Oh Italy. How stomachs love you, and hips despise you. You never leave tongues unsatisfied with your delicious dishes. This is what most people feel about Italian food, and we’re not talking about the generic, over-salted American-Italian food. We’re talking authentic, one-of-a-kind dishes that are unique in comparison to many Italian dishes we know and love. When traveling to Italy, avoid upsetting the Roman Gods and make sure you try at least one, or maybe all 10, of the yummiest dishes. Get ready to pick yourself up by your bootstraps, get walking and experience the best of ancient eating.
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Traditional Italian pizza is a thin crust, similar to baked pita taste and texture. Each family owned business features their special sauce, basil and mozzarella cheese. It sounds simple and boring, but trust thy Roman palate, the exquisite sauce and cheese combinations will make you believe that every fine pizza should be created, Roman style. So the next time the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, devour it.
There is no shortage of gelatarias in Italy, or flavors for that matter. In a cone or a cup, experience the true bliss of gelato. The texture is softer than ice cream and made with different ingredients. Southern Italy founded the dairy-free gelato (sorbets) where dairy based were created in Northern Italy. Whether you like fruit, nutella, nuts, or biscuits, you’ll find a gelato in almost every flavor.
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Also known as “Turista Menu” this four to five course menu varies at each restaurant. Usually the course starts with an antipasto (heavier appetizer), primo (pasta of your choice), secondo (meat with side dish), dolce (dessert) and/or a beverage. Prices range from 12 to 20 Euros. After stuffing yourself like a Roman god, you’ll be thankful walking is the main mode of transportation in Italy. You know what they say, “when in Rome…”
Like gelato, Tiramisu comes in all sizes and styles. Most are the traditional alternating layers of cake and cream, but some restaurants create the tiramisu in ice cream glasses, which feature bulk layers of cream and one thin layer of cake.
Known to be a creamy pasta in the states, the Italians omit the cream. The combination of egg, bacon, romano and white wine tossed together with rigatoni or spaghetti noodles is a must try while in Italy. It’ll have you hooked and disappointed at the American version.
Known as caffee, it’s actually a shot of espresso. Go to a “bar,” which serves traditional shots of Italian espresso. Milk lovers may order a cappuccino while black coffee sippers can order the dark and bold, Americana. Be prepared for small beverages while paying a hefty four to six euro per drink to sit and enjoy the coffee at the café.
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Risotto is found in many cities, but a must try, popular dish in Venice. Seafood and mushroom risotto is a Venetian specialty. Look out for seasonal dishes such as spring or summer risotto, which adds in various herbs and seasonal veggies like asparagus.
Supposedly raviolis were created in the Roman era, but not traditional until the return of Marco Polo from China. Most popular raviolis are the ricotta and spinach, perfect for the veggie travel or those who do not enjoy animal delicatessen in their meals. Generally really filling, expect European sizes with anywhere from two to three raviolis per meal.
If you love thin slices of meat, prosciutto is an Italian favorite. It is either tossed in pasta or wrapped around cheese or melon. It is known to be the finest of Italian pork product, and freshest in the Emilia-Romagna region.
Gnocchi, the flour dumpling, are created in various flavors and styles. Vegetarians will enjoy the “pomodoro style,” sauce and cheese. Meat lovers can find a slab of fine meat on many menus throughout Italy.
Elizabeth is a fitness professional, workshop presenter and freelance writer. She is an active traveler who treks the globe looking for interesting stories to write and places to photograph. Her most significant travel achievements include living and volunteering in Australia twice and studied yoga in India.