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Abruzzo

Food

Abruzzo is known for strong flavors and strong hospitality. Peperoncino (hot red pepper) is used to flavor many dishes, and a favorite is pasta with aglio, olio, and peperoncino (garlic, olive oil and hot red pepper), strong enough to burn a hole in the stomach.

Wine
In a nation of myriad appellations, the Abruzzi offers wine drinkers rare and refreshing simplicity. There are only two DOCs and precious few unclassified wines of note in a region that is two-thirds mountains and one-third hills with highly favourable natural conditions for grapevines. Growers favour the predominant Montepulciano and Trebbiano, source of their two regional DOCs, while growing some highly productive vines.

Wine regions
Abruzzi ranks 14th among the regions in size (10,749 square kilometres) and in population (1,250,000). Vineyards cover 30,000 hectares (13th) of which registered DOC plots total 9,800 hectares (12th). Annual wine production of 3,800,000 hectolitres (6th) includes 8.5 per cent or 320,000 hectolitres DOC.


Basilicata

Food

The cuisine of Basilicata gets its taste from its strong spicy ingredients. It is rich in pungent perfumes of wild herbs and tomatoes, silvery olives, and prickly pear cactus. Red peppers abound as do strong sheep and goat cheeses. The cooking methods are simple with much baking and grilling. Little meat is eaten but the quality of the mutton, goat or pork is excellent.

Wine
Basilicata, also known as Lucania, is an often neglected region of arid hills and desolate mountains that can be bitterly cold for a southerly place. But the cool upland climate has its advantages for viticulture, in wines that can show enviable aromas and flavours. Basilicata has only one DOC in Aglianico del Vulture, but that, at least, gives the inhabitants a source of pride. One of sourthern Italy's finest red wines, it is gradually gaining admirers elsewhere.

Wine regions
Basilicata ranks fourteenth in size among the regions (9,992 square kilometres) and eighteenth in population (619,000). Vineyards cover 16,300 hectares (sixteenth) of which registered DOC plots total 1,470 hectares (seventeenth). Annual wine production of 400,000 hectolitre (eighteenth) includes 1.6 per cent or 6,500 hectolitres D)C (eighteenth) entirely red.


Calabria

Food

Calabria is austere and its people parsimonious; its cuisine is simple, tasty and spicy. Many ingredients reflect the varied cultural influences like the use of honey, and anise seed and sesame. First courses are either rice or pasta with sausage and vegetable sauces.

Wine
The toe of the Italian boot, Calabria is an overwhelmingly mountainous region with marked variations in microclimates between the warm coastal zones of the Ionian and Tyrrhenian seas and the chilly heights of the Sila and Aspromonte massifs. Two grape varieties of Greek origin dominate - Gaglioppo in red wines, Greco in whites - though the types of wine they make can vary markedly from one place to another.

Wine regions
Calabria ranks tenth amont the regions in size (15,080 square kilometres) and population (2,130,000). Vineyards cover 31,600 hectares (Tenth) of which registered DOC plots total 3,400 hectares (Fifteenth). Annual wine production of 1,100,000 hectolitres (Fourteenth) includes 3.6 per cent or 40,000 hectolitres DOC (Fifteenth), of which about 90 per cent is red.


Campania

Food

The true Neopolitan has a sober character, because he is poor, and eating is a kind of diversion, a colorful spectacle. The city has serious problems, but its citizens seem to ignore tham, and take pleasure in the sun, the scenery, and the cooking which can take pride in the invention of three of the most tasty things to eat: pizza, tomato sauce and macaroni. In the working-class districts of Naples the streets seem to consist of one long outdoor restaurant.

Wine
The ancient Romans considered Campania Felix to be the "non plus ultra" of wine regions. They favoured the vineyards along the coast north of Naples where Falernum, the most treasured wine of the empire, was grown. They also lauded the wines of Vesuvius and the hills of Avellino. The Greeks, too, recognised the privileged nature of the place, introducing vines which still stand out today in Aglianico and Greco.

Wine regions
Campania ranks twelfth among the regions in size (13,595 square kilometres) and second in population (5,650,000). Vineyards cover 46,800 hectares (Ninth) of which registered DOC plots total 1,550 hectares (Sixteenth). Annual wine production of 2,500,000 hectolitres (Ninth) include 1 percent or 25,000 hectolitres DOC (Sixteenth), about two-thirds of which is white.


