Italian cuisine: A foodie guide to 58 most famous traditional foods in Italy

Bolognese sauce is one of the most famous traditional foods in Italy

Traditional foods in Italy to whet your appetite on your ultimate Italy vacation

I love Italy.

I have traveled to Italy numerous times. Far more than it’s written on this blog. But, here you can find my Tuscany road trip (in my opinion, the road trip everyone should take once in the lifetime!) or you can read about famous Venice Carnival masks and the world-renowned Venetian Carnival in Italy.

Ok, I admit, it’s easy for me to go to Italy.

After all, I am from Croatia and Italy is just across the Adriatic Sea.

It is easy for me to talk about traditional Italian cuisine. Traditional cuisine of the Croatian coast is heavily influenced by Italian cuisine. Many of the dishes I have listed here are traditionally eaten in the coastal part of Croatia, called Dalmatia, too. The best gnocchi I have eaten ever in my life were the gnocchi made by my late grandmother in Croatia. Luckily I keep her gnocchi recipe!

However, if you are traveling to Italy and you are interested in traditional Italian cuisine and Italian food culture, here ‘s the ultimate Italian foods list covering traditional Italian food, authentic Italian food, the most famous Italian food, popular Italian food … In short, the following Italian food list summarizes the best Italian foods you should sample on your next trip to Italy.

THIS POST MAY CONTAIN COMPENSATED LINKS. PLEASE READ MY DISCLAIMER FOR MORE INFO. 

58 MOST POPULAR TRADITIONAL FOODS IN ITALY

Selection of heavenly delicious food in Italy you should not miss out on your Italian vacation.

58 most famous traditional Italian foods

1. BOLOGNESE SAUCE – RAGU ALLA BOLOGNESE

Bolognese sauce is one of the most famous traditional foods in Italy
Bolognese sauce with pasta

Ragu Alla Bolognese is considered to be the national dish of Italy since it is used widely in Italian cuisine with many traditional Italian dishes and some of the best Italian dishes (spaghetti, tagliatelle, pappardelle, fettuccine…) across Italy. Authentic Bolognese sauce is made from tomatoes, minced beef, garlic, wine, and herbs. Although Bolognese sauce originates from the city of Bologna, you can enjoy it throughout Italy.

2. PIZZA

Pizza is one of the most famous traditional foods in Italy
Italian pizza Margherita

This traditional Italian food is made of flattened round dough topped with cheese, and tomatoes, and additionally garnished with basil, olives, and oregano. Depending on the toppings, among the most famous types of traditional Italian pizza are Margherita all Napoletana (Naples style pizza with tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and basil), Pizza Marinara (with tomatoes, garlic, and oregano), Pizza Quattro Stagioni (‘four seasons’ pizza with four sections of four different toppings), Pizza Quattro Formaggi (pizza with four different cheeses), and Pizza Siciliana (Sicilian style pizza with tomatoes, cheese, onions, and anchovies).

3. FOCACCIA

Focaccia is one of the most famous traditional foods in Italy
Italian focaccia

Focaccia is a traditional Italian flatbread similar to pizza. The most popular focaccia is Focaccia al Rosmarin (Foccacia garnished with rosemary). Focaccia is commonly served as a side bread with typical Italian dishes, as an appetizer, snack and as sandwich bread. There are two types of focaccia: savory and sweet. Savory focaccia (with rosemary, garlic, basil or even prosciutto) and sweet focaccia (with honey, raisins, sugar and similar sweet ingredient ). Focaccia is also typical Italian fast food.

4. SPAGHETTI

Spaghetti are traditional foods in Italy
Italian spaghetti pasta

The most popular Italian pasta are spaghetti. This long and thin pasta is traditionally prepared with only garlic and olive oil  (Spagetthi Aglio Olio), with tomato sauce and basil (Spaghetti al Pomodoro e Basilico), with minced meat sauce (Spaghetti Bolognese),  with cheese and pepper (Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe), with clams (Spaghetti Alle Vongole) or with bacon (Spaghetti Carbonara) and usually topped with grated hard Italian cheese like world-famous Parmigiano Reggiano or equally popular Grana Padano cheese. Yet preparation of spaghetti differs a lot from one Italian region to another region. Thus, if you want to try classic Italian dishes, you should go for some clasic spaghetti dishes. If you are traveling to Rome, you should try Spaghetti Carbonara, the traditional spaghetti dish from Rome. 

