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The Biodiversity Behind Italian Food

We believe that there is no such thing as “Italian food.” Each of Italy’s 20 regions boasts a unique cuisine that draws on the local biodiversity, traditions, and culture.


Surrounded by gentle seas, Italy’s narrow peninsula stretches from the mountainous Alps to the volcanic islands. From north to south and east to west, the wild sea winds meet the calm mountain breezes, creating a series of microclimates (i.e., terrain, soil, wind, etc.). Over hundreds of thousands of years, a vast variety of fungi, plants, and animals evolved in these fertile but different microclimates. This unique biodiversity provides each region with its specialities.

Italians seek Saffron from Umbria and Pasta made in Campania. The best and most authentic products naturally thrive in certain areas.


Over centuries, the locals perfected the production of the food and wine varietals that naturally grew in their region; through trial and error, traditions were born. In turn, these culinary traditions slowly permeated each region’s culture.

This is still apparent today, even with a dish like pasta. While the ingredient is ubiquitous throughout Italy, the traditional style still varies based on the microclimate and readily-available ingredients. Northern Piemonte is known for its tajarin con burro al tartufo (left image), a tender fresh egg pasta tossed with a rich butter sauce and topped with truffles hunted in the nearby hills. This is hardly in the same category as Southern Campania’s paccheri con sugo di mare (right image), an air-dried pasta made with flour and water tossed with a fresh seafood tomato sauce.


Italy was not unified as a country until 1861, so these regional traditions continue to run deep in local markets, restaurants, and nonna's tables. The most difficult thing about eating in Italy is that you can’t try everything. Every day you have a finite number of meals, and a finite amount of space in your stomach, whereas there seems to be an infinite number of Italian dishes that you “absolutely need to try”. From regional specialities to the finest seasonal delicacies, you would need multiple lifetimes to sample all the best Italian food, and that’s before you even consider dessert and drinks.


Courtesy: eataly, Tripsavvy, walksofitaly

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