Food & Drink
What You Need to Know About Eating in Italy
When in Italy, there’s one thing that tops every tourist’s bucket list – and that’s usually the food. More than the Colosseum in Rome, the canals in Venice, or the Duomo in Florence, when travelling in Italy, it’s all about the food. But just like navigating the travel scams and long queues for the museums, there are some tricks and hacks to make the most of experiencing the amazing Italian cuisine. Here’s what you need to know:
There’s More Than Spaghetti Bolognese
Italian food is a diverse and varied cuisine, with regional specialties. The most iconic Italian food is probably spaghetti and meatballs, but every city has their own special pastas and sauces. Bolognese comes predictably from the city of Bologna, in Emilia-Romagna—a region of Italy famous for its high-quality food. In Rome, pasta Carbonara is the local dish of choice. And in Puglia, Italy’s breadbasket, the region is famous for its Orecchiette pasta. In Sicily, they eat their pasta with sardines, and in the north pasta is often served with truffles. Even if it’s carb-heavy, pasta is one of those foods that Italians eat every day! It’s such a diverse cuisine and can be paired with all assortments of meats, vegetables, fishes and other foods. It’s usually served as a small side with a main.
Avoid the Tourist Restaurants
A common goal when travelling is always to avoid the tourist traps–those restaurants that appear to be authentic but actually aren’t. Luckily, in Italy, there are so many great ways to find great restaurants. Food tours are a common way of experiencing a new city and generally include a number of visits to different restaurants, markets and bakeries, making them an attractive way to experience a new food culture. But if you’re pressed for time, go for a classic travel tip: ask the locals. In Italy, people love to talk and will happily share their own tips. Look out for restaurants that already seem crowded with locals, don’t be afraid to talk to the people, and enjoy!
Be Careful When Ordering Your Wine
There’s a basic rule when ordering wine in Italy and that’s the fact that pasta with red sauce goes with a red wine, pastas with a white sauce go with a white wine. A sommelier can usually make recommendations, but when you’re dining at smaller restaurants, it’s a simple enough rule to remember. But be warned! There are actually some impossible wine pairings! No wine will complement the flavours of things like bitter cocoa, hot chili peppers, raw artichokes or spinach so keep that in mind when placing your order.
How to Know If It’s Real Gelato or Not
Gelato is just a way of life in Italy, with thousands of gelaterias in every city. But how do you know if it’s the real stuff or not? Easy! Just follow some basic steps:
1. Check the colour – natural ingredients will be naturally coloured!
2. What’s the shape? When the gelato is displayed with huge mounds above the top of the container, then it’s likely not real, full of air and chemicals to make it more fluffy.
3. Check the ingredients! Most cities in Italy require for food shops to display a list of ingredients, so look out for colour additives on the list and you’ll know whether your gelato is real or not.