5. LASAGNE

Lasagne are famous traditional foods in Italy
Italian lasagne

Lasagne is another famous Italian dish that has achieved worldwide recognition. Classic Italian lasagne are made of layers of flat and wide pasta with a sauce of meat, vegetables, and cheese.  Lasagne originate from Naples, but today you can eat lasagne all over Italy. Lasage are one of those Italian traditional food all gouramands look forward on their trip to Italy.

6. GNOCCHI

Gnocchi pasta is a popular food in Italy
Gnocchi pasta with clams

Gnocchi pasta is one of the most popular traditional foods in Italy. Gnocchi refer to small and thick dumplings. But these Italian dumplings are traditionally homemade from potatoes and cheese. But depending on the Italian region, they can be made from semolina or wheatflour or breadcrumbs instead of potatoes. Gnocchi pasta are prepared by boiling in salted water and served with a tasty sauce. If you are traveling to Tuscany and Lombardy you should try Malfatti Gnocchi with ricotta cheese and spinach. But if you are going to Naples and Campagnia region, you should taste Strangulaprievete Gnocchi (priest stranglers) with a fresh tomato sauce. Or when in Sardinia, opt for little Sardinian Malloreddus Gnocchi alla Campidanese with sausage sauce.

7. RISOTTO

Risotto is traditional Italian dish
Italian risotto with shrimps

Risotto is one of the most famous traditional Italian dishes. Authentic risotto originates from the Lombardy region, but over time it has become one of the most popular Italian dishes ever. This classic Italian rice dish is prepared with various meat, fish or vegetable broths with onion, olive oil or butter or even lard, white wine and Parmesan cheese. All over Italy, you can indulge in various risotto dishes made traditionally of Arborio rice or Carnaroli rice like chicken and pea risotto, mushroom risotto, seafood risotto, shrimp risotto, beef mince risotto … But if you are visiting the city of Milan in Lombardy, don’t miss an opportunity to taste authentic saffron-flavored Risotto alla Milanese with beef stock, lard, and cheese. Although my all-time favorite risotto is black risotto with cuttlefish Risotto al nero di seppia originating from Veneto region! Just to remind you in a case you are traveling to Croatia or Montenegro and you want to try black risotto, ask for ‘crni rižoto‘. And when in Spain, keep in mind that ‘el arroz negro‘ is popular Spanish food too.

8. RAVIOLI

Ravioli are famous traditional foods in Italy
Ravioli pasta

Traditional Italian ravioli are square-shaped pasta with a filling. Ravioli are eaten throughout Italy. But nevertheless, ravioli filling varies from one Italian region to another. In Rome and Lazio region the filling is made with spinach, ricotta cheese, pepper, and nutmeg, while in Sardinia for the filling is used the mix of cheese and lemon rid.  

9. TAGLIATELLE

Tagliatelle are popular traditional foods in Italy
Tagliatelle pasta

If you are traveling to Italian regions of Emilia-Romagna and Marche you should opt for tagliatelle pasta as this traditional Italian pasta in the shape of long and flat ribbons originate from there. Tagliatelle pasta comes with many sauces, but if you happen to visit Bologna you should opt for traditional Bolognese tagliatelle with Bolognese sauce.  

10. PAPPARDELLE

Pappardelle are famous Italian foods
Pappardelle pasta with mushrooms

Pappardelle pasta are broad, flat and thick pasta noodles coming from Tuscany. They are similar to tagliatelle from Bologna. Pappardelle pasta is typically eaten with chicken or beef sauce. Today pappardelle are common pasta in Roman cuisine and Tuscan cuisine.

