The lingering smell of fresh oregano, bubbling tomato sauce, layer upon layer of finely rolled pasta; Italian food is one of the most-loved cuisines in the world. And where better to be educated on its fineries than on a culinary tour of Italy?
Taking part in one of Italy’s food tours while on holiday is not only an eating experience but a cultural one. While on your Italy tour, you will be introduced to families who hand their recipes down through generations on farms and in shops that have been open just as long!
History on a Fork
One of the culinary capitals of the world, Italian food has spread across the western world. While the Romans may have brought ingredients to Britain, Italian food went with the Italian migration to America in the 19th and 20th centuries. This migration brought global attention to Italian food with the rise of America, in particular pizza.
Bringing it back to Italy, the home of pizza lies in the capital of Campania, Naples where you can still visit the first-ever restaurant to make a margarita pizza which is said to have been inspired by the Italian flag.
However, the Neapolitan classic is just the beginning of the flavours and delicacies that can be explored in Italy. Stretching from the north to the south, Italian cuisine goes deep into history. Whether you are in the maritime capital of Venice, the official capital city of Rome where the Empire once hailed or the Mediterranean island of Sicily; Italian food and the stories that come with it differ greatly from region to region.
When it comes to pasta, many stories question when the idea first came around. What is certain is that the pasta we know now was an adaptation from another country.
Some say that the adventurer, Marco Polo brought pasta (or noodles) back from China, although this is often disputed for its lack of historical merit. A tale that does have some historical value is that pasta could have come with the Ottoman rule over Sicily when the Arabs brought Itriyya, a dry pasta similar to what we have come to call macaroni, in the 10th century.
The Best Italy Food Tours
No matter where you are during your tour of Italy, you’ll find food at the very centre of the regional culture and pride.
Italy food tours can be arranged around the country. Whether you are looking for the true taste of pasta on a food tour in Bologna or prosciutto on a food tour of Tuscany; the diversity of culinary experiences across the country will charm you into taking another bite.
Key Regions to Visit on a Food Tour in Italy are;
Nestled in the northwest of Italy, Piedmont is famous for its lush green landscape and terraces that stagger across the hills.
You cannot leave Piedmont without going on what is considered the ‘true’ truffle hunting experience in Italy. Truffles in hand, your tour will be finished off with a tasting paired with local wine, such as the one found in this Italian food tour. Piedmont is particularly well-known for its Barolo wine, with a grape type that has made its way into all wine-lovers cabinets.
Naples is the third-largest city in Italy and the home of Italy’s most famous food, pizza. While wandering through the city streets on a Naples food tour, you’ll discover why the Neapolitan way of eating is an entirely new cultural experience that makes it a must while considering Italian food tours.
Everything in Naples is indulgent: no matter where you go you’ll be met with great helpings of cheese, bubbly prosecco and decadent sliced meats!
When you are not being blown away by the city’s plethora of architectural wonders, Rome is a foodies paradise. While hopping between the museums and basilicas on the best food tours in Rome, you’ll find small restaurants that will lure you in with their fresh and flavourful dishes.
Must-tries while eating on an Italy food tour in Rome are simmered artichokes ‘Jewish style’ and Maritozzi, a sweet breakfast bun filled with whipped cream.
An essential stop on any food and wine tour of Italy, the rolling hills of Tuscany are complemented by the orange hue of small towns and villages that has become an iconic image of the region. Tuscany is not only known for being the birthplace of Renaissance but for its flavourful, simple, hearty dishes.
Think rich sauces, homemade bread, olive oil and cheese, finished with Tuscany’s Chianti wine that balances it out the meal. Tuscany is known across the country as being the best when it comes to food – a bold statement that is not to be taken lightly!
Food Tour of Rome
Be introduced to the tastes of the capital on a food tour of Rome! In between visiting the ancient sites, sculptures and basilicas, Roman food capture the culture and atmosphere of the Eternal City. You’ll learn the in’s and outs on a Rome food walking tour in Trastevere.
What to Expect on the Best Food Tour in Rome
Fresh vegetables, olive oil and bread have been a staple in the Roman diet since ancient times. As Ancient Rome was the epicentre of trading, a wide variety of fruit, vegetables and grains were always available in the city. At the centre of it were thick sauces, that are still prevalent today.
With a guide, you’ll be introduced to local vendors who will share their products with you as you explore the city on your Rome food tour in Trastevere. Sample centuries-old cheese, sip on traditional Italian wine and snack on a Suppli to get to grips with the ways of Rome.
