Central Italian Cuisine

Central Italian cuisine originates in four of the country's 20 autonomous regions – Tuscany, Marche, Umbria and Lazio:

central italian cuisine



1. Tuscany

Tuscany was originally inhabited by people from a variety of cultures, beginning with the Apennine culture, the Villanovans and the Etruscans. Later invasions by Rome, Magna Graecia, Carthage, Gaul, the Longobards, the Holy Roman Empire, Napoleon and the Austrian Empire ended in the 1850s with Tuscany's inclusion in the unified nation of Italy. The Tuscan cuisine emerged from a combination of these influences and the traditional local produce.

This central Italian cuisine favors simple foods such as legumes, bread, cheese, vegetables and fruit, along with olive oil, beef and pork. Beef is bred locally in the Chiana Valley, with Florentine steak being a popular t-bone steak recipe.

Tuscany is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Italy, especially in the niche travel market of cooking vacations. To learn more about how this works, visit our cooking vacations page.


2. Umbria

Umbria is named after the Umbri tribe, who settled in the region around 672 BC. They were preceded by the Terramare culture of Italy and Dalmatia (approximately 1500-1100 BC) and the Villanova culture of Northern Italy. Umbrians were possibly related to the Achaeans of prehistoric Greece.

Umbria was ruled by the Etruscans from 700 to 500 BC, followed by the Romans, the Ostrogoths, Byzantines, Lombards, Charlemagne, the Papal States and the Napoleonic Empire(1809–1814). The region was incorporated into the unified Kingdom of Italy but its borders were only fixed in 1927.

The primary agricultural products are grapes, olives, tobacco and wheat. Most Umbrian dishes are prepared by boiling and roasting, flavored with olive oil and herbs. Wild game, sausage, lentils, vegetables, truffles, splet and fish are all popular ingredients.


3. Marche

The region was ruled by the Romans, followed by the Goths, the Byzantines, the Lombards (briefly), Charlemagne, and the Papal States, until it was annexed to the unified Kingdom of Italy.

Marche is predominantly mountainous so most economic activity occurs along the coast. The primary industries are shoemaking, paper and furniture production and shipbuilding, as well as fishing. Fresh fish and seafood are consumed in the coastal regions while pork products such as sausages and hams are popular in the inland areas. Spit roasting is a popular method of cooking. Fish stews, spinach and meat dumplings and fried olives are all specialties of this central Italian cuisine.


4. Lazio

Lazio, originally known as Latium, was the seat of the Roman Empire, and, together with present-day Campania, was the first Italian region. After the Byzantine conquest, Latium was ruled by the Eastern Emperor, then the Roman Bishop and the Papal States until its annexation by the Kingdom of Italy in 1870. Its capital city, Rome, then became the capital of Italy.

Wine grapes, fruit, vegetables and olives are traditional agricultural products, and animal husbandry and fishery are common occupations. Roman cuisine includes spicy pasta dishes, gnocchi, pork, beef and artichokes. Jewish influence can also be seen in the cuisine.

Pastas of all kinds are an essential part of Roman cuisine.

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