Travel Notes blog
Battle of the banquets: Is traditional Italian or Greek food best?
by Clare Evans
9 min read

Battle of the banquets: Is traditional Italian or Greek food best?

Battle of the banquets: Is traditional Italian or Greek food best?
When booking your next Mediterranean holiday, it can be difficult to choose between rustic Italy and beautiful Greece. Why not let your stomach make the decision for you? Will it be Italy and its pizza, pasta and arancini or Greece and its moussaka, pita and halloumi?
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Moussaka or parmigiana? Spanakopita or arancini? Souvlaki or gnocchi? In the battle of Greek vs Italian food, which cuisine is the finest in the Mediterranean?

If you’re a passionate foodie, the gastronomy of both Italy and Greece no doubt has a special place in your heart and on your table. Both nations embrace robust, powerful flavours and make the most of the bountiful ingredients that grow in their enviable Mediterranean climates, from sun-ripened tomatoes and succulent olives to plump aubergines. Both cuisines also thrive on their versatility, and incorporate the finest products from their coastlines and inland alike into their dishes - to the Italians and Greeks, fresh seafood, world-renowned cheeses and regional meats are only the beginning.


With such culinary creativity and unique tastes emanating from both cultures, one might ask, How do I pick just one? Perhaps you are trying to choose between one of our villas in Sicily with exceptional kitchens or a villa on a Greek island a mere stroll from an outstanding local taverna. Regardless, if you really must make a decision between feta and ricotta, tzatziki and burrata and gyros and ravioli, we’ve cooked up arguments for both cuisines, all freshly prepared for Mediterranean food lovers

Traditional Italian food

Italy is a nation that is closely tied to its gastronomy, and food is completely inseparable from Italian life - so much so, that many traditional idioms and expressions refer to traditional Italian food recipes. Rendere pan per focaccia is roughly equivalent to the English an eye for an eye and literally translates as to give back bread for focaccia. Rather than saying every little helps, Italians may remark, tutto fa brodo (or everything makes broth).

Pizza and pasta are perhaps the first foods you think of when you consider Italian cuisine, but even within these two classic dishes, the variety and opportunities for flavour are almost limitless. Compare, for example, scaccia - a Sicilian version of the calzone commonly filled with cheese and tomato, tomato and aubergine, ricotta cheese and onion or tomato and onion, depending on taste and the season - with the classic, crisp-based, egg-topped Fiorentina pizza, said to have first been invented as a ‘breakfast pizza’ in beautiful Florence. Alternatively the Puglian classic pizza pugliese - topped with tomato, mozzarella and onion - might be on the menu for guests relaxing at our villas in Puglia as many are just a stone’s throw away from the local restaurants… such as the romantic Fichimori and the beautiful L’Argentiera.

Pasta in Italy is just as endlessly creative and diverse as its pizza. Just consider the sheer number of different pasta types. Spaghetti, tagliatelle, linguine, penne, gigli (lily-shaped), orecchiette (an ear-shaped pasta that originated from Puglia)... the list is seemingly endless. So, too, is the list of Italian pasta sauces, each perfected in its very own region of the country. To name just a few…

  • Carne capuliata

    - A meat sauce made from bay leaves, basil, oregano, finely chopped beef, onions, olive oil, white wine, estratto (Sicilian tomato paste) and tomatoes from Sicily

  • Cime di rapa

    - A chunky broccoli-based sauce from Puglia

  • Arrabbiata

    - A spicy tomato marinara sauce of garlic, tomatoes, olive oil and dried red chile peppers from Rome

  • Vongole

    - A seafood sauce bursting with clams in garlic, oil and parsley from Naples

Beyond pizza and pasta, there is a whole host of dishes and delicacies waiting to be tasted; part of the beauty of Italian food is its strong regionality. Each province is passionate about its products, and their traditional recipes. This passion and pride makes Italy a truly rich culinary landscape for any foodie to explore.

Puglia, for example, has a whole host of delicious traditional Puglian recipes, including favourites such as:

  • Peperoni al forno

    - Succulent baked peppers that are typically served as antipasto

  • Minestrone di fave con cicoria

    - A hearty fava bean soup with chicory

  • Tubettini con le cozze

    - Small pasta tubes served with mussels

  • Stufato di agnello e piselli

    - A delightful lamb and pea stew

  • Purcedduzzi

    - Indulgent mini fried gnocchi covered with honey

With villas on the Italian Islands, like the dreamy Capraia and Posidonia on the vibrant Lipari - and locations in culinary centres across mainland Italy, The Thinking Traveller’s Local Specialists can help you take a big bite of everything this vivacious and gastronomic nation has to offer.


Accommodation for a taste of Italy

Sicilian food is a particularly spectacular regional variation on Italian cuisine. At Rocca delle Tre Contrade, guests can immerse themselves in the food culture of this Italian island.

