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Italian Food

What to Eat in Italy


If you're planning a vacation in Italy you may be wondering what to eat. These articles will help you learn about the Italian food you'll find in Italy. Note that in Italy, food varies by region so be sure to explore the regional specialties where ever you go.

Eating Out in Italy - How to Dine

Cafes in ornate galleria
Cultura Travel/WALTER ZERLA/The Image Bank/Getty Images

Italians take food very seriously and eating a good meal in a restaurant or trattoria is one of the pleasures of traveling in Italy. Here's how to get the most out of your dining experience.

Scroll down for guides to foods you'll find in Italy

Classic Italian Dishes

Although food in Italy varies by region, there are some dishes you'll find almost anywhere. My colleague, Kyle Phillips, has a good round-up of classic Italian dishes on About.com's Italian Food site. This will give you a good basic introduction to Italian foods. You'll also find recipes if you want to create these dishes at home.

Italian Regional Cooking

Each region of Italy has its own way of cooking and its own regional specialties. This guide to regional cooking, on About.com's Italian Food site, includes a map of the regions and will help you learn what dishes to eat in the region you're visiting.

Italy Food Books and Apps

Here are more recommended books and moblie apps for foodies and those planning a trip to Italy. You'll find books and apps about eating in Italy and places to eat and drink in Rome, Tuscany, and Venice.

Coffee Drinks and How to Order Them

Finally you'll probably want to go into a bar to have a coffee during the day. Here's what you need to know about ordering to get the kind of coffee drink you want. Note that coffee is not served with the meal in Italian restaurants but it's customary to drink a caffe' (espresso) at the end of your meal.

Fish Gallery - la Galleria del Pesce

Italy is surrounded by water and you'll find an amazing array of fresh fish all along the coast and some of them you may never have seen before. If you like fish, this guide will come in handy to help you choose what fish to order. This fish gallery is one of my favorites on the Italian Food site. My colleague Kyle Phillips took these photos in the fish markets of Florence and Rimini and has included recipes. Wandering through a fish market can be fun and a good way to learn to recognize the fish.

Fruits and Vegetables - Frutta e Verdura

Italy has a wide variety of fruits and vegetables but you'll only find them when they're in season. This illustrated guide to fruits and vegetables, on About.com's Italian Food site, will help you get the ones you want in a restaurant or market. You'll also find out how each is commonly prepared or used in Italian cooking. Local fruit and vegetable markets are colorful and a visit to one will help you see what's in season.

Gelato - Italian Ice Cream

No visit to Italy is complete without eating gelato, one of Italy's top treats. Find out where to find gelato and how to order it.

Pasta Shapes Gallery

Italy has a surprising number of pasta shapes, some you may never even have heard of, and pasta shapes vary by region. Each pasta shape is used for certain types of sauces. This illustrated pasta gallery on the Italian Food site will help you recognize pasta shapes that you might see on a restaurant menu and will give you ideas about dishes you can prepare yourself for each of the shapes.

Pizza Gallery

Pizza in Italy may be different from what you're used to at home. For example many Americans are surprised to find that a pepperoni pizza is a pizza with peppers (pepperoni is the Italian word for peppers). Kyle's illustrated guide to kinds of pizza you may find will help you get the kind of pizza what you want or it might make you want to pack your bags and head to Italy!

Salumi - Italian Cold Cuts

Salumi is the Italian word for cold cuts, which include deli meats like salame (salami in English), prosciutto, pancetta, cured lard, sausages, mortadella. One thing you won't see is pepperoni (in English). In Italy what's called pepperoni in the US would be salame piccante while peperoni are peppers so if you order pizza with peperoni you may not be getting what you think. Kyle Phillips has a gallery of salumi to help you identify what you want to buy at the deli or what's being served for antipasto at a restaurant.

Recommended Reading: Italy for the Gourmet Traveler

For the traveler who is serious about discovering Italian food and regional cuisine, this is an excellent book. Read my review of Italy for the Gourmet Traveler or buy it by clicking on the compare prices link.

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