaurants!
The taste of Gnocchi is delicate and they can include other ingredients like pumpkins, chard and beetroot. If you are visiting Italy and you want to try as many different kinds of pasta possible, definitely get yourself a plate of Gnocchi! Italians love them!
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Cosenza - Cuddrurieddri
These donuts are traditionally made in Cosenza on the 7th of December, the eve of the Immaculate Conception. The right pronunciation of "cuddrurieddru" is complex for anybody born outside Cosenza. This recipe has a salty and sweet version, and in Cosenza both are deep fried.
Apulia, Sicily and other cities in Calabria have their own variations as well as different names for it:
cuddhrure, puddhriche, puddhricastri, cuddhura col lardo, reggini cuddhuraci, 'nguti, cuddura cull'ova, cuddureddu natalizio, cuddura di San Paulu, crispelle, zippuli, grispeddri and so on... You'll probably have to spend all your vacation eating Cuddrurieddri to say you ate the majority!
Elba - Saltimbocca di Spigola e Tonno
While on the Elba island, you have to try as many sea dishes as possible. The recipe we recommend as a great starting point is made from sea bass and smoked tuna, flavored with fish stock, fresh thyme, rosemary and extra virgin olive oil. The cooking process starts with boiling the ingredients together for an hour and it ends in the pan, by frying the fish fillets together with poached garlic and other spices.
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Florence - Fiorentina Steak
Bistecca alla Fiorentina, (beefsteak Florentine style) consists of a T-bone steak from the Chianina or Maremmana breeds of cattle. Probably the most traditional dish of Tuscan cuisine, the steak is grilled over a wood or charcoal fire, seasoned with salt, sometimes with black pepper, and olive oil applied immediately after the meat has retired from the heat. Here's a short recipe, just make sure you are really hungry before you start cooking: 1 to 1,5 kg and 3 fingers thick steak, 3-5 minutes grilling per side (flipping it only once) and 5-7 minutes vertically standing on its bone so as to make the blood drain out.
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Foggia - Taralli & Tarallini
Tarallini circumference of 3.8 to 7.8 cm (1.5 to 3.1 in).
There are either sweet and salty versions of them. The salty ones are the most common and they are available in many different variations, made by mixing herbs and spices to the basic wheat flour, yeast, water, olive oil and salt dough.
Frosinone - Crostata di Visciole
Crostata is an Italian cake that takes it's name from the word "cross" - Just look at the picture and you'll understand why.
The pastry crust is the base ingredient and it doesn't change much in the different variations of Crostata available. The filling might vary often. Crostata can be made with every kind of jam, creme and chocolate. A typical one found in Frosinone is coated with a wild variety of cherry called Visciole (sour cherry). Commonly eaten as a breakfast mid-morning snack or as a dessert after main meals.
Gaeta - Tiella di Polpo
Tiella is a made with two layers of dough filled with ingredients coming form the sea.
It's originally made for the fisherman. A practical food to carry even for a number of days. Some say the secret to a good Tiella is the olive oil, that must come from Gaeta's lands and used so heavily that it will drip from your elbow while you eat.
Genoa - Pesto alla Genovese
Time to learn something about one the most classic Italian sauces, Pesto alla Genovese. The recipe to make the pesto is pretty simple, so no excuses! Try to do it at home. You'll just need: basil, salt, garlic, pine nuts, Parmigiano, Pecorino Sardo and extra virgin olive oil. Smash them all together. Congratulations, your pesto is ready!
Pesto alla Genovese is a raw sauce, so it doesn't need any cooking. Thanks to this, Pesto delivers the natural taste of each ingredient.
The first example of this recipe was described by the ancient Roman writer Virgilio, but the recipe as we know it today was written in the XIX century.
La Spezia - Testaroli al Pesto
Considered by some to be the oldest kind of pasta, known even by the Ancient Romans.
Testaroli are made from flour, water and salt. After shaping it as a sheet of pasta, you can start cooking it in a "testo" - a slim pan also used to cook Piadina and other thin breads. The Testarolo is cooked in the testo for few minutes. After that, you dip them in a pot with boiling water for one minute.
The most common topping for them is the Pesto alla Genovese.
