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5 Best Cities in Which to Explore Southern Italian Food

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Bari, Italy

Bari, Italy

Southern Italian food features the delicious Mediterranean flavors many visitors associate with the country’s traditional cuisine that you can discover in the fives best cities for southern Italian food.

Cooking is a way in which northern, central, and southern Italian regions showcase their diversity. The food of southern Italy is often referred to as Cucina Povera, with frugal cooks relying on the sea’s bounty or the hard-fought harvest from tenacious farmers.

The warm Mediterranean climate supports a history of trade and conquest, revealing distinctive characteristics of unforgettable gastronomy, from Bari to Campobasso.

  1. 1. Bari
  2. 2. Catanzaro
  3. 3. Naples
  4. 4. The Amalfi Coast
  5. 5. Campobasso
  6. Explore the Best Southern Italian Food on Vacation

1. Bari

Burrata cheese

Burrata cheese

Bari is the capital of the Puglia region. The city is located on the Adriatic coastline, creating classic recipes steeped in its seafaring tradition and ingredients. Bari's strong connection with the landscape provides ingredients ranging from red and yellow peppers to orecchiette pasta.

Its popular dishes include sardines, tomatoes, olives, olive oil, and 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, while exploring the traditions thereof is among the top things to do in Italy.

Popular Dishes to Try in Bari: Orecchiette with turnip tops and sausage • Burrata cheese • Panzerotti • Focaccia BareseZucchine alla PoverellaPasta al Forno

2. Catanzaro



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 also include tripe, fried eggs, figs, nuts, and cinnamon.

The city has a view over the Ionian and Tyrrhenian seas, but does not typically use seafood, preferring ingredients like fruits, vegetables, meat, and poultry for a hearty and rich culinary experience as you explore Italian food by region.

Popular Dishes to Try in Catanzaro: Provola cheese • Soppressata • Pasta with fried eggs and pecorino cheese • Anchovies al Cetrarese •  Bucatini with anchovy and bread sauce

3. Naples

Pizza margherita in Naples, Italy

Pizza margherita

Naples is the capital of the Campania region and one of the best cities to explore the food of Campania. The cuisine of Naples consists mainly of simple ingredients with big flavors, producing dishes like spaghetti with clams or risotto alla pescatora.

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 proximity to Mount Vesuvius results in vegetables and fruits that feed off the rich nutrients of the volcanic soil, producing robust flavors.

Popular Dishes to Try in Naples: Pasta a Fagioli • Neapolitan ragú • Pizza margherita • Mozzarella in carrozza • Babá

Learn more: 5 Dishes to Try on Your Trip to Naples

4. The Amalfi Coast

Scialatielli all'Amalfitana

Scialatielli all'Amalfitana

The Amalfi Coast is a popular Campania shoreline that connects small coastal towns and serves some of the best dishes to try on your trip to Campania. The cuisine of the Amalfi Coast combines fresh seafood with sensational fresh produce 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 Amalfi Coast cuisine stem from the sea, with dishes that reflect the bountiful seafood you can enjoy when exploring the local towns and flavors.

Popular Dishes to Try in the Amalfi Coast: ScialatielliNdunderiPignatiello all’amalfitanaColatura di alici Sfogliatella

Learn more: Top 8 Things to Do on the Amalfi Coast

5. Campobasso

Fusilli with Lamb Ragu

Fusilli with Lamb Ragu

Campobasso is the capital of the Molise region. Its culinary creations consist of flavorful organic, local ingredients like zucchini, celery, and peppers.

Dishes of typical Campobasso cuisine include soups or seasoned sausages. The 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 to Try in Campobasso: CapicolaTorcinelli • Pork belly • Fusilli with lamb ragu • Cavatelli with broccoli and chili • Pizza e minestra

Explore the Best Southern Italian Food on Vacation

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 as you experience the best of the cuisine on southern Italy tours and vacations or curated Italy food tours.

Southern Italy brings a celebratory focus to the international dishes many already know, but within cuisine inherent to specific soils and seas. You can learn more in our southern Italy travel guide or Italy food and wine travel guide.

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