Food Differences in Italian Regions

As a country focused on the quality of ingredients, Italy’s culinary differences depend on what is readily available and the climate that is in the region. From the snow-capped north to Mediterranean south looking onto Africa, there’s a lot more to the country than pizza and pasta. If anything, that’s just the start. 

While many Italian dishes are similar across the country, differences are seen in their contents and the style of cooking, a trait that families across the country are proud of. 

Drawing in foodies from across the world, Italy is top of the list for a culinary tour of a lifetime. To taste your way across the country on a private tour of Italy, you’ll need to know what regions you cannot miss, here’s an appetiser to wet your lips;

Apulia

In addition to the rich culinary traditions, Apulia’s proximity to the sea makes it a bubbling pot of delicious dishes waiting to be tried. 

The Apulia region is known for its crumbling balls of traditionally produced mozzarella; however, this is only the beginning of the cheeses produced here. With local farms spread across the region, Apulia is also the largest producer of high-quality vegetables for the country. 

In the Middles Ages, Apulia was considered a poor region, as was their cuisine. This was mostly because of the poor quality of goods that were used in their food. However, the poverty of the region has adapted in exciting ways over time. When eating in Apulia, you’ll notice that appetisers are often just as big as the main dish; this is because there was only really ever one meal. 

Today, Apulia is famous for its fresh vegetables and cheese, but bread and pasta will always be the star of the show, washed down with a full-bodied glass of Apulian wine. 

Calabria

Image: Calabria, Osteria

Spread across highlands and mountains, Calabria’s humid climate demands intense flavours that are closely related to Sicilian cuisine with its Arab, Turkish and Greek influence. In Calabria, tomatoes and aubergine are prevalent in every dish. Add a touch of spice and the variety of vegetables and herbs that thrive in the mountainous region, and you’ve got the robust cuisine of Calabria. 

Calabrians are known for their agriculture and getting the most out of the produce in their gardens. With its position in the southern region, Calabria is famous for its preserving methods that inject flavour into the region’s dishes. To accompany the locally grown vegetables, Calabrian spicy sausage is readily available in markets across the region and has mouths watering across the country.

Emilia-Romagna

Almost everything that you think of when it comes to Italian food comes from Emilia-Romagna. Whether it is bolognese from Bologna, balsamic vinegar from Modena, or prosciutto ham from Parma; Emilia-Romagna will fill your cabinet with traditional Italian ingredients. 

The Po River which runs through Emilia-Romagna and fuels the region’s cuisine; from cereals and vegetables to livestock and seafood from the Adriatic Sea. As a farming region, Emilia-Romagna’s traditional dishes are heavily pork-based, along with bold sauces that completed pasta dishes and refined cheeses, such as the infamous Parmigiano Reggiano.

An essential dish while visiting Emilia-Romagna is gnocco fritto, a morish street food snack that started among the farmers of the region. You’ll now find gnocco fritto served up on a board of cold cuts, cheese and bread. 

Campania

With a regional capital of Naples, the first dish to get excited about in Campania is pizza – the perfect introduction to what Campania is capable of and from here on in, it just gets better. South of Naples, you’ll be welcomed into the coastal region of Amalfi where fresh seafood and summer salads are in abundance. 

In Campania, food is famously light and flavoursome like a Caprese salad, where basil, sun-dried tomatoes, mozzarella and olive oil come together to make the very essence of Campanian cooking. 

Conversely, there are also many bold and hearty dishes to try, such as Parmigiana Melanzane. Thin slices of aubergine with Campania’s famous mozzarella to make something similar to lasagne, a comforting dish for many.

Fresh flavours matched by hearty meals run in tandem as you travel throughout Campania: think calamari with the best lemons in Italy in Sorrento, and squid with potato in a rich tomato sauce in Amalfi. The possibilities go on. These ideas come together when you try the pasta dishes of Campania, as the ingredients are simple and subtle to create an all-round delicate meal. All that is needed is a crisp white wine to complete the picture. 

With such diverse flavours from region to region, focusing on what food you would like to gorge on while on a trip to Italy will help you decide where to go. Whether you are looking up to cuddle up with spicy sauces and marinated meats or bask in the sun while nibbling on lightly baked fish and simple salads; you’ll find a region to suit you. 

Eilidh Wilson 

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Born and raised in Scotland, my writing career started in an art studio in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, three years ago. From there, I progressed from strength-to-strength, I travelled around Asia and Europe and found myself in Da Nang, my home for the time being.

Words flow when I am writing about unknown experiences, authentic cuisines and artistic endeavours. I write to find tangibility and emotion through words that you can find through Tripfuser.

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