When you are on vacation in Italy, knowing what to eat is the least of your problems; knowing when to stop eating is the real problem! Make sure you're choosing quality foods and ingredients for your meals.
As with wine, Italian foods also forms a culinary panorama, among the richest and most diversified, and are subjected to strict controls that protect their quality and defend with honor what they represent in Italy and in the world.
It is no coincidence that Italian products are among the most imitated in other countries and even though it may seem flattering, instead it risks compromising centuries of productive techniques and refined traditions subjected to continuous controls and improvements; it also creates false myths and flavors that are far from the original ones and thus risk disappointing the visitor's expectations.
The European Union offers two certifications for foods that guarantee their authenticity. In Italy, the immense culinary scene means the list of foods is long and includes the following categories: fresh meat and meat products, fish, mollusks, fresh crustaceans, fruit and vegetables and cereals, oils and fats, cheeses, essential oil, bakery products and pastry, chocolate and its derivatives, spices and other products such as balsamic vinegar. As of 2019 this list has reached 299 products with two designations: PDO and PGI:
PDO (Protected Designation of Origin, written in Italy as DOP) - is the protection mark given by the European Union to all those products whose characteristics depend on the territory in which they are produced, such as the climate, but also the production techniques which together make a final product one of a kind;
PGI (Protected Geographical Indication, written in Italy as IGP) - is the brand given to those products whose characteristics and reputation depend on a specific geographical area and therefore it will be possible to produce and transform the product only in that area.
A list so rich in products recognized for their quality and uniqueness allows those who spend a holiday in Italy to relive with their 5 senses a wonderful experience even when they return home; the only obstacle is, as mentioned before, to find authentic products. Here is the importance of carefully selecting each product you buy and checking that the acronyms that certify the origin of the raw materials are indicated, otherwise you run the risk of buying mere imitations and that
consequently do not respect the authentic taste of the original product.
Here are some suggestions on where to buy authentic and high quality products during your Italian holidays: the historic shops still active in the historic centers and the shops selling fresh products are certainly the places where you can safely buy traditional products, certified and from small artisans; the classic supermarket will have wider choices of products considered more commercial and produced on a large scale. Never forget that the quality is not directly proportional to the quantity.
Where I recommend the best shopping experience is directly from the producers and in recent years Italy has significantly increased the number of farms that have opened their doors to passing visitors, hosting them with guided tours and tastings; this type of experience is extremely targeted and will revolve around a single product, but will allow you to see the whole production chain of your favorite cheese, for example, and to taste a piece just cut from the form. On tours with Tourissimo, we often visit farms and producers so you can have this type of experience.
Obviously the discourse of the targeted purchase must also extend to where to eat, but in this case the suggestions can be found in the article A food court called Italy, meanwhile we wish your palate a pleasant and delicious holiday.
When you return home, you can look for the PDO (DOP) and PGI (IGP) logos on exported products from Italy as well.