Discover the Italian cities selected by TasteAtlas: traditional dishes and authentic recipes that make Italy the tastiest country in the world.
TasteAtlas, the atlas of taste - or as they like to call themselves "the encyclopaedia of flavours from around the world" - has compiled a ranking for the year 2023 of the 100 Best Cities in the world in which to eat local food, and among them, our beloved Italy has earned no less than 15 positions (and four among the top ten). A digital guide to the world's food where you can find more than 10,000 recipes and traditional restaurants catalogued from 2018 to today, making the site the institution of true cuisine.
Discover with us all the Italian cities selected by TasteAtlas: the traditional dishes and authentic recipes that make Italy the most delicious country in the world!
15 Italian cities where you can eat the best local food in the world
The 100 best cities in the world to eat local food – Ranking 2023 by Taste Atlas
Travelling like a local is every tourist's desire, which is why we decided to develop our list like a little guide. From north to south - and back - we will help you create your own itinerary with some ideas on what to do and taste in the 15 cities of Italian flavours. Let's get going!
The Italian capital of fashion. Milan takes the No. 10 spot on the TasteAtlas list.
But what to taste in Milan?
Like a local: in every corner of Milan you will find a bar or a wine cellar where you can have an aperitif. Don't miss this chance to see the city through new eyes: men in suits coming out of their offices and getting ready to sip the first Campari Bitter of the day - a cocktail named after the inventor of the aperitif, a citizen of Milan. But also students, Milanese sciure (a separate category of ladies you won't find anywhere else in Italy, characterised by excellent taste in dress) or other tourists who lose themselves in admiring the city's awakening, imitating the customs of its inhabitants.
Milan does it better: along with the wonderful streets of the centre enclosed by the eleven gates of Milan, historic villas, exhibitions, shops and iconic restaurants, this city is famous for Panettone, the quintessential Italian Christmas cake invented in the 15th century, and the 'elephant ear' cotoletta, made with veal and traditionally eaten down to the bone. Both are the workhorses of every Lombard grandmother, who always knows exactly where to buy them and how to cook them.
How to cook: an Italian first course popular all over the world, which for the Milanese custom includes a variation with the addition of ossobuco: Risotto d'oro allo Zafferano (golden saffron risotto). Good to the bone! If you want to find out how to cook it, we have already told you about it here.
Only 2 hours by car and 1 hour by train from Milan we find Turin.
The Piedmontese city ranks 31st on the list of the best cities to eat local food, let's find out what to taste in the city of four rivers.
Like a local: one word, Vermouth. Created in 1786, Turin's Vermouth is a flavoured fortified wine that is excellent for aperitifs, straight up on ice or as a base for a good cocktail. An 'Americano' for example, also called 'Milano - Torino': it is made with Campari Bitter, soda (also from Milan) and Turin red Vermouth. Perfect if you are already feeling nostalgic about your previous stop in Milan, and also great if you want to try to blend in with the inhabitants of Turin. Whether you're sitting in a bar in Piazza San Carlo, Statuto, Castello or Vittorio Veneto; order a Vermouth, you won't regret it!
Torino does it better: you absolutely have to taste Turin's chocolate. In 1806 - due to the continental blockade instituted by Napoleon - Turin confectioners were forced to add the cheaper hazelnut from the Langhe to the chocolate made with cocoa. The result was the famous 'Gianduia', which would later be presented as the first wrapped chocolate in history. Perhaps you didn't know that Nutella is a variant of it, and if you love it like the rest of us, why not try the original recipe?
How to cook: every self-respecting food has its own story, here we tell you the story of the tramezzino. It is not a complicated dish, every country in the world has its own version, but here is the Italian one dating back to 1926. It was Gabriele D'Annunzio, one of the best-loved decadentist writers by Italians and non-Italians alike, who renamed these two slices of soft bread bound together by a thousand and one fillings with the name 'Tramezzino'. A lighter version of the sandwich of 1760, however, invented by a lady from Turin who had lived in the United States. The idea was to not toast the bread and simply add butter and anchovies. This is the beloved merenda of all Italians.
We are moving towards the seaside. Ready to discover the city named number 22 in the world rankings: Genoa.
Like a local: in Liguria we can always find good white wine, and the Genoese know how to appreciate it. Here you have three choices for your aperitif: order a 'Corochinato' (a wine flavoured with 16 herbs, the typical Genoese aperitif that not everyone knows about), choose the 'Biancamaro' (this time a cocktail, composed of still white wine and a splash of Vermouth... yes, the one from Turin), or a 'Sciacchetrà' (a raisin wine from the terraces of the Cinque Terre, very popular after dinner).
