Vacationing in Italy is an extraordinary experience for foodies, as the country offers a wealth of traditional culinary delights and drinks to savor. Every meal becomes an unforgettable journey through Italy’s rich gastronomic heritage, from the first bite of a freshly baked pizza Margherita to the last sip of a velvety espresso.
Exploring the regional specialties is a must, whether indulging in the delicate flavors of risotto alla Milanese or savoring the robustness of a Tuscan bistecca alla Fiorentina. Accompanying these exquisite dishes are traditional drinks like limoncello, grappa, and the beloved Aperol Spritz, perfectly complementing the flavors and creating a truly immersive culinary experience.
Italy’s three major regions—Northern Italy, Central Italy, and Southern Italy—offer unique and distinct food and wine experiences. With every bite and sip, travelers are transported to the heart of Italian culture, surrounded by centuries of culinary mastery.
A sicilian specialty of deep-fried rice balls stuffed with various fillings like ragù (meat sauce), mozzarella, and peas.
A Milanese dish of braised veal shanks cooked with vegetables, white wine, and broth, traditionally served with gremolata (lemon zest, garlic, and parsley).
Tuscan bread salad made with stale bread, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, and basil and dressed with olive oil and vinegar.
Bistecca alla Fiorentina
A thick-cut T-bone steak from Florence, seasoned with salt and pepper and grilled to perfection, often served rare or medium-rare.
A Roman pasta sauce made with guanciale (cured pork jowl), tomato sauce, Pecorino Romano cheese, and chili flakes, traditionally served with bucatini or spaghetti.
Large pasta tubes filled with meat, cheese, or spinach, baked in the oven with tomato sauce and cheese.
Cacio e Pepe
A simple pasta dish from Rome made with spaghetti, Pecorino Romano cheese, black pepper, and olive oil.
Risotto alla Milanese
A creamy rice dish made with Arborio rice, saffron, butter, and Parmesan cheese, originating from Milan.
A Sicilian dessert made with sponge cake, sweetened ricotta cheese, candied fruits, and marzipan, often decorated with colorful icing.
A silky dessert made with cream, sugar, and gelatin, often flavored with vanilla or topped with fruit coulis or caramel sauce.
Italy’s famous frozen dessert is similar to ice cream but with a denser texture and intense flavors. Try flavors like pistachio, hazelnut, or stracciatella.
A refreshing and bubbly aperitif made with Aperol. Aperol is an Italian orange-flavored liqueur known for its vibrant orange color and bitter-sweet taste.
A classic Italian cocktail made with equal parts gin, Campari (an Italian bitter liqueur), and sweet vermouth, garnished with an orange twist. It has a bitter and herbal flavor profile.
A sweet dessert wine traditionally produced in Tuscany. It’s made from dried grapes and often paired with biscotti or other sweet treats.
A full-bodied red wine from the Piedmont region known for its rich flavors and aromas of cherry, truffle, and licorice.
A lemon liqueur made by steeping lemon zest in alcohol and sweetening it with sugar. It’s typically served chilled as a digestif.
A sparkling wine from the Veneto region, light and refreshing, often enjoyed as an aperitif or used in cocktails like the Bellini.
A strong, clear brandy made from grape pomace, a byproduct of winemaking. It’s often enjoyed as a digestif.
Food to Try in Italy on Vacation
From the captivating aroma of freshly baked bread to the vibrant colors of farm-fresh produce, every meal celebrates Italy’s culinary heritage. Each region boasts its own distinct specialties, inviting you to embark on a gastronomic adventure that reveals the diverse culinary traditions throughout the country.
This article Italy’s Culinary Delights: Food, Drink, and Dessert to Try on Vacation originally appeared on Wander With Alex.
Alexandrea Sumuel is a travel writer and the founder of the Wander With Alex travel blog, where she provides vacationers with trip ideas, travel guides, news, and itineraries. She travels to experience, eat, explore, and, on occasion, escape! Alex’s mission is to help peopl find the perfectv acation destination.