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5 Best Cities to Explore the Food of Southern Italy

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Bari, Italy

Bari, Italy

Southern Italian food features the bright and delicious flavors of the Mediterranean that many visitors associate with traditional Italian food that you can discover during your Italy vacation. Cooking is an essential way that Northern, Central, and Southern Italy showcase their diversity. The food of Southern Italy is often referred to as Cucina Povera, with frugal southern cooks relying on the bounty of the sea or the hard-fought harvest from tenacious farmers. The warm Mediterranean climate supports a history of trade and conquest, revealing distinctive characteristics of the unforgettable gastronomy.

1. Bari

Burrata cheese

Burrata cheese

Bari is the capital of the Puglia region. The city of Bari is located on the Adriatic coastline, creating classic recipes steeped in the seafaring tradition and ingredients. Bari's strong connection with the landscape and ingredients ranges from red and yellow peppers to orecchiette pasta. Bari's popular dishes use the bounty from land and sea with sardines or tomatoes, olives and olive oil, or prosciutto. The high-quality olive oil of Bari is a feature in any celebrated local dish that you can indulge in during your time in the bustling city.

Famous dishes of Bari: Orecchiette with turnip tops and sausage | Burrata cheese | Panzerotti | Focaccia Barese |  Zucchine alla Poverella | Pasta al Forno

2. Catanzaro

Soppressata

Soppressata

Catanzaro is the capital of Calabria. The cuisine of Catanzaro uses olive oil and hot chili peppers as the base of authentic local cuisine. Classic ingredients of Catanzaro cuisine also include tripe and fried eggs and ingredients like figs, nuts, and cinnamon. The city has a view over the Ionian and Tyrrhenian seas but does not typically utilize fresh seafood in the cuisine, instead preferring earthenware ingredients like fruits, vegetables, meat, and poultry for a hearty and rich culinary experience.

Typical dishes of Catanzaro: Provola cheese | Soppressata | Pasta with fried eggs and pecorino cheese | Anchovies al Cetrarese |  Bucatini with anchovy and bread sauce

3. Naples

Naples is the capital city of the Campania region. The cuisine of Naples consists mainly of simple ingredients with big flavors, producing dishes like spaghetti with clams or risotto alla pescatoa. The gastronomic traditions of the city blend a variety of kingdoms, empires, and settlers from the last two millennia, resulting in a combination of seafood and earthenware cooking styles. The close proximity to Mount Vesuvius results in vegetables and fruits that feed off the rich nutrients of the volcanic soil, producing robust flavors and fresh cuisine.

Popular dishes of Naples: Pasta a Fagioli | Neapolitan ragú | Pizza margherita | Mozzarella in Carrozza | Babá

4. Amalfi Coast

Scialatielli all'Amalfitana

Scialatielli all'Amalfitana

The Amalfi Coast is a popular shoreline of Campania that connects a selection of small coastal towns. The cuisine of the Amalfi Coast combines fantastic, fresh seafood with sensational, fresh produce that is grown along the cliffs of the Tyrrhenian Sea. The various microclimates along the seaside and high-altitude cliffs shape the distinctive flavors of the fruits and vegetables cultivated along the coast. The true pearls of the Amalfi Coast cuisine stem from the sea with dishes that reflect the bountiful seafood that you can enjoy when exploring the local towns and flavors.

Popular dishes of Amalfi Coast: Scialatielli | ‘Ndunderi | Pigniatello all’amalfitana | Colatura di Alici | Sfogliatella

5. Campobasso

Fusilli with Lamb Ragu

Fusilli with Lamb Ragu

Campobasso is the capital city of the Molise region. The gastronomy of Campobasso consists of organic and local ingredients for the best flavor of vegetables like zucchini, celery, and peppers. Dishes of typical Campobasso cuisine include soups or seasoned sausages. Campobasso Province is also an important area in which hunters can find precious truffles. The mountainous terrain hosts lakes, hills, and rivers that run to the Adriatic Sea, defining the city's culinary traditions and inherent culture with hearty ingredients shaped by the rugged surroundings.

Popular dishes of Campobasso: Capicola | Torcinelli | Pork belly | Fusilli with lamb ragu | Cavatelli with broccoli and chili | Pizza e minestra

How to Plan Your Trip to Italy

Cup of espresso with view of Mt Vesuvius in Naples, Italy

Naples, Italy

The different regions of Southern Italy produce spicy oils, fleshy tomatoes, and large lemons with heritage thriving around the table. Southern Italy brings a celebratory focus to the international dishes many already know but within the cultural cuisine inherent to the specific soils and seas that you can explore during an Italy food tour. You can use Zicasso’s Italy Travel Guide for more inspiration for your next trip or 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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