The Best Italian Summer Foods to Eat When in Italy

The most iconic Italian summer foods 

The summers in Italy are utterly enchanting. The weather is sunny, the people are friendly and – most importantly – the food is always good! Italians seem to be fully committed to eating the freshest ingredients during each calendar month, both in their homes and when they go out to eat at restaurants. Here is a list of the summer dishes most loved by local people — dishes you cannot leave Italy without eating. Feel inspired to create your own Italian summer creations when you return back home based off of this list of Italian foods!

Prosciutto e Melone

This is a simple, timeless classic – tasty slices of prosciutto crudo wrapped around or gracefully laid on top of wedges of cantaloup. The sweet of the melone and the salty of the ham complement each other. What a match made in heaven! This dish is typically served as an antipasto, or appetizer. It is the perfect to way to savory a glass of white wine or chilled Prosecco before jumping into the main course. If you like the contrasting flavors combining into your one flavorful explosion than prosciutto e fichi (ham and figs) might also interest you.


Insalata Caprese

What better dish to represent Italy than one featuring the three colors of the flag? Neatly sliced red tomatoes and white mozzarella strips covered with shredded green basil leafs sprinkled with olive oil, balsamic vinaigrette, salt and pepper. Insalata caprese is one of the less complex dishes, yet in its simple nature it conceals so much taste. This dish was born in Capri, close to Campania – the largest mozzarella-producing region in Italy. It is refreshing and easy to make – perfect as a refreshing snack or starter on a hot summers day!



Icy-cold granitas are perfect to combat the summer heat and satisfy your sweet tooth at the same time. Granite are usually flavored with zesty lemon or sweet almonds. Traditionally, granita comes from Sicily and was first brought to Italy by the Arabs, who had sugarcane which they mixed with snow from the mountains and fruit juice to create a sweet similar to today’s granita that they called sharbat. It is believed that this is the precursor to sorbetto. In addition, granita is closer to sorbetto with its grainy ice consistency. A similar beverage that you can only find in and around Rome is grattachecca — made of shaven ice crystals drowned in fruity syrups!

Insalata di Riso

This dish is a colorful combination of as many ingredients as you want. At its core, insalata is riso, or Italian rice salad, is a dish made of rice, preferably eaten at room temperature sprinkled with a variety of ingredients that are completely up to the cook. It is definitely the favorite leftover during the summer months and it is easy to change up a little by adding new ingredients. Sort of like paella in Spain – insalata di riso started as a way of getting rid of left overs from the night before by combining them into one big mix. It can be a great option for vegetarians, with a number of diced fresh and tinned vegetables, cheese and eggs, though one can include deli meats such as ham or hotdogs, or tunafish.

Spaghetti alle Vongole

Italian summers are  synonymous with the sea. With its 7,600 km of jagged coastline, Italy has wide-ranging access to the Mediterranean Sea! Fresh fish and crustaceans can be found nearly anywhere, but – of course – this dish can be best enjoyed with your toes touching the sand and a slight breeze messing up your hair. For this recipe, clams are sautéed with garlic, oil and a pinch of chili. The final creation is then served with dash of fresh parsley sprinkled over the spaghetti. It is not a plate of real “spaghalle vongole” if the pasta is not ‘al dente’ (aka mot over cooked). Italians tend to get very picky about the consistency of their pasta. If you then complement it with a glass of chilled white wine, your dish will taste even better!


For the magic to happen, aubergine and capers have to be the stars of the show! The quality of these ingredients is of the utmost importance. This Sicilian dish – in its many variable forms – can gather all the vegetables that are at their best in summer and cooks them into a delicious stew served warm or cold in a sweet tomato and vinegar sauce. Caponata is heavily loaded with olive oil, as the whole concoction is stir fried in it and then, once again, flavored with more olive oil. Thus, try to avoid this dish on days that are too hot and humid.


The list of must try foods in Italy could – honestly – be never ending. Seasonal changes in the availability of fruits and vegetables, alongside regional differences have led to the creation of so many adaptations of the more “traditional” dishes. Traditional Italian food, however, can be distinguished by the careful selection of the quality of ingredients and the good old love put into the cooking.