11. FETTUCCINE

Fettuccine are traditional foods in Italy
Italian fettuccine with seafood

Another type of pasta typical for Tuscan and Roman cuisine. Fettuccine pasta is ribbon-style pasta. Traditional fettuccine pasta comes with chicken or beef sauce, but popular versions of fettuccine come also with tomatoes (Fettuccine al Pomodoro), with creamy cheese (Fettuccine Alfredo) and with seafood.

12. LINGUINE

Linguine are famous foods in Italy
Linguine pasta

Linguine is an oval-shaped ribbon-style pasta similar to fettuccine. Linguine pasta is wider than spaghetti and more narrow than fettuccine. This traditional Italian pasta originally comes from the city of Genoa and the region of Liguria. If you are taking a trip to Genoa, you should try authentic linguine pasta in Genova.

13. CARPACCIO

Carpaccio is famous food in Italy
Carpaccio

Carpaccio is a traditional Italian appetizer made of finely sliced thin meat or fish. Original carpaccio is beef carpaccio and it comes from Venice. Thus, when in Venice, please put carpaccio on your menu.

14. BISTECCA ALLA FIORENTINA

Bistecca fiorentina is famous Italian dish
Bistecca Fiorentina

Florentine-style steak is a famous veal meat stake originating from the city of Florence in Italy. Traditional Bistecca Alla Fiorentina is a T-bone veal steak prepared on glowing coal, light layers and ashes in such a way to get the meat colored from the outside but juicy, soft and red from the inside. If you are traveling to Tuscany and Florence, be sure not to miss tasting authentic Bisteca Alla Fiorentina. Florentine stake is one of the best food in Tuscany to treat yourself with. 

15. MELANZANE ALLA PARMIGIANA

Melanzane alla Parmigiana is famous Italian dish
Melanzane Alla Parmigiana

Iconic Melanzane Alla Parmigiana is a traditional Italian dish made of deep-fried layers of eggplants with a sauce made of tomatoes and parmesan cheese and baked in an oven. Although Malanzane Alla Parmigiana is a typical vegetarian Italian dish, sometimes it is made with meat too. Parmigiana originates from Sicily and Campania region and it is one of the most famous Italian dishes. If you are traveling to Naples and Parma, keep in mind to try authentic Melanzane Alla Parmigiana.

16. BOTTARGA

Bottarga is famous foods in Italy
Bottarga in Italy

Italian bottarga refers to salted and cured fish roe (tuna or grey mullet). Once  “the poor man’s caviar”, in modern times bottarga is a delicacy often called the Gold of the Sea. Italian bottarga originates from Sardinia and Sicily. Smooth and silky in texture and salty in flavor, bottarga comes with many pasta dishes, salads, and vegetables. If you are heading to Sardinia, you should opt for Bottarga di Muggine (grey mullet bottarga). And if you are traveling to Sicily, you should try Bottarga di Tonno (tuna bottarga).

17. SEA URCHINS

Sea urchins are popular foods in Italy
Sea urchins

Ricci di mare are food delicacy in Italy and beyond. Sea urchins are eaten in Italy from Naples to Sicily. In Italy, sea urchins are consumed fresh and raw scooped out of the shells with squeezed lemon juice or with pasta (pasta ai ricci di mare).  If you are after sampling seafood delicacy and some of the Italian best food on your trip to Italy, then sea urchins should be on your list of Italian foods to try. 

18. BRUSCHETTA

Bruschetta is famous food in Italy
Bruschette with tomato and basil

Crispy bruschetta is a famous Italian appetizer referring to grilled bread traditionally scrubbed with garlic and garnished with olive oil and salt. Sometimes it comes topped with cheese, tomatoes, prosciutto, various salami, and various vegetables. The most popular Italian bruschetta comes with tomatoes and fresh basil. Bruschetta originates from ancient Rome and today you can enjoy it through Italy. Bruschette are popular finger foods in Italy.

