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Italian cuisine has evolved through centuries of social and political changes, with roots as far back as the 4th century BCE. Significant changes occurred with the discovery of the New World with the introduction of items such as potatoes, tomatoes, bell peppers and maize, now central to the cuisine but not introduced in quantity until the 18th century.

Ingredients and dishes vary by region. Many dishes that were once regional, however, have proliferated with variations across the country. Cheese and wine are a major part of the cuisine, with many variations and Denominazione di origine controllata (DOC) (regulated appellation) laws. Coffee, specifically espresso, has become important in Italian cuisine.


Italian cuisine has evolved over the centuries. Although the country known as Italy did not unite until the 19th century, the cuisine can claim traceable roots as far back as the 4th century BCE. Through the centuries, neighboring regions, conquerors, high-profile chefs, political upheaval and the discovery of the New World have influenced one of the premiere cuisines in the world.


See also: Roman cuisine
The first known Italian food writer was a Greek Sicilian named Archestratus from Syracuse in the 4th century BCE. He wrote a poem that spoke of using "top quality and seasonal" ingredients. He said that flavors should not be masked by spices, herbs or other seasonings. He placed importance on simple preparation of fish. This style seemed to be forgotten during the 1st century CE when De re coquinaria was published with 470 recipes calling for heavy use of spices and herbs. The Romans employed Greek bakers to produce breads and imported cheeses from Sicily as the Sicilians had a reputation as the best cheese makers. The Romans reared goats for butchering, and grew artichokes and leeks.

Middle Ages

See also: medieval cuisine
With culinary traditions from Romemarker and Athensmarker, a cuisine developed in Sicily that some consider the first real Italian cuisine.

Muslims invaded Sicily in the 9th century. The Arabs introduced spinach, almonds, rice and perhaps spaghetti. During the 12th century, a Norman king surveyed Sicily and saw people making long strings made from flour and water called atriya, which eventually became trii, a term still used for spaghetti in southern Italy. Normans also introduced casseroles, salt cod (baccalà) and stockfish which remain popular.

Food preservation was either chemical or physical, as refrigeration did not exist. Meats and fish would be smoked, dried or kept on ice. Brine and salt were used to preserve items like pickles, herring and to cure pork. Root vegetables were preserved in brine after they had been parboiled. Other means of preservation included oil, vinegar or immersing meat in congealed, rendered fat. For preserving fruits, liquor, honey and sugar were used.

The northern Italian regions show a mix of Germanicmarker and Roman culture while the south reflects Arab influence, as much Mediterranean cuisine was spread by Arab trade. The oldest Italian book on cuisine is the 13th century Liber de coquina written in Naplesmarker. Dishes include "Roman-style" cabbage (ad usum romanorum), ad usum campanie which were "small leaves" prepared in the "Campanian manner", a bean dish from the Marca di Trevisio, a torta, compositum londardicum which are similar to dishes prepared today. Two other books from the 14th century include recipes for Roman pastello, Lavagna pie, and call for the use of salt from Sardinia or Chioggiamarker.

In the 15th century, Maestro Martino was chef to the Patriarch of Aquileia at the Vaticanmarker. His Libro de arte coquinaria describes a more refined and elegant cuisine. His book contains a recipe for Maccaroni Siciliani, made by wrapping dough around a thin iron rod to dry in the sun. The macaroni was cooked in capon stock flavored with saffron, showing Arab influence. Of particular note is Martino's avoidance of excessive spices in favor of fresh herbs. The Roman recipes include coppiette and cabbage dishes. His Florentinemarker dishes include eggs with Bolognese torta, Sienese torta and Genoesemarker recipes such as piperata, macaroni, squash, mushrooms, and spinach pie with onions.

