You Need To Know About These Chic, Modern Italian Cookbooks

Do you enjoy cooking? Or maybe you have a friend or family member who does?

This post contains amazon affiliate links.

I love to cook. I always think preparing a great meal and then enjoying it seated around a table with family or friends is an act and expression of love. Like most people I love Italian food. My books about Italy all talk about the foods of the region I’m in, and discuss which foods you absolutely must try while there. (I also tell you which wines to drink by region.)

A few years ago an Italian chef came to live with us to work on his English. His parents are dear friends of mine, and he was starting to teach cooking classes at his family’s agriturismo in Tuscany. He needed help with chatty, cooking English.

So each night one of us cooked. He made Italian dishes and I made Mexican dishes, which to him were novel and exciting. We stood side by side and I translated, teaching him words like whisk it, flip it, stir it – basically words he needed to be able to use during cooking classes. It was a blast! Marcello made fresh pasta on the nights he cooked, which my son and I both found fascinating and fabulous. Before he returned to Italy he filled our freezer (literally!) with homemade tortellini, casoncelli and ravioli along with a supply of sauces enough to last us a year.

This year while stuck at home I have taken to cooking Italian food. I make my own pasta, I even make biscotti which have become our favorite breakfast paired with Italian coffee. See how to make coffee, Italian style here and here.

photo not my own

I’ve also been watching all my favorite Italian chefs (and ex-pats living in Italy) on Instagram and getting inspired by their cooking. Several of them have cookbooks out. Like them, their cookbooks have a fresh, modern take on traditional Italian cooking. The fun thing about Instagram, and particularly the Instagram photos, stories, reels and IGTV is that it makes you feel as though you know these chefs personally. When you try their recipes you can hear their voices speaking the instructions to you.

So just for fun I am giving you a list of my favorite Italian cookbooks and including the Instagram acount of the chef for each. These make fabulous gifts for others or for yourself. The recipes are woderful and in most cases quite easy. And of course the photogaphy is just gorgeous!

Canadians know David Rocco from his TV show. He travels the globe cooking and eating and interacting with locals, somewhat like Anthony Bourdain. His Instagram @davidroccosvita is an absolute joy. He is always cooking up fabulous and easy recipes with and filmed by his three children. He has multiple cookbooks out but this is a great one to start with. It’s all about cooking for family and is a great exploration of Italian cuisine. The photos are to die for too. You can see David Rocco’s Dolce Famiglia here.

The Italian Table by Elizabeth Minchilli

This is one of several books by Elizabeth Minchilli, all of them are fabulous. Minchilli lives between Rome and a restored farmhouse in Umbria, and her Instagram feed is just dreamy. You can find her on Instagram @eminchilli. (Also check out her daughter Sophie’s fabulous feed @sminchilli.) The Italian Table takes you on a tour of Italy via Elizabeth’s beautiful photography, introduces you to foods from the various regions and not only has recipes but also helps you to plan a dinner party or gathering of friends and family with everything from menu ideas to giving you times to do the various tasks. (2 hours before guests arrive do this, 30 minutes before serving sinner do that.) You can see The Italian Table on Amazon her

I have mutiple reasons to love this book. Maria Pasquale is an Australian living in my favorite city in the world, Rome. She lives in my neighborhood, the Trastevere, and on top of that we were both guests on the Untold Italy podcast. My episode was about Florence, Maria’s episode was about Rome.

Maria has a blog, I Heart Rome and her Instagram account is @iheartrome. You may also have read her work for CNN Travel, Conde Nast Traveler and USA Today Travel. This book is special because each chapter focuses on a dining concept specific to daily life in Rome. You not only learn the food but also the culture, and you will come away from it with a list of places you want to visit and foods you want to try while in the Eternal City. The I Heart Rome cookbook is fabulous and you can find it on Amazon here.

Italy is a nation built on stories and this glorious book takes you on a journey via the stories of Australian born Emiko Davies’ husband’s family. Marco’s great grandparents were from Taranto in southern Puglia. He was a mailman who met and fell in love with a noblewoman. A match that was unheard of at the time, the two had to elope. They had nine children then moved as far away as possible – up to Turin in northern Italy. Marco’s grandparents were born in Turin but moved to Tuscany where his parents and he himself were all born.

This book traces the family’s heirloom recipes from Taranto to Turin to Tuscany. Along the way you will not only fall in love with the food Emiko cooks but also with the stories from the family and the infinite possibilities for you too to meet your perfect match in Italy and become a part of the story.

You can find Emiko on Instagram @EmikoDavies. You will love Tortellini at Midnight, available here on Amazon.

New Jersey born but Rome based, Katie Parla doesn’t just write cookbooks, she is a fully credentialed sommelier and does food and travel writing for every big travel publication you can think of. Her Instagram @KatieParla is a fabulous culinary romp that will have you itching to get to Italy.