19. GRISSINI

Grissini are popular snacks in Italy
Grissini in Italy

Crusty grissini are traditional Italian breadsticks. Thiese crispy, long and uneven breadsticks are typical Italian snacks and appetizers. They originate from the city of Turin. 

20. POLENTA

Polenta is famous Italian dish
Yellow polenta in Italy

Polenta is a traditional Italian dish made of boiled cornmeal, originating from central and northern Italy. This simple poor man meal is commonly served instead of potatoes, rice or pasta. Polenta has crossed the borders of Italy, and it is enjoyed in neighboring countries like Switzerland, Slovenia, and Croatia.

21. PASTA E FAGIOLI

Pasta e fagioli is a common Italian dish
Pasta e fagioli

Pasta with beans is a thick traditional Italian soup coming from Italian regions of Emilia-Romania and Campania. Ingredients of Pasta E Fagioli may vary from one region to another, but the main ingredients always remain tiny pasta, beans, olive oil, onion, garlic and tomato paste.

22. PASTA E CECCI

Pasta with chickpeas is similar soup to Pasta e Fagioli. Pasta e Cecci Alla Romana is a famous dish originating from Rome, but it is also a typical soup of regions of Sicily, Campania and Puglia. Roman pasta e cecci typically comes with anchovies. 

23. TORTELLINI

Tortellini are famous foods in Italy
Tortellini pasta

Tortellini are popular button-shaped pasta filled with meat, cheese, nutmeg and egg, cooked in water, stir-fried with sage and butter and served with broth. This famous pasta originates from the Emilia Romagna region. If you are traveling to Modena or Bologna, you should try authentic tortellini. 

24. POLPETTE

Polpette are popular foods in Italy
Italian meatballs polpette

Polpette are traditional Italian meatballs made of minced meat, eggs, parsley, and Parmigiano cheese. Italian polpette are typically made of veal or beef meat. But when they are made of fish, they are called crochette (crocchette al pesce). Most commonly they come as a snack or second course. In southern Italy, they come as a main course served in a tomato sauce though. 

25. ARANCINI

Arancini are common foods in Italy
Italian arancini

Arancini are traditional Italian stuffed and deep-fried rice balls originally coming from Sicily. Looking like orange, they are typically filled with minced meat, mozzarella cheese, béchamel sauce, ham, and peas.  Today arancini are popular finger food in modern Italian cuisine.

26. RISI E BISI

Rice and peas’ is one of the most common traditional Italian dishes. On contrary to common belief outside of Italy, risi e bisi is a thick soup not a risotto. It originates from Venice where typically it is flavored with pancetta (pork belly salumi). So, if you are traveling to Venice and want to eat local Venice food, you should take ‘Risi e bisi’.

27. FRIED ARTICHOKES

Fried artichokes are popular foods in Italy
Fried artichokes in Italy

Carciofi alla Giudea or Jewish style fried artichokes have been a popular dish in Italy for centuries tracing back Jewish ghetto in Rome in 1555. Typically they are served as a first course (primo platto).  When in Rome, you should try fried artichokes in the Jewish Quarter of Rome.

28. PARMIGIANO REGGIANO

Parmigiano Reggiano is one of the most famous foods in Italy
Parmesan cheese

Parmesan cheese is world-famous Italian hard cheese coming from the province of Parma in the Emilia Romagna region. Parmigiano Reggiano is a hard cow’s milk cheese, nicknamed ‘King of Cheeses’. Commonly Parmesan cheese is grated over pasta, risotto, and salads but it is also eaten alone. If you are traveling to Modena or Bologna, tasting slices of authentic Parmesan Reggiano should not be missed out.  

29. GRANA PADANO

Grana Padano is famous Italian cheese
Grana Padano cheese in Italy

Another famous Italian cheese coming from the region of Lombardy and Po River valley. Grana Padano is a hard cheese of grainy texture, very similar to Parmegiano Reggiano. If you are travailing to Milan or Lake Como, you should opt for authentic Grana Padano cheese.  

