When you think of Italian food the usual suspects of pizza, pasta and lasagne come to mind but there is so much more to discover on the streets than just these popular staples. Eating well is a way of life here and so there is always something new to sample, especially if you stray away from hotspots and head down cobblestone alleys where cucina povera lives.
Cucina povera translates to “poor cooking” or “poor kitchen”, however there is nothing impoverished about the genius of this style of cuisine. The less well off classes of Italy have developed some remarkable cooking methods over the years which can be seen in classic dishes like minestrone soup, spaghetti aglio e olio and polenta. Basically the idea of cucina povera is to utilize affordable and abundant ingredients in simple yet innovative ways.
These homemade recipes have humble beginnings (born out of necessity in rural and working class areas) and are now enjoyed by millions of people around the world. Even more impressive is the fact that cucina povera is constantly evolving. While a few traditional dishes may be found at local restaurants back home, the only real way to taste this style of cooking is to travel to Italy yourself and walk the streets to see what is brewing today.
This is where Streaty comes into play – a small business with a passion for revealing the intimate secrets of Italian gastronomy. By booking their best street food tours you can uncover hidden gems of Italian cuisine and meet vendors and producers who are the beating heart of the economy. This helps to protect traditional ways of life from the ever growing threat of global food supply chains and multinational conglomerates.
Streaty was founded by Marco Romeo in 2013. Through his love of food, he started the first food tour in Palermo (his hometown). It was such a big success that Marco decided to expand operations to cover more cities including Florence, Naples and Venice. In just over nine years the business has welcomed more than 30,000 guests and earned awards like TripAdvisor’s Travelers’ Choice – Top Ranked Food Tour Company in Italy.
The secret to this winning formula is the combination of expert guides who know where real Italians go to eat (no tourist traps), visiting street food vendors that sell quality produce, and the small group sizes which creates a personalized feel. Why not book a tour with Streaty as soon as you arrive at a new destination, so you can get a feel for the city and try some fabulous local foods that will inspire you to eat well for the rest of your visit.
Best Street Food Tours in Italy
1. Venice Street Food & Rialto Market Tour
After decades of mass tourism, Venice has received a much-needed break from visitors recently due to the tragic pandemic that struck in 2020. Now the City of Canals aims to rebuild its travel industry in a more sustainable way. You can help on this mission by booking a tour with Streaty. Their tours inspire you to eat like a local – away from the tourist traps of the past.
On the Venice Street Food & Rialto Market Tour, guests will be guided to various sights (including the Rialto Market) and sample some tasty street food as well as desserts and drinks. The Rialto Market is full of color and scents that will engage all of your senses. Your tour guide will delve into the history of the market and share fascinating stories from centuries ago, before leading you to local vendors where you can try some fresh products.
Following the Rialto Market visit, your group will walk to authentic wine bars to try “cicchetti”- the Venetian version of tapas. One of these bar stops serves up the best cod in the world and you will be able to pick how it’s cooked. All of these food tastings add up to leave you satisfied and full, like the equivalent of a large meal. Plus you can wash it all down with an ombra wine or spritz. The end of this tour concludes with a lovely tiramisu.
Throughout this experience travelers will have the chance to see Venice from a local’s perspective. The guide takes you on a relaxing walk in the same places that residents travel everyday. For example, at the end of the tour, a traditional traghetto will transport the group (of up to eight people) back to the finishing point. This is a typical ride that Venetians do everyday. The tour runs all week, except for Sundays, starting from 11am.
2. A Venetian Evening – Wine Tasting & Tapas Tour
Next on the list of the best street food tours in Italy is the Venetian Wine Tasting & Tapas Tour with Streaty. Starting at 5pm with a duration of three hours, this popular tour takes you along local drinking trails where the best Venetian wine and tapas can be found. There will be no shame in getting a little tipsy as you try one delicious wine after another. In total you will drink five wines: prosecco, red wine, white wine, natural wine and a dessert wine.
Paired with these wines are traditional tapas consisting of cured meats, fish, cheese, vegetables and breads. Each bar offers a unique mix of wine and cicchetti – giving you the fuel to make it to the next stop. For travelers looking to meet new people and have fun on the streets of Venice this is a fantastic option. The group size is eight which means it’s easy to strike up a conversation with your fellow travelers as the wine begins to flow.
The best part about this tour is that it guides you down the alleys of Dorsoduro – the artistic student area. Local Venetians often meet up here after work to enjoy a unique atmosphere away from the hordes of tourists. After enjoying this night out with your new friends you might wish to come back to Dorsoduro again for even more authentic local experiences.
3. The Ultimate Spritz Tour of Venice (New Tour)
Spritz is one of the most legendary drinks of Italy. Poured in big wine glasses with prosecco, a bitter liqueur like Campari, soda water, ice and a fruit wedge garnish – this wine based cocktail can be seen in cafes and bars all throughout the country. The bitter liqueurs used in spritz are what gives the drink its famous orange color. You simply have to try this drink when traveling to Italy because it’s such an iconic and tasty beverage.
