Italy has been our go-to food paradise for over 20 years. Having traveled to nearly every region, we’ve uncovered where to find some of the best food in Italy. While this post only scratches the surface of where to eat in Italy, it will certainly help you plan the ultimate foodie tour of Italy.
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Planning Your Food-Focused Italian Bucket List
Italy checks all the boxes for a destination with vibrant food cultures, food markets and museums, incredible architecture, rich history, and fine-dining restaurants.
However, you must plan to get the best out of your trip. The first thing to decide is when to go to Italy. The winter is good for Alpine ski resorts, autumn is suitable for wine harvest, summer for beach vacations, and spring for road trips.
You should also identify where you want to go. But to enjoy all the various dishes, you should travel to all the regions: northern, central, and southern Italy. Though it may be challenging to visit all the provinces at once, the ultimate foodie tour of Italy should include all of them.
You can leverage search apps and tools to find the ideal locations and make reservations whenever needed. Check the schedule and opening hours of the places you intend to visit. Finally, it would be best if you learned the dining customs and etiquette of the locals.
The Best Italian Destinations For Food Lovers
Italy is a perfect destination for a food tour because it offers various regional cuisines. We have listed the best destinations for your Italy food tour.
Amber and I fell in love with Bologna after our first visit back in 2016. We first learned about Bologna after watching No Reservations and couldn’t believe our eyes. Here’s a city responsible for lasagna, mortadella, and tagliatelle al ragu and we haven’t been there? Needless to say, our 2016 trip wasn’t our last trip. In total, we’ve visited Bologna and the rest of Emilia-Romagna nearly a dozen times.
For us, Bologna is THE culinary capital of Italy. Don’t even try arguing with us, you won’t change our minds. With the nickname “la Grassa” (the Fat One), you can tell people in Bologna take their food seriously. The sheer volume of food is staggering with tons of trattorias, restaurantes, and food markets throughout the city.
As we said, Bologna, as well as the region of Emilia-Romagna, has arguably the best food in Italy. The region is home to a vast number of DOP (Protected Designation of Origin) food products. This ensures the highest quality ingredients are being used. For any tourist on a foodie tour of Italy, Bologna has to be your first and last stop.
If you are looking for the best culinary Italian experience, Bologna is the place to go. You’ll find everything from high-end Michelin Star dining, to family-run restaurants. Even after nearly a dozen trips to Bologna, we are still discovering new places to experience.
One of our favorite things to eat in Bologna is gnocco fritto. Gnocco fritto is a famous bread most common in Bologna. It’s a deep-fried bread puff often served with soft cheese, mortadella, or prosciutto. By no means, should you skip on gnocco fritto.
Are You Heading To Bologna? Check Out Our Full Bologna Food Guide What To Eat In Bologna Italy
Italian food products from Modena are some of the most famous in the world. Modena is known for its rich cuisine, wonderful cheese, and barrel-aged balsamic vinegar. Tourists on a food tour in Italy flock to this city to sample flavors that cannot be replicated anywhere else.
Some of the most significant heritage foods anyone on a foodie tour of Italy should sample are prosciutto ham and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.
Prosciutto is a cured ham and can either be di Parma or di Modena, depending on its origin. The ham comes from Italian-raised pigs and is salted, cured, and aged. Its flavor makes it a must-have dish if you are on Italian food travel.
Also called the king of cheese, Parmigiano Reggiano can only be produced in Modena, Bologna, Parma, or Reggio Emilia. The process used in making this cheese is different and makes it so good and unique that lactose-intolerant people can consume it.
Trattoria Aldina is one of the best restaurants because it focuses on Modenese cuisine. Pasta is one of their best dishes and a slow-roasted pork shin known as stinco.
Are You Heading To Modena? Check Out Our Full What To Eat In Modena Restaurant And Food Guide
Parma is an excellent destination if you want to find the best food in Italy and is a perfect destination for anyone who wants to understand Italian cuisine. There are numerous food museums to visit if you are on an Italy food tour.
Prosciutto di Parma DOP is a cured meat you must have if you want real culinary Italy experiences. This meat is generally Parma ham, and its production is highly regulated and limited to the area around Parma. This ham has only four ingredients: Italian pigs, air, salt, and time.
Culatello di Zibello DOP, the king of Salumi, is another must-try dish. It has more strict regulations than prosciutto, thus more difficult to produce. Culatello is aged for at least ten months in a cantina or cave, with exposure to the fog and air of the Po River.
You can enjoy your prosciutto served with a variety of bread, such as the fluffy torta fritta. But where can you taste these Parma delicacies? Ristorante Gallo D’Oro focuses on the local cuisine of the region.
Are You Heading To Parma? Check Out Our Full Parma Food Guide Where To Eat In Parma Italy
Turino, the capital of Piedmont, is an important cultural region in Northern Italy. You can find the best northern Italian foods in Turino. Ingredients play the most significant role in the difference between the recipes from this region and those from Southern Italy.
If you’re on a foodie tour of Italy and you visit Turino, there are two things you will not miss: cheese and pasta.
