There really is no bad time to visit Italy and the winter months are no exception. After the sight seeing and the skiing, traveling to Italy during the winter months also gives you the opportunity to sample a variety of typical, wonderful, deliciously warming stews and pasta dishes from each of the different regions.
Being from Southern Italy meant that I grew up eating all kinds of simple, hearty dishes that involved only a few ingredients. Historically poor, southern Italians had to make due with whatever was available that was inexpensive, so beans and legumes were an important component of a lot of traditional dishes of the cucina povera, or cooking of the poor. Add pasta to these and some of the most delicious and satisfying minestre were created.
Pasta e ceci (chickpeas), pasta e fagioli (beans), pasta e piselli (peas), pasta e lenticchie (lentils)…these are the meals of my childhood as prepared by my grandmother, my mother and now by me, for my own family. They warm you up on a cold winter night and they can satisfy even the hungriest of appetites. They are some of my favorite things to eat and are actually really easy to prepare.
There are many other traditionally cold weather dishes that are typical of other regions in Italy, such as pappa al pomodoro (tomato and bread stew) and ribollita (bean, bread and cabbage stew) in Tuscany, or the more ubiquitous minestrone (assorted vegetables). While you can find these dishes in most restaurants anytime of year, because of their nature they are best enjoyed during the cold winter months.
So what are you waiting for? Winter won’t last forever and a nice, steaming bowl of pasta e piselli with your name on it is waiting for you right now!