The Best Food Cities In Italy and What to Eat When You’re There

Thinking of finally visiting Italy? There are many reasons so many travelers love bella Italia and travel to the many unique regions — accessible ancient history, beautiful architecture, and incredible scenery, and you should see it all. But if you’re a foodie heading to Italy, above all else go for the food!

For foodies, Italy is arguably a top destination for its simple and diverse Italian cuisine featuring seasonal local ingredients. From north to south, east to west, the traditional foods of Italy, signature dishes, and wines of Italy's 20 distinct regions reflect what makes each unique — the climate, soil, natural resources, cultural traditions, and of course the region’s proximity to the sea.

From the Alps to the Mediterranean Sea, Italy’s food is considered one of the tastiest cuisines in the world.

With such diversity in food, it’s impossible to say which is Italy’s best region for food, though maybe not for Italians — naturally, their region is always the best! But knowing that each region has some incredible signature dishes and food experiences, we can at least help you find the best food cities in Italy within each region.

When it comes to food, Italy has an incredible rainbow of dishes and street foods that vary with what each region claims as its own, with bread, wine, pasta, meat and cheeses remaining constant in every local cuisine. And how great is that!

Here are the best cities in Italy for food in each of Italy’s unique regions.

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Best Food Cities in Italy: By Region

(Click Region to Jump Ahead)

AbruzzoBasilicataCalabriaCampaniaEmilia RomagnaFriuli-Venezia GiuliaLazioLiguriaLombardyMarcheMolisePiedmontPugliaSardiniaSicilyTrentino-Alto AdigeTuscanyUmbriaValle d’AostaVeneto


1. Pescara

Located on the coast of one of Italy’s most scenic regions, the city of Pescara lives up to its name with an abundance of fresh seafood as well as livestock and agricultural products grown inland and in the mountains. There are a lot of choices for local cuisine including markets, cafes, and two Michelin star restaurants.

What to Eat When You’re There:

  • Arrosticini Abruzzesi — You can’t go to Abruzzo without trying these skewers of meat from a castrated sheep or lamb. They are cooked over hot coals on a grill made just for cooking the skewers. Grilled until neither too rare nor too well-done, the meat is given a light sprinkle of salt just before being removed from the grill. Sweet, tender, and delicious!

  • Cozze Ripiene — This dish as you would expect is very popular on the coast. The star of the dish is locally harvested mussels that have been stuffed with a breadcrumb mixture that combines eggs, parmesan cheese, garlic, parsley, and olive oil. The dish is finished with just a bit of tomato sauce.

A valley in the Abruzzo Region, Italy


2. Potenza

Bread and pasta lovers, this one’s for you! All the pasta in Basilicata is hand made from the region’s own durum wheat. With an abundance of very good restaurants, most all specialty dishes of the region can be found here.

What to Eat When You’re There:

  • Matera Bread — These are crusty loaves of Italian bread with a nice soft crumb (inside) for which Basilicata is famous. In fact, it’s so famous here that it carries the IGP trademark, Protected Geographical Indication, and has been recognized as a regional specialty by Slow Food. Bread lovers consider this to maybe be the best bread in Italy. We’ll get back to you on that.

  • Orecchiette — ‘Little ears’ are the typical pasta of Puglia and Basilicata (and there are over ten fresh pastas produced here) and used in making some the most famous Italian pasta dishes. They are usually served along with seasonal vegetables like rapini.

  • Senise Peppers — Having just a mild spiciness, Senise peppers are sweet and crunchy. The flesh has only a low level of water making these peppers especially good for drying and grinding into a powder. This pepper is an IGP product and when ground is used in making cured meats, cheeses, and as a flavoring in a variety of dishes.

Crusty Italian bread from Matera

Nervous about getting off the beaten path at Italy’s local restaurants? Be sure and read our Essential Guide to Italian Food Phrases for ordering food in Italian!