Genoa does it better: focaccia, of course! 1 cm in height of flour, water and yeast, tasty at breakfast with a nice cappuccino, at lunch with cheese and for dinner with onions. All types of Ligurian focaccia have a special feature: before the last rising, the surface of the dough is brushed with oil and coarse salt. What are you waiting for to try it?
How to cook: in Italy we have a great pasta tradition. For each region you visit there will be different pasta shapes, and we assure you that they will all be delicious. There is a lot of fresh pasta in Genoa, so arm yourself with a fork and try them all: Trofie, Trenette, Testaroli and many others proudly presented 'al pesto'. When you return from your trip you won't be able to do without it, and although we would like to jealously guard this all-Italian secret, we know that you cannot deny this goodness to the world! That is why we leave you our pesto recipe here.
Florence and Siena
At first place is Florence and at 77th is Siena, the heart of the Italian Renaissance. Not to boast, but here on Visit Italy you will find a variety of articles about Tuscany, a region rich in history, culture and breathtaking destinations. Here you'll find a collection of the best articles on Florence and Siena divided according to your needs.
Like a local: if you've come this far, you know you're in the home of Chianti. After a stroll around Piazza della Signoria, a tour around the perimeter of the splendid Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, it is already time for an aperitif. The Tuscan one is based on red wine and liver crostini: if there is one thing all Italians love, it is Tuscany, its food and wine. We are sure that Florence and Siena will steal your heart too! While you're in Florence, don't forget to book a visit to the Uffizi and Accademia using our ticket: priority access inside two of the most popular art galleries for citizens and tourists alike. Only 1 hour away is Siena, the city of the Palio: a competition of medieval origin that still resists the passing of time and to which thousands of people from all over the world flock every year. Find everything there is to do in Siena as a local here.
Toscana does it better: the reason why Italians love Tuscany is the simple, genuine ingredients of its cuisine and the special care that goes into the choice of raw materials, especially meat. Tuscans love their Bistecca alla Fiorentina, a thick, savoury rib-eye steak that is well-matured, grilled over a high heat and seasoned with olive oil, salt and pepper. Some people prefer it rare, but we have been told that once the temperature reaches 53°, the one you are going to taste will be called 'the perfect Florentine steak'.
How to cook: we could make an endless list of typical Florentine or Sienese dishes that are worth tasting at least once in a lifetime: lampredotto, ribollita, pici, pappardelle, panforte... but we have decided to honour a simple and light dish, excellent before setting off again for the next destination. Panzanella is one of the many glories of Tuscan cuisine (and central Italy in general). It is a throwback dish made with stale bread and vegetables.
- Cut the bread into cubes and place it in a bowl with water and vinegar so it can absorb them
- Cut vegetables into thin slices (tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, basil leaves)
- Mix the bread with the vegetables and add salt, pepper and olive oil to taste
- Serve cold, enjoy!
Runner-up in the entire TasteAtlas list is Rome. Rome is called the Eternal City because of its rich history, monuments and culture. Roman cuisine is admired worldwide for its hearty dishes - especially pasta - prepared with simple, fresh ingredients. Discover tips on what to cook, do and taste in our capital city.
Like a local: choose a place to have an aperitif in the Testaccio district and order a glass of Cesanese and some red pizza. This is in fact a variant of the pizza known to most, thin and crispy, usually served by the slice. Excellent as an aperitif, merenda or late-night snack strolling towards the moonlit Trevi Fountain.
Rome does it better: tonarelli, bucatini, rigatoni, spaghetti. These are all pasta formats that you can taste with the condiments with which Rome is known throughout the world: carbonara, amatriciana, cacio e pepe, gricia. But we could also add delicious Carciofi alla Giudia, Saltimbocca or Trippa alla Romana or Maritozzi with cream. In short, when it comes to food in Italy - the TasteAtlas guide also confirms this - you can never go wrong. Especially in Rome!
How to cook: we know that every person in the world has at least once in their life dabbled in cooking a Roman pasta dish. We can't choose just one dish because we love them all, but we have decided to give you the official recipe for pasta cacio e pepe. Let us know how it went!
Naples and Sorrento
Ranking number four for our beautiful Naples, while its sister Sorrento takes 63rd place. One hour's drive is the distance separating Naples from Sorrento, so if you are planning a trip to one you can't help but decide to visit the other as well.
Naples is the birthplace of Pizza and the splendid view of Vesuvius, Sorrento, on the other hand, for its beautiful sea views and mainly for its lemons.
