One of the passions that unites us here at Uniplaces, in addition to travelling of course, is food. Going on Erasmus with a dramatically limited budget does not mean you cannot enjoy the country’s gastronomy. It’s not a surprise that Italy is one of the most popular countries for Erasmus, and food is definitely one of the main factors when choosing. Just as we’ve done for Portugal, Spain, Germany, France, and the UK, here are 12 dishes you absolutely must try during your Erasmus in Italy.
1. Cotoletta alla Milanese (Lombardia)
The question arises spontaneously: is the cutlet originally from Milan or Vienna? According to monks’ early writings, the Austrian troops were copying the Wiener Schnitzel recipe when they arrived in Milan, and not the other way around. The typical cutlet comes with the bone (the name comes from costoletta, meaning rib), and is breaded and fried in butter.
2. Pesto alla Genovese (Genova)
Pesto can be found in a jar in every supermarket shelf nowadays, so much so that tasting real pesto in the Liguria region is quite rare. Doing it at home, however, is easy: you just need to keep a small vase of basil leaves on your balcony and follow the traditional recipe.
3. Carbonara (Rome)
When you have guests over for dinner, one of the simplest things is to make a giant pot of carbonara, a recipe that, even when it goes wrong, can never be that bad. Each person has its own version of this recipe created in Rome: bacon or guanciale, with only one raw egg or one per person (plus one for the pot)… but I recommend not adding the cream!
4. Arrosticini (Abbruzzo)
Arrosticini are simple sheep skewers of small size, around which fun stories are always generated. There is no Abruzzo, or a person who has been on vacation in Abruzzo, who has no anecdote or record of food babies. How many can you eat in one sitting?
5. Piadina Romagnola (Rimini)
Piadina is truck food par excellence. It will always remain a beautiful mystery to me how a flat circle made of flour and water, stuffed with raw squacquerone cheese and rocket, can be so sublime.
6. Fegatini alla Veneziana (Venice)
Liver is certainly not an ingredient for every palate, but if anyone wants to try it for the first time, I would suggest, without any doubt, to try the typical Venetian recipe. The recipe is so ancient that it even dates back to Roman times, and the liver cooked with onions is now a symbol of the Serenissima.
7. Canederli (Trentino-Alto Adige)
A typical dish of the region bordered by Austria and Switzerland, it’s difficult to find it outside the South Tyrol area, but it must be at the top of the list for every visit. They’re thick dumplings made of bread with speck and cheese, served in a broth or melted butter.
8. Maialino Sardo (Sardinia)
Sardinian porceddu, a roasted suckling piglet, is a unique experience, a monument to Italian gastronomy. As usual, preparation must follow strict rules: the pig must be fed with milk, cooked vertically and without spices and marinades. It must be tried at least once in your life!
9. Bistecca alla Fiorentina (Florence)
This is another dish that will make vegetarians cringe, but it’s a tradition as ancient as the city of Florence itself. Eating a real Florentine steak isn’t the cheapest dish out there, but it’s worth trying this cut of veal or scottona.
10. Cannoli Siciliani (Sicily)
Now let’s go over to desserts, although a real Sicilian cannolo almost counts as a full meal: these fried tubes filled with ricotta cheese now come in a variety of tastes and colours, but the classic ones are those with a sprinkle of pistachio, chocolate or candied orange.
11. Gianduiotti (Torino)
The symbol of Turin, in addition to Fiat and Mole Antonelliana, is definitely the gianduiotto: a small chocolate shaped like an upside-down ship made of gianduia, a result of cocoa mix with hazelnut from the Piedmont region. This preparation is named after Gianduja, a famous Italian character of the region — his hat inspired the shape of the beloved sweet.
12. Pizza (Campania)
No, we didn’t forget about her, the Queen of Italian Cuisine. There is no corner of the planet where a pizza can’t be found, even if its spread has led to a maltreatment of the original recipe. Naples is certainly the universal capital of pizza, with its famous raised cornicione (meaning “rim” of the pizza, not crust), but you can find great Romanesque pizza or pizza by the slice somewhere in our peninsula. Which is your favourite?
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What’s your absolute favourite Italian dish? Let us know in the comments. And remember: if you’re looking for student accommodation in Europe, you’ll find the perfect student home on Uniplaces. We have rooms in Rome and rooms in Milan!