3. Cantanzaro

When you think “best food city in italy” the city of Cantanzaro may not come to mind, but it should. The city’s undiscovered cuisine showcases the region’s simplest of ingredients — spicy peppers, olive oil, soppressata, and bread, wonderful homemade bread. There are many excellent restaurants serving traditional Calabrian food — so much so that this city should be a must-stop on any Italy Foodie’s bucket list.

What to Eat When You’re There:

  • Nduja — This strong but tasty Calabrian salami is one of the best known foods from the region. It has a creamy texture and is spiced with peperoncino. It is enjoyed mixed into sauces for pasta dishes, eaten with cheeses, and spread on grilled bread.

  • Caciocavallo di Ciminà — Although caciocavallo cheese is made throughout southern Italy, this one produced in Calabria is so good that it has been awarded Slow Food protection. It is eaten with bread, salads, and vegetables or added as an ingredient to many dishes.

Nighttime view of the Calabrian coast from the sea


4. Naples

Naples is all about pizza, dried pasta, spicy red sauce, seafood, and fried squash blossoms. This city has to be the culinary capital of southern Italy. Seafood is of course featured on every menu, but Naples also draws from the agricultural traditions farther inland. The cuisine of Campania is as eclectic as it is delicious, and the city has more Michelin stars than any other city in Italy.

What to Eat When You’re There:

  • Pizza — When it comes to finding the best pizza in the world, we don’t think there’s any contest. Naples has the best pizza on the planet! Delicate thin dough topped with tomato sauce, a few pieces of bufala mozzarella, just a few sprigs of fresh basil and then baked at a high temperature in a brick oven — this stuff is what pizza dreams are made of. It’s not only one of the best street foods in Naples, it’s one of their most famous dishes period.

  • Sfogliatelle Riccia — This incredibly delicious shell-shaped pastry is one of Italy’s most traditional desserts, and one of the most popular street foods in Naples! The ubiquitous pastry is made with a thin flaky dough filled with a ricotta cheese mixture that can have small pieces of candied fruit, chocolate chips, or a flavoring like almond. We’ve had them for breakfast — shamelessly! — and several following throughout the day!

  • Cuoppo — The classic cone of paper is served by street food vendors throughout the city. The variety of items in a cup is limited only by what’s locally available. Choose from rice balls, fried potatoes, deep fried battered squid and fish, fried mozzarella, or vegetables. You can’t miss.

Emilia Romagna

5. Bologna

Known by many as the ‘culinary capital of Italy’, the city of Bologna is arguably the best food city in Italy, but then again, it’s a city that’s become a favorite over the years. Food here leans heavy toward meat, and combines with fresh local ingredients to make a good number of stick-to-your-ribs dishes.

Similar to the food in Modena, Bologna shares many similar staple ingredients and dishes with Modenese food as the two are sister cities in Emilia Romagna.

Bolognese cuisine claims some of the most iconic foods in all of Italy — chapters can be written about the food in Bologna, and the government regulation and protection afforded their specialty items. Foodies and first timers to Bologna should start their culinary tour of Emilia Romagna with the famous trio of foods: balsamic vinegar, parmigiano reggiano cheese, and prosciutto ham. When you go, don’t miss strolling the Quadrilatero, Bologna’s oldest market and shop for some of your favorite foods to take home.

What to Eat When You’re There:

  • Tortellini — Typically stuffed with a meat mixture, the small iconic pasta is served in brodo (in a chicken or beef broth) or with a cream and ham sauce. Its larger version, tortellino, is served with sauce or butter and herbs. Tortellacci is the largest of the navel-shaped pastas and is generally served with a light sauce of garlic and oil.

  • Tagliatelle — This long flat pasta is made with eggs added to the dough and served with a Bologna style ragu, known the world over as Ragú Bolognese. Warming and filling, it’s a staple on menus throughout the city.

