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Tasting Italy, Part Two: Central Italy

Learn about central Italy's culture and, of course, food.
By Published Dec. 10, 2018

With its myriad regional flavors, Italian food doesn’t have a national character, but the Italian way of eating does: a reverence for local ingredients, sensitively and simply prepared and enjoyed alongside family and friends, slowly and with gusto. We’ve teamed up with the travel and culture experts at National Geographic to capture Italy’s magnificent regional cuisine, culture, and landscapes in a one-of-a-kind book—Tasting Italy.

The book is divided into three chapters—Northern, Central, and Southern Italy. In the first installment of our Tasting Italy series, we traveled through Northern Italy. In this article, we'll learn about central Italy. But you don’t have to wait to get all of Tasting Italy. Order your copy now and start exploring—and cooking—as soon as it’s delivered to your door.


Neither the cool, cosmopolitan north nor the hot, passionate south, central Italy strikes just the right balance for discerning travelers and their palates. The landscape seems quintessentially Italian: rolling hills intensely cultivated and dominated by small farms, tall cypress trees along ancient roads, terra cotta–tiled farmhouses, and exquisite cities including Rome, Orvieto, Urbino, and Florence.


Tuscany’s iconic landscape is a rumpled quilt of small green and gold fields, vineyards heavy with dusty purple fruit, and woodlands that are dark, cool, and filled with porcini mushrooms and truffles, chestnuts, and game. Unpretentious yet demanding, Tuscans like food made with prime ingredients and with a minimum of fuss.

Recipes of Tuscany

Less well-known than neighboring Tuscany, Umbria is like the overlooked second child, diminutive in size but shining quietly with a brilliance and beauty uniquely its own. Umbria is home to olives and vines, hogs and game, and most spectacularly, six species of prodigious truffles, predominantly black. These foods have inspired its native cooking style, which is rustic and rich in flavor.

Recipes of Umbria

Eighty percent of Lazio’s population lives in Rome, one of the world’s oldest cities and the epicenter of Western culture. The surrounding countryside, the agro romano, is where most of the region’s food is grown. There’s a local saying, “May heaven deliver us to a place where we can eat.” In other words, Romans love to eat. The food is designed to sate the carnivore, the fish lover, the vegetable lover, the pasta lover, the polenta lover, and the rice lover alike.

Recipes of Lazio

Other Areas in Central Italy

What's your favorite dish from Italy? Let us know in the comments! And for our comprehensive collection of recipes from Central Italy and beyond, order your copy of Tasting Italy today.