This book is about the spectacular cuisines of Italy’s deep south. If you are a follower of this blog, my Instagram @CorinnaTravels or if you belong to my newsletter then you already know that I absolutely love and spend lots of time in Puglia, Campania and Basilicata, where this book takes place. I would go as far as saying it is impossible to explore the south of Italy and not fall completely, maddeningly, hopelessly in love with it.

Much of the food we associate as being Italian actually originated in the south, so even if you haven’t yet been there many of the recipes will feel familiar. Food of the Italian South is a wonderful book. You can pick up a copy here at Amazon.

I have more modern, chic, fabulous Italian cookbooks in my Amazon store. You can check them out here.

How To Make Fantastic Coffee, Italian Style

Italy is known for making the best coffee on earth. Once you’ve enjoyed daily coffee in Italy you find nothing can compare to it when you get back home.

Morning coffee in Puglia

Whether you have an Italian coffee lover to buy a gift for or whether you just want to up your own home made coffee game, these options will help you to make fantastic coffee, Italian style.

This post contains Amazon affiliate links. All products are available on Amazon.com or on my personal Amazon storefront, Amazon.com/shop/CorinnaTravels, linked here.

Coffee Machines

Let’s look at three types of Italian coffee makers. They run the gamut price wise from the $20 mark to upward of $500.

The Moka

Every Italian home and every vacation rental in Italy has a moka. They make caffe, also known as stovetop espresso.

Most will have several in different sizes from the teeny tiny one cup model to the larger 9 cup plus models. Just remember a cup is about 1.5 ounces. I normally use a 3 cup moka for myself plus 1 person, or a 9 cup model if there are more of us. Typically here in America we drink a slightly longer espresso, around 3 or 4 ounces.

The Bialetti Moka

The traditional moka is the easily recognizable Bialetti model. The Bialetti moka comes in many sizes. I have linked the large 9 cup model, but click around and see them all. In general the 3 cup or the 6 cup will be ideal for most people.

RELATED POST: HOW TO MAKE COFFEE IN A MOKA

I normally use Lavazza Crema e Gusto or Illy coffee when I make coffee in a moka.

The Alessi Pulcina Moka

I’m fascinated with the design of the Alessi Pulcina moka. Not only is is chic and modern, it was designed by Michele de Lucchi in conjunction with Illy Coffee to improve the design and function of the coffee maker. It has multiple cool functions but one of them is a boiler that stops dispensing coffee at just the right time so that it doesn’t get a bitter aftertaste. The shape also enhances the rich aroma of the coffee, and the spout which was modeled on a chicken’s beak lets it pour without spilling a drop.

Alessi make multiple different modern looking mokas but this one is my favorite.

There are two types of Italian coffee that I like to use in my moka (I also use them in French Press coffee.)

Illy Moka coffee

I love Illy’s Moka coffee. They also have fabulous coffee for espresso machines, French Press and for American drip coffee.

I particularly love Lavazza Crema e Gusto. I drink it everyday in Italy and for the last several years have been drinking it every day at home too. You can buy individual bricks of it for around $8 but once you fall in love with it, and you will, you can buy multi brick packs for arund $3 per brick.

RELATED POST: HOW TO ORDER COFFEE IN ITALY

The Nespresso

There are several different options with Nespresso machines. The main thing to consider is whether you want the original line, which makes espresso and lungo coffee ot the vertuoline which also makes more of a traditional American size cup. The original can only use original size pods and the vertuoline can only use the larger, dome shaped vertuoline pods.

The original line uses a 19 bar pressure method to make espresso and the vertuloine uses a centrifugal system. The vertuoline capusles are barcoded and tell the machine what temperature and water volume is best for that specific coffee.

Vertuoline pods are more expensive than the original line pods, which should be factored in if this will be your primary coffee maker. Nespresso brand pods are 70 cents each for original line and $1.29 each for vertuoline. There are plenty of excllent off brand pod options for the original line that run around 39 cents each, but the vertuoline only has the Nespresso option.

The Inissia and Essenza

The Inissia (now being replaced with the Essenza) is the entry level model. I have had this machine for years. Both the Inissia and the Essenza run on the same principal, the two main differences being the Essenza’s more modern, sleek look and the new design is quieter than the Inissia. While they are phasing out the Inissia you can find some good discounts.

Both machines use the original size pods and make espresso in 1.5 ounce and 5 ounce serving sizes. Both machines are lightweight and take up very little counter space. Each has a 24 ounce water resevoir. Both machines have the option of coming with a milk frother or without. If you are on a budget you can get the same style milk frother at Target for under $30.

There are multiple models and multiple size options available in the original line.

The Vertuoline

The best seller in the Vertuoline range is the Vertuo Plus Espresso and Coffee Machine. Vertuoline machines don’t come with built in frothers, but the Nespresso brand Aeroccino milk frother can be bought with it separately. All Vertuoline models make 5 different sizes of coffee vs the 2 sizes you can make with the Original line models.

