Reasons to Go
A Food Lover’s Guide to Italy
There are few places where food is more celebrated and more deeply rooted in the cultural experience than in Italy. Hyper-regional and passed down through generations, this cherished fare reveals much about Italy’s landscapes and those who inhabit them. From Umbria’s tagliatelle with truffles to the melt-in-your-mouth handmade mozzarella of Rovella, A&K experts highlight favorite destinations every foodie should include on a luxury Italy tour.
The market stalls blossoming with fresh figs, squash blossoms and thick, hearty ragu sauce — “Bolognese,” as the locals call it — paired with the beautiful red-arcaded archways and collegiate vibes make Bologna both an intriguing and memorable destination. Begin your culinary discovery of this city with a cooking class led by one of the many matriarchs of the area. This hands-on experience imparts the value of their famous food, whether it be the Bolognese sauce or the soft and delicate gnocchi pasta, all while teaching you how to prepare it. End the class with a hearty bowl of your own creation. More of Bologna’s culinary history lies in the Mercat di Mezza, a vast collection of fresh produce, cheese shops, a wine bar and more.
The food of Tuscany is about as iconic as its rolling countryside vistas. This central region is best known for its rich and robust olive oil, which is grown and pressed all throughout Tuscany. While deciding on the best producer is subjective, nearly every olive farm boast a potent extra-virgin olive oil worth eating with a spoon. While there, take a tour and try your hand at pressing these succulent fruits. Afterward, sample another local specialty, the panzanella salad. Made with crusty bread, chunks of sun-ripened vegetables and capers, this hearty salad can be found on any restaurant.
The epicenter of Italy, Rome is a bustling metropolis that’s best experienced off-the-beaten-path. Away from the crowds and inside of the small alleyways flanked by faded rows of houses, shops and restaurants lies the city’s culinary heart. Here, find big bowls of cacio e pepe, a rich pasta made with cracked pepper and parmesan and supplì, a crispy giant breaded croquette filled with rice, mozzarella and meat sauce
Overlooking the port of Trapani in Northeastern Sicily, Erice dates back to the 12th century and is oozing with medieval charm. Known for its mouthwatering pastries, sample delicacies like sweet almond cakes or custard-filled Genovese pastries at “La Pasticceria di Maria Grammatica,” a famous sweet shop in Erice whose namesake is a pastry legend in Italy. She learned the delicate art of pastry making from her childhood in a nunnery, where she perfected the pasticcini, or almond-based cookies.
Located on the other side of the island is Mt. Etna, a volatile volcano deemed the largest in Europe. Thanks to relatively frequent eruptions and a warm, coastal climate, the gravelly slopes are home to some of the area’s best wines. Discover the wine with a tasting at the vineyards surrounding the vast mountain and sample a glass of Etna Rossa, the most popular wine in the region.
The home of Ferrari, Maserati and Pavarotti, Modena is just as famous for its balsamic vinegar. Vastly different than many varietals you’ll find in supermarkets, Modena Balsamic is thick and sweet, with just a hint of acidity. Visit an acetaia (balsamic vinegar factory) to learn how the vinegar is stored and to enjoy a tasting of differently aged varietals.
More than a beautiful coast, Amalfi is a gastronomic paradise. If you’re planning to explore the region’s famous winding roads, make time for plenty of stops to eat. On most menus, you’ll find pasta tossed with clams and shellfish, plates of sfogliatelle (a stuffed shell-shaped pastry) and giant, homemade balls of fresh mozzarella. Stop at a local farm to learn how they make their own cheese, limoncello and sausages. Delve deeper as you hear about production standards and sample the items alongside the family who crafts them in mozzarella-famed Rovella.