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Lecce - Rustico Leccese
This pastry from Salento (south of Apulia) is one of the reasons why the street food in the south of Italy is so amazing. Two discs of fluff pastry usually stuffed and baked with tomato and mozzarella. Also, the versions with spinach and ricotta or spinach and mozzarella are great options. They are better if served hot to enjoy the delicious melted mozzarella of the filling. The Rustico Leccese is really easy to find in all Apulia's bars, bakeries and rotisserie. It's often consumed as a mid-morning snack or as appetizer before dinner.
Messina - Arancini
The name comes from the shape and the color or the Orange ("arancia").
Arancino is a deep fried rice ball with ragù, peas and caciocavallo cheese.
In the late Medieval period, frying the rice was a practical necessity more than for taste. The crust made the meal easier to carry when hunters went on a hunt or when the farmers worked on the fields.
Nowadays you'll find Arancini in most of the Bars and Pizzerias across the whole Sicily. This street food masterpiece also became popular in the rest of Italy and enriched with many other varieties of ingredients.
Milan - Panettone
Here we have the king of the Italian Christmas. The sweet that doesn't miss in any table of Italy during Christmas time, no matter if north or south.
There is an interesting legend about the creation and the name of this traditional Italian food:
A famous Italian chef who was working for Ludovico "il Moro" Sforza, forgot the dessert in the oven burning it. It was the Christmas dinner and Toni (the apprentice) had the solution: "We could give them the dessert I made this morning with some ingredients I found in the kitchen, a bit of flour, butter, eggs, lime zest and a few raisins..." The chef didn't see any other solution and agreed.
The success of the new cake was incredible and all the guests at the dinner wanted to know more about it. The chef had to confess: It's Toni's bread (in Italian "Pan del Toni", which soon became Panettone).
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Modena - Tortellini in Brodo
Tortellini in broth is the typical Christmas first course in Italy. Do not confuse them with Cappelletti (actually try them both!) which are more common in Romagna and North of Marche - they are folded in a different way, using different variations of fillings and are slightly smaller.
The idea of this stuffed pasta could come from around the XVII century, when lords' servants used this technique to recycle leftover meat coming from the rich tables.
In 1974 The Accademia Italiana della Cucina registered the official recipe for the filling of Tortellini to wrap in 0.6 mm of pasta. It's made with pork loin, prosciutto, mortadella from Bologna, Parmigiano, eggs and nutmeg.
Naples - Pizza Margherita
Fresh tomato, mozzarella and basil is all you need to make the most tasty and classic of the pizzas. Created by Raffaele Esposito and named after Margherita di Savoia in 1889. The ingredients are inspired by the colors of the Italian flag.
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Nuoro - Fiore Sardo Cheese
Slightly spicy cheese from Sardinian sheep milk. The name Fiore Sardo (Sardinian Flower) comes from the traditional chestnut wooden mold that used to have an engraved flower and the initials of the producer.
It's an ancient cheese, produced even before the Rome domination. It has been the most produced cheese in Sardinia until the Pecorino Romano dairies came to Sardinia in the XIX Century.
It's mostly used as table cheese but it can also be grated if seasoned for more than 6 months.
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Palermo - Cannolo Siciliano
This marvellous deep fried cylinder filled with ricotta is one of the most famous pastries in Italy. Some say the recipe has Arabic influences and associate this creation to the the harem of Caltanissetta. It was symbol of fertility and served during the Carnival time. Nowadays you can enjoy the Sicilian Cannolo throughout the whole year. Even though it's become became so popular and is being produced in many countries around the world, you should still try the original ones in Sicily if you have the chance.
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Parma - Parmigiano Reggiano
I'm sure everyone of you knows Parmigiano Reggiano. The United States is the main buyer of this ancient cheese outside Europe. Parmigiano Reggiano comes to us from the middle ages, or even earlier. We have written evidence of the existence of this cheese from the XII century when Giovanni Boccaccio in Decameron describes the cheese with characteristics comparable to the one we can get today in the grocery store.
Really popular all over the world with the name of parmesan and also the most imitated Italian Cheese, especially outside the EU where the controls and patents are more lenient.
A good Parmigiano needs 24 months of seasoning, but some of them can be aged for more, even 36, 40 or 90 months!