Emilia Romagna

Food

Emilia is the home of salamis, and Parma is their home. Parma has a saying: "The pig is like Verdi's music, there's nothing to throw away." (Somewhat reminiscent of the Chicago meat packers who claim to use everything of the pig but its squeal.) The cured ham of Parma, "prosciutto," becomes sweeter than ham from any other region in Italy. Some say it's because of the air, and the breeze which provides the ideal ventilation for the curing.

Wine
Emilia-Romagna's wines might be considered northern Italy's odd lots, different on the whole from the neighbours', often facile in style, but nearly always refreshingly individualistic. As the hyphenated name reveals, the region consists of two distinct sectors which coincide more or less at the capital of Bologna.

Wine regions
Emilia-Romagna ranks 6th among the regions in size (22,124 square kilometres) and 8th in population (3,940,000). Vineyards cover 76,000 hectares (5th) of which registered DOC plots total 26,700 hectares (4th). Annual wine production of 7,600,000 hectolitres (4th) inclues 9% or 700,000 hectolitres DOC or DOCG (5th), of which nearly 75% is red.


Friuli Venezia Giulia

Food

Cooking from Friuli and Trieste are sisters, in fact, both have Venetian blood in their veins. First, however, we need a portrait of people from Friuli. They are hard-working people who build houses and grow wine, but they have often been obliged to emigrate because they live in a borderland, where you can't become too attached to a house or your children.

Wine
The compact region of Friuli - Venezia Giulia, which borders on Austria, Slovenia and Croatia, is the realm of Italy's new-style white wine. Drawing from worthy native varieties and the noblest of the international array, Friulians have applied studied vineyard techniques and avant-garde oenology to the production of highly distinctive whites, as well as some eminently attractive reds.

Wine regions
Friuli - Venezia Giulia ranks 17th among the regions in size (7,847 square ki- lometres and 15th in population (1,220,000). Vineyards cover 21,000 hectares 915th) of which registered DOC plots total 12,300 hectares (9th). Annual wine production of 1,100,000 hectolitres (15th) includes 40% or 430,000 hectolitres DOC (8th), of which more than 60% is white.


Lazio

Food

Traditional cooking in Lazio is that of shepherds and farmers, made from a few simple ingredients, prepared with elementary methods, without trimmings. It's no surprise that the favorite dish is lamb, that is, the small, tender milk-fed lamb that is usually baked in the oven and served with vegetables of the season.

Wine
Rome's region is intrinsically lined to white wine - to Frascati and Marino and the other golden-hued "bianchi" of the Castelli Romani and to the fabled Est!Est!!Est!!! from the northern Latium town of Montefiascone. These wines, which are based almost exclusive on various types of Malvasia andTrebbiano, were traditionally "abboccato", mouth filling, though not so sweet as the overwhelm the flavour of food. They were easy, everday wines not designed to last long of travel far.

Wine regions
Latium ranks ninth among the regions in size (17,203 square kilometres) and 3rd in population (5,102,000). Vineyards cover 65,600 hectares (Eighth) of which registered DOC plots total 17,400 hectares (Seventh). Annual wine production of 5,000,000 hectolitres (Fifth) includes 11 per cent or 535,000 hectolitres DOC (Sixth) of which about 95 per cent is white.


Liguria

Food

Ligurian cooking is dense with flavors and aromas, resulting from combinations rather than mixtures. A sublime example is the "cappon magro" or thin capon. It's a laborious construction in the form of a pyramid made up of six or seven types of both fish and vegetables cooked separately and then built layer by layer on a base of crackers and covered with a rich sauce based on olive oil and anchovies.

Wine
The rugged terrain of this slender seaside region makes grape growing a challenge, meaning that vineyards are scattered and limited. Still some of the wines, even if hard to get to, are well worth the search.

Wine regions
Regional capital: Genoa (Genova) Provinces: Genova, Imperia, La Spezia,Savona. Liguria ranks 18th among the regions in size (5,416 square kilometres) and 11th in population (1,770,000). Vineyards cover 6,000 hectares (19th) of which registered DOC plots total 504 hectares (18th). Annual wine production of 280,000 hectolitre (19th) inclues 5% or 13,000 hectolitres DOC (17th), of which about 75% is white.


