Treat your taste buds in Italy
The Italian art of cooking now alternates between those who wish to safeguard its traditions and those who are open to new approaches and influences.
The key to its success is quality, outstanding inventiveness, and something new around every corner.
Too often reduced to just pasta, pizza and gelato, Italian cuisine actually has a vast array of little-known treasures to discover.
A culinary heritage stemming from an extraordinary geographical history
In a country of mountains and plains, surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea and bathed in glorious sunshine, Italy’s gastronomy is a reflection of its diversity: authentic Abruzzo, opulent Emilia-Romagna, edgy Milan, industrious Turin, chic Portofino and popular Palermo. Each one of its regions and cities has something different to offer: an extraordinary product or an iconic local dish, the recipes for which are both jealously guarded and proudly shared. The Amalfi Coast brings its fragrant lemons, Tuscany its lardo di Colonnata and Piedmont its white truffles. The country’s parmesan and mozzarella cheeses are exported all over the world, and its tempting array of wines are a treat for any connoisseur: not just Chianti, the king of Italian wines, but also Valpolicella from Verona and the ubiquitous Prosecco, the fundamental component of any spritz cocktail.
Italy’s culinary traditions have been enhanced by its rich history of settlers from many different countries. With its Greek, Norman and Arab influences, Sicily perfectly showcases this culinary melting pot with its traditional cùscusu, a highly revered fish couscous. And far off in the extreme north-east of the country, the influences of Austria and its delicious viennoiseries can be found.
A new openness to the world
Italian products aren’t the only things that draw praise – visitors come from all over the world to enjoy the Mediterranean art of eating, which is based on a five-course meal. This tradition is found all over the country, but luckily there is no convention that dictates all courses must be eaten during any one meal, because even those with the healthiest appetites couldn’t manage that!
What better way to start the meal than with a selection of antipasti? These varied appetisers showcase the very best of Italian cuisine, and often include grilled vegetables seasoned with olive oil, cheeses, cold meats and national specialities, like bruschetta. These starters are the perfect way to pique your appetite for the next course.
Traditionally, the primo piatto (first dish) follows. In the north, it will likely be polenta or risotto, a signature dish that Milan, the capital of fashion and design, is constantly modernising. It’s thanks to primi piatti like these that Italy became one of the first European countries to offer multiple gluten-free options, giving everyone the opportunity to enjoy its cuisine. Outside of Milan, primi piatti usually comes in the form of pasta – ravioli, tagliatelle, penne, etc. – served with a host of different sauces.