Season eating in Italy is best for your health,

Seasonal Guide to Eating in Italy

Eating in Italy is one of the great experiences of visiting this country. As one of the world’s most beloved cuisines, the secret of Italian food lies in its seasonal ingredients. Life in Italy certainly revolves around incredibly delicious food. Eating seasonally in Italy means you’re eating fresh ingredients at the height of their flavor and… at exactly the correct time.

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For Italians, eating seasonally is a way of life. Period. If you want to sample the heart and soul of what makes Italian food so divine… you have to eat what’s in season. Eating seasonal is always a good idea, for many, many reasons… from better taste to better health, seasonal fruit and vegetables should be a must in every kitchen. 

When you choose in-season produce, you choose health. Fresh fruit and vegetables are full of vitamins and minerals which, though, start to disappear as soon as they’re picked. So let’s take a look at each season and what you will find available in the shops and markets in Italy.

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What will you find in season? The food of winter is the continuation of the autumn harvest. An amazing vegetable with its pretty purple color makes its debut in December… it’s radicchio. It will add a bitter, spicy note to salads and can also take center stage when grilled with lemon and parmesan shavings.

Season eating in Italy in the winter,

In February, oranges become the star of the show and are predominately grown in Sicily. It’s a known fact that the blood oranges from Sicily are considered among the best in the world due to the microclimate of the Conca d’Oro.

Root vegetables like carrots, potatoes, and fennel are staples in the colder months, and fresh leafy greens only hit plates in the springtime. Eating strawberries or cherries in December, believe me, it’s never a good idea. Here’s to eating in Italy in the winter:

beans (fagioli)

broccoli (broccoli)

cabbage (cavolo)

carrots (carote)

cauliflower (cavolfiore)

clementines (clementine)

kale (cavolo riccio)

lentils (lenticchie)

oranges (arancie)

pears (pere)

persimmons (cachi)

pomegranates (melagrane)

potatoes (patate)

spinach (spinaci)

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Spring marks the end of the root vegetables and March becomes a transitional month when spring and summer produce begins to get planted. March’s star is the leek and will be found in soups and so much more.

Season eating in Italy in the spring,

April is all about artichokes – a beloved Italian vegetable that will be found in every market and restaurant. Unfortunately, its season is very short so enjoy them when you see them! My personal favorite is the Roman artichokes which are smaller and more tender.

May’s highlight is the asparagus. This is when you will find the green and white varieties on menus throughout Italy.

artichokes (carciofi)

asparagus (asparagi)

beets (barbabietole)

cherries (ciliegie)

fava beans (fave)

kiwi (kiwi)

lemons (limoni)

strawberries (fragole)

zucchini flowers (fiori di zucca)

Traditional Italian recipes usually contain no more than 5 or 6 ingredients, which change with the seasons


Summer is the best time for most, but not all, fruits. Melons are the big draw this time of year. Also, you will find lemons in Sorrento, the Amalfi coast, and of course, Sicily.

Hands down, June’s favorite fruit would be strawberries. They begin producing in May and well into June. A very close second would be figs found toward the end of June. The large purple variety is amazing.

Season eating in Italy in the summer,

July has so many varieties of vegetables available but it’s the abundance of blueberries you might notice first. Don’t forget to check the menus for fresh cantaloupe and prosciutto. A pairing like no other… the sweetness of the cantaloupe along with the saltiness of the prosciutto – a match made in heaven. Eating in Italy – eating this particular pairing is one of my favorites.

In August, tomatoes and eggplants are the star of the show.

basil (basilico)

berries (frutta di bosco)

cantaloupe (melone)

cucumbers (cetrioli)

eggplant (melanzane)

figs (fichi)

peaches (pesche)

peas (piselli)

peppers (peperoni)

plums (susini)

tomatoes (pomodori)

watermelon (cocomero)

zucchini (zucchine)

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The fall harvest in Italy is very similar to that in the States. Think grapes, apples, squash, mushrooms – but eating in Italy… you also get exquisite truffles!

September is another one of those transition months. Summer is winding down into fall and the markets often offer the best of both worlds. Hands down the highlight of September is the porcini mushroom.

Don’t be put off by the green variety of figs found in September. At first, I thought they weren’t ripe – but they are… and full of flavor.

Season eating in Italy in the autumn,

Pumpkins are at their height in October, as well as chestnuts. You will find carts selling them in almost every town and city in Italy – their roasting fragrance filling the air.

November is a very special time of year in northern Italy with one of the rarest and most expensive foods in the world… truffles.  The white truffles of Alba are extraordinary and more expensive than the more common black ones.

apples (mele)

chestnuts (castagne)

fennel (finocchio)

grapes (UVA)

mushrooms (funghi)

pumpkin (zucca)

spinach (spanaci)

truffles (tartufi)

Final Thoughts on Eating in Italy

With modern technology and greenhouses, all foods whether it be fruits or vegetables can be enjoyed year-round. But… most certainly you will miss the enjoyment of eating foods when they are at their height of flavor. On your next trip to Italy, use our guide – although the restaurants and grocery stores will be your indicator – to enjoy the flavors of the season at just the right time of year. Eating in Italy – seasonally – will elevate your food experience while traveling in Italy.
Season eating in Italy is best for your health,


  1. I’m unexpectedly (but delightedly) coming back to Lucca for a few days at the end of April…will that be too late to find castagnaccio and necci? My mom used to tell stories about eating these when she was a little girl and I was hoping to try some.

    1. Ciao Julie – I’m happy you enjoyed this post. Let us know when you are here, please! I think you’ll be able to find both of these. I don’t think these are “seasonal” but perhaps another reader could share some light.

  2. Nothing better than fresh produce artfully cooked into a delicious local “cucina povero” dish! Thanks for the guide, the individual list of ingredients is making my mouth water.

  3. I love this post, especially now knowing that figs will be in season when I visit at the end of June. My grandpa had a fig tree when I was growing up and I will never forget biting into the lovely juiciness of that sweet fruit!

  4. So much nicer to enjoy produce in season and harvested from the field, not a greenhouse. Asparagus and strawberry seasons are my favourite, although maybe asparagus is controversial for some?

  5. Ciao, Ilene. I will be in Lucca at La Boheme for a week, starting on Tuesday, March 5th. So looking forward to pleasant lunches and dinners. My two traveling companions and I hope to eat where the locals go. Your posts are a delight. Thank you.

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