Martino's text was included in a 1475 book by Bartolomeo Platina printed in Venicemarker entitled De honesta voluptate et valetudine ("On Honest Pleasure and Good Health"). Platina puts Martino's "Libro" in regional context, writing about perch from Lake Maggioremarker, sardines from Lake Gardamarker, grayling from Adda, hens from Paduamarker, olives from Bolognamarker and Piceno, turbot from Ravennamarker, rudd from Lake Trasimenomarker, carrots from Viterbomarker, bass from the Tiber, roviglioni and shad from Lake Albanomarker, snails from Rietimarker, figs from Tuscolo, grapes from Narnimarker, oil from Cassinomarker, orange from Naplesmarker and eels from Campania. Grains from Lombardy and Campania are mentioned as is honey from Sicily and Taranto. Wine from the Ligurian coast, Grecco from Tuscany and San Severino and Trebbiano from Tuscany and Piceno are also in the book.

Early modern era

The courts of Florence, Rome, Venice and Ferrara were central to the cuisine. Christoforo Messisbugo, steward to Ippolito d'Este, published Banchetti Composizioni di Vivande in 1549. Messisbugo gives recipes for pies and tarts (containing 124 recipes with various fillings). The work emphasizes the use of Eastern spices and sugar.

In 1570, Bartolomeo Scappi, personal chef to Pope Pius V, wrote his Opera in five volumes, giving a comprehensive view of Italian cooking of that period. It contains over 1,000 recipes, with information on banquets including displays and menus as well as illustrations of kitchen and table utensils. This book differs from most books written for the royal courts in its preference for domestic animals and courtyard birds rather than game. Recipes include lesser cuts of meats such as tongue, head and shoulder. The third volume has recipes for fish in Lent. These fish recipes are simple, including poaching, broiling, grilling and frying after marination. Particular attention is given to seasons and places where fish should be caught. The final volume includes pies, tarts, fritters and a recipe for a sweet Neapolitan pizza (not the current savory version, as tomatoes had not been introduced to Italy. However, such items from the New World as corn (maize) and turkeymarker are included.

L'arte di Ben Cucinare published by Bartolomeo Stefani in 1662
In the first decade of the 17th century, Giangiacomo Castelvetro wrote Brieve Racconto di Tutte le Radici di Tutte l'Herbe et di Tutti i Frutti (A Brief Account of All Vegetables, Herbs and Fruit), translated into English by Gillian Riley. Originally from Modenamarker, Castelvetro moved to Englandmarker because of he was a Protestant. The book has a list of Italian vegetables and fruits and their preparation. He featured vegetables as a central part of the meal, not just accompaniments. He favored simmering vegetables in salted water and serving them warm or cold with olive oil, salt, fresh ground pepper, lemon juice or verjus or orange juice. He also suggests roasting vegetables wrapped in damp paper over charcoal or embers with a drizzle of olive oil. Castelvetro's book is separated into seasons with hop shoots in the spring and truffles in the winter, detailing the use of pigs in the search for truffles.

In 1662, Bartolomeo Stefani, chef to the Duchy of Mantuamarker, published L'Arte di Ben Cucinare. He was the first to offer a section on vitto ordinario ("ordinary food"). The book described a banquet given by Duke Charles for Queen Christina of Swedenmarker, with details of the food and table settings for each guest, including a knife, fork, spoon, glass, a plate (instead of the bowls more often used) and a napkin. Other books from this time, such as Galatheo by Giovanni della Casa, tell how scalci ("waiters") should manage themselves while serving their guests. Waiters should not scratch their heads or other parts of themselves, or spit, cough or sneeze while serving diners. The book also told diners not to use their fingers while eating and not wipe sweat with the napkin.

Modern era

At the beginning of the 18th century, Italian culinary books began to emphasize the regionalism of Italian cuisine rather than French cuisine. Books written then were no longer addressed to professional chefs but to bourgeois housewives. Periodicals in booklet form such as La cuoca cremonese ("The Cook of Cremona") in 1794 give a sequence of ingredients according to season along with chapters on meat, fish and vegetables. As the century progressed these books increased in size, popularity and frequency.

In the 18th century, medical texts warned peasants against eating refined foods as it was believed that these were poor for their digestion and their bodies required heavy meals. It was believed by some that peasants ate poorly because they were preferred eating poorly. However, many peasants had to eat rotten food and moldy bread because that was all they could afford.

