Explore the Flavors of Italy – Part I

Embark on a culinary journey through Italy, replete with visits to award-winning vineyards, romantic cafés and charming gelato shops. Each city boasts their own specialty, from the limoncello of Sorrento to Tuscany’s bold wine, and from Cinque Terre’s fresh mussels to the indulgent focaccia of Portofino.

In part one of our two-part blog series, discover the history and culture of this extraordinary country. Whatever your interest, you may choose from an array of experiences that meet your taste from our FREE Unlimited Shore Excursions menu.

Pesto of Portofino

Long known as an exclusive gathering place for artists and actors, Portofino’s true calling card is its cuisine. Bring your appetite to any of the elegant waterfront restaurants and enjoy.

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Ligurian cuisine is widely enjoyed by many and is best known for its specialties of delicious focaccia bread and the locally-caught fresh fish. Portofino also happens to be the birthplace of pesto. Best of all, nearly every shop sells jars of the sauce, so if you’re looking for a memento for you or your favorite foodie, this is the perfect place.

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What pairs well with your pesto pasta? The local white wine, of course. Nostralino is a great Portofino wine created by blending together all the different grapes present in a single vineyard. These grapes are hand-harvested along the hills that face the Gulf of Tigullio.

Savor Land & Sea in Cinque Terre & La Spezia

This is where frutti di mare and vino live in perfect harmony. Coastal cliffs, hillsides dotted with vineyards and breathtaking views of the sea set the scene for an unforgettable meal.

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The Gulf of La Spezia is famous for growing mussels and for preparing them in a truly unique way: stuffed. The mussels are opened, the meat is split, and a savory spoonful of stuffing made of vegetables, bread crumbs and ground mussels is placed in the shell and then simmered in tomato sauce.

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Cinque Terre’s namesake white wine pairs perfectly with the mussels and the rest of the delicious seafood of the region. Yet, the jewel here is the dessert wine, Sciacchetrà (pronounced shahk-eh-TRA). This rare nectar is made from the best grapes grown closest to the sea. Made in tiny amounts and infused with other flavors, this is the perfect ending to any meal here.

Food & Wine of Tuscany

From Livorno to Pisa to Florence, this is the land of the Super Tuscan wines and a hearty cuisine to match. Everything about this region is bold.

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Tuscany’s food is much like its scenic landscape: lush, rich and commanding . Ravioli and tortelli, the region’s classic stuffed pastas, are filled with ricotta or potatoes and pancetta, and then napped with butter and sage, tomato sauce or a meat ragout. A special breed of cattle known as Chianina provides succulent meat for the grill and sheep’s milk cheese is incorporated into savory pies and salads.

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Similarly, Tuscany’s wines are full-bodied and bold. Famous around the world, the most renowned are Brunello di Montalcino, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Chianti, Vin Santo, Vernaccia di San Gimignano, and the new class of Super Tuscan wines. When sampling any of these labels, be sure to accompany the wine with local salami, olives and bread.

What do you look forward to experiencing while sailing in the Mediterranean?