Italians take great pride in their traditional cuisine. Towns and regions have their own specialties. In the north people cook with butter and cheese. Gorgonzola cheese comes from Lombardy. Parmesan cheese and prosciutto come from Parma. People eat polenta made from corn in the Po Valley. In Genoa they make pesto with basil and pine nuts and the Emilia Romagna region is famous for cold cuts. Romans are known for their fettuccine and saltimbocca (veal with prosciutto and cheese). Naples is the home of spaghetti and pizza. Sicily is known for its spumoni ice cream, cheesecake, lemons, oranges and other fruit. Calabrians make a special spiced salami called soppressata.
Italians have been making wine for thousands of years. Wine is produced in all regions, but the most important are Tuscany, Piedmont and Friuli. Another important drink is coffee. Italian espresso is dark and rich. Served with foamed milk, it is called cappuccino, named for the hooded Capuchin monks.
Did you know? 

"Buon appetito" is what you say to people before a meal in Italy. 

Breakfast is not elaborate. Italians drink a quick espresso or cappuccino with a roll or sweet cornetto (croissant). Lunch and dinner are often substantial. The first course is normally pasta with a sauce. The main course usually features meat (usually veal, pork or chicken) and vegetables. This is often followed by fresh fruit. Fancy desserts are reserved for special occasions. Wine is served with lunch and dinner.

 Pastas come in many different sizes and shapes. Some have amusing names. Agnolotti means little fat lambs, orecchiette means little ears, cannelloni means big pipes, vermicelli means little worms, and farfalle means butterflies. Children learn to twirl the long threads of spaghetti around their fork, using a spoon to keep the pasta in place. Eventually they learn to do this without a spoon.

Insalata Caprese


Red, ripe tomatoes
Bocconcini (soft mozzarella, available at Italian delis)
Fresh basil leaves
Olive oil
Salt and pepper


 Slice tomatoes and bocconcini. Arrange on a platter so that the slices alternate red and white to form a circle. If you have extras you can make another circle of tomatoes and cheese inside the bigger circle. Place the basil leaves over the tomatoes and mozzarella so you can clearly see the red, green and white colours. These are the colours of the Italian flag. Sprinkle with olive oil and grind black pepper over the salad. Add salt.
Buon appetito!