Are you still deciding where to spend your summer holidays? Italy offers many exclusive places and breathtaking views that will catch many likes from your friends. And not only: gastronomic specialities and regional Italian food are good reasons for choosing the Bel Paese. Here are some of the Italian summer destinations that are worth visiting not only for the richness of their culture but also for their culinary traditions.
We are in the heel of Italy, in the most southern part of the peninsula. Among the most visited and fashionable cities is the capital of the region, Lecce, white Otranto and its Bay of the Turks, while Gallipoli, Leuca and Porto Cesareo make the best spots for nightlife lovers.
Regarding the culinary specialities of the place, you can’t miss the regional street food, such as Salento’s Puccia, a kind of sandwich stuffed with salami and cheese, and the Rustico, a salty pie of pasta with balsamic vinegar, tomato and mozzarella.
If you choose to dine at the restaurant you can order all kinds of fish, but also the friselle, a softened bread, soaked in water and then seasoned with tomatoes, oil and oregano. For true gourmands, Salento also offers excellent cakes such as pasticciotto leccese, fruttone and almond pies.
If you’re in Gallipoli and want to mix street food art and genuine ingredients, stop at Scafùd. Here you’ll find bruschetta and frise with customised stuffings, along with artisanal beers. A place where quality comes together with quantity; in fact, the very names comes from ancient dialect Skafuddhèo, literally “eat very very much”.
Via Antonietta De Pace, 65, 73014, Gallipoli, Itay
+39 0833 263448
Before, a land rich in traditions and genuine simplicity. It’s located between two seas, the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Ionian Sea, and its areas have different climates. Among the best destinations there’s Matera, the city of stones, also named UNESCO World Heritage Site; Maratea, the pearl of the Tirrenian Sea, where the highest Italian statue of the Christ Redeemer stands; and Metaponto, on the Ionian coast, where you can admire some of the most beautiful monuments of Magna Grecia.
After visiting all these attractions, it’s time to sit back and take some time to taste the Lucania delights. Basilicata is famous for fresh pasta, seasoned in the most varied ways, from simple garlic, oil and chilli peppers, to vegetable sauces and ragù.
The pastoral activity allows to get fresh mozzarella, cheeses and dairy products, making the region a rich exporter of these delicacies; another peculiarity is lucanica, suppressed meat in a horseshoe shape and flavoured with parsley and cumin. Among the dishes stands out the baccalà with apricot peppers, but also the lamb flavoured with chives, ripe tomatoes, laurel and rosemary.
Among the desserts, an honourable mention goes to bocconotti, biscuits with cherry blossom, and the cakes of Trecchina, a place also famous for its bread.
In Matera, right in the heart of the city, you can try the Regia Corte restaurant. The astonishing panoramic view is matched only by the cuisine, which reworks the local raw ingredients in a modern way.
Piazza San Pietro Caveoso, 75100, Matera, Italy
+39 0835 314010
Aeolian Islands, Sicily
Taking a ferry from Milazzo you’ll reach the Aeolian Islands: Vulcano, Stromboli, Filicudi, Alicudi, Panarea, Salina and Lipari. Seven different islands of flora and fauna, each with its own characteristics and all to be visited. For Spa lovers, head to the magic mud baths in Vulcano. For Instagram lovers, Panarea is well worth a visit, with its white houses recalling Greece and the beaches that remind the Caribbean.
Among the typical Aeolian dishes there is, of course, fish, seasoned with the Aeolian cape; Malvasia, the nectar of the gods, is to be sipped before or after meals, accompanied by typical cookies such as sesamini and piparelli, whose ingredients are almonds, honey and orange essence.
To experience traditional dishes in a gourmand way, the restaurant Il Cappero at Therasia Resort offers 5-stars editions of “poor” dishes such as pane cunzato and caponata. All while dining with the whole archipelago in front of you.
Il Cappero at Therasia Resort
Località Vulcanello, Vulcano, 98050, Italy
+39 090 985 2555
Costa Smeralda, Sardinia
The wonders of Sardinia are uncountable. Among the most famous are Porto Cervo, Porto Rotondo, Cala di Volpe e Baja Sardinia, with the surrounding beaches. And also the Spiaggia del Principe, Rena Bianca in Portisco and Piccolo Pevero, next to Porto Cervo. The list goes on and on.
If you’re in luxurious Costa Smeralda, among the typical dishes to try out – yet in a fancy manner – there’s porceddu, the skewer-roasted piglet. Other delicacies include the chiusoni, small gnocchi with fish or wild boar sauce, but also sweets such as uriglietti, made with pasta violata, fried and dipped in honey and white sugar.
And if you long for high-quality cruditè, in Porto Cervo you can try the Fior d’Acqua by Shergàn restaurant. For a simple aperitif or for a romantic dinner with the soothing company of chef Michele Farru‘s delicacies.
Fior d’Acqua by Shergàn
Piazza del Principe, 1, 07021 Porto Cervo, Arzachena, Italy
+39 0789 92347
From Sardinia to another cradle of worldliness. It’s the Versilia coast, including Forte dei Marmi, Viareggio, Marina di Pietrasanta and Lido di Camaiore. Between beach and shopping, why not to stop in a restaurant in the area to try some Tuscan delights?
