Italy is divided into 20 beautiful regions that each offer a unique cuisine worthy of exploration and celebration. So here is a list of some of the finest and most popular dishes from each of Italy’s 20 regions:
Located in Southern Italy and known as the “greenest region in Europe”, Abruzzo offers a delicious dish called “gnello casc e ove” which is lamb stuffed with eggs and cheese.
Bordered by both France and Switzerland, Aosta Valley is a mountainous region that brings us a dish called Carbonnade consisting of salt-cured beef served with polenta.
Apulia is sometimes identified as the heel of the boot of Italy and has a wonderful traditional pasta dish called “Orecchiette alle cime di rapa” – an ear-like pasta prepared with rapini.
Featuring two coastlines, one on the Tyrrhenian Sea and the other on the Gulf of Taranto, seafood is a major part of Basilicata’s cuisine, which features fish dishes like “Baccala alla lucana”, which is cod with crunchy red peppers.
Calabria is the toe of the boot of Italy and has a cuisine that is Mediterranean-inspired and features a range of meat-based, vegetable, and fish dishes. A popular seafood dish from Calabria is “Pesce spada alla ghiotta”, which is swordfish rolls served in tomato sauce.
The region of Campania used to be known by the Romans as “Campania Felix”, which means “fertile countryside” and is the most densely populated region in Italy. Some famous dishes from Campania are Insalata Caprese, which is a Mozzarella and tomato salad, and Parmigiana, which is pran fried eggplant slices layered in cheese and tomato sauce and oven baked.
Emilia-Romagna is an important cultural and educational hub – home to the world’s oldest university – and has a unique cuisine that has brought us classic Italian dishes like Cannelloni, Lasagne, and Mortadella, a sweet and aromatic pork sausage that originated in Bologna.
Friuli Venezia Giulia
The most north-eastern region in Italy, Friuli Venezia Giulia’s cuisine features Prosciutto di San Daniele, which is a famous ham that is exported and enjoyed all around the world.
Home to the country’s capital, which is also the largest city in Italy, the Lazio region offers “spaghetti alla carbonara”, which is spaghetti prepared with guanciale, pecorino and eggs.
Seafood comprises a large part of Liguria’s cuisine, however pesto is arguably the region’s most famous culinary contribution. Pesto is a popular green sauce made from basil leaves, sliced garlic, pine nuts, olive oil, and parmigiano cheese.
Lombardy brings us a number of delicious Italian dessert dishes including Panettone, which is a sweet tasting Milanese Christmas bread made with candied citrus peels and raisins, and Torrone – a candy made from sugar, egg whites, honey, and toasted almonds.
The hilly and mountainous Marche offers unique dishes like “Olive all’ascolana”, which is fried stoned olives that have been stuffed with Parmesan cheese and pork, chicken, or beef.
Molise is Italy’s youngest region and features a cuisine very similar to that of Abruzzo. “Pasta e fagioli” is a famous dish from Molise, which is a pasta and white bean soup cooked with pork rinds and pig’s feet.
Surrounded by the Alps on three of its sides, Piedmont is Italy’s second largest region and brings us Panna cotta, a dessert consisting of sweetened cream set with gelatin.
Located just south of the French island of Corsica, Sardinia offers a warm and hearty dish called Panada, which is a type of bread soup with added eggs, beef broth and cheese.
Sicily is a cultural centre for music, literature, art, and cuisine and is home to classic dishes like Arancini, which are stuffed and fried rice balls, and Cannoli, which is a shell-shaped pastry filled with sweet ricotta cheese.
Trentino-South Tyrol used to be a part of Austria-Hungary and this influence is still evident in the region’s cuisine, which features a popular dumping dish called Canederli or Knodel.
The region of Tuscany is known for its simplistic cuisine and high-quality wine, with a popular dish being Ribollita – a twice-cooked vegetable soup, and arguably the most popular regional wine being Chianti.
Possessing neither a border with other European countries or a coastline, Umbria offers “Lenticchie di Castelluccio con salsicce”, which is a lentil stew prepared with sausages.
Veneto is home to some of the most recognizable dishes in Italian cuisine such as Risi e bisi and tiramisu, along with world-famous wine such as Prosecco.