The Ultimate Spritz Tour of Venice takes you to hidden treasures along the spritz road. First stop on this three hour tour is the Jewish Ghetto area which is bursting with interesting history and secret spots. Then it’s time to try some truly authentic flavors of spritz and this means that you won’t find liqueurs like Campari or Aperol being used. Instead, you will get the chance to try a green colored spritz and pair it with some finger-licking cicchetti.
In fact, there are many different varieties of spritz and you will get to try them all on this Venice excursion. The guide will provide info about each different spritz and share insights into the history of the drinking culture in Venice. This tour runs every Wednesday and Saturday, so make sure you are in The Floating City during one of those days if you would like to tag along.
4. Inside Naples: Street Food & Market Tour
Naples represents the soul of Italy. Characterized by epic views, bustling streets, artistic sensibilities, glorious food and soulful people – Naples pulls on the heartstrings of every visitor. It’s really hard not to fall in love with this magnificent city. The food of Naples is one of the biggest attractions of Italy and the best tastes, flavors and smells are definitely found on the streets.
The Naples Street Food & Market Tour is all about getting inside the Napoli spirit. A native Neapolitan guide will lead you through his favorite food spots of the city, many of which are located in the “hood”. But don’t worry – this is where the true Naples can be found. Head to the Pignasecca Market for unbelievably good street food and learn about the history of this old open-air market. Everyday there are new specialties to try at Pignasecca.
Walk around the different stalls and see what the locals are concocting up that day. Then it’s time to take things up a notch – exploring the maze of alleys around Quartieri Spagnoli. Get your cameras ready because this is where you can snap photos of old Italian ladies hanging clothes from their balconies, kids playing football in the backstreets and local artisans going about their daily business. And of course the food here is next level.
5. Unfiltered Street Food & Market Tour of Florence
Florence is a city that needs no introduction – home to Renaissance art and architecture that is famous the world over. On the Unfiltered Street Food & Market Tour of Florence by Streaty guests will spend three to four hours getting acquainted with the backstreets of the city and finding incredible street food that isn’t recommended in standard guidebooks or travel blogs.
Beginning at the Mercato di Sant’Ambrogio (an unknown market to most), you will learn about local cuisine and the cooking habits of Florentine’s by checking out seasonal products and talking to vendors about their sales, tastings and passion for food. Make sure you try the classic chicken liver pate that is frequently offered as a free tasting. Other products include salami and cheese sourced from the surrounding Tuscany region.
Alongside these tastings your guide will speak about the history, art, architecture and handicrafts of Florence. Food is a vital component of Florentine life but it’s not the only aspect. Finish up at the romantic Arno River, near the famous Ponte Vecchio, where a dessert wine will be served. Savor this moment with the new friends you made on this tour.
6. Palermo Street Food & Local Market Tour
The Sicilian capital, Palermo, is a feast for the eyes with its beautiful baroque churches rubbing shoulders with bustling souk-like markets that showcase the rich civilizational heritage of the island. Most visitors begin their Sicilian adventures in Palermo and what better way to be introduced to the city than by booking the Palermo Street Food & Local Market Tour.
This three hour food tour kicks off at around 10:30am for a fun mid-day excursion around the markets of Capo and Vucciria. Most of the tour is spent down the backstreets of the Palermo city center where tourists rarely venture. Head to the old tavern of Vucciria to mingle with locals and raise a glass together in appreciation of true Sicilian culture. The food and drinks served on this tour are local specialties that have deep roots in the past.
You will get the opportunity to eat foods like arancini, focaccia, panelle, cannoli and gelato. Make sure you don’t have too much breakfast because you will need some room in your stomach to take in all of these amazing dishes. Afterwards, guests have the option of adding a tour extension for a detailed look into the art and history of Palermo. This involves walking for a further hour to extraordinary monuments and UNESCO sites.
7. Palermo Night Tour: Food Stalls & Backstreets
If you are more of a night owl rather than an early riser the Palermo Night Tour: Food Stalls & Backstreets might be a better option. It’s also a good choice for travelers who want to hide away from the sun during the middle of summer. Kick off the night at a favorite local wine bar with some freshly made bruschetta paired with sparkling wine. Next, walk to an atmospheric street food area and pay a visit to the legendary Mr Rocky.
On this three hour trip guests get the chance to mix with other travelers and try traditional Sicilian street food which is known as being fatty, fried and full of carbs. This type of food is a great way to make bonds with your new friends as the only word you will be repeating is “yum”. You can always have a food fasting session the next day if you eat too much. Pizza, crostino, fritters and croquette are just the beginning of what is on offer.
Final Thoughts on Streaty Tours
As you can tell by the range of food tours on offer there is something for everyone to enjoy no matter the region you are traveling to. Cocktail-lovers can sip spritz in Venice, meat-lovers will be in heaven wandering the streets of Florence and pastry-lovers can get their fix in Palermo. If you plan to explore more of eastern Sicily, be sure to check out the Streaty tours in Catania. The second biggest Sicilian city is worth a street food tour too!