Italian Inspiration

Take a journey with Classico®.

Each region of Italy has its own unique culinary tradition. Click on the map or select a name to learn more about that region’s customs, food traditions, and the local ingredients that act as a source of inspiration for our Classico® sauces.

Click on a region name to learn more.

Map of Italy Abruzzo Basilicata Campania Calabria Emilia-Romagna Friuli-Venezia Giulia Lazio Liguria Lombardia Marche Molise Piemonte Puglia Sardegna Sicilia Toscana Trentino-Alto Adige Umbria Valle d'Aosta Veneto


Abruzzo is a mountainous region bordered on one side by the Adriatic Sea. The cuisine of Abruzzo reflects this rustic environment, with many dishes featuring beef, lamb and some of the many treasures of the Adriatic sea like shellfish, anchovies and octopus. The mild climate of the coastal region supports a rich agricultural industry. The main crops in Abruzzo are grapes, olives, wheat, saffron and, importantly, the red chili pepper.

This cuisine relies heavily on the red chili pepper, or peperoncino, which is featured in many local dishes. The peperoncino, locally known as ‘little devil’, is used to spice everything from classic fish soup prepared in the fishing city of Pescara to the time-honoured ‘Spaghetti al’olio e Peperoncino’ (spaghetti with olive oil, garlic and chilies). Peperoncino is also used in the region’s sauces and signature pork products.

A product inspired by this region:

Classico® d'Abruzzi - Beef & Pork

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The people of the Basilicata region are known as the Lucani (derived from Lucanus, or forest). Because of the heavy coastline in this region, historically Basilicata fell prey to raiders and colonists, forcing the local population to move inland. Local cuisine now reflects the rugged highlands of the inland region. Characterized by its simplicity, it includes ingredients such as onions, mushrooms, fava beans, potatoes, fresh pastas and, occasionally, meat. The results offer intense, robust and sharp flavours, and like most southern cuisines, the peperoncino (red chili pepper) is widely used. Lucanica sausage, considered one of Italy's best sausage varieties, hails from the Basilicata region. Lucanica sausage is seasoned with fennel, peperoncino, salt and pepper, and made with the highest quality pork.

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Located in Southern Italy, and best known around the world for its pizza, Campania's classic cuisine features sun-kissed fruits and vegetables, pastas and fresh cheeses – notably mozzarella, ricotta and goat cheese. The people of Campania, are also famous for their fish and seafood specialties. Nowhere are these more celebrated than in the Amalfi Coast, the Island of Capri, and the harbour town of Naples. As you move inland from the coastal region, Mount Vesuvius provides amazing backdrops and fertile volcanic soil, ideal for growing fruits, vegetables and herbs. The most famous Campani vegetable is the cherished San Marzano sweet plum tomato, a staple of pizza and pasta sauces in the region.

Campani cooking is typically quick and simple, yet features sauces that embody the rich, varied tastes of the land.

A product inspired by this region:

Classico® di Campania - Sweet Basil Marinara

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Calabria is the southernmost region of mainland Italy, bounded on three sides by bodies of water forming a narrow mountainous peninsula, sparsely populated and relatively unknown to tourists. Dotting the coastal hillsides are crops of grapes, olive and fig trees. These, along with a staple of vegetables, pastas and pork, form the bulk of the Calabrian diet.

The most common vegetable found on the Calabrian table is the aubergine or eggplant, which can be prepared in many ways: stuffed, fried or grilled and served with a sweet and sour sauce.

Like most southern regions in Italy, Calabria has been rather isolated in terms of culture, cuisine and heritage. As a result, every village, seaside town and region has developed its own techniques and culinary secrets. Be sure to explore and enjoy as many as possible!

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Known as Italy’s ‘food valley’, Emilia-Romagna is home to one of the world’s most elegant, yet simple cuisines. Celebrated for its pasta, pork, balsamic vinegar and many cheeses, including Parmigiano Reggiano, this Northern Italian region produces great culinary dishes. To ensure authenticity, the production of Parmigiano Reggiano is limited to Emilia-Romagna, as it has been for over 700 years. Parmigiano Reggiano is used in sauces, stuffed pastas and main courses, or simply freshly grated on top of any meal to add a nutty, savoury bite.

