Discover 10 Italian autumn dishes, a culinary journey through flavours and traditions. From regional specialities to traditional recipes.
Autumn transforms Italian landscapes into living canvases of ochre, red and gold. Besides the riot of warm colours and beautiful landscapes, autumn offers an explosion of unique flavours and culinary traditions that vary from region to region. In this article, we will discover the ten autumn dishes in Italy that can seduce your palate through their flavours, aromas and culinary traditions.
Imagine strolling through local markets, where the scents of porcini mushrooms, pumpkin and black truffles caress the crisp, fresh air. That's it, with autumn dishes in Italy we intend to offer you not just recipes, but stories, traditions and love for a land. From north to south, each region celebrates autumn in its own way, with dishes that are an invitation to slow down and enjoy every single bite. So, get ready for a culinary journey.
Local food and wine: 10 Italian autumn dishes
Discovering Italian autumn dishes means embarking on a food and wine journey through breathtaking landscapes and centuries-old culinary traditions. From the Piedmontese valleys, with their scent of truffles, to the Sicilian coast, where pumpkin is tinged with sweet and sour notes, each region shows its character through unique autumnal delights. It is a journey that celebrates the richness of the land, the warmth of its people and the mastery of transforming simple ingredients into dishes that are true symphonies of flavour.
Castagnaccio is a typical Italian dessert, originally from Tuscany. A rustic cake that celebrates simplicity and autumn flavours. Made with chestnut flour, olive oil, pine nuts, sultanas and rosemary. The chestnut flour, the main ingredient, tells us of ancient peasant traditions, while the sultanas and pine nuts add a touch of sweetness and crunch, a little luxury that makes every bite a little treasure.
And then, the rosemary, with its pungent, fresh aroma, takes us back for a moment to the middle of those woods, under a sky cloaked in stars. But where to taste this fantastic dessert? Certainly in the heart of Tuscany, in Florence. This city, in addition to a sea of history, can also seduce your palate.Discover More about The Florence PASS❯
9. Sweet and sour squash Sicilian style
A simple and tasty dish, prepared with few ingredients and enriched with sweet and sour flavours. Sweet and sour pumpkin is a typical dish in the gastronomic tradition of Palermo.
In addition to pumpkin, the recipe calls for sugar, salt, vinegar and oil. In Palermo, this dish is called 'ficatu ri poveri' or 'ri setti cannola'. It is said that this typical autumn dish was created in one of Palermo's oldest and most popular markets, the Vucciria, or 'Sette cannoli'.
It is said that people, not being able to afford to buy meat, found in the sweet-and-sour pumpkin a viable alternative to sweet-and-sour liver, which only the well-to-do could afford to buy. Hence the name 'poor man's liver'.
And while you are being lulled by its flavours, we invite you to explore Palermo from a different angle, perhaps on board a Hop-on Hop-off bus, to discover and experience the city through its most evocative and authentic corners.
8. Bagna càuda
Autumn can be an opportunity to visit Turin and savour Piedmontese bagna càuda. It is a hot dish prepared with olive oil, chopped anchovies and garlic. It is usually eaten as a sauce for dipping vegetables.
Bagna càuda is a traditional dish of the grape harvest period. It is said to have been created to reward the grape pickers for their work. It is a convivial ritual in which diners share the sauce in a single container.
In the past, the sauce was kept hot in a single earthenware pot placed in the centre of the table, but later individual earthenware containers consisting of a bowl and a small cooker or wax lamp were introduced to keep the sauce hot.
7. Fagioli all’uccelletto
Fagioli all'uccelletto, a Tuscan side dish steeped in tradition and flavour, weave a culinary narrative rooted in the region's humble peasant cuisine. Originally developed in Florentine cuisine, these beans, skilfully blended with sausage, peeled tomatoes and sage, offer an authentic taste of Tuscan hospitality. The cannellini beans, soaked in a rich and aromatic tomato puree, are blended with garlic, oil and sage leaves, creating a combination of flavours that is as simple as it is exuberant.
The history of this dish is intertwined with the shrewdness of Tuscan peasants, who, in lean times, cooked beans with the same enveloping aromas intended for poultry and game, when meat was an unaffordable luxury. Hence, it is speculated, the name 'all'uccelletto' may have found its origin, a tribute to the culinary practice of yesteryear.
Fagioli all'uccelletto are a tasty and nutritious vegetarian side dish, excellent served with bread croutons in the autumn period. And what better place to savour this delicacy than in the beating heart of Tuscany, Florence? Strolling through the city's historic streets, amidst monuments and works of art, take a food and wine break and immerse yourself in the authentic Florentine atmosphere, savouring a plate of fagioli all'uccelletto.
6. Pumpkin tortelli
Pumpkin tortelli is a traditional Italian dish, originating in the city of Mantua in the Lombardy region. This dish, famous for its filling that dances between sweet and savoury, combines pumpkin, amaretti biscuits, apple mostarda and a generous sprinkling of parmesan cheese in a combination of flavours that is pure magic for the palate. The seasoning? A delicately melted butter and a cascade of grated Parmesan cheese.
The genesis of the recipe for Mantuan pumpkin tortelli catapults us back in time, to the 16th century to be precise, giving us a glimpse into the kitchens of the cooks of the Gonzaga, the noble family that weaved the city's fortunes. Mantua, with its expanses of pumpkin cultivations that have characterised the landscape since ancient times, cradled the birth of this recipe, making it an emblem of the territory.