Cucina Borghese published by Chef Giovanni Vialardi in 19th century
In 1779, Antonio Nebbia from Maceratamarker in the Marche region, wrote Il Cuoco Maceratese ("The Cook of Macerata"). Nebbia addressed the importance of local vegetables and pasta, rice and gnocchi. For stock, he preferred vegetables and chicken over meat. In 1773, the Neopolitan Vincenzo Corrado's Il Cuoco Galante ("The Courteous Cook") gave particular emphasis to Vitto Pitagorico (vegetarian food). "Pitagoric food consists of fresh herbs, roots, flowers, fruits, seeds and all that is produced in the earth for our nourishment. It is so called because Pythagoras, as is well known, only used such produce. There is no doubt that this kind of food appears to be more natural to man, and the use of meat is noxious." This book was the first to give the tomato a central role with thirteen recipes. Zuppa alli Pomidoro in Corrado's book is a dish similar to today's Tuscan Pappa al Pomodoro. Corrado's 1798 edition introduced a "Treatise on the Potato" after the the French Antoine-Augustin Parmentier's successful promotion of it.

In the 19th century, Giovanni Vialardi, chef to King Victor Emmanuel, wrote A Treatise of Modern Cookery and Patisserie with recipes "suitable for a modest household." Many of his recipes are for regional dishes from Turin including twelve for potatoes such as Genoese Cappon Magro. In 1829, Il Nuovo Cuoco Milanese Economico by Giovanni Felice Luraschi features Milanesemarker dishes such as Kidney with Anchovies and Lemon and Gnocchi alla Romana. Gian Battista and Giovanni Ratto's La Cucina Genovese in 1871 addressed the cuisine of Liguria. This book contained the first recipe for pesto. La Cucina Teorico-Pratica written by Ippolito Cavalcanti has the first recipe for pasta with tomatoes. La scienza in cucina e l'arte di mangiare bene ("The Science of Cooking and the Art of Eating Well"), by Pellegrino Artusi, first published in 1891, is widely regarded as the canon of classic modern Italian cuisine, and it is still in print. Its recipes come mainly from Romagna and Tuscany, where he lived.

Regional cuisines

Each area has its own specialties, primarily at regional level, but also at provincial level. The differences can come from a bordering country (such as France or Austria), whether a region is close to the sea or the mountains, and economics. Italian cuisine is also seasonal with priority placed on the use of fresh produce.

Friuli-Venezia Giulia

Friuli-Venezia Giulia shares traditions with the former Yugoslavia. San Daniele del Friulimarker hams come from here. Carnia in the northern region is known for bacon and Montasio cheese. Collio, Grave del Friuli, and Colli Orientali are regional wines. The dishes are influenced by Austrianmarker, Hungarian, Slovene and Croatian dishes. Beer halls feature Viennese sausage, goulash and Bohemian hare. Many desserts, such as strudels, are flour based. Polenta is a staple and finds its way into stirred dishes and baked dishes and can be served with sausage, cheese, fish or meat. Pork can be spicy and is often prepared over an open hearth called a fogolar.


A dish of risotto

Venicemarker and many surrounding parts of Veneto are known for risotto, a dish whose ingredients vary by location, with fish and seafood being added closer to the coast and pumpkin, asparagus, radicchio and frogs' legs appearing further away from the Adriaticmarker. In other parts of Veneto, polenta is the primary starch. Beans, Peas and other legumes are seen in these areas with pasta e fagioli (beans and pasta} and risi e bisi (rice and peas). Veneto features heavy dishes using exotic spices and sauces. Ingredients such as stockfish or simple marinated anchovies are found here as well. Less fish and more meat is eaten away from the coast. Sausages such as sopressata and garlic salami are common. High quality vegetables are prized, such as red radicchio from Trevisomarker and asparagus from Bassano del Grappamarker. The most notable dish of Veneto is fegato alla Veneziana, thinly-sliced liver sauteed with onions. Squid and cuttlefish are common ingredients, as is squid ink, called nero di seppia.

Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol

Before the Council of Trent in the middle of the 16th century, Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol was known for the simplicity of its cuisine. When the prelates of the Catholic Church came, they brought the art of fine cooking with them. Fresh water fish is a specialty. Later, influences from Venice and the Habsburg Empire came in. In the Alto Adige Alpine, Slavic, Austrian, and Hungarian influences prevail. Goulash is a regular dish, along with potatoes, dumplings and homemade sauerkraut (called crauti). Lard is popular, along with pasta, tomatoes and olive oil.


Rice is popular in Lombardy, often found in soups as well as risotto. Regional cheeses include robiola, crescenza, taleggio, gorgonzolamarker and grana padano (the plains of central and southern Lombardy allow intensive cattle-raising). Butter and cream are used. Single pot dishes, which take less work to prepare, are popular. In Bergamomarker, Bresciamarker, and Valtellinamarker, polenta is common. In Mantuamarker festivals feature tortelli di zucca (ravioli with pumpkin filling) accompanied by melted butter and followed by turkeymarker stuffed with chicken or other stewed meats.

Rye bread

Val D'Aosta

Bread thickened soups are customary as well as cheese fondues called fonduta. Polenta is a staple along with rye bread, smoked bacon and game from the mountains and forests. Butter and cream are important in stewed, roasted and braised dishes.


Piedmont is a region where gathering nuts, fungi, cardoons and hunting and fishing takes place. Truffles, garlic, seasonal vegetables, cheese and rice are all used. Wines from the Nebbiolo grape such as Barolo and Barbaresco are produced as well as wines from the Barbera grape, fine sparkling wines, and the sweet, lightly sparkling, Moscato d'Asti. Castelmagno is a prized cheese of the region. Filetto Baciato is a style of prosciutto made from pork fillet or other lean portion of pork marinated in white wine, coated with salami paste and stuffed into a casing to age for six months.


In Liguria, herbs and vegetables as well as seafood find their way into the cuisine. Savory pies and cakes are popular. Onions and olive oil are used. Because of a lack of land suitable for wheat, the Ligurians use chick-peas in farinata and polenta-like panissa. This is served plain or topped with onions, artichokes, sausage, cheese or young anchovies. Hilly districts use chestnuts as a source of carbohydrates. Ligurian pastas include corzetti from the Polcevera valley, pansoti, a triangular shaped ravioli filled with vegetables, piccagge, pasta ribbons made with a small amount of egg and served with artichoke sauce or pesto, trenette, made from whole wheat flour cut into long strips and served with pesto, boiled beans and potatoes, and trofie, a Ligurian gnocchi made from whole grain flour or white wheat flour, made into a spiral shape and cooked with beans and potatoes and often tossed in pesto. Many Ligurians emigrated to Argentinamarker in the late 19th and early 20th centuries; thus, Argentinian style Asado a la cruz can be found during summer.


Emilia-Romagna is known for egg pasta made with soft wheat flour. Bolognamarker is famous for pasta dishes like tortellini, lasagne verdi, gramigna and tagliatelle which are found also in other towns of the region. Romagna has Cappelletti, Garganelli, Strozzapreti, Spoglia Lorda and Tortelli alla Lastra. In Emilia, from Parma to Piacenza, rice is eaten to a lesser extent. Polenta is the staple in the Appenine mountains in both Emilia and Romagna. Aceto balsamico tradizionale (balsamic vinegar) is made only in the Emilia towns of Modena and Reggio Emilia, following legally binding traditional procedures.Parmigiano Reggiano cheese is produced in Reggio Emilia, Parma, Modena and Bologna and is much used in cooking. A lot of fish is eaten on the Adriatic coast, but this is mainly a meat eating region, including Romagna Lamb, Mora Romagnola Pork and game. The region has many cured pork products: Bologna, Parma and Modena hams, including Parma culatello and Salame Felino and Piacenza pancetta and coppa. Cooked pork like Bologna's mortadella and salame rosa, Modena's zampone, capello di prete and cotechino and Ferrara's salama da sugo are popular.


White truffle
Simplicity is central to the Tuscan cuisine. Legumes, bread, cheese, vegetables, mushrooms and fresh fruit are used. Olive oil is made from Moraiolo, Leccino, Frantoio, and Pendolino olives. White truffles from San Miniatomarker appear in October and November. Beef of the highest quality comes from the Chiana Valley, specifically a breed known as Maremmamarker used for Florentine steak. Pork is also produced.