  • Lasagne — This dish changed our aversion to dry, tomato-based lasagne forever. Layers of spinach pasta, alternately layered with bechamel sauce, Bolognese red sauce, and parmigiano reggiano make as unique a pasta dish as found anywhere in Italy.

  • Truffles — This exquisite fungi are the cherry on top of already delicious food. Italian truffles can be found in parts of Emilia Romagna, Umbria, Tuscany, and Marche, and the morsels are unearthed by highly trained truffle dogs (not pigs). Try a restaurant that specializes in all things truffle like Trattoria Amerigo 1934 in the town of Savigno that specializes in truffle dishes!

Tagliatelle in Bologna, Italy

Friuli-Venezia Giulia

6. Trieste

If you’ve tired of the hordes of tourists and long queues in Venice, hop on a train and head north to the port city of Trieste. This region of northern Italy has been deeply influenced by its Austro-Hungarian neighbors by way of Austria, Slovenia, and Croatia, but still exhibits a close relationship with Venetian cuisine. Coffee lovers will love the vibrant cafe scene in Trieste thanks in large part to illy, maker of exceptional Italian espresso that is produced only in Trieste.

What to Eat When You’re There:

  • Jota — A stew of Slovenian influence particularly the Istrian coast. Made with capuzi garbi, sauerkraut, it’s origins go back nearly 500 years. Add seasonal local beans and potatoes, some smoked Cragno sausage or pork and you’ve got a belly filling stew.

  • Sardoni Impanai — A very popular dish in Trieste made by breading and deep frying pilchards (a lot like anchovies but larger) in olive oil. The dish is eaten hot or cold and is a local favorite.

  • Minestra de Bisi Spacai — This traditional local specialty is made with dried peas, some onion or shallots, and sausage or pork. It’s simmered for a couple of hours until the peas break down and the meat becomes tender. Also known by its Austrian name, Bunkersuppe. The term originated from the nutritious soup being served to Austrian soldiers in, yes, bunkers, and has remained in the local vernacular.

A canal in Trieste, Italy


7. Rome

Without a doubt Rome is one of the best cities in Italy for food! But how could we narrow down the specialties in Roman cuisine to just a few dishes? It’s a daunting task! There are so many unique dishes that can be had in Rome. Whether you like pasta or distinct novelty dishes, you’re in for some very special treats.

What to Eat When You’re There:

  • Carbonara — The dish is made with either rigatoni or spaghetti, pancetta, egg yolk, Pecorino Romano (made from aged sheep’s milk), sometimes with a bit of Parmigiano Reggiano added, and black pepper. Every cook in Rome clings to their version of the dish, but one thing is certain. You can’t go wrong ordering Carbonara in Rome.

  • Cacio e Pepe‘Pecorino Romano and Black Pepper’ — Just these two ingredients are combined with a bit of the pasta water for a smooth consistency. This may seem like a pretty basic pasta dish, but make no mistake, nowhere else makes it like Rome.

  • Carciofi alla Giudia — Jewish style fried artichokes — Lovers of artichokes rejoice. These amazing tender thistles are now available in restaurants and trattorias all year. There are also Carciofi Romanesco, the famous local Roman artichoke that the EU has designated PGI, Protected Geographical Indication. These are seasonal and can be had fresh only during the colder months.

  • Suppli — These fried rice balls are a favorite street food around the city. Not quite the same as arancini found in Sicily that are stuffed with a ragu sauce and peas. They are a mixture of rice cooked with with sausage, ground meat, and often chicken giblets, the heart, liver, and gizzard. The rice is formed into a ball stuffed with a piece of mozzarella then breaded and deep fried.

There are more and more variations of this traditional theme popping up as cooks become more creative with local ingredients.

Sunset view of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome


8. Genoa

Liguria is known as the Italian Riviera with sumptuous resort towns, rocky but popular beaches, and the city of Genoa as its crowning jewel. But Genoa has another claim to fame — its cuisine. Blessed with ideal conditions for growing vegetables, olives, and herbs, Genoa food excels in simple dishes that showcase local regional ingredients.

