Famous for its vineyards, pasta, and desserts, Italy produces some of the best fruits and vegetables in the world. During our travels around Italy, we’ve visited countless produce markets showcasing these mouthwatering treats. In this post, we look at some of the best Italian fruits to try when visiting Italy. After all, you can’t just eat pasta when in Italy.
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What Italian Fruits Are Common To Find In Italy
Like most Mediterranean countries, Italian food focuses on fresh, quality produce. Home-grown olive oils, fresh fish, delicious cheeses, and local fruit and vegetables are common in many Italian dishes.
Due to the presence of many active and inactive volcanoes, Italian soil is some of the most fertile in the world. This richness enables bigger and better quality produce harvests. Some of the most common Italian fruits are tomatoes, citrus, and cherries. In addition, most of the produce sold in grocery stores is grown domestically, leading to Italians often boasting about the high standard of their crops.
Food is one of Italy’s main exports and for a good reason. Many fruits and vegetables originated from Italy and feature heavily in the cuisine. For example, carrots, grapes, broccoli, and olives all came from Italian regions and are now grown and sold worldwide.
Italians love their citrus fruit in everything – from limoncello to pasta al Limone, citrus fruits are king! So you’d be remiss not to try some of the classic desserts made with fruits grown in Italy or sample some of their delicious classic cocktails and aperitifs.
What to eat is one of the most important things to know before traveling to Italy.
9 Italian Fruits For You To Try
|🍏 Fruit||🇮🇹 Italian Name|
|🍐 Sicilian Prickly Pears||Ficodindia|
|🍒 Amarena Cherries||Amarena|
|🍊 Oranges of Ribera||Arancia di Ribera|
|🍊Sicilian Red Oranges||Arancia Rossa di Sicilia|
|🧅 White Figs||Fico Bianco|
|🍑 Italian Peaches||Pesca|
|🍋 Amalfi Lemons, Sicilian Lemons, Etna Lemons||Limone|
|🍎 Pomegranate Apples||Melograno|
|🍋 Quince||Mela cotogna|
We’ve made countless trips to Italy always with the intention of eating lots of pasta and drinking wine. While we’ve done a great job of doing that, there’s more to Italian food than pasta and wine. Some of the best food in Italy are the fruits, vegetables, and natural ingredients.
When you’re in Italy, make sure to visit some of the great fresh produce markets in cities like Modena or Bologna. With that said, here is an Italian fruits list for you to cross off as you go!
Sicilian Prickly Pears – Ficodindia
Also known as cactus pears, Sicilian prickly pears are definitely one to add to your Italian fruits list! These unique fruits from Italy are common all around the country and are a favorite with locals and tourists in the warm summer months.
This Italian fruit is grown in the Sicilian province of Catania, mostly within the Mount Etna Regional Park. The volcanic soil helps the fruit trees produce larger, better quality prickly pears – not to mention scozzolatura.
According to Sicilian legend, scozzolatura began when two farmers got into an argument over their crops. One farmer cut the blossoms off his neighbor’s cactus plants trying to destroy that season’s harvest. Instead, the flowers came back larger and produced bigger better fruits. Now, scozzolatura is common practice wherever farmers are growing prickly pears.
Flavor-wise, these exotic Mediterranean fruits taste like a cross between lemon and watermelon. Their juicy pulp features vibrant ruby-red tones and yellow streaks and is used to quench the thirst after a long day in the sun.
If you’re a cherry lover, you should definitely try amarena cherries! These small sour cherries are an iconic Italian treat and are grown almost nowhere else in the world.
Amarena cherries originated from Bologna in the early 20th century and rapidly spread across the country. Unlike their South American cousins, amarena cherries are almost black in color and have a sour, acidic flavor. The firm flesh makes these Italian fruits a favorite addition to cocktails and desserts as they cut through rich flavors.
Tart with an unmistakable sweetness, amarena cherries make a perfect addition to heaped gelato and Greek yogurt. Look for chocolate cakes with amarena garnishes and syrups in small blue jars in Italian grocery stores for a decadent taste experience.
Oranges Of Ribera
One thing is for sure – Italians love their citrus fruit! Grown on the Verdura, Platani, and Magazzolo rivers, Sicilian oranges of Ribera are sold worldwide in huge quantities. You simply haven’t been to Italy until you have a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice with your breakfast.
The most recognizable fruit grown in Italy, Ribera oranges, come in three varieties; Brasiliano, Navelina, and Washington Navel. What sets these Italian fruits apart from common types is their flesh. As the fruit ripens in the late spring and summer, the pulp deepens to a red-orange hue.
Ribera oranges are particularly popular for their sweet and juicy flesh and give an interesting take on traditional Sicilian meals. Seafood dishes like cod carpaccio and scallops come to life with a fresh, sweet twist on a modern classic. But, if seafood isn’t your thing, you can eat Ribera oranges fresh and sliced – perfect for a warm day exploring Sicily!
Sicilian Red Oranges
Known as the Arancia Rossa di Sicilia, the blood oranges of Sicily get their unique color from the fertile volcanic soil near Mount Etna. Significant temperature variations generate scarlet pigments in the skin and flesh during ripening, giving this Italian fruit its unique color.
Sicilian red oranges are in season from mid-winter to early spring and are some of Italy’s most heavily regulated fruits. In recent years, the Italian agricultural industry has placed significant tariffs and restrictions on the unique fruit to stop fraudulent production and sales.
You can eat these Italian fruits fresh, but be warned – unlike their sweeter counterparts, Sicilian blood oranges have an acidic, bitter taste that may not be what you expect! As such, blood oranges are often used in jams, desserts, and bitters. You’ll find them in a variety of Italian cocktails as a garnish for classics like negronis and old-fashioned.
