Italy Is All About The Food

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Words by Dalene Heck / Photography by Pete Heck

Sure, Italy has some spectacular scenery, art, and maybe just a bit of interesting history, but let’s face it. the first thing that came to our minds was the food from Italy. The Italians are known for so many delicious cuisine – the pasta, pizza, parmesan, balsamic vinegars, and of course the oven braised beef. All of it had us licking our chops several days before getting into the country, and we were never disappointed.

If gluttony is a sin, then God has never been to Italy. Fact.

So as we sat in Palermo, a few days from wrapping up our journey, ambitions were lacking and our waistbands were unsurprisingly tighter. We chose our brief stay there to reflect on all that we indulged in (while stuffing our faces with cannoli, of course).

Pasta, Pasta and More Pasta

No shock that we consumed A LOT of pasta. And when the noodles come fresh as they do, it’s hard to resist. We both thought that after a month in the country, we would get sick of it. But we did not.

Carbonara - Bari, Italy
Fresh Spaghetti Carbonara – Venice
Bologna - Spaghetti with Shrimp
Spaghetti with Fresh Shrimp – Bologna
Bologna - Lasagne and Tagliatelle
Lasagna and Tagliatelle – Bologna
Favignana - Spaghetti with Peppers and Tomato in Garlic Sauce
A form of spaghetti with tomatoes and hot peppers in garlic sauce – Favignana
(This ranked as Dalene’s top meal in all of Italy)
Trapani Pesto Spaghetti
Red Pesto Spaghetti made with tomato and almonds and is very typical of Trapani.


The Italians like to keep their pizza simple – no thick-crusted, 10 topping pizzas here. 1-2 toppings are normal and always thin crust. And if you didn’t know, they normally don’t cut the pizza when they serve it to you. Each region does it slightly differently – an example is that in Trapani, Sicily, the pizza is not made with traditional tomato sauce. Instead, the crust is lined with olive oil, garlic and plum tomatoes.

Amalfi - Pizza
Prosciutto, peppers, and plum tomato – Bari

We are told that the best pizza is in the Naples region, and as we are heading there next, you can guess what we’ll be having!

Arancini di Riso

A baked ball of risotto that has been coated in breadcrumbs. It is normally filled with Ragù (meat sauce), tomato sauce, and cheese. Depending on the region or area you are in, they can also be filled with mushrooms, ham, or peas.

Bari - Arancini di Riso
Ham and cheese arancini – Bari

Panzerotti and Calzone

Originating from Italy’s central and southern regions, panzerotti and calzone is essentially closed pizza pie (panzerotti being the smaller of the two). Most common fillings are tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese, but mushrooms and ham are often used.

Bari - Panzerotti
Panzerotti – Bari
Burano - Calzone
Calzone – Burano

Meats and Cheese

Shops line the streets with some of the finest meats and cheeses in the world. Fresh prosciutto, parmesan cheese, and mortadella from Bologna can’t be missed. And a little tip from the locals – try a few drops of balsamic vinegar on a chunk of parmesan cheese.

Bologna - Meat and Cheese Vendor
Meat and cheese vendor – Bologna
Bologna - Mortadella and Parmesan
Mortadella and parmesan appetizer – Bologna


A waiter in Venice with limited English asked us if we wanted “Something to sweet?” after dinner. That question is now a permanent part of our daily conversations to which the answer is almost always “Yes!” How could we resist…

Bologna - Tiramisu
Tiramisu – Bologna
Catania - Canoli
Cannoli – Palermo (A sicilian dessert meaning “little tube” A fried pastry dough with a sweet filling made with ricotta cheese)
Favignana - Mini Eclairs
Mini eclairs – Favignana


We also sampled a lot of different wines. We didn’t stray too far from the house wines offered as they were always very good and less expensive. But at Mama’s place in Bologna, we were introduced to Lambrusco. It is a sparkling red wine that can be described in one word = Delicious.

Lambrusco Frizzante  (sparkling red wine) – Bologna

 Please excuse us now as we wipe off some drool and go for a quick jog…

**You may notice that there were bites taken out of a lot of the food. This usually was the result of my not being faster with the camera than Dalene is with the fork!

Having troubles traveling internationally with celiac? Check out these detailed gluten free restaurant cards (ITALY).

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  1. I love the fact that you can travel all over Italy enjoying different specialities in different regions and it’s all fabulous. Looks like you found a good restaurant on Favignana. Soooo hungry now!

    1. I had no idea that the specialties varied so much by area, but we sure had fun discovering them all! That restaurant in Favignana was AMAZING, and that pasta dish was the most delicious thing…probably EVER!

  2. Holy cow. I m drooling. It’s 1 a.m. and now I am craving pasta and pizza. YUM! I remember gorging on Italian food when I was there, and NONE of it was bad.

  3. Italian food is the standard, pretty much everyone likes it, type of cuisine, and from this post I can definitely see why. It all looks so yummy.

    1. SO YUMMY, and so different to the kind of pasta we eat in North America. Not to sound all snobby traveler or anything, but I never ate pasta before I went to Italy. Really.

  4. Hey! I’m enjoying your photos. We too, loved Italy for it’s food: pasta, pizza, gelato, pastries and coffee. I’d go back in a heartbeat for the best pizza in Naples – Pizzeria Trianon

  5. La Dolce Vita…Italy truly is the sweet life. We spent some time in Italy two years ago and Maria spent an additional week in Como last summer. Our memories are full of delectable, nutella, gnocchi, pizza and the singsong of the Italian language. Reading your post, brings those memories to life. Looking forward to our return…

  6. Wow, you seriously just made me miss Italy in one blog post more than anything anywhere has since I left there 7 months ago… amazing. Now I can’t wait to get back and it’s nice to see it from someone else’s perspective to remember just how good it is!!

    Love your guys’ blog, seriously. I’m just catching up on your train journey now that it’s over! 🙁

    1. Thanks Annie! Every time I look back on this post I miss Italy too. The food and scenery was some of the best we have experienced.

  7. Yum, I can’t wait to try the food. Spaghetti Carbonara, spaghetti with almonds? (yum), pizza, desserts. Yummy. Would love to see a pic of the inside of an Arancini, if you have one. And yes, I’m hungry now.

    1. Ugh, I wish we had taken a photo of the Arancini on the inside! It’s a gooey mess of cheesy risotto, and this one had a few bits of ham and peas in it. Could have done without the peas, but we still gobbled them up regardless!

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