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From the Dolomites to Sicily: Here are the best foodie spots in untrodden Italy

The best food in the world? A market selling fresh produce in Sicily
The best food in the world? A market selling fresh produce in Sicily Copyright  Tomas Anton Escobar via UnSplash
Copyright  Tomas Anton Escobar via UnSplash
By Saskia O'Donoghue
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Whether you delight in savoury treats like arancini or fresh pasta or if sweets are more your thing, Italy’s less-explored destinations have plenty to offer every visitor.

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“From the lush landscapes to the faultless food, you'll never be short of things to do - or eat - on an Italian escape,” says tour guide Lorne Blyth.

After travelling around the country - both professionally and personally - for over 20 years, she’s still discovering untrodden destinations and their foodie delights.

Lorne founded Flavours Holidays to share these unforgettable culinary and cultural experiences with travellers from around the world.

​​As a student, Lorne fell for the allure of the ‘dolce vita’ lifestyle and the contrast of Italy to her native Scotland. The vibrant culture, rich history and warm hospitality of Italy inspired her to delve deeper into the country's wonders and create a career surrounding it.

Her tour company now hosts specialist holidays in five different regions, from Painting in Tuscany to Pilates in Puglia, with a focus on offering authentic experiences in truly local settings.

With her help, we’ve put together a list of the must see, under-visited spots in Italy - with ideas of what to eat when you get there.

Founder of Flavours Holidays, Lorne Blyth
Founder of Flavours Holidays, Lorne BlythCalum Blyth/Flavours Holidays

Escape the crowds on the island of Giglio

“Nestled off the coast of Tuscany, the Island of Giglio is a true hidden gem, offering a perfect escape from the crowds,” Lorne tells Euronews Travel.

The relatively unknown spot boasts pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters and charming villages - and Lorne recommends it for either a weekend getaway or an extended retreat, explored at a slower pace.

Restaurants all over the island serve up simple dishes and Tuscan culinary specialties enriched with local ingredients. Expect plenty of fresh fish, perfect to be eaten after hiking one of Giglio’s scenic trails or discovering some of the secluded coves.

Lorne calls the island an “untouched paradise”.

“It’s a true sanctuary of tranquillity and natural beauty, just waiting to be explored,” she says.

Giglio is a haven of peace and tranqulity - with wonderful food, too
Giglio is a haven of peace and tranqulity - with wonderful food, tooFederico Burgalassi via Unsplash

Savour sweet Puglian treats in Salento

For many travellers to Italy, the ‘heel’ of the country is often overlooked. However, Puglia should be added to any bucket list and, in the south, you’ll find Salento.

An authentically charming region, it’s home to seemingly endless beaches, with many considered to be among the best in the world.

“Start your day with a refreshing swim at Cala dell'acqua viva and bask in the stunning turquoise waters,” Lorne advises.

Dive into the crystal clear waters of Spiaggia di Baia dell’Orte in Salento
Dive into the crystal clear waters of Spiaggia di Baia dell’Orte in SalentoMassimo Virgilio via Unsplash

After a dip, she says, “join the locals at Martinucci Cafe in the picturesque town of Castro, where you can savour a pasticciotto pastry [a typical Puglia sweet pastry] paired with a creamy cappuccino.”

The entire region is far less trodden than much of Italy, perfect for discovering hidden beaches and quaint villages.

“Salento is a true haven for those seeking an authentic Italian experience,” Lorne says. “Get a taste of true local life, both through its food and rustic scenery.”

“I have been lucky enough to travel around Italy both professionally and personally for over 20 years and I'm still discovering new and beautiful things each time I visit.”
Lorne Blyth
Tour guide and founder of Flavours Holidays

Sample arancini in their home of Scopello

Scopello, in Sicily, is a quiet village found along the rugged coastline of the ever-popular island.

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“Visit the historic [former fishing area] Tonnara and unwind with a refreshing Aperol spritz as you watch the sunset over the Mediterranean Sea,” Lorne suggests.

Known for its dramatic cliffs, crystal-clear waters and charming atmosphere, Scopello is, Lorne says, “a true hidden gem waiting to be explored… where history meets stunning natural beauty, allowing for the perfect Sicilian getaway.”

Arancini are one of Sicily's most famous delicacies
Arancini are one of Sicily's most famous delicaciesClark Douglas via Unsplash

No visit to the island is complete without a sampling of its most iconic culinary offering - arancini.

These sumptuous rice balls are said to have originated in 10th-century Sicily, at a time when the island was under Arab rule. For centuries, they’ve been enormously popular, and where better to try the savoury delights than at the place of their inception?

Try the world’s freshest pasta in Lari

Tuscany is synonymous with pasta, and the picturesque hill town of Lara, found in the heart of the region, will show you why.

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On a visit to the town, filled with ancient streets lined with mediaeval architecture, Lorne recommends a visit to the legendary Martelli family’s factory.

Founded by brothers Guido and Gastone Martelli in 1926, the business is renowned for its artisanal pasta-making tradition.

“Sample fresh pasta and other local delicacies and immerse yourself in the flavours of true Tuscan cuisine,” Lorne says.

It’s a perfect town for foodies where, she adds, “ancient traditions and local flavours are combined to create the ultimate Tuscan dining experience.”

Explore the Dolomites when the snow has melted for a unique experience

While the Dolomites in the northeast of Italy are perhaps best known for their ski slopes and snowfall, they’re well worth a visit in the spring and summer too.

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As temperatures rise, Lorne suggests partaking in a Hugo spritz, “a delightful twist on the classic Aperol spritz”, made with elderflower liqueur, mint and prosecco.

The tasty beverage was invented in 2005 by bartender Roland Gruber in the Dolomites town of Naturno - and has gained popularity throughout Europe ever since.

Singing the region’s praises, Lorne recommends a visit to the mountainous area: “Surrounded by towering peaks and lush meadows, the Dolomites offer a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.

The village of Corvara is one of Lorne's favourite spots in the Dolomites
The village of Corvara is one of Lorne's favourite spots in the DolomitesLukas Leitner via Unsplash

“Take in the breathtaking views and immerse yourself in the natural beauty of this enchanting mountain range.”

Her favourite spot? The village of Corvara, perfect at any time of the year.

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“Corvara enchants with its stunning mountainous views and charming streets,” Lorne tells Euronews Travel. “The picturesque village is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, offering skiing in winter (including great après!) and hiking in summer, amidst stunning alpine surroundings.”

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