Experiencing la dolce vita
One of the many joys of travelling in the Mediterranean is the food. Here, taking time to enjoy a meal, a coffee or to sip some wine is an important part of life. In cafés, tavernas, trattorias and restaurants from Spain to Turkey, you’ll discover regional cuisine made from fresh, local produce. Try the many fine wines of the Med and you won’t be disappointed. These culinary high points, combined with magnificent scenery and legendary history, make the Mediterranean a leading vacation destination. Be elated by experiencing the food and wine of the Mediterranean.
Across the Med, vineyards and markets provide a rich variety of produce for the local cuisine. Travelling through the various regions you’ll experience a never ending selection of fine food from Spanish paella to charcoaled grilled lamb in Greece and Italian pastas and sauces inspired by the slow food movement. Sicilian almonds and lemons add to the cuisine of this area while there’s a magnificent selection of olive oil everywhere you go.
There’s also a grand selection of wines, many from vineyards dating back to Roman times. Enjoy the sweet white Moscatel de Valencia, fine reds like Spanish Riojas and Italian Chianti. The French Riviera is noted for its rosés as well as reds and golden whites. Be sure to try the local wines to enhance your meals.
Restaurants and Cafés
You’ll discover a rich variety of magnificent places to eat. Apart from the famous spots like Caffé Florian in St. Mark’s Square in Venice, wonderful historic restaurants and cafés are found alongside more modern establishments, all featuring local cuisine. Here are some of my favourites:
- In Barcelona, walk north of the busy Ramblas to Rambla Catalunya for authentic Catalan cuisine at Lombardo Restaurant. It has a charming setting complete with a terrace. The variety of superbly prepared dishes, combined with friendly and efficient service, make this a favourite of locals and visitors alike.
- In Aix-en-Provence in the south of France, while walking along the tree lined Cours Mirabeau, you’ll find Les Deux Garçons Brasserie and Café, a famous spot for a meal or a coffee. Established in 1792 by two waiters (garçons), it has a stunning 18th century interior and was the regular haunt of painter Paul Cézanne who lived in Aix. Other famous partrons have included Emile Zola, Winston Churchill and Pablo Picasso.
- Outside Florence, in Tuscany and Chianti, hilltop monasteries and wine estates have been transformed into restaurants and hotels. These peaceful, historic settings with magnificent views offer an evening to remember as you sample local food and wine.
Olive Oil and Wine Museums
The Olive tree is the symbol of the Mediterranean. Revered since ancient times, museums to its history and the culture and production of olive oil are found across the Mediterranean from Spain to Israel. The Museo dell’Olivo, Riviera di Ponente, Italy was named the European Museum of the Year in 1993.
Wine museums also abound, sometimes near an Olive Oil museum. They are found in historic buildings or on sites significant to the history of wine. The Cyprus Wine Museum is in Erimi, the village where the cultivation of grapes and production of wine in Europe began.
Cooking is an event in the Mediterranean which starts with a visit to the market. Discover the colours and smells of the busy stalls as you learn about the local bounty.
- Around the world, use of local ingredients is currently at the forefront of the “new cuisine” however, use of fresh, local ingredients has always been a staple in the Mediterranean.
- On the French and Italian Rivieras, open air food markets feature fresh local produce, flowers, leather and clothes. Forville Market in Cannes is one of the best for food and flowers as well as Cours Saleya food market in Nice.
- A visit to the Rialto Pescheria (Fish Market) in Venice, which has been selling fish for 600 years, is a must for the gourmet. It is one of many markets in the area near the Rialto Bridge.
- Guided market tours are offered by cooking schools, gourmet magazines and tour companies, so important is the market to the culinary scene.
Whether you want a simple, half day cooking demonstration or an in-depth culinary vacation, the fun begins with a tour of the market to buy fresh ingredients.
Tuscany is renowned for its cooking schools but you’ll find culinary tours and classes throughout the Mediterranean. Food and wine is a major sector of the tourism industry here. From Spain to Santorini there’s a culinary holiday available.
Do you have time to linger along a wine route, or is a simple visit to a winery enough? The possibilities for enjoying Mediterranean wine range from a half-day winery visit to multi-day wine focused tours. Enjoy Mediterranean vintages at these events:
- wine tastings
- visits to local wineries
- wine festivals
- wine museums
- wine sampling with your meals
- follow the wine trails of various countries.
On Location Partners
Our On Location partners can help with food and wine arrangements. These travel companies are familiar with the local scene and can book classes and tours or design a unique vacation just for you. Many specialize in cooking classes, wine tasting, market visits and food and wine tours in the region.
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