Let’s have a food trip in bella Italia (lovely Italy)! Over the summer, I travelled all the way to Italy and other than seeing the beautiful sites, my other favorite thing to do was eat the local food. I separated my favorite meals from the trip into three categories, antipasto (appetizer), il secondo (main course), and the dolce (dessert).
There are many types of cheese in Italy. My favorite is parmigiano which is a hard, granular cheese that is mostly grated over pasta dishes. I also recommend trying fresh mozzarella and cheeses from the local grocery store.
Another type of food that goes with cheese is cold cuts. Out of all the antipastos I listed, cold cuts are my absolute favorite. Specifically, the mortadella was amazing. I would recommend getting the mortadella with pistachio for a nice flavorful twist. I usually got cold cuts from the local grocery store and they tasted great!
The next item is focaccia. It’s a flat oven-baked Italian bread product, which is similar to pizza dough. I mainly got this at different bakeries around Italy, especially Venice. If you like pizza, but could also go for something lighter, you have to try focaccia!
Lastly, there’s tramezzino which is usually a triangular sandwich with two slices of white bread without crust and filled with different things. Some of my favorite fillings were shrimp and egg, and also prosciutto. I usually found this in different little stores around the area, especially in Venice.
This food item is pretty common in America, but Italian spaghetti bolognese is a thousand times better. I think it’s because of the different ingredients they use. I read somewhere that Italians use less chemicals in their food, so it tastes more natural.
Another food item that is a must try in Italy is porchetta. It’s a savory and fatty boneless pork roast that’s stuffed with garlic, rosemary, fennel and other herbs. I got a porchetta sandwich at Pane & Vino in Rome. I would say it was my second best meal in Italy because it was so tender and flavorful. Italy does have many porchetterias around, so I definitely recommend trying it when in Italy!
Italian pizza is so much better than American pizza. Italian pizza has a thin crust and is just better (honestly don’t know how to explain it, but it just is).
Bistecca alla Fiorentina
Personally, my favorite il secondo was bistecca alla fiorentina from the Mercato Centrale Firenze—a T-bone steak that’s seasoned with salt, black pepper and olive oil. The bistecca is simply seasoned, but absolutely delicious! I recommend eating bistecca alla fiorentina in Florence because it will be authentic.
Fun fact: I ate gelato almost every day in Italy, which I know is super unhealthy, but we all have to live a bit! Gelato was one of the things I was most excited about in Italy. My favorite flavors are stracciatella (milk-based with chocolate shavings), fragola (strawberry), and nocciola (hazelnut). The best gelato I tried was in Perugia at the Gelataria Veneta. I recommend getting gelato from an artigianale store because that means they make their gelato in store. Homemade is the best!
If you’re addicted to coffee and cake, this is the perfect dessert for you. Tiramisu is a coffee flavored cake with cocoa and coffee powder sprinkled on top. I ate a lot of tiramisu on my cruise and I also had it in Ancona.
Tartufo Ice Cream
Another must try is tartufo ice cream which is composed of ice cream and covered with chocolate. I tried it at a restaurant in the Piazza Navona in Rome. I recommend trying the dark chocolate tartufo because it has a distinct taste which is so good.
The last item on the list is cannoli. I’m not talking about your regular New York cannoli, I’m talking about the real deal here! A Cannoli is a tube-shaped pastry dough shell filled with ricotta cream. I also tried this at the Mercato Centrale Firenze at a little stand that made customizable cannolis, so I got it with pistachio and orange shavings on top. It was very creamy and the dough was so crunchy. If you thought American cannolis were good, Italian cannolis will blow your mind!
Hopefully this Italian food diary made you crave for Italian food because I know it made me crave for some when looking back at pictures. I hope this helps you figure out what to try eating in Italy! Happy eating! Stay tuned for my next adventure!