You may be surprised to learn that Italian cuisine has much more variety to offer than the Americanized version of pizza, cheesy baked pasta, and crusty bread. As a matter of fact, Italian cooking changes drastically from season to season. So much so that if you were in Italy in the winter and then decided to return in the Summer, you might think you visited two different countries.

Italians eat very well! summer meals focus on simple cooking techniques, seasonal vegetables, and a lot of olive oil. During Italy's summer months, lighter meals are the main event.

Cool pasta dishes that are simple with sauces that are light and quickly cooked. Vegetables are dressed using olive oil and lemon, meats are cooked using an outdoor grill and without a heavy sauce. And for dessert, something light, creamy, and mouth-watering!

Summer fish and seasonal vegetables

Fish is Italy's special summer ingredient. It is easily digested, cooks quickly, and is a light and tasty summer meal. Many Italians spend their summers vacationing near the lakes or the sea. That is why summer brings many mouth-watering fish-based dishes like grilled fish and seafood, pasta alle vongole, and let us not forget to pair these dishes with a lovely white wine.

If you are lucky enough to have ever visited an Italian market during the summer months, then you know what a treat it is!

Italy offers a great variety of fresh seasonal vegetables like every type of pepper, gorgeous eggplant, sun-ripened tomatoes, and so much more. These summer beauties can all be easily transformed into light, refreshing summer dishes.

However, among the more popular summer vegetables are bell peppers, melanzane, and zucchini blossoms.

Cool creamy desserts

Italians invented gelato. Gelato is more or less Ice Cream, only thicker, creamier, and with much more flavor. So, it really should come as no surprise that the most popular summer dessert in Italy is gelato. If you have ever been lucky enough to visit Italy, then you have more than likely tried creamy, delicious gelato.

In truth, there are actually some major differences between ice cream and gelato. American ice cream has to legally have a minimum of 10 percent fat, whereas Italian gelato is made with a larger ratio of whole milk to cream, containing about five to seven percent fat. Also, gelato contains about 25 to 30 percent air, while American ice cream can contain as much as 50 percent air. Gelato is typically stored and then served at a slightly warmer temperature than ice cream.