Like a local: there is a quote that goes something like this: 'See Naples and then die', it is up to you to find out what it means and enjoy the enveloping warmth of the Neapolitan city. Our tip for visiting Naples just like a local is to listen to the advice of the locals, especially on food. Neapolitans never make mistakes! Be sure to:
- try the coffee at the historic Gambrinus
- eat a sfogliatella, curly or shortcrust pastry, at least once a day
- try the frittatina di pasta
A few kilometres from Naples you will find Sorrento, a town overlooking the sea and of extraordinary beauty. Find here the ultimate guide to the Sorrento peninsula: sit on the benches of the Villa Comunale and enjoy the view of the sunset. You'll fall in love!
Campania does it better: what's the answer you expect? That's right, pizza! In Campania you will eat the best pizza in the world. You will find plenty of pizzerias, and we can assure you that they will all be good: partly because of the nature of the ingredients, partly because in Naples they guard the secret of the perfect pizza. There are even historic pizzerias, which have been in the same family for more than 100 years and at whose tables influential people from all over the world and artists of the calibre of Sophia Loren, Julia Roberts and many others have dined. Here just five of them:
Antica Pizzeria Port'Alba, since 1738
Mattozzi, since 1833
Capasso, since 1847
Antica Pizzeria da Michele, since 1870
Starita, since 1901
How to cook: we propose the traditional recipe for pasta patate e provola, loved and reproposed from south to north, it is very simple and tasty.
- Short or mixed pasta, whatever you have in your pantry. Local tip: to make pasta in broth it is customary to break long pasta into small parts, so that you can use whatever you have at home.
- Provola cheese
- Grated cheese
- Tomato concentrate
- Diced bacon
- Onion, carrots, celery
- Red pepper, rosemary
- Extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper
Chop and brown onion, carrots, celery, red pepper and rosemary in oil. Then add the bacon.
Peel and dice the potatoes and add them to the fry.
Add the tomato paste dissolved in a little water, salt, cover with cold water.
Bring to the boil, add the pasta and cook for 15 minutes. (Add hot water if it dries out before optimal cooking time - it will be a creamy pasta, not a soup)
Cut the provola into cubes and once the pasta is cooked, add it to the pot.
Remove the rosemary sprig, turn off the heat, stir to melt the cheese.
Add grated cheese, pepper, raw oil.
Palermo, Taormina and Catania
We move on to wonderful Sicily, an island of ancient civilisations and a place of a thousand cultures, flavours and colours. We find Palermo - on the west coast - in 43rd place, and the nearby Taormina and Catania - overlooking the strait that divides them from the mainland - in 42nd and 55th place on the TasteAtlas list. Let's discover together what to do and taste in the 3 Sicilian cities.
Like a local: the ideal for any traveller would be to visit the whole island, be it with our on-the-road guide or explore the different Norman, Arab, Byzantine souls that make Sicilian identity varied and artistic in 10 steps: from Palermo and Monreale to Mount Etna, passing by temples, islands, UNESCO sites and historic villages.
In Palermo you should definitely pop into the Ballarò and Vuccirìa markets, taste the pani câ meusa (the bread with innards) and the pane e panelle (with fried chickpea flour and a few drops of lemon inside). In Taormina and Catania you should try granitas, Sicilian cannoli, cassatine (or 'minne' of Sant'Agata, the saint of Catania whose breasts are torn off), pasta alla norma and brioches. Discover here 7 things to do in Catania like a local, and how to go to Taormina, a must-see destination for your holiday.
Sicily does it better: once you land in Sicily, wherever you are, you must:
- drink a nice lemonade, made with the real juice of Sicilian lemons, blended with the waters of Mount Etna
- taste the Selz (water, lemon and salt), the salty version of lemonade and prepared on the spot in specialised kiosks around the city
- drink a gassosa made with Etna water, lemon and the juice of Sicilian grapes
- water and zammù (water and aniseed) prepared at a banquet by the 'acquavitaro'
- taste a spuma, a typical Sicilian drink with the aromatic flavour of elderflower, caramel, cloves and rhubarb, and therefore amber in colour
How to cook: if in Rome we find the supplì, in Sicily we have THE arancino. One of the most popular Sicilian recipes in the world, traditional or gourmet, this rice ball makes everyone fall in love! While you read about its history here, we explain how to cook it:
Ingredients for 6 people
- 1 kg rice (500 g Roma rice and 500 g Originario)
- 2.2 l vegetable stock
- 2 sachets of saffron
- 20 g salt
- 150-200 g butter
- 2 glasses of water
- 2 glasses of flour
- ragout, this recipe for Bolognese ragù might be right for you, to which you should add provola cheese and peas
Make the ragù meat sauce following the directions in the guide.
In another pot put the stock, butter, saffron and salt. Bring to boil.
Add the rice and let it cook.
