In tribute to one of our most popular tours and to celebrate National Pasta Day, we’re taking a look at some of the famous pasta dishes from across the different regions of Italy. Come with us as we travel from top to toe of this gastronomy mecca and take the Grand Tour of Italy’s pasta dishes - Buon Appetito!
Stroll down the pasta aisle of any supermarket and you’ll find common varieties of pasta like penne, spaghetti and rigatoni. These primary shapes are loved across the globe, including in Italy, but did you know there is a whole host of different pastas out there? There are over 600 shapes of pasta – some short, some long, some that can be stuffed and some made for stews, there is a pasta shape for everything. From the hearty dishes of the North to the seafood recipes of the South, each region in Italy offers a different pasta dish than the last but all packed full of flavour and soul.
We start our tour in the Veneto region. The floating city of Venice is on most travellers’ bucket list, its iconic canals lined with marble palaces, grand piazzas and elegant churches are just the start of the fascinating sights in this audacious destination. Venture down the narrow backstreets and you’ll find pretty courtyards with quaint cafes and lively restaurants. Take a glance at the menu of these restaurants and you’re bound to find Bigoli. This long and thick strand of pasta is similar to that of spaghetti and originated from the Veneto region. One of the signature dishes of Venice is Bigoli in salsa, this Venetian speciality is made with whole-wheat bigoli pasta, onion and salt-cured fish. In the early days it was often prepared with sardines but now anchovies are more commonly used.
The home of Bolognese
Next we head to the famous foodie destination of Bologna, considered to be Italy’s culinary capital, it’s home to some of the country’s most famous foods. One of which is the city’s namesake Bolognese, known locally as ragù and served here with tagliatelle rather than spaghetti. Tagliatelle alla Bolognese is a signature dish of Bologna and a staple of Italian cuisine.
As we head further south, we enter the postcard-perfect region of Tuscany, from idyllic countryside scenery, to the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Chianti wines and the birthplace of Leonardo Da Vinci, Tuscany is a beautiful region that offers something for all. The number one pasta dish here is pappardelle, which is a large, wide, flat pasta and when paired with ragù di cinghiale (wild boar) it becomes the region’s most delicious dish.
Rome’s Classical Dishes
Travel to the Italian capital of Rome and take in the many fascinating sights, from the Trevi Fountain, to the Spanish Steps, the Colosseum and Vatican City. Rome is a traveller’s paradise, but it not only offers a wealth of amazing things to see and do but it also produces mouth-watering food. In fact there are four classic Roman pasta dishes, they are; cacio e pepe, carbonara, amatriciana, and alla gricia. The intriguing thing about these recipes is that they are all a variation of the other, alla gricia is cacio e pepe plus guanciale, carbonara is gricia plus egg and so on.
Leaving behind the capital we head to the picturesque region of Campania, home to a dramatic coastline, rugged mountains, historic ruins and charming towns. This area of Italy is paradise on earth. Known for the worlds most loved food – Naples is the birthplace of pizza, but did you know the region is also produces a famous pasta dish? Spaghetti alle vongole, more commonly known to us as spaghetti with clams is a Neapolitan classic. In Campania it is made with fresh tomatoes, but elsewhere “in bianco” (white sauce) is the choice of sauce.
Sicily’s Island Charm
The final stop on our tour of Italy is the gorgeous island of Sicily - pretty towns, scintillating views and delicious food, make it an incredible island destination. A staple of Sicilian cuisine is Pasta alla Norma, a dish of pasta or spaghetti with aubergine, tomato sauce and basil.