In Italy it is almost a given that every region adheres to some very strong beliefs about something. There can be no list of dishes that rates their popularity throughout Italy. Instead, each region of the Italian peninsula has their own favorite recipes that have been used for generations. The curious thing is that someone outside of Italy can all of a sudden discover that they have a taste for a very specific local variation of Italian cooking. Want to find out if deep in your heart you are a Sicilian or a Lombardian? Here are some very basic distinctions.


Rich buttery dishes are a specialty of this region, mostly known for its capital, Milan: Risotto alla Milanese (rice with saffron and butter), Cotolette alla Milanese (fried veal patties).


Venetian cusine has strong ties to Middle Eastern and other Mediterranean food cultures. Local specialties: Risi e bisi (rice with peas and ham), Fegato alla Veneziana (liver and onions), polenta (mushed corn with cheese and butter)


Ligurians often favor seafood dishes, such as Burrida (fish stew) and Bigne di pesci miste (assorted fish).


Tuscany is Italy’s heartland, with simple rustic foods: Bistecca alla Fiorentina (steak with oil and pepper) and Ribollita (soup with beans and vegetables, served with Parmesan cheese)


This ancient area surrounding Rome is where we get what most people typically assosiate with Italian foodL pasta with tomatoes, Rigatoni alla carbonara (pasta with egg sauce, cheese and bacon).


Region east of Rome. Local specialties include: Spaghetti with garlic, oil and chili peppers, Pasticcio di patate con salsiccia (sausage and potato pie)


The area near Napes is quite rightfully seen as the birthplace of Italian pizza with multiple toppings.


Another region known for its seafood: Pasta con le sarde (pasta with sardines, anchovies and onions), Arancine (meatballs with rice and cheese mixed in), Sarde a beccafico (breaded sardines with nuts and raisins)

See also:

Italian cheeses. Names and flavors
Italian wine customs
Italian breads

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italian breadAs it is nearly always the case, Italy has many local varieties of bread and bread products. Some may not be very distinctive, while others (take a look at Carta da Musica, for instance) are rather unique. And don’t forget about the cheese!

Banana – Soft, rich Italian bread. Made from a rolled piece of dough into a shaped of a banana. Used mostly for sandwiches.

Barile – A 4-pound loaf of bread made with hard durum wheat. From Apulia.

Biova – Round-shaped, elongated white loaf with added fat (strutto). Biovetta is a term used for smaller loaves.

Bovolo – Venetian snail-shaped bread (hence the name).

Carta da musica – Thin Sardinian bread made without yeast and left to dry. Literally, “music paper”.

Chifel – Crescent-shaped bread made without sugar.

Ciabatta – White Italian bread made with wheat flour and yeast. The name is Italian for ‘slipper’.

Ciriola – A long loaf with a crispy crust a sharp cut in the middle. Originally from Rome.

Civraxiu – Sardinian bread, perhaps the largest loaf in Italy. Prepared with natural yeast, it weighs in at 10 pounds.

Colomba Pasquale – “Easter Dove”. Seasonal dessert bread made with flour, eggs, sugar, yeast and butter. Usually contains candied peel and is topped with pearl sugar and almonds.

Ferrarese – Bread made of very hard dough. Manina ferrarese is shaped like a hand.

Ferro di cavallo – Sicilian bread shaped like a horseshoe.

Filone – Italian version of the French baguette. The word comes from “filo”, Italian for ‘line’.

Frisedda – Doughnut shaped bread from Apulia.

Grissini – Breadstics, originating in Torino. According to a legend, the Savoia family personal doctor gave instructions to a baker on how to make long, thin bread.

Miccone – Lombardian bread, usually sliced.

Michetta – White bread, buldge-shaped and hollow. Similar to maggiolino and tartaruga. Originates in northern Italy, particularly Lombardia.

Mufuletta – Sicilian sesame bread.

Pan frizze – Regional bread from Friuli, made with flour, eggs, cracklings of pork, and salt.

Pandoro – Sweet yeast bread, popular around Christmas time. Originally from Verona.

Pane Casareccio – “Country bread”, crusty and hearty. Many local varieties exist.

Pane di Altamura – Bread made from Durum Wheat. Named after the Altamura area.

Panettone – Sweet bread loaf, originally from Milan.

Ramerino – From Tuscany. This bread is enriched with olive oil and scented with rosemary.

Rosetta – Another term for Michetta bread.

Salino – Northeastern bread with distinctive rock salt on its crust.

Schiacciata – Flat bread with soft porous dough. Originally from Apulia

Sgabeo – Leavened bread dough, cut into strips, fried and salted to be eaten plaine or with chease and cold cuts. Originally from Lunigiana.

See also:

Italian cheese

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Italian cheese – words and flavors

February 19, 2011

Italy has many¬† local varieties of cheese that can originate from entire regions or small towns and villages. Some of these products have become internationally known, while some remain relatively obscure. Not all Italian cheeses made this list. Asiago – hard, sharp, crumby and aged cheese made from cow’s milk. Originally produced in the town […]

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