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Italian delicacies foreigners can’t stomach

Many foreigners coming to Italy cite food as one of the main attractions of the lifestyle, but not all Italian delicacies are suitable for the faint-hearted.

Italian delicacies foreigners can't stomach
Casu Marzu, a cheese from Sardinia, is filled with live maggots to speed up its decomposition. Photo: Shardan/Wikimedia Commons

Alongside well-known favourites of Italian cuisine, you might well come across a few items on the menu you don't recognise, and if you're squeamish, it might be better just not to ask.

Italy's more unusual delicacies range from maggot-infested cheese to tuna sperm, and Italians don't shy away from using leftovers either – almost no animal organ is off limits.

The specialities tend to be unique to different regions, and most date back to medieval times when peasants would be forced to get inventive and eat every part of the animal to reduce waste and save money.

But the popularity of some of the recipes has endured to the present day, and some have become staples in the local diet.

CLICK HERE to see our list of the top ten Italian delicacies foreigners might not be able to handle.

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LA BELLA VITA

La Bella Vita: The best Italian-language podcasts, and unexpected foods you’ll find in Italy

From Italian podcasts to surprising delicacies and our favourite overlooked travel destinations, new weekly newsletter La Bella Vita offers you an essential starting point for eating, talking, drinking and living like an Italian.

La Bella Vita: The best Italian-language podcasts, and unexpected foods you'll find in Italy

La Bella Vita is our regular look at the real culture of Italy – from language to cuisine, manners to art. This new newsletter will be published weekly and you can receive it directly to your inbox, by going to newsletter preferences in ‘My Account’ or follow the instructions in the newsletter box below.

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Why the tabaccheria is essential to life in Italy – even if you don’t smoke

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Some of the best podcasts for learners of Italian

Italy is known worldwide for pizza and gelato, but Italian cuisine is incredibly diverse and visitors are often surprised by some of the local delicacies on offer. I know rustic Tuscan cuisine didn’t exactly match my expectations when I first arrived in Italy. I quickly learned to love it – but my mother-in-law’s homemade chocolate cake made with pig’s blood (sanguinaccio is a delicacy in Puglia…) was a step too far!

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From fried brains to ‘sexy’ cakes: The Italian foods you might not expect in Italy

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Nine overlooked Italian towns you should visit

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Here are some of the main direct international train services you can use for travel between Italy and other European countries this year.

The train routes connecting Italy to the rest of Europe in 2023

Remember if you’d like to have this weekly newsletter sent straight to your inbox you can sign up for it via Newsletter preferences in “My Account”.

Is there an aspect of the Italian way of life you’d like to see us write more about on The Local? Please email me at [email protected]

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