• Carrozza, a fried mozzarella sandwich, is traditionally made from day-old sliced bread filled with mozzarella. (Paola Bacchia)Source: Paola Bacchia
Lisa Marie Corso makes some tasty entries in her Italian food diary.
By
Lisa Marie Corso

31 Aug 2020 - 10:46 AM  UPDATED 14 Sep 2020 - 3:03 PM

Some people travel to Italy to see ancient ruins, learn a language or confront their pigeon phobia at St Martin's Square in Venice.

But for me, I had another mission on my mind: to eat my body weight in as many regional sandwiches as I could.

Most cultures have their signature interpretation of a sandwich, in Vietnam, it's bánh mì, in Malta it's hobz biz-zejt, in France it's the croque monsieur.

But in Italy, there's more than one sandwich that defines the land, with most regions proudly serving their unique bread-to-filling offering. Here's a shortlist belonging to a very long list of some of Italy's best. 

FOR STARTERS
Slow-roasted porchetta rolls (porchetta alla Romana panini)

This Italian version or roast pork, stuffed with herbs is eaten all over Italy - with the types of flavourings varying from region to region. 

Rome

Trippa alla Romana panino

This is a saucy sandwich. Not in a scandalous and full-of-hot-gossip way, but in the way that it's drenched in sugo and you may need to use an obnoxious amount of napkins while eating it.

Trippa alla Romana is tripe, slow cooked in a simple red sauce. It's a Roman staple today but originally emerged from peasant kitchens that could not afford prime cuts of meat so instead got creative with animal offcuts.

In Rome, you'll find many street vendors serving warm trippa alla Romana stuffed in soft panino with generous shavings of Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino that melt atop.

Get ready to get messy.

Puglia

Puccia

Whether it's sliced or a roll, bread is often the common sandwich denominator but in Puglia, they do things differently. This region's sandwich of choice is puccia, which swaps bread for excess pizza dough that's then baked into a puffy, circular roll. 

"Whether it's sliced or a roll, bread is often the common sandwich denominator, but in Puglia they do things differently."

In the Pugliese region, puccia bars are common with display cabinets loaded with fillings offering cured meats, white fish, cheese and pickled vegetables.

Anything goes when it comes to the filling, the only rule is puccia should always be served warm.

MORE FROM PUGLIA
Global roaming: Puglia
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Bologna

Tigella con la mortadella

It's worth buying a gratitude diary just to christen the first page and write in your neatest scrawl: Thank you Bologna for the food you've given the world. It doesn't even matter if you never write in the journal again because it's true, Bologna is the food capital of Italy.

BOLGONA CUISINE
Monica’s pasta baskets with ricotta and lemon

Monica Venturi and her sister own a pasta shop behind the central covered market in Bologna. They invented these ‘pasta baskets’ because they wanted to offer something different.

It's the original home of tortellini, slow-cooked ragu and perhaps its most beloved offering, mortadella (a pork-based preserved delicatessen meat). On the sandwich front, Bologna is also known for tigella con la mortadella, where thin slices of mortadella live inside one of the Emilia-Romagna area's regional breads tigelle.

Similar to a flatbread and English muffin in texture, tigelle are light, fluffy and almost impossible to just eat one.

Venice

Cicchetti

Sure there are panini and tramezzino (triangle-shaped white bread sandwich) in Venice but really it's all about cicchetti.

Snacking on cicchetti anytime from mid-morning to pre-dinner is a Venetian way of life.

Snacking on cicchetti anytime from mid-morning to pre-dinner is a Venetian way of life.

 

Served at small wine bars called bàcari, cicchetti are most commonly tiny open sandwiches, think sliced baguette discs topped with almost anything savoury from salami to white fish and artichoke hearts.

Be merry and eat many.

Campania

Carrozza

When sawing through a fresh loaf of bread, there's always the pressure to finish it before it goes stale.

Sure you can pre-slice and freeze or you can do what they do in the south of Italy and turn that stale bread into something better.

Originating in the Campania region, carrozza is a fried mozzarella sandwich. It's traditional day-old sliced bread filled with mozzarella (and often prosciutto), which is then coated in flour and dipped in an egg wash before being fried in olive oil until it's golden. 

Get Paola Bacchia's recipe (featured in the lead) right here.

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