Italy is comprised of 20 regions, each of which has unique traditions, history, and dishes.
Whether you are traveling to Italy this summer or you simply enjoy cooking new things at home, we’ve got some delicious suggestions of popular dishes for you to try from different regions of Italy.
Let’s begin in the north. Venezia, or Venice as we know it, is a city located in Northeastern region of Veneto, Italy. Made up of more than 100 small islands in the Adriatic Sea, Venice is built entirely on the water, with the only mode of transportation around the city being by small boats called “gondolas,” on the Grand Canal. Due to rising sea levels, the city of Venice is actually sinking at a rate of approximately 2mm per year.
Popular dish of Venice - Pasta e fagioli
Pasta e fagioli, meaning “pasta and beans” is a typical soup dish of northern Italy. Made up of small pasta, usually elbow macaroni or ditalini, cannellini or borlotti beans, garlic, onion, spices, and stewed tomato, this dish began as a peasant’s dish due to the inexpensive ingredients. Pasta e fagioli can be made vegetarian, or add bacon or pancetta to the mix for added flavor.
The region of Lombardy, located in the north-central part of Italy, is home to the city of Milan, it’s capital and one of the fashion hubs of the world. A sixth of the Italy’s population lives in Lombardy, making it the most populated and the richest region in the country.
Popular dish of Lombardy - Ossobuco milanese
Ossobuco milanese is a typical dish of the Lombardy region of Italy, consisting of veal shanks braised with white wine and vegetables. The dish is usually served over a regional favorite, saffron risotto, and is garnished with a traditional mixture of parsley, garlic and lemon zest known as gremolata.
Located just east of the Italian capital of Rome, on the Adriatic coast, is the region of Abruzzo. Home to three national parks and numerous nature reserves, the area is recognized as “the greenest region in Europe.” This region is also the location of some of the most well preserved medieval hill villages in the country.
Popular dish of Abruzzo - Porchetta abruzzese
Porchetta abruzzese is a pork dish that is slow roasted over wood with rosemary, garlic and pepper. Pork shoulder is the most common cut for this dish, however, often times in Italy, the entire pig will be used for this dish! Depending on the size, the pig is cooked in a wood-burning oven for approximately 6 to 7 hours!
Home to the capital of Italy, Rome, Lazio is a region located in central Italy. The region contains iconic ruins of the Roman Empire and the independent city-state of Vatican City, the center of the Roman Catholic Church. The southern coast of Lazio, along the Tyrrhenian Sea, features a number of beautiful sandy beach towns and resorts.
Popular dish of Lazio - Bucatini all’amatriciana
This delicious pasta dish is made using a thick, spaghetti-like noodle called Bucatini, and topped with sugo all’amatriciana, a red tomato sauce prepared with Pecorino Romano cheese, olive oil, guanciale, a type of italian cured cheek meat, or pancetta. The cured meats add incredible depth of flavor to the dish.
Located between Calabria and Apulia in southern Italy, Basilicata is a region consisting mostly of forest and mountainous areas with approximately 47% of the region covered in mountain ranges. This region is home to the city of Matera, the site of a number of cave-like houses that date back more than 9,000 years.
Popular dish of Basilicata - Piatto del brigante
The region of Basilicata is historically one of the poorest regions in Italy. Therefore, their delicious cuisine is, amazingly, based predominately off of inexpensive ingredients. Piatto del brigante is a traditional dish of the region, prepared with pasta, chickpeas, garlic, basil and fresh tomatoes.
Sicily, an island region of Italy located just south of the Italian Peninsula, is the largest island in the Mediterranean sea. Nestled into its mountainous terrain are a number of volcanoes including the active, Mount Etna. In its history, Sicily was under the control of several different, diverse empires which has helped to shape the unique cultural that it has today.
Popular dish of Sicily - Arancini
Arancini are rice balls that are typically stuffed with mozzarella and peas, fried, and topped with tomato sauce. The word “arancini” means “little orange” in English and the dish was given this name for the small, round shape and orange color they have when cooked. A Sicilian tradition, these rice balls are served at the feast of Saint Lucia every December 13th, commemorating the relief of a severe famine in 1646 in Sicily.