Italy, with its vibrant culture, rich history and gorgeous landscapes, attracts tourists from around the world eager to sample the delights of its heritage. And that includes literally – as Italian cuisine is one of the world's most popular. So it's not surprising that people flock here for mouth-wateringly delicious, wholesome food, filled with great flavours and fresh produce. The Italians take their food very seriously and delight in showcasing the deep richness that comes from simple but high-quality ingredients.
Il pranzo (‘lunch') is usually the main meal of the day (circumstances permitting) and typically runs through various light courses including antipasti, pasta, fish or meat with vegetables, salad and ending up with coffee and fruit. And whilst you can take Italian cooking classes here, nothing quite beats the experience of sampling authentic delicacies and learning how to cook them in their native region.
The Flexicover Team
lists some of the best places to go in Italy to feed the gastronomic adventurer in you!
While Italian attractions such as the Vatican, Colosseum and Trevi Fountain are definite draws to the capital, to truly get to know the real Rome, go on a culinary tour of the city that lets you sample different delicacies, learn about local food history and visit out of the way unique food stores. Wander the narrow cobbled streets as you discover the cultural identity of Rome through its mouth-watering flavours and centuries-old culinary traditions on one of the many escorted walks on offer. Try visiting the Trastevere or Testaccio districts for interesting trattoria (‘restaurants’) that are away from the usual tourist routes and taste Roman specialities like bucatini all’amatriciana and carciofi alla romana (stuffed artichokes).
Possibly producing the best truffles on the planet, the northern region of Umbria offers a variety of fun experiences centred around this highly-prized ingredient. From truffle tours, that let you sample different preparations, to weekend cookery courses where you can stay in a local farmhouse and learn to make marvellous dishes yourself, there are plenty of options available. One of the most exciting, though, is going truffle hunting with locals and their dogs, searching for these exquisitely flavoured gems that grow underground in the beautiful Umbrian countryside. Olive oil, asparagus and mushrooms are also regional stars and pork plays an important role, particularly in Norcia, famed for its wide array of porcine products like prosciutto and ciauscolo.
No culinary tours of Italy are ever complete without a visit to, or at least the sampling of, the incredible wine and food of Tuscany. Famous for Brunello, Chianti and Montepulciano, this region is the biggest wine producer in the whole country. Spend your time in a historical lodge and enjoy tours of wonderful family-owned wineries, slow food restaurants, picturesque hilltop villages and charming towns that all pay homage to the local food and wine traditions. Tuscan food relies less on pasta than other regions and more on meat and fish. Key things to try include schiacciata con l’uva (focaccia with grapes), a semi-sweet dessert bread, zafferano (red Tuscan saffron) and bistecca alla Fiorentina (Florentine beefsteak).
This is not just one of the most stunning coastlines in the country, but a food-rich region renowned the world over. There are plenty of opportunities here to spend your time tasting and learning how to cook essential Italian treats. Campania is famous for buffalo mozzarella, aubergines, anchovies and, above all, for its lemons (used to make the best limoncello). You could even take a course to learn how to pick the right vegetables or which is the best meat for various preparations. The regional capital is Naples, famed for Neapolitan-style pizzas based on succulent San Marzano tomatoes and for dessert, snack on crispy sfogliatelle washed down with a local red wine.
What good would a cookery holiday in Italy be if you didn’t learn to make the perfect bolognese sauce to go with your pasta! Head to Bologna itself for a quick course in a culinary school to discover the secrets of the rich and flavoursome namesake ragu. Sample the best that the region has to offer in terms of gastronomic delights from prosciutto di Parma (Parma ham) to Parmigiano Reggiano (parmesan cheese) and Modena’s famous balsamic vinegar. Indeed, this region has over 40 products carrying protected geographical status and is considered “Italy’s greatest treasure”! Regional specialities include stuffed pastas (like ravioli and tortellini), chicken cacciatore, chestnut dishes, asparagi ravennati and amaretti biscuits.
Whether you’d like to simply travel Italy, sampling delectable local dishes along your way, or actually spend some time recreating them yourself through an Italian cookery course whilst there, we at Flexicover Direct, are committed to providing you the highest level of protection to ensure that you are safe and secure, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year when away.