If there’s any culture in the world that can tell its story through cuisine, it’s the Italians who’ll shine, and precisely why you should seek a food tour in Italy.
Our 3 favourite types of food tours in Italy
Find a walking food tour in Italy
There’s nothing quite like discovering a place through the eyes of a local. Everywhere in the world has its own culinary traditions and stories. Italy is of course, no exception.
Our week long trip in Italy this past April opened up a plethora of foodie delights we never knew existed. If we’d not found a guide to take us on a food tour (which usually included discovering local secret places too), we’d perhaps not have discovered:
– Aperitivo – the best Italian tradition you’ve never heard of! Start in Milan. For a set price you buy a drink like a cocktail and can indulge in a large buffet too! Read more
– Cichetti – like Spanish tapas, served at bacari, traditional bars, in Venice. Live like a local. Read more
– Italian coffee culture. Start your day drinking a macchiato standing at a bar in a coffee shop. Don’t sit down out the front, you’ll look like a tourist! Cappuccinos or lattes are for the morning only, never after lunch. An espresso is ok at any time of the day. Here’s a quick guide on your options
– Gelato – support local when in Italy. We discover in Italy how to keep the prices down and determine the difference between authentic and not-so… Read more
– Panzerotti (deep fried pizza dough) and the place you should queue up to taste it in Milan. Read more
Why do a walking tour? It’s easy, fun and you get to live like a local for a couple of hours. Not to mention, you can grill your walking and food tour host with any questions you like. Mostly you get an authentic experience that’s inexpensive, and you can find gems off the tourist trail. We took a walking food tour in Verona and Venice, both booked on Airbnb.
Learn to cook
One glance across experience promoters like Airbnb or Viator shows just how many cooking tours there are around the world now. Most mean you turn up to someone’s home, or a family restaurant’s kitchen, and spend a few hours learning (or honing) a skill. It might be pasta, desserts or a uniquely local cuisine you’re learning. Either way, what better opportunity do you have to learn about a new place?
The bonus of this type of experience is you’re usually supporting a local business. Win win!
One of our most popular blogs on Travel Live Learn is about pursuing creative travel experiences including this type of trip. Have a read here.
There’s plenty of this type of class or food tour on offer all over Italy. If you have any that you’d recommend, do please share details in the comments below.
Organised coach tours
If you’re fully committed to spending a few days discovering Italy through the eyes of food, there are coach tours available exclusively for this purpose. A simple search, ‘food tour Italy’ brings up a number of options. You might explore the regions we did, like Milan, Verona or Venice. Or, the famous Tuscan food and wine region. There are plenty of small towns that offer amazing insight into food and wine, and if you don’t have a car, a booking like this is the way to go to not miss anything important.
An organised tour takes the stress out of figuring out what to do and may include an itinerary of a few days. You don’t have to worry about driving or finding your way – just focus on what’s important. Your taste buds!
We’re loving localised experiences at the moment, and it started with discovering Brussels through the lens of beer and chocolate.
Other ways you can find a food tour in your country or region of choice, might be by searching for recommendations on Tripadvisor, YouTube or running a hashtag search on Instagram for #foodtour, for example.
We discovered the Brussels option on the destination’s tourism website, and our Italy experiences (including wine tastings, which you can read about here) popped up as recommendations alongside our Airbnb bookings.
Do you have tips or a personal example to share, or even questions? Let us know in the comments
Whitecross Street food market in London is a longstanding secret with locals and gets very busy at lunchtime.
This little gem has something for even the fussiest palate – including falafel, burgers, Thai, Chinese, Vietnamese, Indian, Moroccan and my personal favourite, hog roast.
The area is also brimming with history, so take a walk around to view old buildings and plauques.
Open Monday to Friday.
If you’re a foodie eating in London, you’d be mistaken to think there’s only over-cooked food and fish and chips. Far from your typical pub fare, London offers so much for the discerning foodie, especially when you know where to look.
Best spots for eating in London
Located in London’s Victoria and serving some of the city’s finest Italian fare, diners at TOZI will find something so much more than the expected. TOZI specialises in Venetian cicchetti, or smaller sized plates designed to share as well as a selection of wood fired pizzas. Dishes at TOZI are inspired by the casual dining of the Veneto regions with a strong emphasis on seasonal and quality ingredients, sourced where possible from the best Italian producers.
Italian born, head chef Maurillo has years of experience running Italian restaurants in some of the city’s most exclusive private member clubs including Shoreditch House, and the menu reflects exactly the fine dining calibre you’d expect.
Paired with an Italian wine list and a sophisticated classic Italian (of course) cocktail menu, don’t be surprised if you find yourself already planning your return. And if you’re the type to get a bit of ‘menu paralysis’ whereby you’re unable to order when there’s just too amazing choices, you can leave the ordering in the very capable hands of the wait staff at TOZI and you won’t be disappointed.
Meals are generously portioned, deliciously fresh and cooked to perfection. And while the meals are certainly a win, it’s the friendly service that adds so much more to the experience.
The bar menu includes a signature Spritz, home-made barrel-aged Negroni and Amaro TOZI, served straight from the barrel.
Casual dining/street food
Truly one of the most fun places for eating in London – street food at the Brick Lane Food markets!
Located a short walk from East Aldgate and Shoreditch stations, you’ll find absolutely every cuisine you could possibly imagine (and many you didn’t even know existed!) here.
Just walking into the food market area, your senses will certainly be overcome with the buzzing atmosphere of authentic cuisines served up with pride. It’s a great way to spend an afternoon. Just make sure to arrive hungry!
And if street food isn’t your thing, while you’re in the Brick Lane market area, you can visit boutique food shops, bars, restaurants, cafes as well as a cereal bar called Cereal Killer (yes they serve boxed cereal only and yes people queue to eat it). There’s truly something for everyone here.
While you walk off those calories, enjoy the art, craft and second-hand markets that spill out over several streets and include hundreds stalls selling clothing, artwork, handmade items, vintage items and antiques, collectibles, you name it. It’s essentially more shopping than you’d likely be able to do in a day.
It’s the quintessential London experience to enjoy an afternoon or high tea and Scoff & Banter, located just below The Radisson Blu Edwardian, Bloomsbury Street Hotel in Covent Garden is just the place to do it.
Located a short stroll from many of the city’s theatres such as the popular Cambridge Theatre, it’s a great spot to enjoy a matinee and high-tea experience. Scoff & Banter offers afternoon tea experiences that are often themed to accompany the performance taking place at the theatre.
The afternoon experience offers a menu both adults and children will adore with the traditional tea sandwiches, scones, jam and cream and decadent sweets.
After tea, enjoy a bit of retail therapy in the popular Seven Dials shopping district loaded with a heavy mixture of international brands as well as smaller boutiques.
No matter your preference in dining styles, spending just a few days in London will still allow you to experience a whole world of delicious dining experiences.
About the author
Gwen O’Toole is an accomplished writer focussing on travel, events management and food and wine. She also published a fiction novel while spending the past eight years as a magazine editor and travelling the globe before launching The Ideas Library, a creative services and event management company. She is regularly featured in a variety of travel and leisure publications and blogs.