Italy is synonymous with wholesome food, fine wine and a family-orientated vibe. On a cruise to Italy, you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy all three. Here, we chat to bloggers and business owners who share their top tips on how to experience the very best food Italy has to offer:
Eat at a farm to table restaurant
Italy prides itself on fresh produce and you can’t get much fresher than a farm to table restaurant. Kathy from Italia Outdoors Food and Wine explained, “My favourite restaurants to visit are those local places that specialise in the regional dishes and offer the unique seasonal specialities of the area.
“For example, on our Veneto tours, we dine one evening at Pulierin in Bassano del Grappa. A farm to table restaurant where you can begin with an extravagant array of cured beef from their own cows followed with pasta carbonara made with their goose eggs. In May, you can experience the renowned white asparagus from Bassano in risotto, which can only be found locally. Enjoy it with the award-winning wines from their winery, Contra Soarda, including their white Vespaiola, a local grape you won’t find anywhere else in Italy.” Show your appreciation for the fantastic food by researching and familiarising yourself with the food and drink local to the region you are visiting because “they are all extremely proud of the cuisine and culture of their home region,” says Kathy.
Try local specialities
Italy consists of 20 regions, each of which boasts its own specialities. During your time at shore, find a restaurant that appeals to you and don’t be afraid to ask what regional dishes they would recommend. We chatted to Ishita from Italophilia, she told us: “In Italy, one must eat and respect the region they are in. For instance, if you are in Sicily and you ask for a plate of amatriciana pasta, you might get stared at. Afterall, amatriciana is Roman pasta. I would recommend reading a little before travelling to Italy.”
One of Ishita’s favourite places in Italy is Ristorante Regina, which is a stone’s throw away from The Termini Station in Rome, “It is a family-run restaurant with old school interiors and an excellent service, Ristorante Regina is a place you should visit when in Rome. There’s delicious homemade food served by a Roman family. I would recommend trying their fresh ravioli and artichokes. They also make amazing tiramisu. For a hearty meal, such places must be frequented. I love Ristorante Regina for everything simple that it offers and can’t wait to return to say hello to the family again.”
“Favour those who are subject to a healthy dose of competition, that serve the cuisine that is traditional of their region and that rely on returning customers,” Paolo from Disgraces on the Menu. When visiting several restaurants try different dishes, Paolo recommends, “Canderli in Trentino Alto Adige, Agnolotti del Plin in Piedmont, Risotto in Lombardy, Gnocco Fritto in Emilia Romagna, Cjarsons in Friuli, Gnudi in Tuscany, Carbonara in Lazio, Pizza in Campania, Orecchiette in Apulia, Arancini in Sicily. This is just to name a few, of course, the list is so long you can easily spend one month in each region never having the same dish twice.”
Enjoy traditional gelato
Gelato is a popular frozen dessert that can be found throughout Italy. There are two types of gelato; cream-based (crema) and fruit-based (sorbetto). Cafes and restaurants can offer a wide variety of flavours including pistachio, chocolate, hazelnut and pineapple. Stracciatella is a variety of gelato which contains shavings of chocolate. Maria from She Loves Biscotti said, “I highly recommend tasting the artisanal gelato that can be found in every city. Made with fresh and natural ingredients, your taste buds will thank you.”
La Carraia in Florence has been serving up amazing artisan gelatos and desserts since 1990. They sell a range of “classic” gelatos including crema (custard cream), fiordilatte (milk) and variegate amarena (black cherry).
Taste traditional pasta al Pomodoro
Kate from Cooking and Carafes suggests trying a simple pasta al Pomodoro which is just pasta and tomato sauce, “You won’t taste a sauce as good. It needs no other addition as it’s bursting with a flavour all of its own.
“One of my favourite things in Italy is aperitivo, a drink before dinner often served with a plate of antipasti, made up of meat, cheese and olives. Most people will know Aperol Spritz as the drink to have but Campari with soda and a slice of orange is also the perfect start to an evening.” The style of the aperitivo varies depending on which region you are in but they all have the same intention; to whet your appetite and give you a chance to enjoy a leisurely catch up with friends before sitting down for your evening meal.
“Italy will carve a little place in your heat,” Kate told us. “Whether it’s the food, the wine, the people, the scenery - or all four together.”