Italian cuisine is strongly influenced by local history and traditions, as well as by the local and seasonal availability of products. Each region of Italy has its own regional food specialties. These regional differences are based on a combination of climatic factors (availability of specific ingredients), historic factors (migration flows, influence from other peoples), geographical factors (living by the seaside or in the mountains) and economic factors (gastronomy influenced by the presence of former noble courts, labor or peasant communities). Some of Italy’s most famous gourmet foods, which have gained international fame, such as white truffles, can actually be found only in specific areas of Italy.
While many countries have local culinary styles that differ from region to region, in Italy these differences are much more pronounced. This is not surprising considering the shape of the country – long and narrow, surrounded by the sea and with big mountains in the North. Add to that the fact that Italy became a unified nation only in 1861, after having mainly been a confederation of states for the previous thousand of years, and this diversity becomes even more obvious.