Many Umbrian dish are prepared by boiling or roasting with local olive oil and herbs. Vegetable dishes are popular in the spring and summer, while fall and winter sees meat from hunting and black truffles from Norciamarker. Sausage by Norcini (butchers from Norcia) is widely eaten. Lenticchie di Castelluccio are lentils from Castelluccio. Spoletomarker and Monteleone are known for spelt. Freshwater fish include lasca, trout, freshwater perch, grayling, eel, barbel, whitefish, and tench.


On the coast of Marche, fish and seafood are produced. Inland, wild and domestic pigs are used for sausages and hams. These hams are not thinly sliced, but cut into bite-sized chunks. Suckling pig, chicken and fish are often stuffed before being roasted or placed on the spit.


Pasta dishes are often found in Lazio, with amatriciana sauce based on spicy red pepper and guanciale. They use lesser cuts of pork and beef, such as the entrail-based pajata and coda alla vaccinara. A Jewish influence can be seen, as Jews have lived in Rome since the 1st century BCE. Vegetables, especially globe artichokes, are common.

Abruzzo and Molise

Chilies (peperoncini) are seen in Abruzzo where they are called diavoletti ("little devils") for their spicy heat. Centerbe ("Hundred Herbs") is a strong (72% alcohol), spicy herbal liqueur drunk by the locals. Pasta, meat and vegetables are central to the cuisine of Abruzzo and Molise. Lamb is used with pasta. The chitarra (literally "guitar") is a fine stringed tool that pasta dough is pressed through for cutting. A dish from Pescaramarker is arrosticini, little pieces of castrated lamb on a wooden stick and cooked on coals. The popularity of saffron, grown in the province of L'Aquilamarker, has waned in recent years.


Campania produces tomatoes, peppers, spring onions, potatoes, artichokes, fennel, lemons and oranges which all take on the flavor of volcanic soil. The Gulf of Naplesmarker offers fish and seafood. Durum wheat is used in pasta. Mozzarella from the milk of water buffalo is highly prized. Traditional pizzas of the region take advantage of the fresh vegetables and cheese. Desserts include pastiera, sfogliatelle and rum-dipped babà.

Much Italian-American cuisine is based on that found in Campania and Sicily, heavily Americanized to reflect ingredients and conditions found in the United Statesmarker. Most pizza eaten around the world derives ultimately from the Neapolitan style.


The northern part of Pugliamarker uses much garlic and onion. The region is known for pasta made from durum wheat. Produce includes tomatoes, zucchini, broccoli, bell peppers, potatoes, spinach, eggplants, cauliflower, fennel, endive, chickpeas, lentils and beans. Apuliamarker is the largest producer of olive oil in Italy. The sea brings fish and seafood to the table, especially oysters, and mussels. Goat and lamb are seen occasionally.


Pork is an integral part of Basilicata's cuisine, often made into sausages or roasted on a spit. Mutton and lamb are also popular. Pasta sauces are generally based on meats or vegetables. Spicy peperoncini are much used. The bitter digestif Amaro Lucano is made here.


The cuisine of Calabria has been influenced by conquerors and visitors. The Arabs brought oranges, lemons, raisins, artichokes and egg plants. Cistercian monks introduced new agricultural practices to the region along with dairy products. French rule under the House of Anjou and Napoleon, along with Spanish influence, affected the language and culinary skills as seen in the naming of things such as cake, gatò, from the French gateau. Seafood includes swordfish, shrimp, lobster, sea urchin and squid. Melons such as watermelon, charleston gray, crimson sweet, cantelope, tendrale verde, piel de sapo and invernale giallo are served in a chilled Macedonia di frutta (fruit salad) or wrapped in Prosciutto.


