There is no denying that Italy is one of the top food destinations in the world.
The birth country of pizzas, gelatos and tiramisus, every mealtime in this country guarantees a mouth-watering experience. Each region has its own gastronomic glories, from the Mediterranean diet of the south to the hearty mountain feasts of the Dolomites up north. Just for starters, here are some of our favourite foodie tips when visiting Italy’s most stunning cities.
From street food to fine dining, no visit to Milan is complete without feasting on the local favourite, osso bucco alla Milanese. A rich traditional dish of braised veal shanks and vegetables, cooked slowly in white wine, it’s often served with another local favourite, risotto Milanese. Another must-try is the cotoletta alla Milanese, or fried crusted veal, which is similar to the Viennese schnitzel.
Rome-Milan is 2h 55 on the quickest train, while Nice-Milan takes around 4h 50m. From Zurich, it’s 3h 41m and from Paris it’s 7h.
The capital of Piedmont, Turin is also the city that delighted the world with Ferrero Rocher and Nutella. It is also the birthplace of the aperitif, or aperitivo in Italian, and boasts the greatest number of cafes per capita. Turin’s specialties include tarajin (pasta) with white truffle and brasato al Barolo (steak cooked in Barolo wine). Turin is also famously where the Slow Food movement began, a deliberate counter to the culture of fast food, celebrating traditional local cuisine.
Milan-Turin takes about 50 mins, while Rome-Turin takes 4h 30m, and Venice-Turin takes 3h 30m.
Venice is undoubtedly one of the most extraordinary archipelagos in the world. To eat like a local, consider a Cicchetti crawl. Akin to a pub-crawl, this is a great way to explore the City of Canal’s many bars, while also experiencing an array of ristoranti and trattorie along the way. Calamari, meatballs and sardines are some of the local favourites.
Milan-Venice takes 2h 10m, Rome-Venice takes 3h 19m, and Florence-Rome takes 1h 51m.
Home of the Bolognese sauce, Bologna is the capital and largest city of the Emilia-Romagnia region. Feast on local fare either at the traditional Mercato di Mezzo or the more contemporary FICO Eataly World. The latter is a 20m shuttle bus ride from the city’s central station, taking you to a city of food which celebrates the artistic, cultural and traditional elements that propelled Italian cuisine onto the world stage.
Rome-Bologna is around 2h 20m. Milan-Bologna takes 1h on the fastest train and Venice-Bologna takes 1h 30m.
Capital of the Tuscan region, the colour and personality of Florence is reflected in its food. Local favourites include bistecca alla Fiorentina (grilled Chianina steak well-seasoned with rosemary and sage; pappa al pomodorro (a cold gazpacho-like dish made with stale bread, beans, tomatoes and herbs); and tagliatelle funghi porcini e tartufa (a simple pasta tossed in truffle and porcini mushrooms). Wine lovers are also spoiled for choice in Tuscany, given Chianti and Montepulciano are two of the world’s most famous classified wine regions.
Food may not be the most famous aspect of the capital city’s cultural heritage, but once you get there, you’ll discover that eating is everything in Rome. Its most famous dish is spaghetti alla carbonara. Note, true Roman carbonara is made with guanciale (cured meat from pork cheeks), raw eggs, pecorino cheese and lots of pepper. To experience a traditional end-of-day social affair, join a passeggiata, where Romans wander at leisure around the streets, meeting friends and enjoying a gelato or an aperitivo. The most popular passeggiata spots are Piazza Navona, for an entertaining experience with the live music, Borghese Gardens for something more low-key and Pincio for unforgettable sunset views.
Milan-Rome takes about 3h on the fastest train, Venice-Rome takes 4h and Naples-Rome takes 1h 10m.
Not only is Naples home to pizza, its tradition of spinning the dough around, known as pizzaiuolo, was recently awarded UNESCO World Heritage status. Legend has it that the most famous of pizzas, the Margherita, was created by Raffaele Esposito in 1889 to honour Italian Queen Margherita, who was visiting the city in 1889, ensuring that it captured the three colours of the Italian flag. Typical Neapolitan cuisine also includes seafood dishes such as the impepata di cozze (mussels cooked in white wine, parsley and pepper).
Florence-Naples takes about 3h, Milan-Naples takes 4h 30m, Bologna-Naples takes 3h 30m.
Known for its street-food culture, Sicily’s cuisine is influenced by many cultures including Arab, French, Greek and Spanish. Head to the island’s capital, Palermo, to enjoy local favourites such as pasta alla Norma (pasta with aubergines, basil and ricotta), pasta con le sardeI (pasta with sardines, pine nuts, saffron, raisins and fennel), arancini (creamy risotto balls) and caponata (a warm aubergine and tomato salad).
Palermo is about 9h 10m from Naples, 11h34m from Rome (where the train crosses from Messina to Sicily on board a 30 min ferry ride) and 13h 06m from Bari.
Explore Italy with an Italy Pass. Note, seat reservations are required on all modern high-speed services.
For more inspiration, visit www.raileurope-world.com.
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