Italy is quite simply exquisite. It is a wonderland for travellers in search of breath-taking vistas, beautiful buildings and balmy weather, filled with delights both cultural and gastronomical. This is something visitors to its shores have long discovered. Transformed into the cultural capital of the world by the ancient Romans who peopled it, it still retains a love of art and literature, as well as the rich and delicious cuisine it has so long been famed for. Should you ever find yourself fortunate enough to visit, here are five authentic Italian dishes you can’t miss out on trying!
A mouth-watering mix of stuffed rice balls and crunchy breadcrumbs, arancini are cooked until crisp and golden brown, to give them just the right texture for sinking your teeth into. They're traditionally Sicilian and typically filled with ragù, tomato sauce, mozzarella and peas all mixed together, but you'll find them served up country-wide in different regional variations, adding a little diversity to this menu staple.
Tracing its origins back to Naples, lasagne is one of the most famous Italian dishes of them all – and with amply good reason. Sheets of wide, flat pasta are layered with a combination of minced meat, cheese, vegetables and sauces and baked in the other. This dish tastes better in Italy than it does anywhere else in the world, though, so make sure you try it at least once whilst you’re there or feel like you’ve missed out forevermore.
Osso buco alla Milanese
Meat lovers rejoice, the osso buco alla Milanese is the perfect pick for you. A beautiful concoction of tender shanks braised slowly in white wine and served heaped with vegetables, this delicious dish is enough to make anyone’s mouth water. Finished with a serving of aromatic gremolata – made from garlic, lemon zest and parsley – it tastes just as good as it smells. Don’t forget to scoop out and savour the creamy bone marrow once your meat and vegetables have been scoffed.
Sold in supermarkets across the globe, prosciutto is an Italian speciality. This supremely tasty dry-cured ham is served in the finest of slices, for an appetiser par excellence. With the finest and priciest examples found in central and northern Italy, it’s well worth heading across to these regions if you want to taste some of the best cuisine the country has to offer. Try the prosciutto wrapped around slices of cheese or draped over sweet melon for optimum effect.
Perhaps the greatest gift Italy has ever given to the globe is not its cultural learnings or Renaissance innovations, but a dish loved the whole world over: pizza. Best served stone-baked and cooked in the traditional way, it can be found all across the nation and tastes equally amazing no matter where you try it. Even if you’re still only at the planning stages of your travels, you could always order it in for a little Italianate inspiration!
Tell us, which of these delicious dishes do you plan on trying first?