A stay in any of the delightful villas in Italy is the perfect way to learn about authentic regional Italian cuisine. There is much diversity within the country.
The famous Italian cuisine is definitely one of the best reasons to visit the country; not only is it popular the world over, it is also one of the most recognisable. However, despite the blanket description, the food differs considerably from one region to another—sometimes even from one family to the next! These regional differences are so distinct and fascinating that many companies capitalise on the world’s love for Italian food, with food and wine tours a very popular reason for visitors to book a stay in one of the villas in Italy.
Below, we present several mainstays of Italian cuisine and how the ‘classic Italian’ meal may differ, depending on the region you find yourself in.
Antipasti is the traditional first course or appetizer. For those staying in villas in Italy, a trip to the local market will reveal myriad tasty delights to include in an antipasti platter. Many of the offerings are made fresh daily, with ingredients grown in their own farms or gardens. One delightful example is Sardinian bread with sausages and sweet green olives, or caponata, which is an antipasto made with eggplant, olives, capers and celery (this is a specialty of Sicily). In many regions, another popular antipasto is a selection of the region’s famous cheeses, such as asiago and Monte Veronese in Veneto and caciocavallo, canestrato, ricotta, and mozzarella in Puglia.
It would be impossible to discuss Italian cuisine without mentioning the favourite dish of millions: pasta! Pasta can be as simple and as complex as the maker (or eater!) wishes, but many restaurateurs and hosts of villas in Italy pride themselves on their recipes perfected through the ages. In Sicily, for example, they use the best and freshest ingredients, such as tomatoes, wild fennel, pine nuts, and sultanas, paired beautifully with freshly caught sardines to create the island speciality, spaghetti con le sarde. In Sardinia, potato, mint and pecorino are used to create the delicious culurgiones, or stuffed ravioli. And in Tuscany, the much sought after white truffles are a delectable ingredient in the unbelievably delicious pici – thick, hand-rolled spaghetti.
Anyone staying in any of the coastal or island villas in Italy, in particular, will have plenty of access to freshly caught fish and seafood prepared in the Italian tradition – simply and with love. Many regions specialise in whole fish, often stuffed with something wonderful then grilled or baked. In Sicily, for example, stuffed fried sardines are a standard menu item, as is grilled tuna, swordfish, or snapper. Anchovies, whether fresh or salted, are also a favourite. In Tuscany, triaglie (red mullet) is often used in their cacciucco alla livornese, along with other seafood and fish.
To many a sweet tooth, the most important part of every meal is dessert, and they don’t call life ‘la dolce vita’ here for nothing! There are myriad traditional Italian desserts to sample, either at a local restaurant or café, or at home in your own villas in Italy. Try Tuscany’s famous cavallucci (cookies made with almonds, candied fruits, coriander, and honey); Apulian zeppola (doughnuts topped with powdered sugar and filled with custard, jelly, pastry cream or a butter-and-honey mixture); or Basilicata’s calzoncelli (fried pastries filled with cream chestnut paste and chocolate). And of course, everybody’s favourite, gelatoArticle Submission, is available everywhere – and at anytime.