Once the rice has absorbed all the stock, stir in some cheese and then spread the cooked rice on a plate. Leave to cool.
Once both the ragù and the rice are ready and cooled, assemble the arancini in the shape you prefer: the round one from Palermo, or the pointed one from Catania, keeping your ragù inside the heart. Then coat the arancini in a batter of water, flour and breadcrumbs and fry them in extra virgin olive oil. They should be crispy on the outside and soft and stringy on the inside.
Bologna and Modena
Leaving the islands and heading up to our peninsula, past southern and central Italy regions full of culture, breathtaking landscapes and good Italian food, we arrive in Emilia Romagna. Modena ranks 51st, while Bologna takes 28th. Let's discover them together!
Like a local: Emilia Romagna is known as the home of sparkling wines. Lambrusco, Sangiovese, Trebbiano, Pignoletto, or going up Barbera and Gutturnio. For your aperitif you will be spoilt for choice! Find out here how to explore Bologna like a local and everything you need to know about Modena. Sit down and read our guides in a nice bar in the centre with a good glass of wine, some cold cuts - Emilia-Romagna is a great producer of prosciutto, mortadella and salami (and coppa, in the Piacenza area) - and gnocchi and fried cakes galore.
Emilia-Romagna does it better: cold cuts, fresh pasta, but above all every kind of ravioli. For each city in Emilia-Romagna you will find a different type of stuffed pasta: tortellini, tortelloni, tortelli (which are three completely different variants) anolini (from Piacenza or Parma, which are also different), cappellacci, cappelletti, fettuccine, lasagne, malfatti, passatelli and many more... You just have to try them! In this article you will find the history of some of the delicacies of Romagna cuisine, don't miss them and try them all.
How to cook: we have selected the 10 best restaurants not to be missed in Emilia Romagna, including the Osteria Francescana in Modena. The three-Michelin-starred restaurant of chef Massimo Bottura, which a few years ago also opened Franceschetta 58, the chef's bistrot that offers some of the starred chef's dishes in its menus - à la carte or tasting - at lower prices.
We propose here one of his historic dishes, which lasted from 1994 to 2011 on his starred menu: "Five ages of Parmigiano Reggiano in different consistencies and temperatures".
This dish was also featured in the Netflix documentary 'Chef's Table', a dish consisting of a single ingredient that varies over time: Parmigiano Reggiano, of course. From the 24-month aged soufflé, to the 30-month aged velvety sauce, a 36-month aged mousse and the crispy galletta made from the crusts of 40-month aged Parmigiano Reggiano, to the 50-month aged Parmigiano water. This is not a 'how to cook' but a celebration of one of the masters of Italian cuisine. The cuisine of Emilia-Romagna is once again famous for its genuine ingredients and simple recipes, which is why our advice is to go to the many local delicatessens and taste, combine the different flavours and test the local culinary customs. You will never eat better than this in your entire life.
Venice and Verona
The final stop on our tour around Italy is the Veneto region with Venice in 11th place and Verona in 74th out of 100. Find out with us why Italy is once again the tastiest country in the world according to the Taste Atlas world ranking.
Like a local: we've come to the end, and if you've read the whole article up to here you'll already know that the things to do like a local for us Italians are always the simplest, most beautiful and things you'd never imagine. Read here 7 things to do in Venice like a local: walks you wouldn't expect and tips on what to eat, buy and when to go to Venice. But let's move on to our beloved aperitivo. Veneto is the land of love, but also the land of wine. Verona is famous for being the city where the Shakespearean drama Romeo and Juliet is set, but you might be surprised to know that Verona is home to a number of wine tours and cellars where you can sample some of Italy's best whites. Discover them here!
Veneto does it better: polenta, cicchetti, baccalà, risottos, sarde in saor, boiled and boiled meats and much more! Among the foods you absolutely must try are:
Cicchetti, definitely in first place. The most popular aperitif among Venetians and tourists alike. Stopping at a bar and ordering some will give you the chance to taste a variety of typical Venetian dishes in small portions, creating a real gastronomic tour of the city!
Venetian style liver
Sarde in saor
Cuttlefish ink risotto
How to cook: bigoli in salsa, one of the simplest and best-loved dishes of Venetian cuisine. It will be as hard to go wrong as it will be to do without once you try it. Let's get started!
Anchovies in oil
Parsley, extra virgin olive oil, pepper
Stew the white onion in a pan with extra virgin olive oil and pepper. Break the anchovies in oil and add them to the onion to form a cream.
In the meantime, boil the pasta, once cooked (al dente) stir it into the pan together with the cream and a sprinkling of parsley. Add some anchovy fillets to garnish the dish!