The Italian Experience: Celebrating the Food
Everyone knows that the Italians are passionate about their food. You can sense this in any Italian restaurant, anywhere in the world, from the tantalizing smells to the redolent faces that take your order. But the image of Italian cuisine has been squashed into something that fits the international palate. Outside Italy, the restaurants serve Italian food. When you’re in Italy, the restaurants serve local food. It’s a Naples restaurant, a Tuscan eatery, or a Bolognan menu. And this is what creates the culinary adventure.
As you explore the cuisine you’ll find that the passion for food isn’t just what is on the table. Enthusiasm for great food starts with the fresh ingredients. The Italian landscape is wonderfully diverse, with every region proud of their own specialties. Farm-to-table has become a trendy restaurant concept around the world. The Italians also have a word for it – it’s just called food. For the locals, there is no other way to dine than to savor the quality of local produce. As you spend more time in Italy you’ll come to recognize the establishments that celebrate food, rather than your dollars.
The Italian Experience: How to Eat Local
Forget TripAdvisor. Ignore the lists of must-visit restaurants. Definitely disregard the Naples pizzeria from the Eat Pray Love movie, where you must now wait two hours just to get through the door. Italy is the fifth most visited country in the world and most people are keen to find authentic food. So, the city streets are packed with authentic restaurants that cater for these tastes. The simple and best way to eat local is to visit any cafe or restaurant where they don’t have a menu in English.
Sure, you can enjoy a magnificent meal at a restaurant inside Milan’s Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II: the food is just as good at a bustling backstreet restaurant two blocks away, just at a quarter of the price. Many of the restaurants popular with tourists do have excellent quality: Pizzeria Da Michele in Naples (from Eat Pray Love is superb). But in a country so passionate about gastronomy, it’s the local restaurants where creativity shines, and the menu doesn’t require a credit card.
Take Rome as an example. You could eat at outstanding local restaurants every day of the year and still be spoilt for choice. Just take a phrasebook and embrace the culinary adventure – within a week you’ll start recognizing the different dishes and ingredients.
The Niche Experience: A Foodie’s Exploration of Italy
The problem in asking an Italian about the best region for food is that they will all say “home.” Italy’s cuisine is incredibly regional, and every Italian prefers the gastronomy from their region. Rather than being the classic tourist looking for the best Italian pizza everywhere you go, explore the culinary traditions of different regions with weekend trips and short stays around the country.
Risotto in Milan – The famous rice dish originated from the northern Lombardy region.
Steak in Tuscany – Check out bistecca alla fiorentina, a t-bone steak from maremma cows.
Pasta in Rome – While the capital has naturally incorporated influence from across Italy, the Romans are famous for their pasta. Carbonara is the world-famous example. Keep exploring the menu as the other dishes are as tasty and exotic as they sound: Cacio e pepe, da danilo, bucatini all’Amatriciana.
Pizza in Naples – It’s only 75 minutes on the train from Rome. And it’s worth the journey just for a pizza.
Everything in Bologna – The cute northern city is the gastronomic capital of Italy and the markets are full of incredible local produce. Best of all, tourists don’t know about it yet.
Desserts in Sicily – Perhaps a cannoli or a cassata to finish your culinary journey.
So, are you ready to start your culinary adventure in Italy? We depart for Rome in April 2018! With our new mediterranean itinerary, you'll join 45 adventuresome adults on a 90-day, life-changing journey to Italy, Spain and Greece. Plus, if you secure your spot before 2018, you'll be entered to win free airfare to Rome, our destination city! Click below to learn more about this incredible trip: