Best Italy Cruise: Where Food Secrets are Revealed

On Italy's most remote islands, cooking secrets are still preserved. What's in the kitchen tells only part of the story. Read more about Italy's Secret Ingredient. Read more about Italy's Secret Ingredient, and join a unique culinary cruise to experience it all for yourself.

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Just two miles off mainland Italy, Procida takes some culinary influences from Naples but maintains its own centuries-old secrets. Procida is one of four islands on Peggy Markel's sailing tour of the Phlegrean Archipelago. Ventotene (home to 700 people), Capri (four square miles), and Ischia (known for Italy's finest wine) round out the itinerary. Find updates and booking information at www.peggymarkel.com.Jen Judge
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There are 300 varieties of pasta here, with a large number of them originating from the Amalfi coast. But it takes more than a pot of boiling water to turn this truly Italian pasta into something memorable.Jen Judge
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Do you have any idea how hard it was to take pictures when the door to this bakery on the island of Procida opened? Very.Jen Judge
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Tomatoes. Oil. A bowl. It doesn’t have to be complicated to be special.Jen Judge
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As close as they are to the mainland, the ruggedness of the Phlegrean islands has helped them guard many of their cooking traditions.Jen Judge
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One secret to incredible Italian food: Don’t rush, either in the kitchen or at the table.Jen Judge
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The Mediterranean has a lesson for anyone who thinks a fish has to be man-size to make the epicurean cut.Jen Judge
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Culinary excellence does not always rely on fancy tools or culinary-school degrees. It’s all about a feel for food.Jen Judge
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Ventotene is a speck of an island, and the locals are holding onto the tradition of preserving food with jars instead of chemicals. New restrictions are making it harder to maintain their grip.Jen Judge
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Fresh seafood and hot grills are a great start. The elusive ingredient that makes this meal memorable? It’s the seasoned touch of hands that have done this over and over and over.Jen Judge
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Ristorante Bar da Benito overlooks a bay once used for Roman fish pools. It is named after the 84-year-old proprietor, Benito Malingiere, who still bastes fish with a switch of rosemary over an open grill.Jen Judge
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Peggy Markel’s tour is eight days of sailing, tasting, and dropping in on classic Italian street scenes far from the mainland (www.peggymarkel.com).Jen Judge
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Pasta literally means “dough.” It refers to the egg flour and water from which the noodles are cut. It’s served at every meal on these islands, in a million different ways.Jen Judge
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Lemons near the Amalfi coast are as big as youth footballs. They grow under the protection of mountains, where winds from the north meet winds from the south. The rich flavor makes these lemons ideal for gelato and spaghetti al limone. We should have this recipe on our site, under recipes, if you want to link to it.Jen Judge
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It doesn’t take much too satisfy, not when it’s done like this.Jen Judge
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Capri is known as the Monte Carlo of the Phlegean. It’s a flashy island, but the local cooks do miraculous things with simple ingredients like zucchini blossoms, olive oil and prawns.Jen Judge
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These island people know their way around the sea and the kitchens equally well.Jen Judge
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Agostino and Francesco d’Ambra run the kitchen at La Trattoria Il Focolare, a family-run eatery on the island of Ischia. The rabbit, and the stories told, make it more of an experience than a meal.Jen Judge
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One type of pasta does not fit all occasions. Neither do 20 types. There’s thick- ribbon, cockscomb, thick rings, squid ink, and 296 more. “You would never get farfalle with tomato sauce,” says Peggy Markel.Jen Judge
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Lemons are the essence of Amalfi. “My lemons aren’t like the ones from Argentina or China,” says Amalfi farmer Luigi Aceto. “Those are yellow objects pretending to be fruit.” Luigi has grown more than 2,000 lemon trees on stair-step terraces.Jen Judge
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When the lights are on along the islands of Capri, Ischia, Procida and Ventotene (home to 700 residents), you know something’s been cooking for a while. That’s the main secret: don’t rush a good thing.Jen Judge