Also popular here are pork products: the famous prosciutto crafted exclusively in Parma; pancetta from Piacenza; and mortadella from Bologna.

Not to be overlooked by the culinary history of Emilia-Romagna’s pork and cheese products is Aceto Balsamico, or balsamic vinegar. Traditional balsamic vinegar is made exclusively in Modena according to the same time-honoured methods used for centuries by the local artisans. Many of the traditional balsamics are aged over 12 years and, like wine, can be aged up to half a century.

A product inspired by this region:

Classico® di Parma - Four Cheese

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Friuli-Venezia Giulia

Located in Northern Italy on the Adriatic coast, Friuli-Venezia Giulia is a melting pot of cultures and traditions. Borrowing heavily on Austrian, Slavic and Venetian cuisines, the cuisine of this region is built on fresh and smoked meats, alpine cheeses and dairy products. The economy in Friuli-Venezia Giulia relies heavily on agriculture, with over 200 hectares devoted to growing white asparagus. Radicchio is also commonly grown. Both of these flavourful vegetables have become staples of this northern region.

When visiting Friuli-Venezia Giulia be sure to spend some time in the capital of Trieste to enjoy the city’s European flair. Spend an afternoon on the Piazza dell Unità d’Italia, one of Italy’s largest public squares, admiring the gigantic statues and famous Fountain of the Four Continents by Mazzolini.

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In the centre of Italy lies the region of Lazio and the historic city of Rome. Traditional dishes reflect the meals of farmers and shepherds - prepared simply, with few ingredients. Popular foods include bread, cheese, olives, pasta and fresh vegetables. Some of Italy’s best-known pasta dishes originated in this region and are still prepared in their original manner. These include Bucatini all’Amatriciana, made with a sauce of pancetta, tomatoes and chili pepper, and Spaghetti alla Carbonara, made with bacon, eggs, butter and cheese.

The sun-drenched volcanic soil of Lazio is responsible for producing plentiful vegetable harvests, including over 90 varieties of carciofi, or artichokes. A popular artichoke dish is Carciofi alla Romana, artichokes stuffed with breadcrumbs, parsley, anchovies, salt and pepper.

With its long Tyrrhenian Sea coastline, fresh fish, crustaceans and mollusks are frequently found in Lazian cuisine, complementing the fresh vegetables and pastas of the region.

A product inspired by this region:

Classico® di Roma Arrabbiata - Spicy Red Pepper

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Nestled between the Alps, the Apennine Mountains and the Tyrrhenian Sea, Liguria boasts a cuisine inspired by fresh seafood, vegetables and basil. Liguria’s temperate Mediterranean climate supports the growth of the world famous Ligurian Basil, most notably used in classic Italian Pesto sauce. The name ‘pesto’ comes from the production process of grinding fresh basil leaves, garlic and pine nuts in a marble mortar. Once ground, fresh Ligurian olive oil and parmesan cheeses are added to create a flavourful and robust sauce. Seafood dishes also define the cuisine of this popular tourist destination.

A product inspired by this region:

Classico ® Pesto di Genova - Basil

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One of the largest regions in Italy, Lombardy stretches from the mountainous Alps to the fertile plains of the Po River. Since ancient times, Lombardy has been a bountiful producer of wheat, vegetables, rice and cheese.

Influenced by French and Austrian cuisine, typical meals consist of rich risottos, succulent pastas, and braised meats such as Risotto alla Milanese, Penne alla Vodka, and Osso Bucco (braised veal shank). Meat dishes are not overly common, but when served, are simple and hearty. Popular in the Milano region is Cotoletta alla Milanese, veal cutlet dipped in egg and breadcrumbs.

While the use of olive oil is popular in other regions of Italy, in Lombardy, rich butter and cream are used to enrich pasta sauces and creamy risottos. A huge number of celebrated cheeses also hail from this region. From strong Gorgonzola to creamy Crescenza, there's a cheese for every palate!