Though most people think that pasta is Italy’s national food, cheese is one thing you won’t miss if you are eating in Italy. Almost all restaurants in Turino have all sorts of dishes with some of the most popular Piedmont cheese.
Bagna Cauda is a must-try if you are visiting Turino. Its main part is the sauce, a mixture of milk, garlic, and anchovies. And there is a way to eat the sauce, which is served fondue-style in a pot with a flame beneath to keep it hot. To scoop up the sauce, use grilled vegetables, mostly celery, peppers, endives, or fennel, and not utensils.
If you want a fine restaurant where you can taste Piedmont cuisine, you can visit Ristorante Del Cambio and have the elaborate six-course tasting menu.
Genoa, the capital of Liguria, is known for its narrow streets where there is no shortage of tiny cafes. It is an excellent destination if you are on a culinary tour of Italy because it is filled with street food made from local ingredients.
Most Ligurian cuisine focuses on pasta, fish, vegetables, and bread. Two of the best inventions that the city gave to the world are focaccia and pesto. You can snack on these two delicacies in one of the tiny cafes. And don’t forget to try farinata, a savory chickpea pancake.
Pesto Genovese is also a popular food to eat in Genoa. It includes Ligurian olive oil, Genovese Basil, cheese, garlic, pine nuts, and salt. The bright green sauce is served with various pasta dishes and is one of the best food in Italy.
Though the narrow alleys in Genoa are filled with tiny cafes, Trattoria Rosmarino is one of the best restaurants to dine at. It is full of intimate crannies and nooks for digging into the local cuisine.
Are You Heading To Genoa? Check Out Our Full Genoa Food Guide The Best Ligurian Food To Eat In Genoa Italy
Sardinia is a Blue Zone and hosts the healthiest people because of their longevity diet. It has one of the highest concentrations of people over 100 years. Sardinian food is delicious and unique; what you find there cannot be found anywhere else in Italy.
Pecora in cappotto is referred to as the national food of Sardinia. It is a mutton stew with rich broth, potatoes, and wild herbs. Its name, which means “sheep in a coat,” refers to a pastoral tradition of not shaving the oldest sheep in the herd during the annual sheep-shearing feast.
Su Porcheddu is another popular dish on the island and a must-try if you are on a food tour in Italy. It is an authentic countryside tradition prepared by roasting a suckling pig until the skin is crisp.
L’Antico Borgo is an excellent restaurant if you want to try an incredible selection of seafood. Alternatively, you can enjoy the best Sardinian dish at its simplest, made from ingredients grown on-site.
Are You Heading To Sardinia? Check Out Our Full Sardinian Food Guide Where To Eat In Sardinia Italy
Everyone that Naples is famous for its pizza. That said, there’s more to enjoy if you are on a foodie tour of Italy. Neapolitan cuisine focuses on simplicity and local ingredients. Some of the classic ingredients are tomatoes, olive oil, and garlic.
Naples is the birthplace of pizza, and Napoli pizza is a must-try if you are on Italian food travel. During our trip to Naples, we ate 15 pizzas over five days and reveal our favorite in our Naples Pizza Guide. Neapolitan pizza is cooked in a brick oven which gives it its distinctive look and taste. A classic Neapolitan pizza is topped with fresh tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, and 2-3 leaves of basil. Nothing more, nothing less.
But Naples is not all about pizza; pasta fritters, known as frittatine di pasta, are also delicious. The Pignasecca market will tempt you with stalls serving deep-fried calamari, artichokes, and whitebait.
If you are after top-notch Neapolitan cuisine, you can visit Ristorante Mattozzi. You will enjoy your favorite local dish in a wood-paneled dining room adorned with historic prints.
Are You Heading To Naples? Check Out Our Full Naples Food Guide What To Eat In Naples, Italy
Puglia offers tasty and rustic dishes that are different from what you will find in northern Italy. You will get to enjoy simple plates of pasta, hearty baked dishes, and wilted wild greens like cimi de rape or chicory. Though the bread from Altamura and the rich string cheese burrata are enough to justify a trip to Puglia, there are more delicacies to enjoy.
Bread is the most common food in the region. Pane di Altamura is a PDO bread from Bari and the most famous. This toasted bread has yellow crumbs and a crunchy crust that remains soft for days. It is dense yet easy to chew.
Though focaccia originates from Genoa, it forms the backbone of Puglia cuisine. The local version, Apulian focaccia, is characterized by a round dough. It’s lighter than the Genovese variety but soft on the inside and crispy on the outside.
Ristorante Grotta Palazzese Polignan is one of the most exotic restaurants. The restaurant is housed in a cave, offering breathtaking views of the Adriatic. Apart from the stunning views, you can enjoy the traditional Apulian cuisine.
Italy is one of the best destinations for a foodie. The country has regions that will offer a variety of dishes with unique flavor profiles and ingredients. However, you should plan and create a food-focused bucket list.
Are You Heading to Puglia? Check Out Our Full What To Eat In Puglia Italy Food Guide