The influence of Ancient Greece can be found here: Dionysus is said to have introduced wine to the region. The ancient Romans introduced lavish dishes based on goose. The Byzantines favored sweet and sour flavors and the Arabs brought apricots, sugar, citrus, sweet melons, rice, saffron, raisins, nutmeg, clove, black pepper, and cinnamon. The Normans and Hohenstaufens had a fondness for meat dishes. The Spanish introduced items from the New World including chocolate, maize, turkey and tomatoes. Tuna, sea bream, sea bass, cuttlefish, swordfish and other seafood are a part of Sicilian cuisine.


Rock lobster, scampi, squid, tuna, sardines and other seafood figure prominently. Suckling pig and wild boar are roasted on the spit or boiled in stews of beans and vegetables, thickened with bread. Herbs such as mint and myrtle are used. Much Sardinian bread is made dry, which keeps longer than high-moisture breads. Those are baked as well, including civraxiu, coccoi pinatus, a highly decorative bread and pistoccu made with flour and water only, originally meant for herders, but often served at home with tomatoes, basil, oregano, garlic and a strong cheese.

Meal structure

Traditionally, meals in Italy usually contain 3 or 4 courses. Meals are seen as a time to spend with family and friends instead of immediate sustenance; thus, daily meals can be longer than in other cultures. During holidays, family feasts can last for hours.

Today, the traditional Italian menu is kept mainly for special events (such as weddings) while an everyday menu includes only the first and second course, the side dish and coffee. A notable aspect of Italian meals is that the primo or first course, is usually a more filling dish such as risotto or pasta. Modern Italian cuisine also includes single courses (all-in-one courses), providing carbohydrates and proteins at the same time (e.g. pasta and legumes).

Aperitivo: apéritif usually enjoyed as an appetizer before a large meal, may be Campari, Cinzano, Prosecco, Aperol, Spritz or Vermouth.
Antipasto: literally "before (the) meal", hot or cold appetizers
Primo: "first course", usually consists of a hot dish like pasta, risotto, gnocchi, polenta or soup.
Secondo: "second course", the main dish, usually fish or meat. Traditionally veal, pork and chicken are most commonly used, at least in the North, though beef has become more popular since World War II and wild game is found, particularly in Tuscany. Fish are generally caught locally.
Contorno: "side dish", may be a salad or cooked vegetables. A traditional menu features salad along with the main course.
Formaggio e frutta: "cheese and fruits", the first dessert. Local cheeses may be part of the Antipasto or Contorno as well.
Dolce: "sweet", such as cakes and cookies
Caffè: coffee
Digestivo: "digestives", liquors/liqueurs (grappa, amaro, limoncello,sambuca, nocino, sometimes referred to as ammazzacaffè ("coffee killer")

Note: On restaurant menus, these terms may be referred to as Primi, Secondi, Contorni, and Digestivi.

Dining out

Each type of establishment has a defined role and traditionally sticks to it.

Places to dine out
  • Agriturismo - Working farms that offer accommodations and meals. Often the meals are served to guests only. Marked a by green and gold sign with a knife and fork.
  • Bar/Caffé - Locations which serve coffee, soft drinks, juice and alcohol. Hours are generally from 6am to 10pm. Foods may brioche, panini, tramezzini or spuntini (snacks) which can include olives, potato crisps and small pieces of frittata.
  • Birreria - A bar that offers beer found in central and northern regions of Italy.
  • Frasca/Locanda - Friulian wine producers that open for the evening and may offer food along with their wines.
  • Osteria - Focused on simple food of the region, often having only a verbal menu. Many are open only at night but some open for lunch.
  • Paninoteca - Sandwich shop open during the day.
  • Pizzeria - Wood fired pizzas are a specialty of Italy.
  • Polentaria - A regional establishment seen in limited number north of Emilia-Romagna.
  • Ristorante - Often offers upscale cuisine and printed menus.
  • Spaghetteria - Originating in Napolimarker, offering pasta dishes and other main courses.
  • Tavola Calda - Literally "hot table", offers pre-made regional dishes. Most open at 11am and close late.
  • Trattoria - A dining establishment often family run with inexpensive prices and an informal atmosphere.



Moka per il caffè
Italian style coffee (caffè), also known as espresso is made from a blend of coffee beans, often from Brazilmarker. Espresso beans are roasted medium to medium dark in the north, and gets darker moving south.