Lombardia

Food

Although there is not a typical Lumbard cuisine in Milan, it has adopted that of the surrounding regions. More rice is consumed in Lombardy than pasta, and cheese is invariably served at the end of the meal. Butter (loved by the nearby French) substitutes olive oil, and heavy cream, unknown to the rest of Italy, is often used to enrich dishes.

Wine
Among Lombardy's numerous industries wine does not rank high on the list. The citizens of this most populous and well-to-do region seem increasingly disposed towards industrialised versions of agriculture rather than to the more taxing and less profitable hand crafting of fine wines. Also, in a territory that is about half fertile plains and more than a third mountains and lakes, those gentle hills of the sort suited to vines do not abound.

Wine regions
Lombardy ranks 4th among the regions in size (23,856 square kilometres) and 1st in population (8,882,000). Vineyards cover 30,000 hectares (12th) of which registered DOC plots total 16,700 hectares (8th). Annual wine production of 1,700,000 hectolitre (12th) includes 26% or 450,000 hectolitres DOC (7th), of which there is slightly more red than white.


Marche

Food

Pasta triumphs in the Marche, with preference given to homemade versions. Housewives prepare mountains of wide tagliatelle, and maccheroni destined to be filled with exquisite flavours. The women from Le Marche are traditional good cooks.

Wine
Verdicchio is the plenipotentiary for the wines of this pleasant Adriatic region, whose devotion to whites should not obscure the worthiness of its reds. The Castelli di Jesi DOC zone, covering a vast tract of hills west of the port of Ancona, is the home of the Verdicchio that made an early impression abroad in its green amphora bottle.

Wine regions
The Marches ranks Fifteenth among the regions in size (9,694 square kilometres) and Thirteenth in population (1,426,000). Vineyards cover 31,000 hectares (Eleventh) of which registered DOC plots total 10,000 hectares (Eleventh). Annual wine production of 2,100,000 hectolitres (Tenth) includes 13 per cent of 282,000 hectolitres DOC (Tenth), of which about 75 per cent is white.


Molise

Food

Molise became independent from Abruzzo in 1963, but the cuisine in both regions is very similar. Molise does have several unique dishes, though, including P'lenta d'iragn, a white polenta made with potatoes and wheat and served with a tomato sauce, and Calconi di ricotta rustica, ravioli stuffed with ricotta, provolone and prosciutto, then fried in oil.

Wine
This overlooked region, which was long an appendix of the Abruzzi, gained official status in wine in the 1980s with the DOCs of Biferno and Pentro. The undeniable aptitude for vines on the sunny hillsides between the Apennines and the Adriatic, indictes that Molise's wines could match those of neighbouring Abruzzi, Apulia or Campania with time, though the evidence in bottle is scarce so far.

Wine regions
Molise ranks 19th among the regions in size (4,438 square kilometres) and in population (334,000). Vineyards cover 9,350 hectares (18th) of which registered DOC plots total 157 hectares (19th). Annual wine production of 550,000 hectolitres (19th) includes 0.36 per cent or 2,000 hectolitres DOC (20th), of which about 80 per cent is red.


Piemonte

Food

Piemontese cooking is among the best of the Italian regions. Great wines come from here and it's not a coincidence that the land that produces a great wine also produces a great cuisine.

Wine
Piedmont is esteemed above all for its red wines, the regal Barolo and Barbaresco in the forefront. But the best known of the region's wines is the white, sweet, bubbly and widely adored Asti Spumante.

Wine regions
Piedmont ranks 2nd among the regions in size (25,399 square kilometres) and 5th in population (4,395,000). Vineyards cover 70,000 hectares (6th) of which registered DOC plots total 35,900 hectares (1st). Annual wine production of 32,700,000 hectolitres (7th) includes 32% or 1,200,000 hectolitres DOC or DOCG (tied for 2nd with Tuscany), almost equally divided between red and white.


