A Brief History of Italian Cuisine

Italian Food

Pasta dish

Italian cuisine has developed over the centuries through the changing of times. Some of its roots can even be traced back as far as the Roman empire. It is a country which can be defined by diversity, and the same being said for it’s cuisine.

The ingredients that are used to create their world-renowned meals are distinctively regional yet some have also been influenced by and in a few cases, have wholly derived from neighbouring nations.

The cuisine has been heavily influenced by the moving centuries, such as Etruscans, Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome. Gaining several of there most ‘famous’ or most ‘popular’ ingredients and cooking techniques from other countries. At first Ancient Greek cooking was merged with the Italian cooking but over the years it expanded, as did the popularity. Ships were sent to various countries to import and collect different foods such as wine, wheat and spices. They even travelled to places faraway as China, sometimes thought as the producers of pasta but was actually made years before
in Ancient times.

After the Roman empire fell the different regions of Italy became more diverse, incorporating their own techniques and traditions into their cooking, creating a popularity in certain foods. For example Naples is most commonly known for its pizza whilst Bologna has tortellini and Milan for their risotto.

It is this relationship between the Italian land and bordering districts which has encouraged a progression in the making of delicious and healthy meals.

A large part of the cuisine is made up of a wide range of ingredients including coffee, meats, cheese and wine. Although originally the cheese was imported from Sicily.



Some of the most recognised ingredients used and enjoyed in Italy, such as basil, tomato and mozzarella cheese, are all commonly added to flat-bread to enhance its flavour once baked. This simple combination of varying foods is now known as the famous Italian dish, pizza.

Originally, pizza was a meal that was made and adored by the poorer communities in Naples around the time of the 18th Century, since its preparation and modest mixture suited these people and their lifestyle. Word caught on about the delicious nature of pizza and soon people from all areas and classes of Italy travelled to experience its fresh taste.


Many pasta varieties are quite regional to central parts of Italy each being prepared and cooked in different ways.

Dry pasta, a popular dish consumed over all five continents, can be made by purely adding water to durum wheat flour. It was in the 9th Century when Arabs (specifically from Libya) brought their knowledge of making pasta to the Mediterranean basin, during the Arab conquests of Sicily. Ever since, pasta as we know it today is made in the same manner.


The varieties of pasta include:

  • Cannelloni
  • Spaghetti
  • Linguine
  • Lasagne
  • Vermicelli
  • Penne
  • Rotini

The dishes which combine pasta with varying ingredients, define the culinary contributions Italy has and still makes to the rest of the world.



Italy is one of the largest producers of wine today and is home to the oldest wine-producing regions in the world. Grapes are grown in almost every Italian province and the country excels in the amount of vineyards currently being used for wine-making. The Greek settlers in Italy were known to have been the first to produce wine in the area and it was then the Romans who consequently took over the role once their empire began to grow. Large-scale production and storage techniques were pioneered by the Roman people, who perfected the way wine is bottled, and their approach remains as the standard to this day.

Each region produces their own wines some of these include:

  • Catarratto – Sicly
  • Fiano – Grown on the south west
  • Moscato – Piedmont
  • Corvino – Veneto
  • Negroamaro – Meaning ‘black and bitter’ comes from Puglia
  • Sagrantino – Native to Umbria

Many places now incorporate and import variations of the Italian cuisine including America, South Africa, Libya, Philippines, Europe and Britain.

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