These tortelli are distinguished by their unique filling, which combines sweet and delicate flavours with others more intense and tending towards bitter, creating a perfect combination. And so, this culinary speciality has become one of the symbols of Mantua, standing alongside historical and artistic icons such as Palazzo Te, Palazzo Ducale and the immortal works of Andrea Mantegna, in a combination that celebrates, in every bite, the cultural and gastronomic richness of this priceless city.
5. Paciocche with chickpeas
Paciocche with chickpeas is a traditional Cilento dish, particularly suitable for the mild autumn days. This dish, which skilfully interweaves pasta - the 'paciocche' - and chickpeas, takes us on a journey through the authentic and robust flavours of southern Italy. The paciocche, with their shape and texture, evoke the 'lagane' of local tradition, offering a culinary experience that is a tribute to genuine, no-frills Italian cuisine.
And what better setting to sample such deliciousness than Campania itself? A journey that not only satisfies the palate, but also the soul, offering the chance to explore the Cilento National Park, a natural jewel listed as a UNESCO heritage site. And it doesn't end here: the Carthusian Monastery of Padula, the region's majestic Carthusian monastery, is waiting to reveal its history and secrets, enriching your stay with a dive into the area's cultural and spiritual heritage. Thus, between a bite to eat and an excursion, the Cilento reveals itself in all its authentic beauty and generosity.
Castradina is a traditional dish from Venice. It is presented as a dish that celebrates the leg of mutton in a unique and unforgettable way. Salted, smoked and then masterfully seasoned, the mutton becomes the protagonist of an enveloping soup, enriched with savoy cabbage leaves, onions and a generous dash of wine. Tradition has it that this dish is unveiled in all its tasty essence from the 21st November, to coincide with the feast of the Madonna della Salute, uniting the sacred and the profane in a marriage of festivity and conviviality.
The story of the castradina takes us on a journey through the centuries, when mutton, carefully imported from Albania and Dalmatia, was salted, smoked and then dried in the sun, to be finally sold to the Venetian ships in transit, thus weaving an invisible thread between cultures, trade and traditions.
In addition to a gondola ride, Venice can offer you the chance to taste this culinary marvel. Thus, between a ride through the canals and a taste of history, La Serenissima shows itself in all its authentic and tasty elegance.Discover more about Venezia PASS❯
3. Strangozzi with black truffle
Strangozzi with black truffle, a first course that elegantly celebrates Umbrian cuisine, features a traditional pasta, strangozzi, and the area's prized black truffle. Stranggozzi are made without eggs and have a texture reminiscent of spaghetti. They are wrapped in a sauce where the black truffle reigns supreme, offering a culinary experience that is an authentic homage to the flavours of the region.
And while your soul is satiated with such delights, Umbria can offer you other wonders. Not only a journey of flavours, but also an exploration of the art and history that permeate this land. Let yourself be guided through the region to discover the masterpieces of Perugino, immersing yourself in a journey that interweaves gastronomic excellence with cultural richness, in a sensorial journey that only Umbria can offer.
Acquacotta, a dish that tells of the simplicity and authenticity of the Tuscan Maremma and the Tuscia region of Lazio, stands as a symbol of the genuine, earthy cuisine of these lands. Born from the peasant heart of these regions, it was the favourite choice of the butteri, the herdsmen, who sought refreshment in it after exhausting days spent under the sun. This soup, which makes stale bread, vegetables and extra virgin olive oil its mainstays, turns into a warm embrace on the crispest autumn days.
In the Viterbo variant, for example, potatoes, chicory and onion become the main performers, while in some more opulent versions, a poached egg or salt cod enrich the dish with their presence. And while acquacotta envelops the senses, a visit to the city of Viterbo, also called 'City of the Popes', can also offer a taste of its history.
Strucolo is a typical dish from Friuli-Venezia Giulia, in particular from the tables of Trieste and Gorizia. This delicacy, which can come in sweet or savoury versions, has its roots in the Italianisation of the Slavic word 'strukllj', which in turn reflects the German word 'strudel'.
The savoury version, often featured as a first course, may have a rich ricotta and cheese filling inside, or vegetables such as peas or spinach, as in the famous Strucolo de Spinaze, or even veal or beef. Its sweet counterpart, on the other hand, hides fillings of fresh fruit, dried fruit or chocolate, offering an equally compelling taste experience.
A typical Trieste variant is Strucolo de Pomi, which seduces with its thin, crispy wrapper, enveloping a sweet heart of apples and sultanas.
Exploring further, we come across Strucolo in Straza, a distinctive version from the Karst region of Trieste, Istria and Gorizia. This peculiar variety of strudel, made from leavened dough, is wrapped in a dishcloth (known as 'straza' in Trieste dialect) and gently baked in boiling water. Although the filling may vary, the most traditional version incorporates a combination of walnuts and sultanas, providing an authentic culinary experience deeply rooted in local traditions.
Tips for enjoying typical Italian autumn dishes
Autumn in Italy is a time when nature dresses itself in its warmest and most welcoming colours, and the cuisine is enriched with enveloping and comforting flavours.
For an authentic food and wine experience and to try typical autumn dishes in Italy, try immersing yourself in the many festivals of this period, where local communities celebrate seasonal products and recipes.
Also, don't forget to visit the local markets, places where the products of the earth meet consumers directly. It will be a chance to buy fresh, seasonal ingredients, perhaps chat with the producers to discover secrets and tips on how best to use them in the kitchen.
Finally, explore the osterias and restaurants that enhance local cuisine, places where culinary tradition is respected and celebrated every day. Each bite will be a journey into the most authentic heart of Italy, an adventure to be savoured to the full.