Puglia

Food

If you could fly over the countryside of Puglia like a bird you would be amazed at the fertility and richness of this area. It is literally an immense farm producing immense quantities of grain, tomatoes, grapes, artichokes, lettuce, fennel, peppers, onions, and olive oil. Add to this a sea full of fish, grazing fields full of cattle and sheep, and as a result you have an extremely simple cuisine.

Wine
Puglia, the heel of the Italian boot, is a long, relatively level region with a prolific production of wine. In the past, the region often surpassed Sicily and Veneto in output, though Puglia's former title of "Europe's wine cellar" no longer carries much weight.

Wine regions
Puglia has 25 DOC zones, the most of any southern region, yet, like its neighbours, it produces a small percentage of classified wine (just over 2%). Despite rapid improvement, Apulian wines have yet to establish a clear-cut reputation for excellence, though they are widely appreciated for value abroad.


Sardegna

Food

A splendid, archaic and pastoral island, Sardinia with intelligence is taking advantage of its tourist industry, attracted by the white beaches, emerald sea, isolated coves, among the most beautiful of all the Mediterranean. But despite being an island, Sardinia is not so much a land of fishermen as of shepheards.

Wine
The island's vines tell a story of their own, frequently with a Spanish accent. The Mediterranean stalwarts are there in the various clones of Muscat and Malvasia, but several other varities are practically unique in Italy, such as Giro`, Cannonau, Nuragus, Monica, Torbato and Vernaccia di Oristano.

Wine regions
Regional capital: Cagliari Provinces: Cagliari, Nuoro, Oristano, Sassari Sardinia ranks third in size among the regions (24,090 square kilometres) and 12th in population (1,638,000). Vineyards cover 65,900 hectares (Seventh) of which registered DOC plots total 7,400 hectares (Thirteenth). Annual wine production of 2,185,000 hectolitres (Eleventh) includes 2.5 per cent or 104,000 hectolitre DOC (Fourteenth), of which about 65 per cent is white.


Sicilia

Food

The cooking of the eastern part of Sicily is different from that of the west. From Caltanisetta to Trapani the influence is Saracen, with its strong contrasts and flavours fighting each other. Whereas on the eastern side, from Messina to Siracusa, from Catania to Agrigento, the cuisine is sober, with less fantasy, avoiding the sweet and sour and less generous with sugar in the sauces.

Wine
Contrasts are not the least of those things in which Sicily abounds. So perhaps it is not surprising that this ancient island boasts one of Italy's most modern wine industries of that a region noted chiefly in the past for strong and often sweet amber Marsala and Moscato has rapicly switched the emphasis toward lighter, dryer wines - whites and reds.

Wine regions
Regional capital: Palermo Provinces: Agrigento, Caltanisetta, Catania, Enna, Messina, Palermo, Ragusa, Siracusa, Trapani Sicily is Italy's largest region (25,708 square kilometres) and ranks fourth in population (5,084,000). Vineyards cover 164,500 hectares (First) of which registered DOC plots total 21,000 hectares (Fifth). Annual wine production of 11,000,000 hectolitres (Second to Apulia) includes 1.5 per cent or 277,000 hectolitre DOC (Eleventh), of which more than 95 per cent is white.


Trentino Alto Adige

Food

Mountains, valleys, winter sports centers with splendid ski runs, cheerful houses, sharply slanting roofs to fend off the snow, balconies always decorated with lovingly cared-for plants and flowers. This is the area of Trentino - Alto Adige. As for their cooking, there are two distinct gastronomic traditions: tridentina, with Venetian roots, and altoadesina, with German roots.

Wine
Trentino-Alto Adige is walled in by the Rhaetian Alps and the Dolomites, so only about 15 percent of the land is cultivable. Much of that produces fruit and wine grapes. The difficulty of training vines over wooden pergolas on hillside terraces compels growers to emphasise quality. More than 60% of production is DOC and some 35% of the wine is exported (both Italy's highest rates).

Wine regions
Trentino-Alto Adige ranks 11th among the regions in size (13,620 square kilome- tres) and 16th in population (880,000). Vineyards cover 13,500 hectares (17th) of which registered DOC plots total of 11,100 hectares (10th) . Annual wine production of 1,200,000 hectolitres (13th) includes 61% or 730,000 hectolitres DOC (4th) of which about 70% is red.


