Five Not-to-be-Missed Foods in Italy

One of the most important elements of any Italy trip is not what you'll see in the piazzas and museums, but what you'll sample from your plate and glass. Italy is about art and culture, of course, but it is also about food and wine, and the traditional cuisine is such an integral part of this country's history and culture that it is often hard to separate the two. Everything from the landscape to the opening hours of businesses has been shaped by Italian's eating habits over the centuries, so it's only fitting that an authentic experience in Italy includes tasting its most authentic dishes.

cannolo-cr-brian-dore(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

Here are five of our favorites - chosen from a thousand contenders - that are a must for any Italy trip. Be sure you try each in its home region, as Italy is a patchwork of micro-cuisines and eating a northern dish in the south or vice versa simply doesn't pack the same flavor punch.

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Row Like a Venetian

Voga, voga, il vento tace,
pura è l'onda, il ciel sereno,
solo un alito di pace
par che allegri e cielo e mar:
voga, voga, o marinar.

Row, row, the wind has died,
the water is pure, the sky bright,
only a breath of peace
seems to cheer both sky and sea.
Row, row, sailor.

- Leopoldo Tarantini

voga-voga-row-venice-cr-ciutravel(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

Though its reputation has been somewhat sullied by its popularity with tourists, there is nothing more authentic and historic - not to mention picturesque - in Venice than voga rowing. This traditional style of sculling with a single, long oar to both propel and steer has been used by *gondolieri *for centuries and is uniquely suited to guide gondolas through the narrow, twisting canals of La Serenissima. Though we always urge travelers to Venice to support this local tradition by taking a gondola ride during their stay, on our most recent visit we went a step further and took a private lesson to try our hand at voga ourselves!

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Venice's Peggy Guggenheim Collection

One of the most important and prestigious art collections in Venice has surprisingly little to do with La Serenissima's illustrious history and artistic heritage.

guggenheim-venice-entrance(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

Instead, it was bold American heiress and patron of the arts Peggy Guggenheim who amassed a stunning collection of 20th century art and found a home for it in her adopted city of Venice, where it remains among the city's most popular museums today.
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