In association with: Italian National Tourist Board
Pair a city break in Italy with foodie experiences to sample some of the country’s most delectable dishes
When you think of your favourite food, it’s highly likely that dishes from Italy will be near the top of your list. And there’s no better way to enjoy them than in some of Italy’s cosmopolitan towns and cities. Pasta, pizza and gelato are just some of the delicacies that spring to mind when you think of Italian food but nothing beats heading to the country of origin and tasting them for yourself.
A city break in Italy might be just what your customers are after as summer draws to a close. Whether it’s sitting in a charming piazza with an aperol spritz in hand, picking up some tips at a cookery class or sampling a glass or two on a vineyard tour, there are so many culinary experiences to be had across Italy’s cities.
The north of Italy is a foodie heaven, with diverse cities full of mouthwatering traditional Italian dishes. Its mountain ranges, particularly the Italian Alps and the Tyrol region, boast cuisine that takes influence from some of its closest neighbours, Austria and Hungary. Known as the ‘floating city’, Venice is a labyrinth of winding canals and magnificent bridges, which lead to backstreet haunts and some of the city’s best restaurants and cafes.
With so many places to try both in the city and in the wider region of Veneto, a street food tour to sample some of the smaller dishes, known as cicchetti in Venice, is a great way to find some of the eateries most tourists never come across. Foodies should also head to Rialto Market, famous for its fresh fish stalls and fruit and vegetable stands. And after a long day of sightseeing and grazing, take inspiration from the fact that bellinis were invented in Venice, and stop by their place of origin, Harry’s Bar, to try one.
West of Veneto is the northern region of Lombardy, home to some of Italy’s most famous lakes, including Lake Como and Lake Garda. Its largest city, Milan, is one of the fashion capitals of the world, full of trendy shopping streets and high-end stores. Risotto is a Lombardy delicacy, and the Milan variation, risotto alla Milanese, comes with parmesan and saffron.
The surrounding regions of Südtirol, Friuli- Venezia Giulia and Trentino take influence from their northern neighbours, where lots of hearty options including stews, sauerkraut and schnitzels join pizzas and pastas on the menu. Trentino is also home to one of Italy’s wine regions – vineyards surround the city of Trento and visitors can embark on vineyard tours, trying out some of the different red, white and sparkling varieties, and pairing them with food.
Foodies should also head to Rialto Market, famous for its fresh fish stalls and fruit and vegetable stands
Tuscany in the west of Italy is also popular for wine, with several wine-producing regions peppering its rolling countryside. Chianti, a dry red, is a well-known variety from Tuscany, and pairs well with some of the cuisine found across its biggest city Florence, particularly its meat dishes. A bistecca alla Fiorentina, or T-bone steak, is a must for meat-eaters, cooked rare and usually shared with your dining companions.
For a unique foodie experience, head into the beautiful Tuscan countryside to go truffle hunting. Visitors will learn about this much-prized ingredient, head into the countryside with a guide and trained dogs to sniff some out, before getting to taste them at the end.
While several of Italy’s largest cities lie in the north, many of its southern spots lay claim to some of the country’s most famous dishes and delicacies. Naples, for example, is known for its unrivalled pizza, while creamy carbonara is associated with Rome.
The heel of Italy’s boot, Puglia, lines the Adriatic Sea, and city-break visitors to capital Bari can both explore the centre and relax on its beautiful beaches. Bread is a staple dish in Puglia – breadstick-like taralli, soft and oily focaccia, and panzerotti, a calzone-like turnover usually filled with tomato and mozzarella, are some of the most delicious bread-based snacks to try.
Bread is a staple dish in Puglia
Wheat also plays an important role in cuisine from the southern region of Basilicata, with bread and pasta dishes known for being simple but tasty. Meanwhile, Sicily is a fantastic destination for street food. Food tours take place across the coastal capital of Palermo, with everything from risotto-filled arancini to sweet pastry cannoli to try.
Italy requires a green pass for entry into restaurants, cinemas and other indoor venues. The NHS Covid-19 pass is now compatible for entry into these venues.
PICTURES: Shutterstock/Sergey Nemirovskiy,