30. MOZZARELLA

Mozzarella cheese is one of famous traditional foods in Italy
White mozzarella cheese in Italy

White mozzarella is a popular Italian cheese made from Italian water buffalo’s milk. Mozzarella is a semi-soft cheese very mild in taste. Although there are different types of mozzarella cheese (made from buffalo’s milk, cow’s milk, goats’ milk, and sheep’s milk), authentic mozzarella from southern Italy is always buffalo mozzarella (Mozzarella di Bufala Campana). Classic mozzarella comes from Lazio and Campana regions. Traditionally mozzarella is an ingredient of various pasta dishes, popular Caprese salad and different kinds of pizza.  

31. CAPRESE SALAD

Caprese salad is one of the most famous traditional foods in Italy
Caprese salad in Italy

Caprese salad is a famous Italian salad made of fresh sliced tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, garnished with olive oil, acetate balsamico (Italian vinegar), and fresh basil leaves. Caprese salad is traditionally an appetizer in Italy (not a side dish).

32. PROSCIUTTO

Prosciutto is one of the most popular traditional foods in Italy
Italian prosciutto

Prosciutto is famous Italian air-cured ham. Italian prosciutto typically refers to raw ham (prosciutto crudo) and rarely to cooked ham (prosciutto cotto). It originates from Po River Valley, but is it eaten across Italy as an appetizer. Sometimes prosciutto is also called Parma ham as the most appreciated prosciutto in Italy is Prosciutto di Parma from Parma province in the Emilia Romagna region in Po River Valley. 

33. SALAMI

Salami sausages are popular foods in Italy
Italian salami

Salami are traditional foods in Italy. Italian salami refer to sausages (dry-cured and fresh) made of typically pork meat mixed with high-quality pork fat and spiced with pepper, salt, garlic, wine, fennel and sometimes even cinnamon.  But sometimes Italian salami are made also with some other meats as well like: beef or rabbit meat. But nevertheless, all salami have in common red interior mixed with white fat.

Depending on your Italian itinerary and Italian destinations, you should try chicken or rabbit based Cacciatore sausage from Calabria, or Soppressata di Calabria, Salame di Felino from Parma,  pork and fennel based finocchiona sausage (Salame Finocchiona) or Soppressata Toscana from Tuscany, Salame Napoletano with peperoncino, Genovese pork-based salami, Ciauscolo salami with pork meat, white wine, garlic and black pepper from Marche region. 

34. MORTADELLA

Mortadella is most famous Italian salame
Italian mortadella in a sandwich

Probably the most famous Italian sausage (salume) is Mortadella di Bologna. This traditional Italian pork-based sausage is made with black pepper, pistachios and myrtle berries. Although you can eat different variations of mortadella in Italy such as Prato mortadella with garlic and ‘alchermes‘ liquor from Tuscany or smoked Amatrice mortadella, you should not miss authentic Mortadella di Bologna in Bologna. 

35. PESTO ALLA GENOVESE

Pesto Genovese is one of the most famous traditional foods in Italy
Pesto Genovese

Genoa sauce is world renewed Italian sauce made from fresh basil leaves, smashed garlic, pine nuts and hard cheese blended with extra virgin olive oil. Original pesto comes from the city of Genoa, therefor it is named after the city. Pesto typically comes with various pasta dishes. Thus, when in Genova don’t miss out Pesto Genovese.

36. TRUFFLE

Pasta with truffles are traditional foods in Italy
Pasta with truffles in Italy

Italian tartufo is a highly prized gourmet delicacy, especially Tartufo Bianco (white truffle) from the Piedmont region. White truffles reach regularly the price of several thousand dollars per kilo on the market. Fresh truffles are used over pasta, risotto, eggs, and salads in Italy. The city of Alba in the Piedmont region is nicknamed the White Truffle Capital of the World. If you are traveling to the city of Alba in Italy from September to December when the truffles season is, you should try local food delicacy called Carne Cruda all’ Albese. Black truffles are also a delicacy food but less aromatic and less praised than white truffles. If you traveling to the city of Assisi and in the Umbria region, be sure to try Asissi omelet with truffles. If you are a foodie and you want a unique souvenir from your trip to Italy, Italian olive oil with truffles could be your thing.

