Food is one of the joys of an Italian holiday. Regional delicacies, seasonal delights and the freshest ingredients combine to make up the heart and soul of Italian dishes. Stone oven-baked pizza can be transformed by the addition of fresh basil and sun-ripened tomatoes from the chef's garden. Remember, there are two main types of pizza to choose from; Roman style, with a thin, slightly crisp crust, and Neopolitan which has a fluffy, thicker crust.
Pasta dishes are also synonymous with Italian mealtimes. Lasagne, with its rich ragu, cheese and bechamel, is a favourite of the region of Emilia-Romagna, rumoured birthplace of this national dish. When in Rome, the locals' dish of choice is spaghetti carbonara. The traditional ingredients of eggs, cured guancale, pecorino cheese and black pepper make the bland imitations made elsewhere pale in comparison.
Did you know that northern Italy is Europe's largest producer of rice? This is why the Venetians have two excellent risotto dishes of which they are justifiably proud. Risotto al nero di sepia (cuttlefish in ink) and risi e bisi (pancetta and peas) are definitely worth seeking out after a day exploring the canals and bridges of Venice.
Finally, we can't discuss Italian food without mentioning the cafes found in every village and town. Pastries, sweet cakes, biscotti, gelato and of course coffee are the mainstays of food on-the-go. Pop into a local bakery or street cafe and be as indulgent as you wish.