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Top 5 cities to wine and dine in Italy

Absolutely Abruzzo Italy village experience

Top 5 cities to wine and dine in Italy

story by: Jo Wedlock

Pick any spot ​for your holiday in Italy and you’ll enjoy some ​truly fantastic meals. ​Different regions specialise in ​their own flavours, ​so you'll get quite a different experience in the cities, compared to the countryside. ​Forks at the ready. let's explore a few of Italy's finest ​foods.

Florence is an amazing city and there is plenty to see, do and eat.  While there is a proliferation of eateries in the main centre of the city (try to visit the Santa Maria Novella square and dine outside in the evening if you can), often it's hard to find something that isn’t too ‘touristy’ or overpriced.  

If you take the bus up to the top of Piazzale Michelangelo, where Michelangelo’s David presides over the view, you’ll find two lovely places to eat.  One is a more formal restaurant but has a casual outdoor eating area and the other is a mixture of Trattoria with a take-away Gelato bar on the side.  Both are stunning places to eat and both take full advantage of the views.  It’s a lovely way to combine sightseeing and dining in true Italian style.

Montepulciano is located in the heart of Siena in Tuscany and is exactly what you’d expect from a hilltop renaissance town in this part of the world. Built around the cathedral on top of the hill, the inner gated old part of the Montepulciano is a maze of alleyways with wine shops, trattoria, cheese stores, meat shops, crafts and much more.  There are several great little places to eat in the old area – all of which are worth a visit.  

Montepulciano is also the name of a red wine grape grown ​in the region and as you drive in and out the town, you’ll notice the vines and wineries dotted around the hillside – stop and sample some lovely red wine and enjoy the famed Tuscan atmosphere.

Umbria is a region of modern central Italy. It is one of the smallest Italian regions and the only peninsular region that is not bordered by ocean. The capital of the region is Perugia but it is perhaps better know for Assisi and Norcia  - the historical towns associated with St. Francis of Assisi and St. Benedict.

In more recent times, Umbria has become well known for its food and distinct flavours. While there are ​a bevvy of places to eat and drink in this vast area, the best Gelato can be found at the Gran Caffe in Assisi. Located on Corso Mazzini, the Gran Caffe specialises in delicious ice-creams, sweet pastries and cakes.  It does a hot chocolate to rival the best of them and is the perfect place to rest and recharge after you’ve been visiting the commune and cathedrals around Assisi.

Venice is the city of dreams – a city built on the water, complete with gondola and the Bridge of Sighs.  Often dubbed the most romantic city in the world, this small compact place can feel more like a village than one of the oldest cities in Europe.  Venice is actually built on 118 islands that are connected by canals and bridges and the entire city is listed as a world heritage site.

There are more places to stay and eat than you can count.  There are ​six different regions or ‘boroughs’ in Venice ​a favourite for foodie experiences is ​just a few steps from Saint Marks Square, and from Accademia, where you are surrounded by the ​aesthetics and peacefulness of everyday Venice, rather than caught up in the very touristy centre.  The back alleys around this area are bursting with small local Trattoria and ristorante and you can try everything from local ‘pizza by the slice’ to ristorantes with no menu; the ​dishes prepared are based purely on the food available on the day. Yum. 

No food and wine story in Italy is complete without a visit to Chianti. Due to the huge popularity of the famous style of wine, you could be forgiven for thinking that Chianti is a main centre such as Florence or Siena.  You would be wrong!  The main street of Greve in Chianti (Chianti is the region and Greve the main town) is just a few shops and buildings.

One of HOT's all-time favourite restaurants (in all of Europe!) is hidden over the hills about 30 minutes over gravel roads in the heart of Chianti.  So hidden away was La Cantinetta di Rignana that you might get lost a few times just trying to locate it. Persevere because you'll be rewarded ​with a small, extremely busy and amazing restaurant nestled atop a hillside overlooking the vineyards of the region.  It's always worth the drive and some of the best food in all of Italy. 

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