Best Foodie Destinations: Northern Italy
If you are a foodie (read: a person who has a particular interest in gourmet foods), then you know that travelling can be one of the best ways to discover new culinary flavours. When you are not eating then you are discovering the best things to do and see in the destination.
You probably enjoy eating at some of the best restaurants across the globe, but also like indulging in some as the best local dishes that define the regions history and culture.
Italy is really a food enthusiasts paradise! Here, we have tried to showcase some of the best regions across the country:
As the home of the slow food movement, Piedmont will truly satisfy your culinary cravings for local food culture and traditions. The movement itself aims to “counteract the rise of fast life and combat people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat, where it comes from and how our food choices affect the world around us”, says Carlo Petrini, Slow Food Movement founder.
Amidst rolling plains, mountainous green hills and the Alps you will find the world-famous Alba white truffle, aged cheeses, Barolo, Barbera and Barbaresco, wines, and plenty of Michelin star restaurants. The best way to experience all this and more is as part of our Piedmont: Food, Wine & Truffles tour. And, if you enjoy a bit of exercise (to work off all that you’ll be eating), perhaps add in a progressive lunch and vineyard trek to your itinerary – read more here.
The Slow Food Movement also hosts several foodie events throughout the year, particularly the Salone del Gusto in Turin and a biennial cheese fair in Bra called Cheese. Better start working up your appetite!
Enjoy our Piedmont: Food, Wine & Truffles tour for a gastronomic experience of the region. View the itinerary and departure dates here.
With the region’s capital named Bologna – home of the hearty meat sauce, Bolognese ragú – you know that you are in for a treat! Emilia-Romagna is the epicentre of Italian cuisine with a distinctive food heritage. The cities of Bologna, Parma, and Modena are unique culinary destinations that are located along the ancient Roman trading routes and amongst ideal fertile agricultural landscapes. These cities focus heavily on animal and pork products. While cities such as Rimini have strong culinary influence form the sea.
Without a doubt the region boasts an array of tasty experiences from tortellini pasta, Balsamic Vinegar DOP, Prosciutto di Parma, Culatello, and of course, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Dishes combine the best recipes of noble chefs and comfort foods with peasant dishes known for their robust seasonings and inexpensive ingredients.
For a taste of Emilia-Romagna be sure to view our ideal itinerary that aims to cover the gastronomic delights of the region. The itinerary is fully customisable and can be made to suit any travel dates.
Tuscany is probably best known for its wines and countryside (read about the wine regions of Tuscany here). With so many regional varieties, from Chianti to Montalcino and Montepulciano, producing some of the world’s best wines as well as lesser known local wines, you’ll want to take a wine master class to help you learn all there is.
The region also boasts some delicious and simplistic food that are based on peasant traditions, “cucina povera”, dating back to a time when poverty was the culinary mother of invention. Some of the best cured meats are also produced in Tuscany following ancient rituals that have been handed down from generation to generation. Their flavour is considered incredibly savoury, in sharp contras to cold cuts from other Italian regions such as Emilia Romagna, which can be defined as sweet. Be sure to also try the Florentine steak, called Bistecca alla Fiorentina (or La Bistecca) considered very serious business amongst locals.
Staying in a Tuscan retreat and venturing into the local towns and villages you will be able to taste an array of foods and wines and participate in tastings and cooking classes to make your Tuscan experience complete. View our Tuscan Villages tour here.
Despite Liguria being a coastal region, fish is not the only protagonist, in fact focaccia genovese, a thin bread flavoured with virgin oil and salt, is one of the first ten hashtags on Instagram related to food. The focaccia is usually eaten as street food, with a cappuccino in the morning and with a cold glass of wine in the evening (stuffed with chocolate and hazelnut cream is literally to die for). Another famous food delicacy of Liguria is Pesto Sauce, a bright green sauce made with basil from Pra (Genoa’s suburb), pine nuts, garlic, Parmesan or Pecorino (or both) grated cheese, and Ligurian virgin oil (famed for its delicacy and low acidity). The best way to taste Pesto sauce is on top of steaming gnocchi made with “Quarantina” potatoes, a variety typical of Liguria inland. Both dishes pair perfectly with Vermentino; a light-bodied white wine with fresh flavors of peach, pear, lime, grapefruit and a hint of almond, perfect for summertime drinking.
Wandering through Liguria villages it is very common to come across ancient shops selling Farinata, flatbread of sorts, composed of chickpea flour and water, olive oil and salt finally showered with fresh black pepper, cooked in a wooden oven. Indulge in these flavours on our Cinque Terre itinerary, which includes a food discovery in Ligurian’s food heritage.