Italian  Cuisine is much more regional and varied than many people imagine. It is easy to think that some pasta, some marinara sauce, a crust of  Italian  bread and a glass of wine is the beginning and end of  Italian  cuisine, especially if you grew up in the United States.

There is much more than red sauce and starch on the agenda for most  Italian  regional cuisines, and with all of the various regions and cultures in the boot on the ocean. Form the snow capped north to the sun drenched islands of the Mediterranean;  Italian  cuisine is as varied as the landscape.

Tuscany is one of the gems of northern Italy and thousands of tourist’s flock to this beautiful region every year. Tuscany is sought out for its simple but delicious dishes, seasoned sparingly with basil, parsley, and thyme. Tuscan bread and a little bit of olive oil are a big part of the seafood dishes of the Tuscan region.

Abruzzo, a little known treasure in the Middle Eastern section of the boot mixes chili peppers into almost all of their dishes. Like many other regions in Italy, there is a mixture of mountain and seafood dishes. Although pasta is usually a main dish in many countries, in this and many regions of Italy it is as likely to be served as an hors dourves.

Most of the chefs in the Abruzzo region are skilled at hand rolling their own stuffed pastas, and crepes are used in meat dishes, rolled in savory sauces or put in to broths. Polenta is as prevalent in this part of Italy as pasta and the local sausages are some of the best you will come across.

Sardinia is home to a diverse cuisine and their island roots are reflected in their love of all things seafood. This, in addition to a rich heritage of not only  Italians , but also Arabs, French, Greeks, and Spaniards, has made the island home to a diverse culture of seafood and meat dishes spiced with fennel and saffron. The Sardinians have a number of specialist cheeses based on sheep’s rather than cows milk and a penchant for good solid home cooking, such as stews, that give the local cuisine a wonderful richness.

Emilia-Romagna although not a name that springs to mind when you are discussing Italy, has perhaps the finest regional cuisine in the country. It is often called the market basket of Italy. Located in northern Italy, Emilia-Romagna is home to many of Italy’s most renowned dishes, like Prosciutto di Parma, Mortadella, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and balsamic vinegar. Highly spiced food and a more stylish presentation are the hallmarks of this wonderful part of Italy.

The  Italian  cuisine that we are used to eating abroad is only the tip of the iceberg and it is well worth exploring in depth the styles and variations of  Italian  regional cuisine. The style of the food is very often influenced by its proximity to other areas such as Northern Africa and other Mediterranean and European countries. All of these places have deeply affected  Italian  regional cuisines.

Shepard’s, shopkeepers, farmers, and fisherman all contribute to one of the most diverse cultural cuisines in the world. . When you next go out for  Italian   food  try and see if you can find something a little more regional than the ubiquitous pasta and pizza, who knows it could be the start of a real passion for  Italian  regional cuisine.

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