Arguably the most popular food ever exported around the world, Italian cuisine deserves greater exploration on its home turf. Food tours of Italy are the perfect way to sample some of the finest dishes produced in each region.

Italian Pizza & Beer

From Tuscany’s rustic goodies to the mouth-watering pizza of Naples, Italy is a foodie paradise. And whether visitors start in the shadow of the Alps, or work their way up the famous boot sampling traditional peasant fare, their culinary tour of Italy is guaranteed to be lip smacking.

Pizza pronto

Visitors embarking on a food tour of Italy should plan their trip to cover as many regions as possible – a hire car is a great way to travel from town to town and experience as much of the diverse cuisine on offer as possible (Alamo offer competitive rates and regular ‘2nd driver goes free’ type deals) Italian cuisine is remarkably diverse and while pasta and pizza are, of course, staples, there’s so much more to Italy.

Naples is the undisputed birthplace of pizza and is the ideal spot from which to explore the produce of the Campania region that includes a variety of seafood – try octopus or spaghetti with clams. Pizza is ubiquitous and topped with the indigenous buffalo milk mozzarella. The brooding sight of Vesuvius overlooks Naples Bay and a trip to Pompeii, memorably buried by the erupting volcano in AD79, reveals that the Romans built the prototype pizza ovens.

Tuck into Tuscany

With beautiful cities such as Florence and Pisa, rich in art, culture and architecture, and blessed with truly exceptional scenery, Tuscany is possibly the favourite Italian regional destination. And its superb food is most certainly part of the attraction, rustic, hearty fare that incorporates the best produce made locally. If you fancy learning how to recreate dishes such as Florentine steak, Tuscan bean stews and soups, and other staples of the region, enrol in a cookery school – there are dozens dotted around the landscape, and all will give you a genuine flavour of Tuscany.

tuscan bean stew

Tuscan bean stew

Mountain high

The Piedmont region, with Turin at its heart, has some of Italy’s most elegant cuisine, including white truffle and the renowned Torino chocolates and pastries. This region is also known as the home of the Slow Food movement, and a festival to celebrate the preserving of gastronomic traditions, La Salone del Gusto, is held bi-annually in Turin.

When in Rome

The Italian capital boasts some of the finest restaurants in Italy and specialities of the Lazio region such as artichokes, pecorino cheese and spring lamb are essential menu choices. The food here is lusty and hearty, with meats such as oxtail and veal particularly popular. Rome is also famed for its seasonal fruits, including figs and peaches while locally produced honey is genuine nectar.

Island idylls

Heavily influenced by neighbouring North Africa, Sicilian cuisine is packed with exotic spices and combined with local produces such as lemons and blood oranges. Sardinia takes advantage of its waters to serve up fish and seafood as daily staples but do try the local speciality of roast suckling pig.

Whichever region you begin your food tour of Italy in, you are sure to sample a whole lot more than pizza and pasta, even if that pizza and pasta is the best you’ll ever taste.