Jule's Italy Report


Italy is a country that is shaped like a boot, making it easy to find on a world map.  Within it’s borders it has two separate countries!  Vatican City, the center for the Roman Catholic Church and San Marino on the northeast coast.  It also has two islands, Sicily, and Sardinia.  Sicily forms the bottom of the boot shape and is surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea and has many people living there, and Sardinia is off the coast where the Tyrrhenian Sea, the Mediterranean Sea and the Ligurian Sea are, and not too many people live there.  On the opposite coast is the Adriatic Sea, by the towns of Assisi and the other country in Italy, San Marino.

Italy is by surrounded by the sea but the country also has the Apennines mountains. The mountains run 900 miles down the center of Italy.  So the weather in Italy is usually pretty nice between the warmer area on the coasts and beaches and the coolness and winds from the Alpiennes Mountains. In the valleys by the mountains is where they grow a lot of crops. The weather varies according to how far you are from the sea or the mountains.  Winters are very cold in the Alps up north where it borders Austria, where a lot of people and tourists ski in the winter and stay in cool lodges, and the winters down south by the Mediterranean Sea and along the coasts of the Adriatic Sea can be mild, where the beaches are.

Mostly the summers are hot and dry, but the temperature is helped by the sea breezes and in the mountains it is nice and cool.  In the summer people go on hikes and adventures in the mountains.  Tourists go to a lot of hotels and restaurants in both these areas in the winter and the summer.

Weather and climate is extremely varied in Italy, ranging from cold and moist on the mountain slopes to hot and dry inland from the shores of southern Sicily. In between there are many different types of weather and types of soil. Also there are over 1,000 Rivers and Streams in Italy.  


The People in Italy are very into their families.  The mothers are very important and are treated like queens.  Aunt and Uncles play a big part in children’s lives too.  Daily life in certain areas can be very relaxed in the small villages and the mountain towns and old time farms.  In Italian cities life can be faster and more modern.  But every Italian city and village has feasts and they love to celebrate.  The people are friendly and like eating a lot and also enjoy sunsets and music and art. Friends hang around in groups, even when they go on dates.  Most Italians are the Roman Catholic religion. Vatican City, an independent country in Rome, is the center for the Roman Catholic Church, and is the world's smallest country!

The Italian people work at many different kinds of jobs. Many of the jobs are in the food industry, some work in the many wineries and vineyards. Italy is one of the largest wine producers in the world and also a big producer of vinegar, but vineyards can only produce one thing, wine or vinegar, not both.

Olives and wine grapes are among the most important products and they sell a lot to other countries. There are many farms and dairies and Italy makes a lot of cheeses, and many people work at these kinds of jobs.  Many people work at companies that make cars and clothing and leather products for their own country and to sell to other countries.  A lot of people work in restaurants and hotels because so many tourists that come there.  They even have jobs teaching Italian cooking to tourists.


Italy grows a lot of grapes, olives, and tomatoes.  The grapes are turned into wines and vinegars, the olives into jarred olives and olive oil and the tomatoes into tomato sauce.  They raise Pigs, sheep and lambs and cows, goats, chickens and water buffalo on farms where the animals can roam around and eat alot of different grains and plants, some say that is why the cheeses of Italy are so good.  The animals are still tended by Shepard’s and life is slower and relaxed on the farms. They use the animals for meat and for dairy products.  They eat the meat fresh or they make sausages, or salami and preserved meats.

Farms also grow wheat and corn and rice, and herbs.  They make a lot of bread in professional bakeries. And they use the wheat to make many different types of pasta.  They eat the pasta fresh, or they dry it. The dried pasta is sold all over the world.

They make really good cheeses from the sheep and cows milk in factories in southern Italy who get the milk from the farmers in the middle region.  Along the coasts they fish and catch a lot of seafood for local cooking and for all the restaurants.  They catch many different kinds of fish and shrimp, scallops, cod, swordfish, and lobsters to cook and eat.

The cooks in Italy work with fresh ingredients as much as they can.

Products of Italy include:
Dried & fresh Pastas
Cured, preserved Meats (salami, pepperoni)
Olive Oils
Bottled Sauces (tomato, pesto, etc.)

Back to Top


Italians love to eat, and people all over the world love Italian food, and the country is famous for it.  Italy has different regions, north, middle and south and people cook special things and are a bit different from each other because of where they are located and the weather conditions in the different areas, and all the fresh ingredients from the region they are from.