What to Eat When You’re There:

  • Pesto — The recipe has many variations, but at its heart is basil. Italians agree that the best Genoese basil comes from Pra, west of the city. Who are we to argue?

    Pungent and sweetly aromatic with a peppery taste, basil is unmistakable. The classic pesto recipe includes fresh basil, pecorino and parmigiano cheeses, pine nuts (pignoli), garlic, a bit of sea salt, and extra virgin olive oil. It’s all processed together to create a smooth sauce.

  • Trofie, a short twisted pasta, mixed with pesto is a favorite. The herb is so treasured here that an annual festival, Sagro del Pesto, is held in Pra.

  • Focaccia — Typical in Liguria and Genoa, this simple flatbread has a soft crust exterior and a soft interior. It has a slight rise, like pizza dough, and is a bit chewy. Sometimes pieces are just torn from the loaf to be eaten as is, or cut into portions and sliced to make sandwiches. The flat loaf is served plain or with toppings such as olive oil, olives, onions, or herbs.

Don’t forget to pair your dinner in Liguria with a local and traditional beverage. There are several unique Italian drinks that originate from this region, including the light and refreshing wine called Sciacchetra!


9. Milan

Home to the headquarters of Italy’s business industry and the world’s premier fashion industry, Milan is also known for its magnificent Duomo (cathedral), one of the largest in Europe. when it comes to unique local food dishes that are rich and flavorful, one could argue Milan is the best place in Italy for food as well.

Many of the dishes in Milan and Lombardy as a whole reflect a German/Austrian influence. Look for hearty stews like savory Osso Buco, rice dishes, and an abundance of meats and cheeses on the menu.

What to Eat When You’re There:

  • Osso Buco — The term for one of Milan’s most famous dishes literally translates to, well, bone hole, so named for the piece of attached bone showing the marrow. The traditional dish is made by braising veal shanks with red wine and vegetables until super tender and succulent. The meat is topped with a bit of gremolata, a blend of parsley, garlic, and lemon zest, and served with polenta or risotto all Milanese.

  • Risotto alla Milanese — This is a simple classic rice dish made incredible by the addition of saffron. It’s cooked until creamy and infused with the flavor of the saffron. It is eaten by itself or often as an accompaniment to meat.

Milan, Italy


10. Ancona (Marche)

Located three and a half hours south of Venice, this seaport on Italy’s Adriatic coast has changed hands over the centuries and was a center for trade with countries on the other side of the Adriatic Sea. Equally over the centuries, that contact with other has led to a great many influences on the cuisine. Seafood, pork, unique cheeses, and flat wide pasta made with eggs are staples in Ancona and the Marche Region.

What to Eat When You’re There:

  • Vincigrassi — The signature dish of the region is made with alternating layers of flat pasta, a ragu made from chicken giblets, other animal parts and offal. For this dish, béchamel sauce is added between layers, but don’t confuse the casserole with Bolognese lasagne. It has its own characteristics and is a favorite on menus.

  • Stoccafisso All’anconetana — Its actual origins are unknown but the recipe for this traditional dish has remained relatively unchanged for 500 years. The main ingredient is most often dried cod fish. Layers of fresh tomatoes, onion, garlic, celery, carrots, potatoes, and herbs are added. The combo is topped with a glass of white wine then cooked for at least two hours.

The port city of Ancona, Italy on the Adriatic Sea


11. Isernia (Molise)

In the southern region of Molise, the town has a rich history dating to ancient Roman times. The Fraterna Fountain built in the 13th century from solid stone slabs from Roman ruins is the town’s famous symbol. Specialties in the region include truffles, cannellini beans, olive oil, cured meats, and cheeses made from goat and sheep milk the most famous of which is caciocavallo cheese.