37. OLIVE OIL

Olive oil is one of the most common traditional foods in Italy
Olive oil in Italy

Italy is the second producer of olive oil in the World, following only Spain by the production. Olive oil is one of the most common traditional foods in Italy. Although olive oil is produced in Italy from the north to the south, from Lombardy to Calabria, Sicily, and Sardinia, some of the best olive oils come from Tuscany, Lake Garda area, Lazio Region and Sardinia.

Depending on where you are heading on your Italy vacations, you could indulge in peppery flavored olive oil from Tuscany, herbal flavored olive oil from Liguria, delicate and rare olive oil from Lake Garda, tomato-like flavored olive oil from Lazio region, artichoke, and cardoon-like flavored olive oil from Sardinia. 

38. ACETO BALSAMICO

Balsamic vinegar is one of the most famous foods in Italy
Aceto Balsamico di Modena

Balsamic vinegar from Modena and Reggio Emilia is world-famous Italian vinegar made from grape must. Traditionally Aceto balsamico is used with pasta dishes and risotto dishes, and some seafood like shrimps and scallops, but also with grilled fish, eggs and fresh fruits. If you are heading to Modena or Reggio Emilia region, don’t miss sampling first-class Italian balsamic vinegar. 

39. CAMPARI

Campari is one of the most popular drinks in Italy
A glass of Italian Campari

Campari is the most popular Italian liquor sold today in more than 190 countries worldwide. This aromatic dark red, and bitter-sweet in taste Italian drink is commonly used in various cocktails. The city of Novara in the Piedmont region on north-west Italy is the hometown of this world-famous liquor made from aromatic herbs, plants, and fruits.

40. LIMONCELLO

Limoncello is a popular Italian drink
Limoncello in Italy

Limoncello is world-renewed Italian lemon-flavored liquor originating from southern Italy, more precisely from the Bay of Naples, the Amalfi Coast, and the Sorrento Peninsula. This classic sweet and citrusy Italian drink is made by soaking lemon zests in neutral grain alcohol for months. Traditionally it is served chilled after dinner as a digestive. If you are planning your next vacation on the Amalfi Coast, you don’t want to miss out sampling authentic limoncello for sure. 

41. APEROL SPRITZ

Aperol spritz is famous Italian drink
Aperol Spritz in Italy

Similar to Campari, but with less alcohol and with much less bitter in taste comes orange-colored Aperol, another classic Italian drink. While Campari is digestive, Aperol is an aperitif. In Italy, extremely popular is Aperol spritz, a cocktail made of Aperol, soda water, Prosecco wine and a slice of orange. Aperol and Aperol Spritz originate from Padua, but they are widely consumed throughout Italy especially during hot summer days. 

42. PROSECCO

Prosecco is famous Italian sparking wine
Sparkling Prosecco wine in Italy

Prosecco is a famous Italian sparkling wine named after the village where it comes from – Prosecco village, close to Treviso and Venice. These days Prosecco is produced in a larger area of northeast Italy. In 2019 Prosecco hills received world heritage status by UNESCO.  There are three types of Prosecco: Prosecco Spumante (sparkling), Prosecco Frizzante (semi-sparkling), and Prosecco Tranquillo. Prosecco is characterized by the fruity and flowery aroma and it matches greatly cured meats, fruits based appetizers (like prosciutto-wrapped melon) or crostini. Remember, France has Champagne, but Italy has Prosecco.

43. AMARETTO 

Amaretto is a popular Italian liquor made of bitter almonds but surprisingly it is very sweet in taste. Originally it was produced of almonds stones, but later the amaretto production of peach stones and apricot stones started also. Italian Amaretto is consumed alone or added to some dishes, especially desserts like tiramisu. But, amaretto comes in many popular cocktails too. 