Where to Eat in Rome
The tour will take you through Trastevere, a neighbourhood that has long been a favourite among locals with its stone pavements, warm colours, hidden architectural gems and trattorias on every corner. The area demonstrates the magic of the outskirts of Rome, away from tourism, yet is still within reaching distance of the ancient centre so you can enjoy a leisurely afternoon exploring the city.
One of the best food tours of Rome will take you through the small cobbled streets, stopping along the way to pick up snacks that will blow you away with their simplicity; in Italy, the ingredients are the star of the show.You can incorporate a food tour in Rome into a longer trip, such as this food and wine tour in Italy to capture the magic of culinary culture across the country.
Italy’s Tuscany Food Tour
As far as food and wine tours in Italy go, this is by far the most indulgent. Vineyards and olive groves, cured hams and bread dipped in balsamic paint a picture of Tuscany with its rolling hills.
What You Can Eat in Tuscany
A classic food tour in Italy’s Tuscany could take you to Val d’Orcia, like the tour found in this 9-day Italy food tour where you will be taken to dairy farms to sample cheese, vineyards to taste wine, and olive groves to try olive oil; often all of these delicious ingredients can be found in one place. For a truly unique experience, you’ll be taken on a hunt for truffles in the calming hills while on a Chianti wine tour from Florence.
A food tour in Tuscany takes you to the soul of Italian food culture. You’ll learn about the importance of the quality of the food produced in Tuscany by using recipes that have been handed through generations.
How Long is a Food Tour in Tuscany?
Food tours through the Tuscan countryside could be done in an afternoon or over several days. There’s so much to learn about Tuscany, you will never grow tired of the possibilities and the hospitality that comes with it.
It’s also possible to take one of the Chianti wine tours from Florence that will give you a sample of Tuscany cuisine with a selection of cheese, homemade salami, olive oil and bread that is paired with a wine tasting.
Venice Food Tour
What to Expect: the Venice Cicchetti Tour
Not often top of the list when it comes to food tours in Italy, Venetian cuisine focuses on the port city’s maritime past. With that in mind, a Venice food tour such as this 9-day Gastronomic Rome to Venice Adventure starts in the fish market to get to the source of the many seafood restaurants that line the streets of Venice.
You cannot leave Venice without tasting Cicchetti; all Venice food tours will have a Cicchetti spot along the way, packed with local Venetians coming for their fix. Often washed down with prosecco or spritz, the freshness alone will impress.
Cicchetti is a snack that sits at the heart of Venetian cuisine. The dish is a highlight of any culinary tour of Italy, known for its simplicity. Made up of crostini topped with grilled or fried fish and vegetables, during the maritime years of Venice, it was served to fishermen who arrived back in the floating city in the small hours of the morning.
When to Go on a Venice Food Tour
Taking a food tour during your culinary tour of Italy is best done in the morning so that you can see the fish market in its magic hour.
If you want to incorporate a Venice wine tour with your Cicchetti, you can opt to take a tour late afternoon, just as the evening restaurants are about to open, so you don’t lose out on the freshness.
Mediterranean Flavours of Sicily
The island of Sicily has an extravagant history as it was ruled by more civilisations than any other part of modern-day Italy. Sicilian cuisine demonstrates the influences of the people from different cultures who came to live here over the centuries. It attests to its Greek, Middle Eastern, French and Spanish influences with an elaborate range of food.
What to Expect on a Sicily Food Tour
A food tour in Sicily can be on any part of the island. Whether you are looking to sample the wine from vineyards on Mount Etna, local cheese or seafood fresh from the sea; you’ll find it in the cities, towns and villages in Sicily.
Sicilian culinary ventures such as this Italy food tour in the centre of Syracuse, takes you to the heart of the island’s divine and varied cuisine. An evening with a local guide will see you jumping between family-run tavernas getting to know locals and their favourite dishes, all washed down with Sicilian wines. Your evening will be filled with cheese, finely sliced meats and bruschetta, finished with some classic Sicilian desserts and limoncello to cleanse the palette.
This is one of the best food and wine tours in Italy as you truly go on a culinary journey the local way.
When to Dive into a Food Tour in Sicily
Choosing a Sicilian food tour in Italy depends on when and where you would like to go in Sicily. If you are looking to stop in some places during the day, you are best to go to the countryside, where you’ll find vineyards, dairy farms and olive groves everywhere you turn.
For an evening tour, stop in Syracuse and be charmed by the local pace of life while tasting all that is on offer. This will set a more relaxed pace, as most tavernas are open late, offering the chance for you to stay for a wine or two at the end of your tour.