What to Eat When You’re There:

  • Fusilli and cavatelli - These traditional pastas are found everywhere in the Molise Region and Isernia. They are used in dishes in a variety of ways, but the most popular is with vegetables and a tomato based lamb sauce.

  • Caragnoli — We love pastry especially when it’s local and unique. This incredible pastry is a Christmas tradition. Usually formed into the shape of a rose, and other patterns depending on the chef, the sweet dough is deep fried and generously slathered with honey. Your sweet tooth will be very happy.


12. Turin

Turin is a vibrant food city with a rich history. Period architecture, piazzas, parks, art galleries, and museums along with plenty of restaurants make a visit here worth the time.

Many specialties here revolve around dairy products. For example, butter is used as a cooking fat instead of olive oil. Antipasti (a traditional Piedmont specialty), agnolotti pasta, and great wine are but a few of this city’s unique regional cuisine.

And if you can somehow figure out how to get some local cheese home in your suitcase without it smelling up everything inside, it’s a perfect gift from Italy for your foodie friends, or just you!

What to Eat When You’re There:

  • Agnolotti — A lot like ravioli, this egg based pasta is stuffed with lamb, beef, rabbit, vegetables, or pork. The stuffed pockets can be boiled like any other pasta, pan fried in butter, served with a ragu sauce, or in beef broth with butter and herbs. If you’re lucky enough to visit during truffle season, agnolotti are very popular garnished with shaved truffles.

  • Bagna Cauda — Literally meaning ‘hot bath’, the dish is made with anchovies, garlic, butter, and olive oil. It’s kept warm over its own special burner. Fresh vegetables are then dipped into the mixture much like a fondue. Delicioso!


13. Bari

The capital city of Puglia (Apulia in English) is an important seaport on the Adriatic Sea in southern Italy. The cuisine includes seafood, lamb, pork, horse meat, vegetables and greens. Cavatelli is a very popular pasta that is used in a variety of dishes. Altamura bread and taralli, a ring of dough baked until hard much like a pretzel, are specialties of the region.

What to Eat When You’re There:

  • Orecchiette Cime di Rapa — This ‘little ears’ pasta is a favorite especially when tossed with rapini (cime di rapa), aka broccoli rabe, suggesting it’s a member of the broccoli family. It’s not. It’s actually in the turnip family. It doesn’t matter which family it belongs to. Its slightly bitter taste is loved with orecchiette, some grated pecorino cheese, and crushed red pepper flakes.

  • Riso Patate e Cozze - Rice, potatoes, and mussels is a traditional dish in Bari. Fresh mussels are stuffed with a breadcrumb and garlic mixture then layed with potatoes. The layers are topped with raw rice then breadcrumbs and a splash of olive oil. The liquor from the mussels is added to enhance the dish’s flavor, and baked in the oven until the breadcrumbs are a golden brown.

Orecchiette Cime di Rapa


14. Cagliari

The largest city on the island of Sardinia, the ancient city of Cagliari is today the cultural and political center on the island. With enough history and Art Nouveau architecture to please any history buff, the city is also central to the beaches and clear azure waters on the southern end of the island. Being an island completely surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea, seafood is at the heart of Sardinian cuisine followed closely by lamb and pork.

What to Eat When You’re There:

  • Spaghetti ai Ricci di Mare — This dish may not be for everyone, but if you enjoy sushi and raw fish, Spaghetti with Sea Urchin is for you. The dish is only available from November until April to keep the fishing practice sustainable and protect the viability of the species. Referred to as ’roe’ (fish eggs), it’s actually the gonads from the urchin that are eaten adding a salty sweetness to the dish that should never taste fishy. If you’re visiting Sardinia, you have to at least give it a try.

  • Malloreddus — A typical dish in Cagliari this is a small gnocchi-like pasta that’s ridged and has a more open groove than cavatelli to better collect sauce and cheese. The dough is made using semolina flour and saffron. This pasta is served with a tomato sauce and grated pecorino cheese.

