Italy is synonymous with amazing food and you’ll certainly never go hungry during your travels.
The traditional colours of Italian food have inspired art through the ages—deep reds, vibrant greens, and sunny yellows. Just ask Michelangelo and da Vinci.
When on a ski holiday, you will definitely work up an appetite, so why not fuel your muscles with delicious Italian dishes that will leave your mouth watering and your energy levels restored!
There will be plenty of amazing restaurants to choose from in your ski resort, but here are some dishes you should look out for…
The Traditional Dishes of Northern Italy
The culinary history of Italy dates back over 2,000 years to the Roman Empire with a myriad of other influences including Ancient Greek, Byzantine, Arabic, Hebrew & Norman. After the Roman Empire fell, each state and region began cooking in its own unique way
Cuisine from the north uses butter and dairy products rather than olive oil. If you are unsure about to what to choose, ask the restaurant if they can prepare you a Tris di pasta. This dish uses three different types of pasta and sauces served on one plate. It usually includes Carbonara and It usually includes Carbonara, Pesto and Bolognese or arrabiata sauces for variety and colour.
Carbonara sauce is so famous in Italy that it has its very own celebration day on April 5th. Over 83 million pasta lovers celebrated the special day in 2017!
Fun fact: you’ll never find spaghetti Bolognese in Italy. Bolognese sauce (also known as Ragu) is supposed to be served with tagliatelle or ribbed pasta to hold delicious flavours of the chunky sauce.
Ravioli, also called agnolotti in northern Italy, is a popular dish throughout Italy.
It’s made with a wide range of fillings, from wild greens and ricotta, to sausage and veal, pumpkin, and more. Freshly made pasta in the north is made with flour and eggs.
Fresh egg Tagliatelle can often be found on the menu in many restaurants in the north along with Gnocchi di patate. Gnocchi di patate is made with cooked potatoes, flour and egg. It is served with a variety of sauces, like cheese, tomato, Bolognese, pesto, and more.
While pasta might be king in Italy, Polenta is just as popular in parts of Italy. This Maize meal is used as an accompaniment for main courses in Northern Italy.
When the dish is also served with cheese and baked in the oven, it is called Polenta Concia. Polenta is traditionally cooked in a copper cauldron mixed with a large wooden spoon, ideally in a traditional fireplace.
Not to be confused with French or Swiss fondue, which is made with cheese, corn flour, white wine and kirsch. Fonduta alla Valdostana is prepared with Fontina DOP cheese and egg yolks and heated carefully without boiling.
It’s the perfect après ski dish after a great day on the slopes.
France might be world famous for their cheese, but Italy is a very close second. Whilst in the mountains you need to try the local cheeses. Italian cheese pairs perfectly with just about any Italian dish or an incredible selection of wine.
Toma is a generic name for local mountain cheeses. Just ask to try a selection at any mountain hut or restaurant. Fontina DOP is a characteristic cheese of the Aosta Valley. Try Toma di Gressoney.
Asiago is a semi-hard fresh cheese that is commonly found on pizza and pasta dishes. Bitto can be matured for up to 10 years and is a semi-hard to hard paste. While not a mountain cheese, Mozzarella di Bufala is from the Campania region of Italy. It’s a delicious creamy mozzarella made from buffalo milk.
Burrata, from Puglia, is a buttery and almost liquid form of mozzarella that tastes just divine. And, of course, you can always have a taste of the amazing Italian cheeses that come from the valleys, like Pecorino, Gorgonzola, and more.
Gelato. Pasta. Pizza. Prosciutto. You’ll find plenty of incredible dishes in Italy. Skip the sugar and carbs and enjoy a little protein before you hit the mountain. Speck is a smoked prosciutto commonly found in Veneto and Lombardy.
Prosciutto crudo is usually thinly sliced and served uncooked. It comes in a myriad of varieties to try, like Jambon de Bosses from the Aosta Valley, Prosciutto di Parma, Prosciutto di Montagna (each region has its own), and San Daniele. Try them all and let us know what your favorite is!