44. NEGRONI

Negroni is famous Italian cocktail and it should be on any bucket list of traditional Italian foods to try in Italy
A glass of the Negroni cocktail

Negroni is one of the most famous Italian cocktails. The main ingredients are gin, Campari, vermouth, and a fresh orange peel. Negroni was named after Count Camillo Negroni who asked to put gin instead of soda water into his glass of Americano cocktail. The legend says the event took place in Caffe Casoni in Florence in 1919. Therefore, Florence is accredited as the birthplace of the Negroni cocktail. But if you are heading to Treviso, you should visit the Negroni Distillery in Treviso founded by Count Camillo in 1919 where bottles of legendary Antico Negroni have been produced.

45. VIN SANTO 

What Sherry is to Spain, Vin Santo is to Italy. Vin Santo is a classic Italian sweet dessert wine. Although it originates from Tuscany, today Vin Santo is produced throughout Italy. Thus, the color and sweetness of Vinsanto depend on the region and the method of production. As a dessert wine, Vin Santo is traditionally served with biscuits. If you are traveling to Tuscany and you have a sweet tooth, you should put Vin Santo and biscotti on your bucket list of traditional foods in Italy.  

46. CHIANTI WINE 

Chianti wine is probably the most famous Italian red wine. It is produced in the Chianti region between Florence and Siena in central Tuscany. The best known among Chianti wines is Chianti Classico. Symbol of Chianti wine is a black rooster seal that adorns every bottle of Chianti wine. This first-class dry wine is a great fit for all tomato-based dishes (pasta dishes, meatballs ..). No trip to Tuscany is complete without sampling authentic Chianti wine.

47. ITALIAN ESPRESSO

Espresso coffee is one the most popular traditional foods in Italy
Espresso coffee in Italy

I believe Italian espresso doesn’t need any special introduction. In a certain way, espresso coffee is a synonym for Italy and the Italian way of life or ‘la dolce vita’ (the sweet life). When someone mentions Italian foods, the first thoughts on everyone’s mind are most likely pizza, pasta, gelato, and espresso coffee. A visit to Italy is not complete without a cup of espresso, macchiato, cappuccino, latte or cortado.  

48. AFFOGATO

Affogato is a popular drink in Italy
Italian affogato

When talking about espresso, I should mention affogato too. Affogato is a popular coffee-based Italian dessert made of a scoop of vanilla gelato and a shot of espresso. Quite often some berries, honey, and some other gelato flavors are added. Essentially, affogato is something between a dessert and a beverage. No matter how do you want to define it (as a dessert or a beverage), for all coffee aficionado affogato is highly on the list of Italian foods to enjoy in Italy! 

49. TIRAMISU

Tiramisu is a popular Italian cake and one of most famous traditional foods in Italy
Tiramisu cake in Italy

Tiramisu is another famous coffee-flavored Italian dessert. This rather simple Italian dessert is made of sweet ‘savoiardi’ biscuits soaked in coffee and sweet cream made of mascarpone cheese, eggs and sugar, and sometimes liqueur. The birth town of tiramisu is Treviso, but over time tiramisu has become one of the most popular desserts throughout Italy. 

50. PANNA COTTA

Panna cotta is famous Italian dessert
Panna cotta in Italy

Panna Cotta is another world-famous dessert coming from Italy. Panna cotta in Italian literally means ‘cooked cream’. But panna cotta is much more than simple cooked cream. It is a par excellence dessert made of flavored cream (often with coffee, rum or vanilla) and served with berries, chocolate or caramel sauce. Additionally, it can be garnished with some liquors and fruits. 

51. PANETTONE

Panettone is popular sweet bread and one of the most famous traditional foods in Italy
Panettone sweet bread in Italy

Panettone is sweet Italian bread traditionally prepared for Christmas. Panettone originates from the city of Milan in Italy, but over time it has become one of the most famous Christmas bread in the World. This cupola-shaped bread is flavored with candied oranges, citrons, lemon zest, raisins, and sometimes chocolate. Sweet panettone matches well sweet dessert wines and liquors. 