A product inspired by this region:

Classico® di Milano - Vodka Sauce

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Tucked away between the Apennine Mountains and Adriatic Sea lies Marche - a quaint region of Italy deeply rooted in peasant tradition. Because the cuisine is based on tradition and local produce, each subregion has its own distinct flavours and specialties.

Regional cuisine features truffles and strong cheeses produced in the mountains, salt-cured hams and salamis. If you’re near the coastal city of Ancona ‘Brodetto’, a fish stew made of at least 13 kinds of fish is a popular choice.

Meats play a prominent role in the cuisine of Marche. In fact, it is claimed that the Marchigiani eat more meat than any other Italians! In many restaurants large platters of Grigliata Mista di Carne (charcoal-grilled meats) are commonly shared between large groups as an early course.

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Forming half of the ankle of Italy’s famous boot shape is Molise, one of the smaller and more sparsely populated regions of Italy. A unique culture exists in Molise, as it has been isolated from many of the changes that have produced the Italy we now know. Molise is deep in tradition and relies on a staple diet rich in bread, wine, oils and vegetables. Meat is rarely consumed, but on special occasions lamb or pork is served.

Until 1963, Molise was part of the rugged Abruzzo region. This shared history can be seen in both culture and diets, which reflect a history of herding sheep and goats. In fact, in Molise, a ritual called ‘la transumanza’ (meaning ‘crossing the land’) occurs twice a year as shepherds move their flocks to seasonal grazing lands. This has been a tradition for many centuries and is reflected in the simple and quick cuisine of the region.

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Situated in Northern Italy, Piemonte is surrounded on three sides by the Alps. These mountains play a key role in the lifestyle and cuisine of the Piemontese and provide fertile plains for rice and grape cultivation.

Northern Italian cuisine is known for its use of rich ingredients such as delicious butters, savoury Gorgonzola cheeses and hearty red wines. Rice plays an important role here, as risotto is commonly prepared as a side or main dish. Reigning supreme in Piemonte are meat and game dishes, prepared in rich red wine sauces or marinades.

A love of garlic and vegetables has also made traditional antipasto a staple of Piemonte cuisine. There are almost 20 antipasto varieties unique to this region, the most famous being Bagna Cauda (raw vegetables dipped in a fondue style dish of oil, garlic and anchovies). Wines from Asti and Barolo are the most notable from this region.

A product inspired by this region:

Classico® di Piemonte - Red Wine & Herb

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The region of Puglia forms the heel of Italy’s famous boot shape, providing a sun-soaked authentic Italian experience. Featuring a large coastline, it’s no wonder that fishing has dominated the Puglian economy; however, tourism is becoming increasingly popular due to its crystal-blue waters and ample sunshine. Near the coast, Puglia’s fertile plains grow many delectable crops, including olives, figs, grains and grapes.

One of the specialties of the region is Pane di Altamura, a soft and tasty bread made from durum wheat, sea salt and yeast. Eaten alone, dipped in olive oil, or left to harden and used in a soup or stew, this bread has been a staple in the Puglian diet for centuries.

Puglia is still relatively unknown as a tourist destination due to its southern location. Spring and autumn are the best times to visit as temperatures are more comfortable (15°C – 25°C) than in the summer or winter.

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Sardegna is home to two distinct types of cuisine: coastal cuisine, including lobsters, mussels and fresh fish; and the inland cuisine of the local population, which relies heavily on bread, cheese, goats’ milk and roasted meats. And when it comes to roasting, the preferred method is whole on a spit or in a pit of coals. Inland, pastas are eaten mostly as a side dish with lamb or goat. The Sardinian pasta specialty is called Malloreddus, a saffron-infused pasta that resembles gnocchi.

A product inspired by this region:

Classico ® Pesto di Sardegna - Sun-Dried Tomato

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Sicily, the southernmost region of Italy, Italy’s largest province and the largest island in the Mediterranean, is rich with a diverse heritage and cuisine featuring simple, wholesome ingredients. Historically inhabited by Greeks, North Africans and Arabs, Sicilian cuisine reflects these cultures by drawing on the culinary influences of each group. The Greek influence comes in the form of fresh fish and vegetable dishes, while the Arabs introduced many key ingredients such as eggplant, apricots, almonds, couscous and cinnamon. However, pasta still forms the basis of Sicilian cuisine.