Perugia - Chocolate
What are you waiting for? Come to the Eurochocolate of Perugia! At this amazing festival, celebrated since the 1993, you'll find the best chocolate, artisanal and industrial, coming from the whole of Italy. There is chocolate for all tastes around the entire historical center of Perugia. Some sculptors even challenge themselves by creating art peaces carved from 1m cubes of chocolate.
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Pesaro - Coniglio in Porchetta
Porchetta is typical in the center of Italy and really easy to find as street food. You'll probably find porchetta from pork meat in the streets and the roast rabbit in the restaurants and hosterias. Porchetta is so popular that in the center of Italy they arrange fairs and festivals to pay homage to this tasty meat recipe.
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Pisa - Zuppa di Borlotti
Bean soups are eaten in Italy for millenniums. Greeks and Romans use to consume a lot of it, but the most frequently eaten nowadays came only after the discovery of America. Beans have always been really popular among the farmers and peasantry who used to cook huge pots of bean soup with rain water and onions. By cooking it on a low fire they had time to work on the fields and come back when the food was ready.
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Potenza - Lucania's Sausage
We have the first written testimonials of the ancestor of the sausage in the third century before Christ, when Romans, after conquering Lucania (actual name, Basilicata), learned this brilliant technique of storing grinder meat. For both practical and taste reasons, the Sausage spread quickly across the whole of Italy and the rest of the world.
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Ravenna - Piadina Romagnola
It will take you just a bite to fall in love with the original Piadina Romagnola. The name "Piada" was already used in the XVI century to describe this typical Italian food. But the typical flat shape of the piadina was used to make variations of the bread, already by the Romans centuries ahead.
Nowadays, the place to eat the Piadina is of course in Romagna, a territory in Emilia Romagna that also includes parts the north of Marche, where the Piadina can also be called "Crescia". A classic filling for it was chard or sausages and onions, but you'll now find a Piadina with ham (prosciutto, better if of Parma) and cheese much more common.
Piadina can also be used instead of bread to accompany other dishes of a meal.
Reggio Calabria - Soppressata
The Calabrian Soppressata takes the name from the term "pressare" which literally means "to press". Multiple times during the seasoning process, the Salami is left to rest between two wooden tables under a weight. This process gives the Soppressata the typical semi-flat shape.
It's made by the best parts of the pig's thigh, black pepper, fennel, salt and of course peperoncino! Remember that we are in Calabria and you'll rarely find a meal that doesn't include at least one spicy course.
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Rome - Bucatini alla Carbonara
became a typical Roman pasta dish, but, some say the recipe comes from the American soldiers (during the second word war) who started to make pasta with bacon and egg - familiar ingredients to them. Later on, chefs from Lazio developed it into the amazing first course we all know today!
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Salerno - Buffalo Mozzarella
Ladies and gentlemen, here we are in front of the the queen of the Mediterranean cuisine", "white gold" or "the pearl of the table". Buffalo mozzarella is worth a trip to Italy. Used in many typical recipes in the region of Campania, this regal product is delicious even as it is. By adding extra-virgin olive oil, slices of tomato, basil and pinch of salt, you will experience a Caprese. An extremely simple and amazing mediterranean food to delight you and your friends. The freshness of the product is fundamental and this is the reason why it's not easy to find a proper Mozzarella di Bufala far from the regions of Campania, Lazio, Apulia and Molise. It's highly recommended to not keep this product in the fridge and to consume it within two days after it's purchased.
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Sanremo - Sardenaira
Also known as sardinara, sardenara, piscilandrea, pisadala, piscia dela or piscadra. But the easier name to remember is definitely "Pizza di Andrea" to honor Andrea Doria.
The Sardenaira is a focaccia (a tall kind of pizza) topped with tomato sauce, garlic, capers (best if preserved in salt), black olives, oregano and sardines (an ingredient that gives the name to the recipe).
Sassari - Sea Urchins Spaghetti
If you are spending a vacation in Sardinia, you have to taste their famous spaghetti with sea urchins (ai ricci di mare).
Always avoid these thorny animals while you are having a bath at the seaside; but definitely look for them at the best restaurants along the coast. Their eggs (actually gonads) have a rich and salty sea taste, and are loved by most of the locals too!
Siena - Pappardelle al Ragù di Cinghiale
Pappardelle with boar ragù is really popular in Tuscany, north of Lazio and Marche.