Bologna Food Tour
Italian’s will tell you to look no further than Bologna for pasta. Home of the international favourite, Bolognese, while on your food tour in Bologna, you’ll soon find out that not only do we not make the dish correctly, but it is not called Bolognese either.
An interesting and fun fact: the bolognese sauce that is known around the world is referred to as ragu in Italian. It is considered a Bologna-style sauce that, when served with tagliatelle, is a la Bolognese. It is also used for lasagne a la Bolognese. That’s right; Bolognese is the word for the sauce, and is not often served with spaghetti!
What to Expect on Your Food Tour in Bologna
A Bologna food tour will take you deep into the city where you’ll shop and dine like locals, with locals. Taking you on a journey from coffee to gelato, you’ll be guided through all that the city is known for. As you hop from delicatessen to roastery, you’ll sample products, unlike anything you have tasted before.
Your tour will include tasting different kinds of fresh pasta, such as tagliatelle and tortellini that Bologna is so well-known for. You’ll also spend some time getting to know the ways of Bologna’s local cuisine that is centred around fresh local products that change with the season.
A highlight of your Italy wine and food tour experience will be stopping in an osteria in the city; a traditional place to eat simple food washed down with wine. An osteria is like a mixture between a restaurant and a pub. It’s the soul of casual dining in Italy. Whilst here, you’ll sample Parmigiano Reggiano, Modena balsamico and a range of cured meats such as Parma ham with local bread.
This traditional experience will leave you feeling the true la dolce vita.
To get deep into Italian culture, do a cooking class while on your food tour of Italy. An Italian cooking class will allow you to tap into the traditions of food and the importance of family that comes with each dish. Both fun and educational, the highlight of your cooking class in Italy will always be sitting down to your meal with your small group at the end!
Get hands-on by tapping into cooking classes across Italy, here are some of our personal favourites for you to get stuck into;
Rome with Roberta
Experience la dolce vita in Rome. Starting with a trip to the market, your cooking tour in Italy is peppered with antipasti and wine tastings to make the experience that much more satisfying.
A cooking class in Rome is all about creating the ultimate Italian eating experience, surrounded by casual conversation, friendly people and lots of food! You’ll make two courses; pasta, a side dish and a dessert. Throughout the class, you’ll have the assistance of your chef for the day, as you are shown the secrets of genuinely Roman food in a small group.
You’ll finish the day with an Italian-style family dinner with your local hosts, where you’ll grab a glass of wine and sit down to enjoy your creations with other travellers and your guides!
Bologna Pasta Class with Giulio
Learn the ways of the ultimate comfort food, pasta. Bologna is a one-stop-shop for pasta, known among locals as the best city to sample the variety of pasta dishes available. Get to know all things pasta on a master class like the one found in this cooking trip to Italy.
This pasta master class will take you through the stages of making the perfect pasta, from creating the perfect consistency of the dough to the shape for your tortellini and how to keep it that way when you cook. Today, you will become a pasta master!
You’ll learn the in’s and out’s from a local family, with skills, techniques and recipes that are unique to the family, including a thick and flavourful ragu sauce. Little authentic experiences like this is what has led to Bologna earning its title as the city of pasta.
Finish off your morning or afternoon of cooking with a glass of wine as you sit down to eat with your new Bolognese friends.
Cooking Class in Piedmont with Fabio and Fernanda
Should your culinary tour of Italy take you into this tasty region, a cooking class comes highly recommended, such as the one in this food and wine tour in Italy.
Set in the Langhe Hills, you’ll be learning to cook regional dishes in the foodie paradise of the Piedmont region. Your morning of cooking will introduce you to products that the area is famous for, such as white truffle. Today’s cooking experience will teach you how to integrate this into authentic Piedmont dishes.
Walking into a kitchen in the picturesque town of Alba, your chef, Fernanda will introduce you to the products you are about to use, their origin, and how they contribute to the dish. Your personal chef and guide for the day will explain the role of the kitchen as the heart of any family home. Through today’s cooking class, you’ll learn about the culture behind Piedmont’s famous food and become part of it while in the kitchen!
Start Planning Your Food Tour in Italy Today
Food and wine tours in Italy are a form of cultural immersion that will transform your trip from bouncing between attractions to being at the middle of what Italian’s are most proud of! Through talking with one of our Local Suppliers in Italy, you’ll be able to tailor your foodie experience into something that balances wine tastings with food sampling to ensure that you have the complete Italian experience.
Whether you are looking to tour the key cities on a 7-day trip to Rome, Florence and Venice or want a more local countryside experience while travelling in Umbria and Tuscany; adding a culinary tour will complete your trip. Contact one of our Local Suppliers to begin planning your next trip!