Spaghetti ai Ricci di Mare (Spaghetti with Sea Urchin)


15. Palermo

The island of Sicily’s strategic location in the Mediterranean Sea —100 miles north of the African continent, just 60 miles from Italy to Malta, and separated from mainland Italy only by the Start of Messina — made it a prize for invading armies for millennia. When it comes to food, there are many cities on the island that showcase how diverse Sicilian food specialties are, but none better than Palermo.

This capital city was part of the Roman Empire but successive invasions have given rise to an amalgam of food styes and recipes unique to the island. Famous for delicious street food, seafood, and food markets, the city, like all of Sicily, has an extensive cuisine. For starters here’s what we recommend.

What to Eat When You’re There:

  • Arancini — Introduced by Arabs, in Sicily these rice balls are called arancine, but no matter what they’re called, they are some of Sicily’s best street foods. A ball of rice is shaped around a filling of ragú with meat, ragú with peas and carrots, different cheeses, and sometimes eggplant or mushrooms. Fillings vary from place to place and day to day. Once filled, the balls (also cone shaped) are breaded and deep fried. We never get tired of these.

  • Granita di Mandorle — Sicilian almond granita is eaten not as a dessert, but for breakfast with a brioche roll and espresso. Granita is a Sicilian invention that probably started with occupying Arabs. It’s almost frozen water that’s been flavored with fruits or nuts.

    Found everywhere on the island, the granita in Palermo tends to be coarser than other areas. A small glass bowl of the almond flavored granita is a great way to start the day and to beat the heat.

Sicilian breakfast of Granita di Mandorle with brioche

Trentino-Alto Adige

16. Trento

This mountainous area in the South Tyrol Region is a favorite of skiers, and the Trento area offers some of the best powder in Italy along with jaw-dropping panoramic landscapes and stunning historic architecture to go with it. The food of this part of northern Italy is just as hearty as the scenery — unique from the areas further south. The Tyrolean food of Trentino-Alto Adige is a blend of Austro-Hungarian and Venice cuisines.

You won’t find pasta dishes laden with tomato sauce, but rather heavier recipes using butter and buck wheat. Beef, pork, and poultry are raised and wild game meats like rabbit and venison are used extensively. The food here is unique and it’s delicious.

What to Eat When You’re There:

  • Canederli — These dumplings or large gnocchi are a traditional peasant dish made using stale bread (it’s got to be stale), milk, eggs, onions, parsley or other herbs that are available locally. Sometimes they are made with speck, cheese, spinach, or even cabbage. Rolled into one and a half inch balls inch balls, sometimes a bit larger, the dumplings are boiled in meat stock then served in the stock. We’ve had them browned in a skillet with a bit of butter. Just a couple will fill you up making them a favorite with trekkers and skiers in winter.

  • Polenta — A traditional staple cornmeal food in Trentino Alto Adige cuisine, but it may contain potatoes or buckwheat instead of or in addition to cornmeal. It is often served with wild game or mushrooms and liberally flavored with butter and cheese.


17. Florence

The ‘Renaissance City’ is without a doubt one of the most striking in the world. The city should be on everyone’s Italy bucket list, but the size of the city and the sheer number of historic sites make planning a stay a bit daunting. Once you’ve settled on how long you’ll be staying and how many days you’ll stay in Florence, it’s time to start exploring the food of Florence.

What to Eat When You’re There:

  • Bistecca Fiorentina — If you’re a meat eater, you’ll love Tuscany — one of the most iconic foods in Florentine cuisine is pure carnivore heaven. It’s basically a T-bone steak, usually a porterhouse cut that has the most tenderloin on one side of the bone and a strip steak on the other. The steak is at least two inches think and can weigh as much as three pounds. Roasted over hot coals and served rare, it is a formidable meal easily shared by two.

