Traditional Italian foods

One of the great problems in life is which Italian dish to choose in a restaurant or, better yet, when travelling through this rich and diverse boot-shaped country! Yes, it’s a great cliché, but there really are so many fantastic Italian foods that are a must to try. There are regional specialities and seasonal foods which means you need to extend your next visit to the country that has given us so much more besides pizza and pasta! The truth is that Italian food has much to offer and each region has its own distinct flavours and culinary traditions.

Tuscany treats

Ribollita soup is for many the taste of Tuscany, a region that has many wonderful dishes to offer the world. This is a hearty vegetable soup thickened with bread, which was always the style of peasant dishes when meat was not available. This dish is often served in the autumn and uses all the available vegetables. This mix of fresh kale, cannellini beans, and sweet tomatoes ingeniously uses torn up dry bread to thicken. In the region of Tuscany, this is seen as a real treat and despite the absence of any meat, it packs a real punch. This has often been served as a first course in Florentine restaurants instead of the more typical pasta dishes. Be sure to look up a complete recipe for this great vegetarian treat.


For many, Polenta is one of the tremendous and simple tastes of Italian cooking. This is a corn based ‘porridge’ that is often served sliced, like a cake, alongside a variety of meat dishes and pulses. It is boiled cornmeal that is allowed to cool and then becomes solid for slicing and using in a variety of different ways. Polenta is typically found in the North of Italy and in the region of Tuscany. The cornmeal mush was a staple for the lower classes and peasants working the land. This versatile dish can be served as a base for sausage and peppers or bacon and a drizzle of olive oil. This is a classic, simple countryside dish with a great warm yellow colour to add to your autumn plates.


The name itself is a one-word poem; Ossobuco is the very famous slow-cooked veal dish that is usually served on Polenta or, more specifically, gremolata. For the food nerds out there, gremolata is a mix of garlic, lemon zest and parsley. Ossobuco is a vibrant dish in terms of taste but also the dark brown colour of the tender meat. This ‘stick to the ribs’ dish is claimed by both Milan and Lombardy, but either way, you’ll find great varieties dish in both regional centres. The secret to this exquisite plate is that the veal shank is cooked on the bone for 3 hours or so until it’s literally falling off. Ossobuco means ‘hollow bone’ and is an absolute treat if you can get to try this when you are next in Italy. This is often served accompanied by a good helping of risotto and naturally a fine crisp wine.

Truffles are Not a Trifling Matter!

If you have a pig or a dog with a highly sensitive sense of smell, then you had better head off to Umbria and Piedmont this autumn season and get truffling! The truth is this highly sought after white or black fungus can be gram for gram more expensive than gold! Yes, it is that costly to find and even harder to cultivate. The taste is pungent and aromatic, full of earthy flavours. The greatest thing to do is to head towards Umbria and speak kindly with a head chef! One great tip would be to head to the White Truffle Festival of Alba in Piedmont to try this rare ingredient from source. If you have never eaten this earthy delight then it is recommended to try grated truffles on top of a simple pasta dish or even an omelette, so you can understand the complexity of flavours.


If you love ice cream and hot summers, then Italy is pure heaven. Gelato is, however, not strictly ice-cream as it contains much less butter fat content. This means that it doesn’t need to be served at such low temperatures, resulting in richer flavour sensations. The other reason to enjoy the delights of authentic Gelato is that by Italian law it is much denser and contains less water and air than most western-style ice-creams. Many Gelato fans will say the best artisanal producers and sellers are to be found in Rome, Milan and Florence. Just grab a strong espresso or even a ristretto and you’ll have the energy to see all those art collections and museums you’ve planned! Ciao!