Italian food in its various forms can be found the world over, but it's not until you head back to the source that you can truly appreciate the tastes and textures of an authentic Italian meal. And, the country's vineyards – some one-million of them – produce some of the world's favourite varietals. In short, if you're seeking a holiday to tantalise your tastebuds, Italy should be on your radar. In fact, eating is one of the greatest pleasures of being there.
Italian dry-cured ham
The Emilia-Romagna region of Piacenza, Parma, Modena and Bologna is renowned for its gastronomy. In Parma, world-class restaurants serve everything from smoked pork with truffle and scallops to the region's speciality, parma ham. In Modena, the home of balsamic vinegar, you can visit the best suppliers and taste their wares, while Bologna's food markets, showcase everything from Via Rizzoli’s cheese to Osteria del Sole's excellent wines. Of course, Bologna's most famous dish is spaghetti bolognese, best enjoyed in an authentic trattoria.
Tuscan wine regions
Medieval wine cellar, Tuscany
Tuscany's rolling hills and patchwork landscape of vineyards and olive groves are a paradise of sorts for oenophiles and fans of good food. Staples include pici, a local pasta, cooked with fragrant tomatoes and herbs, aubergines wrapped around prosciutto and buffalo mozzarella, and beef, often cooked with shallots and balsamic vinegar. It's perhaps the wine though, that draws the crowds. Pinot Grigio is, of course, wildly popular, home and abroad, but it's Chianti, the dry red produced in central Tuscany, that this area is most famous for.
Rome, Naples & the Italian cities
A holiday in Italy wouldn't be complete without pizza, and for that, it's best to head to Naples. After all, it's where it was invented, and strict rules govern its creation. Pizzaiolos – pizza makers – must take two years of apprenticeship before they are employed. The dough has to be made the day before for optimum lightness, then cooked only in a wood burning brick oven, and the tomatoes for the sauce should be grown in the fertile volcanic soil of nearby Pompeii. In fact, Campania as a whole benefits from this ashy soil, which produces flavoured aubergines, figs and delicious Amalfi lemons. In Rome, be sure to sample some spaghetti carbonara, made simply with eggs, parmesan, and guanciale (pigs cheek). And, cacio e pepe, adorned with nothing more than Pecorino Romano cheese and black pepper, is a pared back classic. In any Italian city, you're bound to find its specialities, whether that's seafood in Palermo or ice-cold gelato – delicious all over the country.
If you're keen to discover the gastronomic delights of Italy, we can help. Contact our travel specialists today – with first-hand knowledge of the destination, they're here to help plan your perfect Italian food and wine holiday. Or, simply browse our itineraries below for inspiration.