The Vertuo

The Vertuo machine is larger than the VertuoPlus. With a 40 ounce water holder and a larger used pod reservoir it makes a good choice for someone who either drinks more coffee or who has more coffee drinkers in the home or workplace.

Crema

There is some debate about the quality of the crema between the Original line and the Vertuoline machines with the latter promoted as having a thicker layer on the surface. This may well be a marketing ploy to attract new buyers.

To understand the crema equation you first need to understand the differnce between the two lines. The Original line uses the traditional pressure method to make coffee. This involves using higher temperature water which extracts more oils from the grounds making a richer, stronger, more flavorful coffee.

The Vertuoline uses a centrifugal force to whip up extra crema. The coffee doesn’t come out as hot and the brew method makes a milder cup of coffee.

What Is Crema?

Crema is the tan foam like substance that forms on an espresso. It is caused by a chemical reaction during the brewing process involving pH and coffee oils. It tends to be a little acidic due to the increased pH and the CO2.

Some people think crema is an indication the barista used fresher beans to make your espresso, but its normally an indicator that inferior Robusta beans were used. With Nespresso machines the Original line’s thinner crema is closer to the real crema you get when frsh Arabica beans are used. Vertuoline’s thicker crema could be from higher percentages of Robusta beans or it could be because of the high speed spinning used in the extraction process.

Which Machine Should You Choose?

My best advice when choosing a Nespresso machine is if you enjoy real espresso and espresso drinks (like cappuccino) and don’t want to buy a big espresso machine, then the Original line is the one for you.
If you prefer longer coffee drinks or coffee machines that make a full cup like American style coffee, then the Vertuoline maybe the one for you.

While You’re On Amazon Check Out My Glam Italia! Travel Book Series

Espresso Machines

The De Longhi La Specialista Espresso Machine

There are loads of options for anyone wanting the full espresso bar experience, from relatively cheap machines to very expensive ones. I’m showing two mid range options.

The De Longhi La Specialista has dual heating systems so you can be frothing milk while making espresso. It also has an integrated grinder, a handcrafted stamping station and a knock box. The Specialista is easy to clean and has an award winning design. This machine costs around $750. You can read all the features it offeres here.

The Breville Barista Express Espresso machine also offers on demand grinding, precise temperature control and milk foam texturing. It has a few less feature than the De Longhi but it did make the list of Oprah’s Favorite Things, so there’s that.

Again, there are plenty more options for espresso machines, so you should click around and do more comparisons before buying.

You can see more Italian Coffee making options including refillable nespresso pods and gorgeous espresso cups on my Amazon storefront in the Italian Coffee Style section. My storefront is Amazon.com/Shop/CorinnaTravels. I have lots of interesting things for travel enthusiasts, from books to clothing to gadgets to coffee!

Amazon Influencer Store Corinna Travels

Fascinating In Florence On The Untold Italy Podcast!

Florence is one of the most well known and well loved cities in the world. Famed for being the home of Italian Renaissance art, adored for its picturesque medieval historic center, coveted for its mastery of Italian leatherwork.

Florence Italy skyline

Florence is also a city that in the last few years has suffered from massive tourist overcrowding. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the busloads of tourists, unless of course you know where to go to avoid them. I’ll give you a heads up – there is an entirely different experience awaiting you just a few meters away from the crowds!

During my years of leading private tours through Florence I’ve learned about really amazing places to visit and things to see and do in the renaissance city that are only a stone’s throw away from the crowds yet feel like you’re in a different world.

Untold Italy Episode 49

I was so lucky to be invited onto the Untold Italy podcast to talk about my secret Florence. In the podcast we talk about everything from the Medici to the best places to try artisan gelato, where to go for an aperitivo, churches you had no idea you wanted to see, and some of my best tips for experiencing the real Florence, the Florence you will fall madly in love with.

Check out the podcast episode here.

RELATED POST: HOW TO FIND THE BEST GELATO IN ITALY

If like me you are aching for Italy but stuck at home because of the pandemic, Untold Italy has a member site called Untold Italy Insiders where every month you have a cooking lesson with one of Italy’s most famous chefs, a wine class with a sommelier who will make your heart flutter, lessons from private tour guides, live question and answer sessions, and help planning your dream trip for once we can fly the friendly skies again. There is much more available too. You can find out more about Untold Italy Insiders here.

RELATED POST: 18 Fabulous Things You MUST Do In Florence
Best Florence Travel Guide Book
Glam Italia! 101 Fabulous Things To Do In Florence

If you want more insider secrets to help you explore the magic of Florence and discover roughly 100 incredible things to see and do that the bus tours don’t know about, almost all of which are hiding in plain sight, right under your nose, check out my best selling book Glam Italia! 101 Fabulous Things To Do In Florence. Available world wide on Amazon.