If you're anything like us, you travel to eat and drink your way through the cultures of the world, shamelessly plugging five meals a day into your itineraries in the name of research, gluttony, and personal glory. There's nothing more gratifying than finally eating that Bistecca alla Fiorentina we read about months ago or feeling ultra-cool when we discover a street cart other tourists are missing — am I right?
No destination inspires our belt-loosening and chest-bumping bravado more than Italy. But the reality is that there just isn't enough time on one vacation to eat everything we aspire to.
7 Cookbooks to Take You on a Delicious Tour of Italy
That's why it's time to take the culinary tour of Italy home with you and cook your way through the Italian canon at your own pace, with plenty of breaks in between for digestion and collecting yourself. With these six cookbooks, you can cook alongside some of the most accomplished authors, peek into the kitchen at Italy's best restaurants, and finally master the art of cooking and eating your way through Italy.
1. Mastering Pasta: The Art and Practice of Handmade Pasta, Gnocchi, and Risotto by Marc Vetri and David Joachim, $30
A trip to Italy may help you master the art of eating pasta, but you'll need this cookbook to master the art of making pasta. Award-winning chef Marc Vetri will show you how to make more than 30 different types of pasta dough and dozens of new and classic shapes, as well as the kinds of ethereal pasta dishes you usually have to book a flight to taste.
Think of it as a private masterclass on the art and science of pasta, gnocchi, and risotto. But instead of standing in a hot kitchen at nonna's elbow, you'll be able to leisurely wind your way through each lesson and share not a speck of the final dish if you don't want to.
2. Lidia's Mastering the Art of Italian Cuisine: Everything You Need to Know to Be a Great Italian Cook by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and Tanya Bastianich Manuali, $40
This book won't just teach you how to make a great pasta dish — it will teach you how to be an exceptional Italian cook in a way that even the longest vacation can't promise. With Bastianich, the Emmy-award-winning host, bestselling author, and matriarch of Italian cuisine in America leading the way, you'll learn both the basics and the frills of Italian cooking through 400 recipes; a glossary that rivals the best phrasebook; and a detailed examination of the ingredients, traditions, and techniques that define eating in Italy, all without a minute wasted in an airport line.
3. Pizza Camp: Recipes from Pizzeria Beddia by Joe Beddia, $30
Forget sleep-away camp — what you need is pizza camp. Joe Beddia's cult-favorite Pizzeria Beddia in Philadelphia turns out pies that Bon Appétit has called "the best pizza in America," and Pizza Camp finally collects and adapts Beddia's knowledge into a primer for the eager home pizzaiolo. With zany hand-drawn illustrations and graphics by Walter Green, former art director of Lucky Peach, Pizza Camp is decidedly campy, American, and exactly the shot of shameless pizza joy you need on any Italian food adventure.
More on pizza: Philadelphia's Best Pizzas, According to a Local
4. Spritz: Italy's Most Iconic Aperitivo Cocktail, with Recipes by Talia Baiocchi and Leslie Pariseau, $19
Any trip to Italy requires a few lazy afternoons spent at a sidewalk café, swirling a spritz in your glass, and picking at bowls of olives. Bring that same ease and simplicity into your afternoons at home with Spritz, which guides you through the history of the Italian aperitivo, shows you how to mix your own bitter and bubbly cocktails at home, and even shares recipes for the little nibbles served alongside. After all, why shouldn't leisurely golden hours happen all summer?
5. Tasting Rome: Fresh Flavors and Forgotten Recipes from an Ancient City by Katie Parla and Kristina Gill, $30
Here's how you soak up the Italian sun without leaving your house: Walk into your kitchen, flip to page 74 of Tasting Rome, make the cacio and pepe (it'll take you all of 20 minutes), eat by the closest window, and stare up until all you can see is sky and all you can taste is how much Pecorino Romano is in your mouth. Ahhhh, Rome.
6. Ingredienti: Marcella's Guide to the Market by Victor Hazan and Marcella Hazan, $20
The farmers market is the crowning glory of long summer days, and with Marcella Hazan by your side, you can channel the Italian sunshine, pick still-warm tomatoes, and pull it all into an effortlessly sophisticated dinner, best eaten on the patio with a glass of chilled wine. In this pocket-sized ode to sourcing, the Godmother of Italian cooking walks you through the market, showing you how to choose vegetables, olive oil, pasta, Parimigiano Reggiano, prosciutto, and other pillar ingredients of Italian cooking. With it, even a trip to the market can feel like an inspiring getaway.
7. Massimo Bottura: Never Trust A Skinny Italian Chef by Massimo Bottura, $60
If you can't make it to Modena this summer to eat at three-Michelin-star Osteria Francescana, let Massimo Bottura come to you in this stunning, immersive cookbook. The artistry and craft of the food and the restaurant's space come through strongly on each page, but you'll also get the behind-the-scenes snapshots of the kitchen, the ingredients, and the chef himself that a dinner reservation just can't compete with.
With 50 recipes, hundreds of photographs, and essays on innovative techniques and pivotal Italian ingredients, this book is a vacation away from the ordinary and a fascinating window into modern Italian gastronomy.
What's your favorite Italian cookbook?