  • Ribolitta — A stick to your ribs stew that uses a generous amount of seasonal greens, veggies, cannellini beans, a good bit of olive oil, and stale bread — it has to be stale or at least a day old. Seasoning for this Tuscan favorite varies with the chef, but topped with grated parmigiano cheese, some croutons, and a drizzle of olive oil make it a feast on the Florentine menu. If you like it as much as we do, try making this easy version at home!

  • Lampredotto — This popular food is one of the most beloved Tuscan foods made from tripe, the lining of a cow’s stomach and a favorite Florence street food. Typically served on slices of oiled focaccia or hearty Tuscan bread, it makes a comforting sandwich at street stalls throughout the city.

Ponte Vecchio over the Arno River, Florence, Italy


18. Perugia

Not quite so touristed as some of its neighbors, Perugia is still great place to spend a little time. Home to one of the oldest universities in Italy, beautiful Etruscan and Gothic architectures, and a wide choice of cafes, boutiques, and restaurants will make for an enjoyable visit. There is of course great Umbrian style cuisine, but it is chocolate made by Perugina that might steal the show.

What to Eat When You’re There:

  • Ragù di Cinghiale — Having Tuscan origins doesn’t stop this from being a very popular dish here. Bursting with flavor this tomato based stew uses wild boar as its meat. Cooked slowly to allow the meat to become tender, the sauce is served over any kind of pasta on hand. A favorite is strangozzi, a spaghetti length almost square pasta that really grabs a lot of the sauce.

  • Brustengolo — This dessert is a typical Perugian specialty. This is classic poor man’s food made using corn meal and lots of dried fruits like raisins, figs, apples, walnuts, and hazelnuts. Save room after dinner for this sweet treat.

Valle d'Aosta

19. Aosta

If you enjoy skiing, backpacking, and hiking this area close to Switzerland and France should be on your short list. The regional capital, it has a long history that can be traced back to Roman times. The city is an easy day trip from Milan or Turin, and is only 30 minutes from the Italian end of the Mont Blanc tunnel at Courmayeur.

What to Eat When You’re There:

  • Carbonada Valdostana — A typical dish of the area, this hearty stew combines beef, onions, wine, and aromatic spices. Sometimes served with pappardelle, it’s most often served over polenta.

  • Fontina Val d’Aosta DOP — An authentic typical cheese made from the milk of cow breeds raised in Valle d’Aosta. After aging, the cheese has a delicate sweet flavor and is used for making fondues. The fondues are often served before or after heartier courses.

Lago Bleu and the Alps, Aosta Valley, Italy


20. Venice (Veneto)

Venice is a city known for its maze of canals, markets, and bridges — the list of historic sites and captivating architecture around every corner seems endless. As for Venetian food, the wealth of local foods produced in the surrounding low-lying flood plains and caught in the nearby lagoon is staggering.

Food in Venice is influenced by the Austro-Hungarian culture to the north, and the bountiful Po Valley to the south near Emilia Romagna, which to us is a natural recipe for exciting cuisine. Venice is a lot of things, but it may surprise you to know it’s one of the best food cities in Italy, for two unique reasons. First, seafood. Fresh frutti di mare is on just about every menu. Second, cicchetti. Venice’s take on tapas is a cultural experience you don’t want to miss.

What to Eat When You’re There:

  • Sarde in Saor — A traditional dish of Venice, these sweet and sour sardines are one of the tastiest dishes that we had. The dish features fried or broiled fresh sardines topped with onions that have been stewed in vinegar then combined with raisins and pine nuts. The dish is served chilled or at room temperature

  • Baccalà Mantecato — This Venetian classic is made using salt cod that’s been softened by first soaking in water then gently simmered in milk (helps to get rid of any saltiness that’s left). the cooked fish is then mashed or placed in a food processor with olive oil, garlic, and parsley. Formed into small patties, with polenta, or spooned from a bowl onto bruschetta, creamed patties of codfish are delicious to have with a bottle of Venetian white wine.


Which one of Italy’s amazing food cities is next on your list?