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The best places to visit in Italy this summer and dishes to try

Planning a holiday to Italy this Summer? Here’s our run-down of the best places to visit, and traditional Italian dishes to try while you’re there!

VENICE

Birmingham may have more canals than Venice but let’s face it, Venice is an utter dreamboat! A gondola ride through the enchanting waterways will transport you to a fairy tale. Even during peak tourist season, you’re always a bridge away from quiet squares, churches or beautiful palaces and museums.

Our dish recommendation for Venice – Risotto al Nero di Seppia

You know we love our seafood at Cucina Rustica so we have a soft spot for Risotto al Nero di Seppia. It’s a risotto dish featuring squid, wine, onion, tomato and ink braise. The squid ink gives the dish its unique, jet-black colour. Rice is a staple in the Veneto region, and few dishes are more Venetian than this delicious, seafood-based risotto.

ROME

From the ruins of the majestic Colosseum to the stunning Sistine Chapel, Rome showcases Italy’s incredible history, as well as its beautiful art and architecture. But it’s also a place that’s teeming with a buzzing atmosphere, quirky shops and great places to eat and drink. Rome’s incredible energy, mild temperature and countless sites make it a must on your places to visit in Italy!

Our dish recommendation for Rome – Rigatoni Carbonara.

True Roman Carbonara is an art form. Consisting of raw eggs, Pecorino Romano and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, and guanciale (Italian cured pork cheek) or pancetta, the best Italian carbonara is impossibly creamy. If you find the right one, you’ll be dreaming of it for years to come!

FLORENCE

There is so much exquisite art and architecture within the ancient walls of Florence. It’s also a city with an eclectic cultural life that embraces opera, classical music and contemporary art. Florence’s cosy size means everything is accessible, with most of the main sights within walking distance of one another. This also makes it a great long-weekend/short-stay destination.

The city is very close to the vine-covered hills of Chianti, as well as other Tuscan art towns such as Arezzo, Siena and Lucca. If you’re hiring a car, you’ll see some of the most beautiful views on your drives to these locations!

Our dish recommendation for Florence – Bistecca Fiorentina.

Florentine steak is the king dish of Florence, and if you’re a beef fan, you need to try this! Most restaurants in Florence have it on the menu. Be sure to have a little search on TripAdvisor to see which restaurants others recommend for this dish.

SICILY

Aside from Sicily’s beautiful architecture, it’s also a place showcasing Italy’s natural wonders, from the smoking craters of Mount Etna to the beaches of the southern coast. With parts of the island on the same latitude as the North African coast, Sicily’s mild climate makes it an attractive destination for much of the year.

You’ll be spoiled for choice with things to do! There are the historic cities of Palermo, Catania and Siracusa, the Etna region; Ragusa, Modica and the other Baroque towns of the south; the Greek temples of Agrigento, Selinunte and Segesta; Roman sites like Piazza Armerina, sandy beaches and secret rocky coves.

Our dish recommendation for Sicily – Granita with Brioche

With Arab, Spanish and French influences, Sicilian cuisine is in a class of its own. But given Sicily’s soaring temperatures in the summer, we have to recommend the classic Granita with Brioche! Granita is made from thin ice flakes churned with fresh fruit, nuts or coffee which is then sweetened with sugar. Lemon, almond, and coffee are among the most popular flavours of this refreshing summer treat, typical of the provinces of Catania and Syracuse. Locals love to start their day with a granita accompanied by a doughy brioche for breakfast.

TUSCANY

Tuscany is a place of exceptional beauty and romance. Its diverse natural landscape encompasses the rugged Apennine Mountains, the island of Elba’s beaches on the Tyrrhenian Sea and Chianti’s olive groves and vineyards. Be sure to make time for a little wine tasting tour!

Our dish recommendation for Tuscany – Castagnaccio

Castagnaccio is a traditional Tuscan dessert made with chestnut flour, raisins, and pine nuts, seasoned with a little salt, olive oil and rosemary. Everything is mixed with water and baked to make a thin, dense cake. It’s eaten warm or cold, and is perfectly paired with a sweet Tuscan dessert wine!

We hope we’ve given you enough inspiration to book a trip away to Italy this summer. Whether it’s a tour encompassing all of the above regions or a short getaway, there is so much beauty to see – and taste – in Italy! And if we’ve made you hungry with all the dish recommendations, stop by Cucina Rustica in the Jewellery Quarter for a taste of Italy in the interim!

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