This stone-built property is spectacular in its own right. With 12 bedrooms, a 25-metre infinity pool, a full-sized tennis court, a curated wine cellar, views of Mount Etna and glimpses of the Ionian Sea, the historic villa appears to float above its lush and expansive grounds. Within these grounds, guests can enjoy the many pleasures of ‘fresh from the vine’ Italian ingredients. Fresh fruit can be picked from the villa’s lemon groves, delectable vegetables can be unearthed from the organic kitchen gardens and olives can be plucked from the property’s many olive trees.

Rocca delle Tre Contrade’s delights don’t stop there. On the property’s ground floor, a decadent dining area is connected to an extensive, professionally-equipped kitchen. Here guests can enjoy the services of Dora, the villa’s in-house cook, or roll up their sleeves and try their hand in the kitchen.

During Rocca delle Tre Contrade’s culinary week (22-29 April), guests can enjoy another immersion in Italian gastronomy. Under renowned Danish-Sicilian chef Christian F. Puglisi, participants will learn the art of Italian charcuterie and bread-making, embark on masterclasses in meat preparation, cheese-making and low intervention wines and enjoy the delights of wild foraging, lemon harvesting and dazzling Sicilian street food.

If these experiences are to your taste, please get in touch with our team to book your spot.

Whether you want to sample traditional Sicilian food, try Sicily’s mouth-watering street food or indulge in arancini al ragù, Rocca delle Tre Contrade’s kitchen can produce vibrant, inspiring dishes from colazione (breakfast) to cena (supper). Learn the art of Italian cuisine or simply taste the very best of the region at one of our villas on Sicily. Add a further dimension to your adventure by trying all the best Italian recipes and delicacies fresh-picked from the villa’s gardens to cannoli with fresh sweetened ricotta.

Looking for more accommodation inspiration? Explore our green villas in Sicily.

Book a villa in Sicily


If Rocca delle Tre Contrade isn’t quite to your taste, we offer a variety of other Italian selections that are perfect for a culinary holiday abroad, such as the fully-serviced Don Arcangelo all’Olmo - which comes complete with a private chef who will prepare homemade gelato for you to sample each day. Please get in touch with our team for additional guidance.

Traditional Greek food

Greece prides itself on being the homeland of Mediterranean cuisine, and the culinary roots of many dishes can be traced back here. The first olive trees are believed to have been cultivated in Greece, creating the foundation of almost all Mediterranean dishes - olive oil. Greece is even believed to be the source of the very first recipe book, written by Archestratus in 320 BCE. The book was the first approach to cooking as an artform and included an extensive range of traditional Greek food recipes that are still popular today.

Hungry for more? Explore our luxury villas in Greece.

Hummus, feta, halloumi, pita, taramasalata, olives and tzatziki are some of the most famous traditional Greek food recipes. The simplicity of these staples is testament to the delightful taste of Greek dishes. Fresh ingredients, prepared simply with love and tradition, are at the heart of the country’s cookery. While Italian food boasts richness and rustic homeliness, Greek food brings freshness and brightness and transports you to sunshine and island living.

However, there is much more to traditional Greek food than just the classics. Some of our favourite, lesser-known treats include:

  • Kolokithokeftedes

    - Courgette balls

  • Tomatokeftedes

    - Tomato fritters from Santorini

  • Saganaki

    - Traditional fried cheese

  • Tiropita

    - Greek cheese pie

  • Yemista

    - Rice-stuffed tomatoes and peppers

  • Koulouri

    - Large soft, sesame-seeded bread rings

  • Loukoumades

    - Fried doughnut-like balls in honey syrup


Accommodation to enjoy authentic Greek flavours

Each of our villas located on the Greek islands offers guests the opportunity to try unique local flavours and specialities. Corfu is a particularly interesting island from a historical and culinary perspective as it was never under Turkish rule. Instead, Corfu was ruled over by the Venetians for centuries, which means that visiting foodies can enjoy the very best of both Greek and Italian food cultures, all rolled into one.

On Corfu lies serene Iola, one of our most breathtaking villas on Corfu. Iola is a five-bedroom villa in one of Corfu's most sought-after areas. Here, guests can indulge in Greek delicacies prepared by an in-villa chef who can be booked in advance.

Iola is situated on the exclusive promontory of Kommeno, just 11km (a 20-minute drive or taxi ride) north of Corfu Town, where guests can enjoy fresh seafood and local flavours from an array of authentic tavernas and restaurants. Greek mezze is the order of the day, allowing diners to sample a little of everything Corfu has to offer, from fresh tzatziki to delicious dolmades. We recommend you make sure to try the Corfiot speciality pastitsada - rooster or veal cooked with cinnamon, laurel, nutmeg, onion, red wine, tomato and garlic.

Book a villa in Greece


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Allow us to help you discover the finest authentic Greek or Italian food at its source. From organic vegetable gardens and culinary treats to in-villa chefs with a love for the local flavour, we can help you find a villa that is well suited to your tastes. Please contact our team to design an unforgettable and one of a kind Mediterranean gastronomic experience. With our in-depth local knowledge and passion for crafting you a completely unique holiday, we are on hand to guide you every step of the way.