A common misconception is that espresso has more caffeine than other coffee but the opposite is true. The longer roasting period extracts more caffeine. The modern espresso machine, invented in 1937 by Achille Gaggia, uses a pump and pressure system with water heated up to 90-95°C (194-203°F) and forced with high pressure through a few grams of finely ground coffee in 25-30 seconds, resulting in about 25 milliliters (two tablespoons) of liquid.

Home espresso makers are simpler but work under the same principle. La Napoletana is a four part stove-top unit with grounds loosely placed inside a filter, the kettle portion is filled with water and once boiling, the unit is inverted to drip through the grounds. The Moka per il caffè is a three part stove-top unit that is placed on the stove-top with loosely packed grounds in a strainer, the water rises from steam pressure, and is forced through the grounds into the top portion. It is unlike a percolator in that the brewed coffee is not re-circulated.

Expresso is usually served in a demitasse cup. Caffè macchiato is topped with a bit of steamed milk or foam; ristretto is made with less water, and is stronger; cappuccino is mixed or topped with steamed, mostly frothy, milk. It is generally considered a morning beverage; caffelatte is equal parts espresso and steamed milk, similar to café au lait, and is typically served in a large cup. Latte macchiato (spotted milk) is a glass of warm milk with a bit of coffee.


DOCG label on wine bottle

Italy produces the largest amount of wine in the world and is both the largest exporter and consumer of wine. Only about a quarter of this wine is put into bottles for individual sale. Two-thirds is bulk wine used for blending in Francemarker and Germanymarker. The wine distilled into spirits in Italy exceeds the production of wine in the entirety of the New World. . There are twenty separate wine regions.

Those vineyards producing great wines are trying to do away with the old image of jug wines so often associated with Italian wine. To promote this, the Italian government passed the Denominazione di origine controllata (DOC) law in 1963 to regulate place of origin, quality, production method and type of grape. The designation Indicazione Geografica Tipica (IGT) is a less restrictive designation to help a wine maker graduate to the DOC level. In 1980, the government created the Denominazione di origine controllata e garantita (DOCG), reserved for only the best wines.

Holiday cuisine

Every region has its own holiday recipes. During La Festa di San Giuseppe (St. Joseph's Day) on March 19th, Sicilians give thanks to St. Joseph for preventing a famine during the Middle Ages. The fava bean saved the population from starvation, and is a traditional part of St. Joseph's Day altars and traditions. Other customs celebrating this festival include wearing red clothing, eating Sicilian pastries known as zeppole and giving food to the poor.

On Christmas Eve a symbolic fast is observed with the cena di magro ("light dinner"), a meatless meal. On Christmas day, Italians often serve tortellini as a first course. Typical cakes of the Christmas season are panettone and pandoro. On Easter Sunday, lamb is served in throughout Italy. A typical Easter Sunday breakfast in Umbria and Tuscany includes salami, boiled eggs, wine, Easter Cakes and pizza.


See also


  • Capatti, Alberto and Montanari, Massimo. Italian Cuisine: a Cultural History. New York: Columbia University Press, 2003. ISBN 0231122322
  • Del Conte, Anna. The Concise Gastronomy of Italy. USA: Barnes and Nobles Books, 2004. ISBN 1862056625
  • Dickie, John, Delizia! The Epic History of Italians and Their Food (New York, 2008)
  • Evans, Matthew; Cossi, Gabriella; D'Onghia, Peter, World Food Italy. CA: Lonely Planet Publications Pty Ltd, 2000. ISBN 1864500220
  • Koplan, Steven; Smith, Brian H.; Weiss, Michael A.; Exploring Wine, NY: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1996. ISBN 0471352950
  • Piras, Claudia and Medagliani, Eugenio. Culinaria Italy. Cologne: Könemann Verlagsgesellschaft mbh, 2000. ISBN 3829029012

Further reading

  • Riley, Gillian. The Oxford Companion to Italian Food. Oxford University Press: 2007. ISBN 978-0-19-860617-8

External links

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