Focus On Italy, For Food Lovers
It’s true, Italy is synonymous with classic, good food, and there are a huge range of choices for the budget traveller. Anyone who loves good food will enjoy a holiday in Italy, and whichever part you choose to travel to, you’re bound to have a great experience food wise. This guide is designed to give you a feel for the food you will encounter in your Italian holiday.
Sicily has been influenced by numerous other cultures including the Ancient Greeks, the Romans, the Byzantines, the Normans and the Spanish. This influx of different cultures has meant the foods has also been very mixed – including apricots and citrus, rice, saffron, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon and pepper, tomatoes and cocoa and a particular fondness for meat and fish. Typical dishes you’ll find here include fresh tuna marinated in white wine, lemon, garlic and rosemary and Sicilian pie which is pasta cooked with meat, onions, truffles and egg. If you are on a tight budget, look out for the huge "ciambelle" donuts which are served for breakfast, delicious with a large expresso and perfect for sharing.
The restaurants of Rome obviously cater for the tourist but for more authentic food, head off the main piazza to find cheaper (and often better) Italian food. The narrow Via di Tor Millina and Via del Governo Vecchio has plenty of good eateries as does Campo dei’Fiori. Some hot places to try include Navona Notte pizzeria, Dar Poeta for divine brushetta, Da Tonino for straightforward but good pasta, Enoteca Antica for a more upmarket feel, Gusto for the hippest table experience this side of Italy and Prado for celebrity spotting! If you’re in any doubt or just overwhelmed by the sheer choice of dining options, just head to where locals seem to go and you’ll be in for a good meal.
Well known for its spaghetti bolognese sauce that we all know and love, this region caters for the gourmet food lover. As well as the rich tomato based sauce, Bologna also is famous for tortelloni pasta, sausages and crescentine or friend pizza dough. Good restaurants to try include Nuovo Notai, Rodrigo, Torre de’ Galluzzi, Benso and Bistrot Tamburini.
The art of Italian dining
Don’t plan on doing anything else – eating Italian style is a long, lazy affair. Lunches generally begin at 1pm and last until 4pm. Dinners at 8pm and end at whenever o’ clock. Some choose to start with an aperitif (small alcoholic drink), then onto an antipasti (like a starter). Antipasti is usually a pretty big meal in itself and could include salad with olives, rice balls or salamis. The "primo" or first course is usually a pasta or rice dish. The "secondo" is the main course and may be accompanied by a "contorno" or side dish. Then there’s fruit, coffee, dessert and a liqueur! Food varies according to which region you’re in. Cheese, wine and coffee also form a major part in most Italian’s diet and dishes. Basic dishes you’ll encounter include: Risotto; Ice cream; Breads including panini, ciabatta, foccacia and bruschetta; Pizza; Goulash; Gnocchi; Stuffed ravioli; Parma ham; All variations of pasta including tortellini, lasagne, cannelloni, farfelle, fettuccine, fusilli, penne and tagliatelle; Proscuitto ham with melon; Olives; Minestrone soup; Huge variety of seafood, especially on the coastline; Italian cheeses; Pastries and deserts such as biscotti, panna cotta and tiramisu.