The wild boar meat is really tasty and makes this meal a must-try first course. It is probably harder to find than a classic Bolognese but it will definitely be worth it if you find a good boar ragù.
The boar meat needs to rest in red wine, onions, carrots, celery and bay leaves. The red wine will also be added during the cooking process to give a deep flavor to the Pasta dish.
Taranto - Risotto ai Frutti di Mare
Risotto is most popular in the north of Italy, but you need to travel to the South if you want to taste a stunning version with frutti di mare (seafood). The recipe includes extra-virgin olive oil, garlic, white wine, fish broth, rice, clams, mussels, cockles, salt, parsley and cheese.
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Trapani - Pesto Trapanese
As you might guess, this variant of pesto comes from Genoa. The harbour of trapani has always been filled with Genoese ships and the culinary influence of the people was inevitable. Adding tomatoes, almonds and pecorino siciliano to the classic basil and garlic base, you'll experience a tasty and fresh pasta. This sauce doesn't need to be cooked.
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Trento - Polenta
Polenta is an ancient and probably peasant food par excellence. To make it, it's enough to add the chosen flour and salt to boiling water and mix for at least one hour with a wooden spoon. This simple recipe goes well with several toppings and spices.
There are different recipes to add complexity and flavor to Polenta, and each region has it's own typical culinary secret. In Trento, it's popular to add potatoes to polenta to enrich the taste. At the end of the cooking process, you can also add pieces of local salami, cheese, fried onions or personal variants.
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Trieste - Brodetto
Brodetto is an Adriatic fishermen invention made with the fish from the working day, but only those who weren't big or good enough for selling. Sometimes, when the fish wasn't enough, to give extra taste to the broth, the fishermen would even add pieces of reef with some seaweed attached. The cooking process requires the same amount of water and white wine, and you'll boil around 10 different kinds of fish together placed in layers inside the pot. Remember to place the softer on the top. After 15-18 mins the broth is ready. Enjoy it with toasted bread.
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Turin - Grissini (Breadsticks)
Grissino is a thin variant of the bread that became popular because it's easy to digest, it stays good for weeks and it's really crunchy!
Is was invented by a doctor in 1679, to heal the future king who could not digest the crumbs of bread. It was an immediate success, also really appreciated by Napoleone Bonaparte, who wanted them to be delivered to him straight from Turin.
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Udine - Meatballs (Polpette al Prezzemolo)
Meatballs are not an Italian exclusive. They are famous all over the world and made by different kinds of meat and cooking processes. Originally the meatballs were made by leftover boiled meat. Nowadays, "Polpette" are a proper meal and you want to buy some fresh ingredients to taste some good ones!
In Udine you can find Polpette al Prezzemolo cooked following this recipe: A mixture of minced veal or mixed meat, stale bread (10%), a bit of milk, grated cheese and plenty of chopped parsley. Then, the meatballs are coated in bread crumbs and fried in a little oil or stewed in tomato sauce.
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Venice - Fegato alla Veneziana
The Venetian Liver recipe is not representative only of the city of Venice, but more generally to the whole of Veneto. It is an ancient recipe was with livers and figs. Venetians had the idea to switch the figs with onions, that were really common in the lagoon. This variation was so appreciated, that it became part of a volume by Francesco Leonardi in 1790.
You will often find the Venetian livers from pork or veal with Polenta as side dish.
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Verona - Pandoro
Pandoro, together with Panettone are the must-have desserts of the Italian Christmas. It's origin could be as old as Ancient Rome. We even have mentions of the "Pan de Oro" in the XIII Century!
The recipe includes: flour, sugar, eggs, butter, cocoa butter and yeast. In 1894 Domenico Melegatti patented the Pandoro recipe and the classic star shape which distinguishes this dessert even today.
Viterbo - Acquacotta
Historical peasant food, typical in the old region of Maremma (Northern Lazio, Southern Tuscany). Acquacotta literally means "cooked water". We are, in fact, talking about a soup made with tomatoes, vegetables, olive oil, stale bread and other different kinds of leftovers. Nowadays this recipe in often enriched with pecorino or parmesan cheese, eggs, chicory, garlic and vegetable broth. However, all these additions haven't changed the main spirit of this humble and traditional soup.
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