With 20 regions in Italy that each have their own speciality cuisine, from the spicy salami of the south to creamy polenta up north, the entire country is a gourmet paradise. If you’re exploring any of the southern regions, you need to try the local dishes. So, we’ve rounded up the very best food to eat in Southern Italy.
The food down south is ‘peasant cooking’: simple and fresh ingredients, full of flavour. There’s seafood, sun-ripened tomatoes and creamy mozzarella. Bookmark these specialties for your next visit…
Regional Food in Southern Italy
1. Maccheroni all chitarra – Abruzzo
This fresh pasta is the star of Abruzzo cuisines. The pasta dough of eggs and durum wheat, is cut into strips using a “chitarra” (a “guitar”). The rough texture of the pasta clings onto the sauce beautifully. Try it with a Ragù all’Abruzzese of lamb, beef, and pork meatballs.
2. Ciammotta – Basilicata
This tasty summer veggie stew is with fried aubergines with potatoes, tomatoes and peppers. It’s a popular Basilicatan classic. Extra flavour comes from the local sweet pepper, Senise peperoni cruschi, giving the dish an incredible smoky aroma. It’s a hearty dish that’s full of rich flavours.
3. ‘Nduja – Calabria
This spreadable spicy salami is the shining star of Calabria. The tastiest ‘nduja comes from the village of Spilinga, and there’s even a yearly festival for it in the region. Spread it on bread, melt it into sauces and stews, add onto pizza and pasta, or just eat straight from the spoon…
4. Neapolitan Pizza – Campania
Home to Naples, you can’t come to Campania without eating the famous pizza here. Neapolitan pizza sticks to strict classifications, using just flour, water, salt, and yeast. The dough is thick and fluffy, with wood-fired char and is topped with local San Marzano tomatoes and mozzarella.
5. Abbuoti – Molise
Offal is very popular here, so be sure to give it a try! Abbuoti (translates to ‘envelopes’ are little parcels of lamb liver, sweetbreads and hard boiled eggs which are stuffed inside lamb’s intestines and baked.
6. Orecchiette con Cima di Rape – Puglia
This is a classic dish from Puglia that makes use of the fresh semolina flour pasta and local greens. Orecchiette are an ear-shaped pasta, while the broccoli rabe adds a slightly bitter kick. A drizzle of Apulian olive oil is the perfect final touch.
7. Arancini – Sicily
How to pick just one famous Sicilian dish? It’s tough, but these crunchy rice balls are a must-eat. It’s creamy risotto rice that’s breaded and deep-fried, stuffed with anything from vegetables to salami or cheese. You’ll spot stacks of these in most bakery windows on the streets, so grab one to eat while you wander.