White Figs – Fico Bianco
White figs, or fico Bianco, are grown exclusively in Campania’s province of Salerno. Once considered the basic food of field workers, these rare and expensive Italian fruits are prized in Europe and are somewhat of a luxury. In season during late spring and summer, white figs are deliciously sweet and grainy.
White figs are sun-dried in the traditional manner and are a favorite for gourmet restaurants and boutique cafes. During the season, you can find fico Bianco for lower prices at roadside fresh produce markets. Enjoy these Mediterranean fruits stuffed with nuts, coated with brown sugar, or even drizzled with fresh lemon juice for a refreshing snack.
Peaches are one of the most popular fruits grown in Italy, and one you should definitely try. Named after the province they originated from, Pesca di Verona comes in three varieties: Polpa Bianca (white-fleshed peaches), Polpa Gialla (yellow-fleshed peaches), and Nettarina a Polpa Gialla (yellow-fleshed nectarine). Regardless of the variety you choose, these succulent fruits from Italy are sure to have you coming back for more!
Grown in the soil surrounding Lake Garda, Italian peaches are tangy, sweet, and juicy to the point of saturation. These Italian fruits are in season in summer and are favored for their thirst-quenching properties and delicious sticky-sweet flavor.
You can find Italian peaches in most grocery stores and markets around Italy during summer and early autumn, and or sample them the traditional Italian way – with goats cheese and balsamic vinegar.
Lemons – Amalfi Lemons, Sicilian Lemons, Etna Lemons
In Italy, lemons are used for everything from cleaning to baking. As a result, these versatile Italian fruits feature heavily in all parts of Italian culture, and are often given as gifts or exchanged for goods during the plentiful summer harvests.
Limone dell’Etna are citrus grown along the Etna coastal strip. These tart Italian fruits are divided into two varieties – Femminello and Monachello. The former is your classic lemon, elliptical in shape and with colors ranging from light green to bright yellow. Monachello, on the other hand, is less consistent.
This variety can develop an elliptical, spherical, or ovoid shape, and the color can be anywhere between dark green to yellow-orange depending on temperatures and rainfall. Both varieties have rich, refreshing scents that bloom during the warmer months.
Grown on the Amalfi coast, Amalfi lemons are closer to orange in their sweet, delicate flavor. These delightful citrus fruits are often eaten whole or cut into slices and drizzled with vinegar and salt for a zesty summer treat.
Sicilian lemons are perhaps the most well-known of these citrus fruits grown in Italy. Around 90% of the lemons in Italy come from Sicily, and these delicate fruits are famous around Europe for a good reason.
With a lighter flavor and oilier skin, Sicilian lemons are both tasty and aromatic, making them a perfect addition to a summer fruit bowl. Try Sicilian lemons in everything, from pannacotta to refreshing prosecco-based cocktails served in warmer weather.
Thinking that you haven’t heard of this variety of apples? Think again – melograno apples are also known as pomegranates! In recent years, these unusual Italian fruits have become more commonplace in salads and cocktails and are delicious with salty cheeses like feta and Reggiano.
Italian pomegranates are characteristically very sweet and often crushed and added to tonics when someone is feeling unwell. Proven to have positive effects on heart health, pomegranates are prized in Italy for both their delicious taste and nutritional benefits.
These Italian fruit trees sport large trumpet-shaped flowers and typically fruit in late fall to mid-winter. The best way to eat pomegranates is by cutting them in half and eating the arils with a spoon. Be careful, though – if the arils burst, the ruby-red juice will often stain clothes and skin!
If you’re a cheese lover, you’ve no doubt heard of quince. These small fruits are grown in Sicily and are abundant in Italian cooking for their rich, herbaceous notes. Unfortunately, these Italian fruits can’t be eaten by themselves and must be cooked to be fit for consumption. Quince comes into season around October and must be quickly picked and stored before the fruit spoils in the sun.
Want to try something traditionally Italian? Cotognata is a sweet quince jelly made from boiling peeled quince and mixing with sugar and lemon juice. This Italian treat is similar to Turkish delight, and the pectin in quince gives a pleasant, chewy texture that can be enjoyed on any occasion.
Tasty Italian Fruits To Eat
If you started reading this wondering what fruits grow in Italy, this list should have cleared a few things up! From coast to coast, Italian fruits are delicious, plentiful, and sometimes found nowhere else in the world.
So there you have it – some of the best fruits grown in Italy. Make sure you don’t miss out on your next visit to this spectacular country; life’s not just about pasta!
Planning a trip to Italy? Get our best Italy packing tips.
FAQs – Fruits From Italy To Eat
One of the many national symbols of Italy, the strawberry tree is considered Italy’s national fruit. While strawberries are popular in Italy, the strawberry tree and its green leaves, white flowers, and red fruit has come to represent Italy.
Italy is loaded with great food. We all know this. But the great food also extends to fruit. Some of the most popular fruits include lemons, oranges, and of course grapes.
Thanks to great weather and good soil, Italy is home to a wide range of fruits and vegetables. Some of the most popular fruits produced in Italy include apples, peaches, and a wide range of citrus fruits.
Culinary Travel To Italy
Our Italy Travel Experience
Our first trip to Italy was in 2000, and since then, we’ve taken dozens of trips to Italy to almost every region. Our most recent trip was in 2022.
This is easier for us as we live in Europe. We’ve taken food tours, cooking classes, visited wineries, and dined at some of the best restaurants in Italy. We are experts at Italy travel and, more importantly, eating in Italy.
Check out Amber’s book, the Food Traveler’s Guide To Emilia Romagna, which is available on Amazon. In addition to being a culinary travel guide to the region, it walks through how many of the typical Italian food products are made, like mortadella, prosciutto, and Parmigiano Reggiano.