While not quite prosciutto, Carpaccio di Manzo is a traditional Italian antipasto with thinly sliced marinated raw beef, Parmigiano, celery, extra virgin olive oil and seasoning.
Different Meats to try
If you’re a meat lover, then you’ve come to the right country. You’ll find lots of great meat options on any restaurant menu.
Aside from the large amounts of cured meats on offer, the sumptuous salame and pancetta, you’ll want to sample some fresh meat too. Vitello translates to veal, but it’s not veal as we know it. Vitello comes from older animals and therefore does not have the animal welfare stigma British or French veal has. Most beef dishes in northern Italy are prepared with vitello.
Other common meats you’ll find on the menu include:
- Lonza di maiale – Pork loin
- Agnello – Lamb
- Salsiccia – Italian sausage
- Cervo – Venison
- Cinghiale – Boar
Fish dishes are also widely available, using trout, salmon, arctic char and other white and lake fish found in the local regions. Since you’ll be skiing all day, you’ll want to eat plenty of protein to keep your muscles in top ski shape.
Zuppa literally soup in English, but in Italy, zuppa is more like a stew. Look out for the chunky local zuppa di verdure (vegetable soup) as it is the perfect meal to warm you up on a cold day. Zuppa Valpellinentze is Heston Blumenthal’s favourite mountain recipe.
It is made with beef stock, cabbage, rye bread and Fontina DOP cheese and baked in the oven. Make it at home with his favourite recipe!
Ossobuco is braised veal shanks with bone marrow garnished with a gremolata herb condiment.
This delicious dish is commonly found in Lombardy and Milan. It is often served with the notorious risotto alla Milanese (saffron risotto).
Canederli is a type of bread and speck dumpling served in a broth with several variations. Sometimes it is served with italian stews.
Canederli is served in most mountain huts throughout the central Alps and makes the perfect ski lunch. Hearty and warm – what more could you want?
Tiramisu is world famous coffee-flavoured Italian dessert. Made from sponge fingers “savoiardi” dipped in sweet amaretto scented coffee, layered with a mascarpone and egg cream, and topped with cocoa.
Tiramisu dates back to the 1960s in the Veneto region of Italy. No one knows for sure who invented Tiramisu, but most people believe it was Roberto Linguanotto, the owner of “Le Beccherie.”
Panna cotta is another traditional northern Italian dessert from the Piedmont region, which literally means “cooked cream.” Made with gelatin and molded, Panna Cotta is often flavoured with caramel or coffee.
Last but not least… Wine
You can’t visit Italy without trying the local wine. The country is famous across the globe for its award-winning wine.
While you can find just about every variety of wine in Italy, in northern Italy it’s a little different than you’d typically find elsewhere in the country.
For the white wine drinkers, you’ll have lots to choose from on your ski holiday. Ribolla Gialla is a full bodied white wine from the north east with a characteristic intense yellow colour. Arneis is a delicious Piemonte smooth white wine that pairs well with dinner or just sipping by the fireplace at night. Vermentino is a common grape varietal found in Piemonte, Liguria, and Sardegna.
Wines from the Collio region include Livio Felluga Winery. Named after the famous winemaker who brought winemaking back to the Friuli region after World War II, you’ll find lots of varieties including Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, and Shiraz.
Amarone is produced in Veneto. The name means The Great Bitter, to distinguish it from recioto, the other wine of the region which has a sweeter taste. Veneto is made from grapes that have been allowed to dry for up to a four-month period, which leads to a concentration of sugars and flavours. Grapes used in this wine include Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara. As a result, Amarone is a very rich, full bodied, dry red wine
Ski and Eat Happy in Italy
Is your mouth watering yet? Italy is home to some of the best food and wine in the world. And, if you’re like us and enjoy the delicious food, let us help you plan the perfect ski holiday in Italy.
If you’d like to learn more about how you can go about planning your ski holiday, sign up to our free email course.
Not only will we help you find the right Italian ski resort, but we’ll point you to all our favorite Italian restaurants, mountainside huts, and bars. You will not go hungry in Italy!