A Taste of Italy: Regional Specialities of Venice, Florence, Rome, and the Amalfi Coast

When I travel, I like to try all the local specialties. I’ve had escargot in Paris, dirty bread in Budapest, a Guinness in Ireland. I like to know what a city or region is known for, then keep an eye out for those things on my trip. So when we went to Italy last year, I started doing my research and making my very comprehensive lists.

We were headed for Venice, Florence, Rome, and Positano. And the first thing you should know is that Italy is broken up into 20 regions, each known for their own distinctive drinks and dishes. And I felt it was only fair to share that list with you all. So here is a list that would have saved me a lot of time—a list of these four region’s food and drink specialities, along with a short description of what each is. Because unless you know Italian, “Fegato alla Veneziana” won’t mean much to you. Let’s dive in!

VENICE (Veneto Region)

Venice is made up of islands, so it’s not surprising that seafood is popular. But I was surprised to discover some other items that the Veneto region is known for—Espresso, Tiramisu, Bellinis, Prosecco, the Aperol Spritz?! Here is the full list I made:

Drinks Venice is Known For:

○ Espresso
○ Prosecco (sparkling white wine)
○ Bellini (prosecco and peach purée)
○ Aperol Spritz (prosecco, aperol, and soda water)
○ Red Wines—Valpolicella, Amarone, Bardolino
○ White Wines—Soave, Gambellara

Foods/Dishes Venice is Known For:

○ Seafood
○ Cicchetti (small dishes)
○ Fritto Misto (fried seafood dish)
○ Sarde in Saor (sardines in marinade)
○ Bigoli in Salsa (pasta in anchovy sauve)
○ Fegato alla Veneziana (liver and onions)
○ Risotto al Nero di Seppia (risotto cooked in cuttlefish ink)
○ Baccalà Mantecato (salted cod)
○ Moeche (small green crabs from lagoon)
○ Risi e Bisi (rice and peas with pancetta)
○ Carne di Cervo (venison)
○ Pastin (sausage)
○ Schiz (local cheese)
○ Grana Padano (cheese)
○ Tiramisu

FLORENCE (Tuscany Region)

Florence is more country-side, so there is less seafood than other parts of Italy. My favorite things from this region were the Cinghiale (boar), the Cantucci and Vin Santo, and of course the gelato. Here are some other things to keep an eye out for:

Drinks Florence is Known For:

○ Negroni (campari, gin, and sweet vermouth)
○ Red Wines—Chianti, Brunello, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Bolgheri, Super Tuscany
○ White Wines—Vernaccia di vin Santo, San Gimignano

Foods/Dishes Florence is Known For:

○ Gelato
○ Local ricotta w/ honey
○ Pecorino cheese
○ Cinghiale (boar)
○ Pici (thick pasta)
○ Bistecca alla Fiorentina (giant steak)
○ Tagliatelle Funghi Porcini e Tartufo (pasta with porcini and truffles)
○ Pane toscano (unsalted bread)
○ Panforte (furit/nut cake)
○ Cantucci and Vin Santo (cookies and wine)

NOTE: A peculiarity to be aware of——bread in Florence (pane toscano) is made with no salt, making it kind of bland. Just something to keep in mind when ordering.

AMALFI COAST (Campania Region)

Everything is light and fresh on the Amalfi Coast. From their world-renowned Amalfi lemons, to the seafood fresh from the Adriatic Sea. The Campania region is also home to:

Drinks the Amalfi Coast is Known For:

○ Limoncello
○ Red Wines—Aglianico, Piedirosso,
○ White Wines—Fiano, Falanghina, Greco Di Tufo, Trebbiano

Foods/Dishes Amalfi is Known For:

○ Lemons
○ Seafood
○ Margherita Pizza (pizza with sliced tomato, basil, and mozzarella cheese)
○ Caprese Salad (sliced mozzarella, tomatoes, and sweet basil)
○ Spaghetti alle Vongole (pasta w/ clams)
○ Mozzarella di Bufala (mozzarella made from water buffalo milk)
○ Baba (rum sponge cake)
○ Melanzane al cioccolato (a dessert made with eggplant and chocolate)
○ Sfogliatella (pastry)

ROME (Lazio Region)

In Rome, you can expect fascinating blend of flavors and influences that have evolved over centuries.
Roman food has simple roots, and a lot of it also has a heavy Jewish influence to it making it just a little different than other parts of Italy. When in Rome:

Drinks Rome is Known For:

○ Red Wines—Cesanese, Super Lazio, Velletri
○ White Wines—Bellone, Castelli Romani, Frascati, Grechetto, Est! Est! Est! Di Montefiascone

Foods/Dishes Rome is Known For:

○ Artichokes
○ Bruschetta (diced tomatoes on toasted bread)
○ Spaghetti Carbonara (pasta with eggs and cured pork)
○ Cacio e Pepe (pasta with pecorino and black pepper)
○ Suppli (fried rice balls)
○ Fiori di Zucca (fried zucchini flowers stuffed with mozzarella and anchovies)
○ Saltimbocca alla Romana (veal wrapped with prosciutto soaked in white wine)
○ Coda alla Vaccinara (braised ox-tail stew)
○ Abbacchio Scottadito (lamb)
○ Carciofi alla Giudia (jewish artichokes)
○ Bucatini all’Amatriciana (pasta with tomato sauce and cured pork)
○ Maritozzi (buns filled with whipped cream)

✦ ✦ ✦ ✦ ✦

I was not lucky enough to try every single item in every single city, but I definitely had a few, and it was nice having a sort of menu guide when in each region. Maybe if something on this list stands out, you can search it out. Buon appetito!

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18 thoughts on “A Taste of Italy: Regional Specialities of Venice, Florence, Rome, and the Amalfi Coast

  1. I love your idea of listing the specialties. I would have loved to read more about Melanzane al Cioccolato. The combination sounds weird, but, I don’t know. Have you tried it? Is that tasty?

    1. I did NOT get to try this one. But I didn’t end up seeing it on any menus. We were only there a couple days. I want to know more about it too! I may have to look up a recipe.

  2. We always enjoy trying the local cuisine. We love Italian food, so thanks for sharing some regional dishes. I’ll refer to your post next time we’re in that area.

  3. This brings back memories from my Italy last trip last year. I sure had my share of cicchiettis in Venice and Aperol Spritzes everywhere:)

  4. You are a girl after my own heart – I always indulge in the local produce and cuisine when I travel. It’s how I ‘slow travel’. Italy is one of my favourite countries to enjoy the food because it is so varied and tasty!

  5. Oh, I love Italian food! I didn’t know Limoncello comes from the Amalfi coast, now I have another reason that I want to go there 🙂

  6. This list of regional specialties is really helpful! We’re headed to Italy soon, and it looks like I’m going to enjoy the food around the Amalfi Coast the most!

  7. As a foodie, I absolutely loved reading this. Italy is one of my favorite countries, and while I’ve visited all the regions listed here except the Campania region ( I really want to go!), I have yet to try many of these local delicacies. The food and drinks are just sooo good!

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