52. CROSTATA

Crostata pie is one of the most famous traditional foods in Italy
Crostata in Italy

Crostata is a famous Italian pie or baked tart with inconsistent thick fillings. Depending on the fillings, there are sweet and savory crostata pies. Sweet crostata comes with sweet fruits, most commonly cherries, apricots, and peaches, while savory crostata is filled with vegetables, cheese, meat, seafood, and fish. One of the most popular crostata pies is ricotta and lemon zest-based crostata called crostata di ricotta from central Italy. 

53. CANNOLI

Cannoli are popular cakes and famous traditional foods in Italy
Cannoli cakes in Italy

Cannoli are famous Italian pastries. Sweet cannoli are tube-shaped and finger-sized pastries filled with sweet cream that quite often contains ricotta cheese. Cannoli originate from Sicily, or more precisely Palermo and Messina. Authentic Sicilian cannoli are filled with ricotta cheese, Sicilian Marsala wine, white vinegar, chocolate chips, and optionally chopped pistachios. This iconic Italian dessert is today well-known around the world.

54. TORRONE

Torrone is a famous nugat in Italy
Italian torrone

Spain has turron, but Portugal and Italy have torrone. In any case, it is a confection made of egg whites, sugar, honey and toasted nuts (most frequently almonds, but also can be whole hazelnuts, and pistachios) in a most commonly rectangular shape. Traditionally torrone is a Christmas dessert in Italy. 

55. GALANI

Galani are traditional pastries from Venice in Italy
Galani pastry in Venice in Italy

If you are going to Venice for the carnival, you should try a traditional Italian carnival pastry called galani. Galani are fried sweet and thin pastry strips sold in every bakery and pastry shop in Venice. If you are visiting Venice Carnival, you should treat yourself with delicious and crispy galani.

56. BISCOTTI – CANTUCCINI

Biscotti are famous traditional foods in Italy
Italian biscotti

Biscotti or cantuccini are traditional Italian almond biscuits originating from Tuscany, or more specifically from the city of Prato in Tuscany. Original cantuccini from Prato are called biscotti di Prato. These oblong-shaped crispy cookies are traditionally consumed with sweet dessert wine, i.e above mentioned vin santo. If you are taking a trip to Tuscany, you should try Tuscany biscotti or biscotti di Prato.

57. FRITTELLE 

Venetian Carnival
Frittelli pastry in Venice in Italy

Frittelle are classic Italian doughnuts prepared traditionally in Carnival time and originally coming from Venice and the Veneto region. These round-shaped traditional Carnival confections are filled with raisins and sometimes pine nuts. They are also known in Venice as Fritelle Veneziane. While Frittelle Veneziane are typically filled with raisins and pine nuts, Frittelle con cioccolata are filled with chocolate, Frittelle con zabaione are filed with Marsala wine, Frittelle con crema chantilly are filled with vanilla.

58. GELATO 

Gelato is one of the most famous traditional foods in Italy
Italian gelato

Probably the most popular frozen dessert in the world is Italian gelato. Authentic Italian gelato is a creamy custard made of whole milk and eggs traditionally flavored with chocolate, vanilla, stracciatella, hazelnut, and pistachio. Modern gelato is flavored with some fruity flavors. No visit to Italy is complete without a scoop of Italian gelato, agree?!

RECOMMENDED READ – ITALIAN FOOD COOKBOOKS

Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking: A Cookbook

Lidia’s Favorite Recipes: 100 Foolproof Italian Dishes, from Basic Sauces to Irresistible Entrees: A Cookbook

Lidia’s Celebrate Like an Italian: 220 Foolproof Recipes That Make Every Meal a Party: A Cookbook, Cover may vary 

Jamie Cooks Italy by Jamie Oliver

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