The culinary diversity of Sicily can be seen in many signature dishes including Caponata, a traditional antipasto composed of eggplant, tomatoes, celery, olives and capers, and Couscous al Pesce, a Moroccan-inspired couscous dish served with fresh fish.

Like other temperate regions of Italy, Sicily is known for its many varieties of grapes. Many of Sicily’s grapes are used for the production of raisins, reflecting another Arab influence. However, wines from this region are popular, including Marsala, a fortified wine similar to port or sherry.

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Tuscany is one of the larger regions of Italy, whose cuisine features both coastal riches and specialties from the mountains and inland plains. The region is unified by cuisine that is both simple and creative, with an emphasis on freshly picked herbs, vegetables and Italy’s finest olive oils and beef.

Tuscan specialties include ‘Bistecca alla Fiorentina’, or Steak Florentine, a tender beef cut grilled over an open flame with fresh herbs. Thick and hearty soups made with vegetables and beans are also very popular, as are Tuscany’s delicious unsalted breads. Tuscany’s famous extra virgin olive oils add unique flavour to grilled meats, steamed vegetables and even desserts.

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Trentino-Alto Adige

Located in North Eastern Italy, the cuisine of Trentino-Alto Adige has been shaped by its mountainous landscape. Traditional dishes are heavy in game, especially venison and rabbit, and use butter in place of olive oil. With many freshwater lakes in the region, Trento-Alto Adige boasts many types of fish which are sold at local markets and prepared to perfection. A dietary staple here is polenta made from buckwheat or potatoes, rather than corn.

Due to its northern location, hearty soups find their way onto menus across the region. Some favourites are classic minestrone and orzetto (barley soup with ham).

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Seemingly overshadowed by neighbouring Tuscany, Umbria has just started coming into its own as a culinary centre within Italy. Located in central Italy, Umbria boasts a magnificent, hilly countryside dotted with medieval towns, vast forests and crystal-clear rivers. This picturesque scenery is home to a vast number of culinary specialties including trout, truffles, lentils, cheeses, cured meats and olive oils.

Due to centuries of growth and cultivation in Umbria, the olives and the oils produced are considered some of the best in Italy. In Umbria, olive oil has a host of uses, from finishing a succulent roasted meat dish to simply enjoying with fresh bread.

Vital to the region’s economy is the cultivation and production of truffles, making up 80% of Italy’s national production. Though tough to find, Umbria boasts many varieties like white truffles, black truffles and the scorzone truffle, which grows only in the summer months.

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Valle d'Aosta

Tucked into the north-western corner of Italy lies Valle d’Aosta – the smallest of the 20 Italian regions, bordered by France, Switzerland and the Piedmont region. Spanning only 3,000 square kilometres, Valle d’Aosta is a mountainous region consisting of 13 small valleys nestled into some of the highest peaks in Europe.

Very few crops are harvested here, as farming is not feasible given the geography. Instead, most areas are used for breeding cattle, which has created a cuisine rich in meats, butters, cheeses and milks.

The most notable cheese produced in Valle d’Aosta is the semisoft Fontina, a mild cheese made from cow’s milk.

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Located in Northern Italy, Veneto is divided into four distinct geographic regions: the alpines, hills, plains and coast, which provide a beautiful backdrop for the ancient cities of Venice, Verona and Padua. The cuisine of Northern Italy is quite different from its southern counterparts – nowhere is this more evident than in Veneto. In one of Italy’s main rice growing regions, risottos are common and appear in many varieties, like di mare (with seafood) featuring cuttlefish.

Vegetables are grown abundantly in Veneto, including zucchini, endive and radicchio. Many of the Venetian specialties are served as starters and antipastos. These include marinated sardines, mussels, local fish soups and fried artichokes.

Venetians, known for their sweet tooths, are said to have introduced cane sugar to Europe. This is evident in their love of desserts such as tiramisu, candied fruits and nuts.

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