Touring Through Italy’s 20 Regions with Pasta on Our Minds Mary Zakheim October 25, 2016 Europe, Food & Drink This post was most recently updated on October 16th, 2017Perhaps the singular thing that still divides Italy even after its 1861 unification is also its most alluring trait: the food. From steaming pasta to crumbling pizzas, fortifying wines to fizzy proseccos, a visit to Italy simply isn’t complete without a taste of its epicurean delights. Venture with us through Italy’s 20 regions with one thing in mind: PASTA. Each region takes immense pride in the little twists and additions that make a dish unique to that place — let us help you craft your very own Italian food tour, sampling the best pasta dish that each region has to offer! Your stomach will thank us (your jeans may not). Central The Central part of Italy holds perhaps its most internationally famous cities: Rome and Florence. But, of course, it’s much more than these classic Italian towns. Take a look at the unique pasta dishes to try in this sun-drenched spot of the laid-back country. Lazio We can barely write about the Lazio region without drooling because Lazio is almost synonymous with carbonara. A super simple, super flavorful pasta that mixes bacon, eggs, romano cheese, and black pepper, this dish is not one to miss if you ever find yourself in Rome. Marche Stuffed olives are perhaps the most famous of foods from this seaside region — a place known by locals for its tranquil and relaxing beaches (and as a sort of hidden gem, sandwiched between its more popular neighbors). But that is not to distract from its epic take on lasagna: a 12-layered extravaganza of lamb, truffles, and the tasty white béchamel sauce. Tuscany A region whose history is rooted in the lives of working-class farmers, the area’s modern luxe chops is a relatively recent phenomenon. To take a trip back in time, try Tuscany’s “naked” ravioli — a dish that tosses gnudi (gnocchi-like ravioli fillings) with ricotta and spinach. Umbria This region is most known for its delicious black truffles, especially when it’s paired with strangozzi — the area’s most famous pasta. The dish, so named for its resemblance to a shoestring, is a must-have when you’re in Umbria. Northeast While the northeastern part of Italy conjures up images of watery canals and crumbling buildings, there is much more to this area than meets the eye. See which mouthwatering dishes you need to try in the northeast’s five regions. Emilia Romagna Most of what Americans consider to be “traditional” Italian dishes originated in this region — lasagna and tortellini likely came from this region. Order the tortellini con frittelle di acacia for a taste of two traditional foods out of this region. Friuli Venezia Giulia Drawing on influences from Slavic, Hungarian, and Austrian regions, Friuli Venezia Giulia has a distinctively unique food scene. One such fusion is a pasta dish called lasagne ai semi di papavero — or, pasta with poppy seeds and sugar. Sounds strange, no? Well, it’s good. Trust us. Trentino-Alto Adige Again, combining Germanic and Hungarian influences with Italian tradition, the Trentino-Alto Adige region has some interesting local dishes. For something different, try the fruit-stuffed gnocchi that the region offers — a delicious take on what Americans consider to be traditional Italian fare. You’ll usually find that the gnocchis are fried in breadcrumbs and browned butter — yum! Veneto For a cozy meal in the colder northern region, cuddle up to bigoli pasta with duck sauce. Bigoli — a large, tube-shaped pasta — is a noodle specific to the Veneto region and is traditionally made with duck eggs. Pair with a hearty red duck sauce to complete the yummy meal. Northwest Known for its dramatic mountainous regions and luxurious ski resorts, the northwestern part of Italy also has plenty of delicious pasta plates to offer the hungry traveler. Read on to see what you should sample around these parts. Aosta Valley Combing French and Swiss influences with traditional Italian fare, the Aosta Valley is rural cuisine at its best. Try the region-specific mushroom ragu sauce with pasta and get ready to never want to eat anywhere else. Liguria God bless Liguria — the region credited with the creation of focaccia and pesto. Thank you, Liguria. Valpolcevera, a city in the region, also created the figure-eight-shaped corzetti pasta is a dish that is only made here. Pair with pesto for a unique region-specific dish. Lombardy Sample the unique tortellini pasta in the Lombardy region. What’s so different about it? Creative chefs fill the delicate tortellini with squash. Buon appetito! Piedmont The ultra rare and expensive white truffles of Alba are found in the Piedmont region of Italy. Order with the simple taglierini pasta paired with light butter seasoning and, honestly, food will never be the same. Try at your own risk. Islands Relaxing isn’t all you should be doing while on an Italian isle. Sure, you can kick back and enjoy the white beaches, but you also need to try the unique dishes that mix land and sea for an unforgettable meal. Sardinia We know that all of you like spaghetti (okay, maybe not Eminem). But Sardinia, that enchanting Italian island, mixes it up in a big way. Locals prepare their spaghetti tossed with salted gray mullet roe, adding the accessible flavors of the sea to their traditional pasta dish. Sicily Just off of the toe of Italy’s boot lies the quiet Isle of Sicily. It’s also home to Mount Etna, one of Europe’s tallest active volcanoes. The dish to try here is the special pasta with sardines — or, pasta con la sarde. The region has Greek influences that can be seen in the food as well as ancient ruins that are scattered about the island. South Gritty and real, the south part of Italy is often overlooked for its more palatable upper neighbors. But skipping these regions would be a huge mistake — some of Italy’s best dishes come from them. Loosen your belts and check out the south of Italy. Abruzzo A little-known Italian secret, the Abruzzo region sees both tranquil coastlines and crashing mountains… As well as delicious pasta dishes. Legend has it that Abruzzo is the place to go to taste the best of handmade noodles, the most famous of which is maccheroni alla chitarra — which translates to “guitar pasta.” Sign us up! Apulia Better known to trekking tourists as Puglia, this southern region produces a large bulk of the country’s wheat and olive oil. The best dish to try is the region-specific orecchiette pasta — get it with some anchovies and broccoli for a traditional taste of Italy’s southern area. Basilicata Simplicity is key here. Chefs mix the simple pasta, làgane, with olive oil, garlic, and chickpeas and — voila! — you have a perfectly delicious, unique dish typical of southern Italy. Calabria This region sits on the toe of Italy’s boot and features a lot of Arab and Albanian influences in their unique dishes. Perhaps the most famous of its offerings is the Calabrian lasagna — a take on a traditional meal that adds sliced ham and eggs to the deliciousness. Campania Carrying with it notes of white wine and garlic (which, YAS!), the region’s famous pasta dish is indisputably linguini con le vongol — or, linguini with clam sauce. We wouldn’t expect anything less from this seaside region. Molise Not one to shy away from spice, chili and garlic flavor is in nearly everything in this southern region. Try the simple but hugely flavorful garlic and olive oil spaghetti for a real taste of the little-known region. Anyone else ready to head to Italy now?