Among the Versilian typical dishes, there is cecina, a pie made of chickpeas, the origins of which are contended between Tuscany and Liguria; the cacciucco, a tomato and fish soup with crostini; or Sautéed cèe, baby eels seasoned with garlic and sage.
If you feel like experimenting with your palate, The Fratellini’s in Forte dei Marmi mixes traditional Versilian cuisine with Asian exoticism. That’s why you’ll find tempura roll filled with Italian baccalà, or shrimp risotto with a scent of lime and ginger, while classic Japanese makis are sided by scallops tartare and sweet-and-sour onions.
Via Achille Franceschi 2/A, 55042 Forte Dei Marmi, Italy
+39 0584 82931
The perfect spot both for families with children and for young people, as it’s a city full of clubs and nightlife.
The Ligurian region is also rich in gastronomic products, with dishes ranging from classic focaccia to first courses such as trofie and trenette with Ligurian pesto. Fish, on the other hand, is the main ingredient of second courses, such as cod and stockfish.
Among the desserts there are the canestrelli, stuffed peaches and sweet crumpets.
To enjoy all the culinary wisdom of this land in an essentially elegant atmosphere, the Lamberti restaurant offers local dishes with a whimsical vibe, such as baccalà pastry in tempura with asparagus and lime mayonnaise.
Via Gramsci 57, 17021 Alassio, Italy
+39 0182 642747
La Thuile, Aosta Valley
From the sea to the beauty of the mountain, precisely in Aosta Valley, at the foot of the Mont Blanc. Every year mountaineers from all around the world climb the peaks and reach shelters located at 4,000 meters high.
Going into the high altitude shelters, you can find regional delicacies such as the unmistakable polenta, but also the chnèfflene, or pasta flakes, made from flour, water, milk and egg, cooked in boiling water and seasoned with fondue, cream and speck; for a second course, try he Valdostana caldus sauce, with fontina and eggs, cooked in butter, or Valdostana crepes, with fontina and ham. Among the sweets, a must are blanc à manger, a chocolate cake of Savoyard origin, and torcetti, butter biscuits with sugar and honey.
Speaking of typical shelters, Lo Riondet deserves a special mention. With its Alpine memorabilia and wooden walls, this place creates the perfect atmosphere to savour delicacies such as the 18-months seasoned Saint Marcel ham, illustrious companion to fresh mountain cheese.
S.S. Piccolo San Bernardo, 4, La Thuile, Italy
+39 0165 88 40 06
Madonna di Campiglio, Trentino Alto Adige
Along with Pinzolo and Val Rendena, Madonna di Campiglio is the perfect destination for those who want to breathe clean mountain air with friends and family. In these areas, you can practice various sports, from trekking to climbing, from golf to simple walks or mountain biking.
However, after burning hundreds of calories, you have to refresh yourself by savouring regional delicacies such as canederli, large gnocchi made of bread, milk, flour, parsley, eggs, salami and lard; Sauerkraut, boiled cabbage in brine, cooked with sausages and pork; and finishing with the classic apple strudel.
Deer tidbits and roe ravioli seem to winter-like? Try them out at Zanolini restaurant, inside the Hotel Imperatore. The tasty preciousness is guaranteed, no matter the season.
Via Rododendro, 5, 38086 Palù, Italy
+39 0465 440772
Lignano Sabbiadoro, Friuli Venezia Giulia
Crossing northern Italy you’ll reach Friuli Venezia Giulia and the city of Lignano Sabbiadoro. During the summer the sun and the sea are the strong point of this Riviera, to which are added beach sports such as beach volley, sailing, windsurfing, horseback riding or bicycling on the promenade or in the pine forest.
Local products and dishes are also a must, such as rambasicci, stewed fillet of two types of meat; but also leek pies and almond tarts.
If you’re looking for a cuisine that reunites tradition and creativity, your choice is the Rosa restaurant. In the essential yet well-curated menu, you’ll find surprising pairings, such as black rice with shrimps on broccoli cream, but also evergreens such as fine seared tuna steak.
Via Latisana 156, 33054 Lignano Sabbiadoro, Italy
+39 0431 70148
Riviera Romagnola, Emilia Romagna
In our trip to discover the Italian gastronomic traditions, it’s impossible not to stop along the Riviera Romagnola, between Rimini and Riccione, Cervia and Milano Marittima, famous seaside resorts for their nightclubs and movida, as well as family-friendly places to stay.
Among the first courses are fresh pasta specialities such as tagliatelle and strozzapreti. Cured meats as prosciutto crudo and coppa, along with fresh cheeses as stracchino and Squacquerone, make the perfect summer second course. Last but not least, fish from the nearby Adriatic sea gets roasted on the grill. Another must is street food, with piadina and crescione stuffed with herbs.
To taste excellent fish in an innovative version but without going against tradition, try the i-Fame restaurant at i-Suite Hotel. Here saffron tagliolini get together with kombu seaweed, ricotta cheese marries mullet Bottarga, the Scquaquerone becomes a dessert. Tasting is believing.
Lungomare Murri 75, 47921 Rimini, Italy
+39 0541 386331