Tuscany

Food

Simplicity and sobriety are the fundamental characteristics of Tuscan cooking. Surprisingly, cooking historians consider it the mother of French cuisine. It all began with the arrival in France of Catherine di Medici's Florentine cooks.

Wine
Florence's region has shifted its stance in the last couple of decades from a complacent supplier of flask Chianti to the nation's most creative producer of premium wines. Tuscany's revolution began in Chianti and the central hills around Siena but quickly spread to take in the coastal zones that were not previously noted for vineyards. Much of the progress has come with classical reds, as illustrated by the fact that four of Italy's nine DOCGs are here - Brunello di Montalcino, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Chianti and Carmignano.

Wine regions
Regional capital: Florence (Firenze) Provinces: Arezzo, Firenze, Grosseto, Livorno, Lucca, Massa-Carrara, Pisa, Pistoia, Siena Tuscany ranks 5th among the regions in size (22,992 square kilometers) and 9th in population (3,577,000). Vineyards cover 86,000 hectares (4th) of which registered DOC plots total 30,500 hectares (3rd). Annual wine production of 3,600,000 hectolitres (8th) includes 33% or 1,200,000 hectolitres DOC or DOCG (tied for 2nd with Piedmont), of which more than 85% is red.


Umbria

Food

Cooking in Umbria is varied: meat, fish, cereals, vegetables, spices, and herbs are equally important and combined with an enviable equilibrium, so it doesn't seem right to define this cooking as "poor." Perhaps "essential" is a better description with its proud and primitive disdain for any kind of sophistication.

Wine
Umbria has long been renowned for white wine, thanks mainly to the historical prominence of Orvieto. But evidence grows that the hills of the "green heart of Italy" have an aptitude for a multitude of varieties, white and red, native and foreign.

Wine regions
Umbria ranks sixteenth among the regions in size (8,456 square kilometres) and seventeenth in population (817,000). Vineyards cover 22,000 hectares (fourteenth) of which registered DOC plots total 5,600 hectares (fourteenth). Annual wine production of 1,100,000 hectolitres (sixteenth) includes fifteen per cent or 165,000 hectolitres DOC or DOCG (thirteenth) of which more than 80 per cent is white.


Valle d'Aosta

Food

This tiny region in north-western Italy touches on France and Switzerland. Val d'Aosta's robust cuisine is perfectly suited to the Northern climate: bread-and-cheese soups, vegetable soups, nourishing polentas, sweet water fish, braised game, stewed meat, and simple desserts are all favourites, and offer soothing comfort in the face of cold winters

Wine
This tiniest of regions, tucked into Italy's mountainous northwest corner against the borders of Switzerland and France, has precious little space for vines on its stony alpine terraces. But the miniscule amounts of wine it does produce are distinct from anything else in Italy or its foreign neighbours.

Wine regions
Valle d'Aosta is the smallest of Italy's 20 regions in size (3,262 square kilometres) and population (113,000). Vineyards cover 925 hectares (20th) of which registered DOC plots total 66 hectares (20th). Annual wine production of 29,000 hectolitres (29th) includes 3.5% or 2,400 hectolitres DOC (19th), of which about two-thirds is red.


Veneto

Food

Venice can be compared to Mecca, it's the only place in the world that should be seen at least once (see Venice and die). The city is at the same time joyous and melancholy, perhaps because it is not made just of stones but above all of sky and water. Venetians have an immense undercurrent of joy in their character and their biggest sin is their appetite, but an appetite combined with their love of chatter and gossip, not to be compared with the seriousness with which their northern neighbors approach the table.

Wine
Venice's region is Italy's leader in the production and commerce of classified wine. A major share of the DOC (which represents about 225 million bottles a year) consists of the Verona trio of Soave, Bardolino and Valpolicella. But since DOC represents less than a fifth of the region's total, the Veneto also figures as a major producer and exporter of unclassified table wines, often of moderate price.

Wine regions
The Veneto ranks 8th among the regions in size (18,364 square kilometres) and 6th in population (4,371,000). Vineyards cover 90,000 hectares (3rd) of which registered DOC plots total 35,400 hectares (2nd). Annual wine production of 8,500,000 hectolitres (3rd) includes 20% or 1,700,000 hectolitres DOC (1st), of which about 55% is white.


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