Some of the staple cooking ingredients in Italy are, bread, rice, cheese, pasta, vinegar, wine, meats, fresh and preserved, seafood, eggs, milk, fresh vegetables & herbs.  Cooking methods are baking, boiling, frying, steaming, salting to preserve fish, and meats (salami, sausage) But mostly fresh ingredients are used in the dishes, and cooked/fried in pots and pans, much like we cook in America.

Here are some common names of recipes prepared in Italy:

ANTIPASTI (cured meats, cheeses, olive platter)
UOVA TRIPPATE  (Eggs in Tomato Sauce)
RICOTTA FRITTA (Fried Ricotta Cheese)

MINESTRONE DI VERDURE (Vegetable Minestrone)
PASTA E FAGIOLI (Pasta with Beans)

LINGUINE ALLE VONGOLE (Linguine with Clam Sauce)
PASTA 'NCASCIATA (Baked Rigatoni with Eggplant)
FETTUCCINE ALFREDO (Fettuccine in Double Cream)
RIPIENO DI FORMAGGIO (Pasta with Cheese Stuffing)

BRUSCHETTA (Garlic Bread)
PANE INTEGRALE (Whole-wheat Bread)
GRISSINI (Breadsticks)
PIZZA MARGHERITA (Pízza with Mozzarella and Tomatoes)

Main Dishes:
SCALOPPINE AL LIMONE (Veal Escalopes with Lemon Sauce)
POLLO ALLA CACCIATORA (Chicken Cacciatore)
SHRIMP SCAMPI (Shrimp in garlic olive oil)

Side Dishes:
PEPERONATA (Peppers Sautéed with Olive Oil and Capers)
ZUCCHINE AL FORNO (Baked Zucchini)

INSALATA MISTA (Mixed salad)

AMARETTI (Almond Cookies)
STRUFOLI (Honey Balls)
GELATO (Ice-cream)


Back to Top

Meal patterns:

Breakfast in Italy is usually eaten in the morning and is always served with coffee or tea, milk or juice and breakfast is mostly breads or pastries, sometimes eggs, frittata (open faced omelets) For normal people in Italy, breakfast is strong coffee and pastry.

Lunch in Italy for the regular person can be a sandwich with preserved meats (salami) a calzone or pizza.  There are many cafés and bakeries to by fruit and cheese or bread and pastries. Small places called trattorias serve pastas and salads and sandwiches.  Tourists usually have a larger and longer sit down lunch at restaurants that can almost be like a dinner.  But the average Italian grabs a salad and sandwich or pizza or rice balls.

Eating is very social in Italy, but especially at dinner. Cocktails before a meal is not popular like it is in America. In Italy, wine is more popular to drink with dinner.

There are many courses in an Italian dinner.  Starting with Antipasta, then a first course of pasta, second is soup, then your main course with meat or seafood, then side dishes, usually vegetables or beans, then dessert.  Bread is always served at every meal, with olive oil to dip it in. (Butter is only served at breakfast time) Salad is served last, not first like in America, then dessert is last.

Italy Quiz:

1)      If Italy is surrounded by the sea and beaches, why does it get so cold in certain areas?

2)      True or False --Kids don’t go out on dates in groups in Italy.

3)      At dinner, what do Italians like to dip their bread in?

4)      If you lived in Italy what would you eat for breakfast?

5)      Name one product that Italy is famous for in the world.

1-because big mountains run down the middle of Italy.
3-Olive oil
4-Coffee and Pastry


Antipasti Roll-Ups
Sliced Salami
Sliced Fresh Mozzarella Cheese
Roasted Red Pepper
Fresh Basil Leaves
Olive Oil or Italian Dressing
Garlic Powder

Prepare ingredients by, slicing fresh mozzarella cheese into thin strips, do the same with the Roasted Red Pepper.  Separate whole basil leaves from stems.

Near the bottom of a slice of salami, place a whole basil leaf flat onto salami, inside the leaf place a strip or two of fresh mozzarella cheese, and Roasted Red pepper.  Drizzle with olive oil or Italian dressing, sprinkle with dried oregano and garlic powder.  Roll up, and secure with a tooth pick.  Garnish with bread sticks on platter.

Lonely Planet Italy (Italy, 5th Ed)

by, Damien Simoni

Marcella's Italian Kitchen
by Marcella Hazan,  1995

Rand McNally Atlas of the World

by, Rand McNally


Back to Top

all material is © Cooking with Jule 2007