A culinary gap year journey through Italy’s regions: part two
Being a country noted for its widely acclaimed cuisine, we felt that it was impossible to keep our regional guide to just one feature.
As a result, we're back again this week to explore more dishes and the area's that allowed them to come to fruition.
Who doesn't think about pizza when they think of food from Italy? Not only is it synonymous with the country, it has also inspired global chains like Pizza Hut or Dominoes. What makes it so special is it its simplicity: a flatbread, slathered in a rich tomato sauce, topped with mozzarella and seasoned with a few basil leaves.
It is believed to have developed in the 1500s and began its life as a street food and was affordable to the poorer sect of society. The dish then went on to become a favourite amongst the wealthy, too, with the Margherita pizza being named after Italy's consort to the queen, Margherita of Savoy 1889.
Traditionally the Margherita features the colours of the Italian flag
Over the years, Naples has been home to many - The Spanish, French and Greeks. As such, it has allowed the area to develop dramatically in a culinary sense. Complementing this, the environs of the city are striking, with medieval cobbled streets and ancient ruins. Its centre is a World Heritage Site - perfect for those wishing to experience thousands of years of history.
The Bay of Naples, where fisherman brought back their day's work to the harbour
Florence, Bistecca alla Fiorentina
The Bistecca alla Fiorentina isn't for the faint of heart, or vegetarians for that matter. It's not just any steak, either, but a T-bone cut that has to be from a Chianina cow from Tuscany. Its thickness and surface area is much greater than most steaks, so it's often a good idea to share it among friends.
It is hotly debated as to where the steak originated from initially, but for it to be a Bistecca alla Fiorentina it must be grilled on a wooden surface, seasoned with rosemary and olive oil and cooked rare so the flavour of the Chianina cow can be fully appreciated.
Traditionally this thick cut of meat is cooked on a wooden grill
As for the city itself, Florence is a marvel. Most attribute it to be being the starting point of the renaissance, with many artists and architects leaving their dent on the city's appearance over the years. It is surrounded by the lusciousness of the Tuscan hills and is peppered with awesome structures like the Florence Duomo or Cathedral. It really is one of the most beautiful places on earth.
The skyline of Florence with the Duomo in prominent view
Rome, Spaghetti alla Carbonara
When it comes to pasta dishes, It's not just about ragù in Italy. The carbonara has made a name for itself, too. Whilst being a relatively new invention, dating back to the mid-1900s, it has become a popular dish among Italian nationals and the international community.
It is made by adding eggs, butter and cheese to already-cooked spaghetti and pork in the form of pancetta or bacon is added to the mix after.
The carbonara is thought to be have been a dish invented especially for miners
In the region of Lazio, there lies Italy's capital, Rome. Its long history and empire is still apparent in the makeup of the municipal, but it has also progressed in many ways, as well. This has a resulted in a hugely charming first city. It has many wonderful parks, fountains and statues -though its centrepiece has to be the remarkable Colosseum.
The mighty Colosseum where gladiators fought in front of thousands of spectators
With the beauty of the cities, countryside and, of course, food, a culinary road trip through Lo Stivale is definitely worth considering when planning a European gap year.