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3 Best Cities to Explore the Food of Italy’s Islands

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Cagliari on the island of Sardinia

Cagliari on the island of Sardinia

The three best cities of Italy’s famous islands where you can find the embodiment of culture, food, and culinary traditions are Sicily and Sardinia. The traditions of Sicilian and Sardinian kitchens include ingredients from the land and sea, with ancient pastoral customs to the simple appreciation for good food.

The islands of Italy have absorbed the various customs of the variety of cultures who have settled on Sicily and Sardinia over the last two millennia, including Greek, Spanish, French, and Arab influences. The mixture of Mediterranean heritages on the different Italian islands enriches the cuisines with a range of cooking techniques and flavors. Herbs and spices are commonly used for a unique culinary encounter that you can experience and enjoy as part of your next vacation.

1. Sicily - Palermo

Caponata

Caponata

Palermo is the capital city of Sicily with a cuisine based on the ancient gastronomic traditions of Phoenician tribes, Greek settlers, the Roman and Byzantine Empires, as well as Arab rulers, Norman invaders, and the House of Bourbon. The quality of the ingredients in the cuisine bolsters the flavorful dishes for which the city is known. The variety of tastes and styles reflect mainly the Arab, Spanish, and French traditions, especially in the famous desserts that reflect the island’s place at the center of Mediterranean trade for millennia.

Famous dishes of Palermo: Caponata | Pasta with Sardines | Baby Goat with Potatoes | Stuffed Artichokes with Sauce

2. Sicily - Syracuse

Spaghetti with Cuttlefish Ink

Spaghetti with Cuttlefish Ink

The rustic cuisine of Syracuse stems from poor shepherds utilizing meat and ancient preservation methods in connection to the surrounding harsh soil. Women customarily produced a hardy bread while meat and fish are often rolled in leaves to form small packages for shepherds to eat later. Skilled fishers catch tuna and mullet, chefs cure roe, and seafarers gather lobster. Home cooks serve pasta with decadent sauces and rich cheeses while honey and almonds decorate the confections.

Typical dishes of Syracuse: Pasta with Sicilian Zucchini | Spaghetti with Cuttlefish Ink | Spaghetti all Siracusana | Tuna with Peppers | Babbaluci

3. Sardinia - Cagliari

Pecorino Sardo

Pecorino Sardo

Cagliari is the capital of Sardinia with gastronomic traditions based on the simple but refined flavors of cucina povera shaped by the local fresh ingredients of the mountainous terrain and accessible seafood. Traces of Sicilian, Genoese, and Catalan influences remain in the culinary heritage, but the gastronomy of Sardinia’s capital city has a distinctive character separate from the greater traditions of the island. The cuisine utilizes excellent meat, remarkable seafood, and robust cheeses, as well as luscious olive oil, strong wine, and locally grown fruits and vegetables.

Popular dishes of Cagliari: Malloreddus | Pecorino Sardo DOP | Bottarga di Muggine

4. Sardinia - Portoscuso

Spaghetti with Tuna Bottarga

Spaghetti with Tuna Bottarga

Portoscuso is a fishing port capped by a Spanish-era tower that accesses Sardinia’s colorful streets and beaches accentuated by the local cuisine. Portoscuso celebrates the flavors of the typical Mediterranean diet and represents the culinary traditions of Southern Sardinia. Many dishes in Southern Sardinia gastronomy utilize traditional ingredients from capers to peppers, saffron to fennel, and beans. Renowned for its tuna and crab, the customs of earthenware emerges from the dishes that have been preserved in time.

Popular dishes of Portoscuso: Spaghetti conditi con la bottarga | Culurgionis all'ogliastrina | Aranciata nuorese | Sospiri

How to Plan Your Italy Island Vacation

Cannoli

Cannoli

The cities across the islands of Italy capture a vibrant panorama of the culinary bounty of the land and sea with ancient traditions dating back to the Greeks and Phoenicians. With local and seasonal ingredients highlighting the past and present culinary customs, you can find the bountiful flavors of Italy and more with Zicasso’s Italy Travel Guide. Ready for your culinary adventure? You can speak with an Italy travel specialist by filling out a Trip Request or by calling our team at 1-888-265-9707.

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