Last updated on February 9th, 2024
If you are worried about eating well for you and your baby while traveling in Italy – don’t!
I am a proud mom of four in Italy and after eating my way through all four pregnancies here, I’m happy to share these delicious foods for you to try as a mom to-be in Italy.
In this article, I will share these foods that are readily available throughout Italy and at most basic restaurants or trattorie. Most are pretty good foods to order as a complete meal with a side of vegetables.
Try these ten foods in Italy while you’re pregnant so you’ll feel good about what you are eating and get up from the table feeling satisfied.
For more about eating in Italy for expecting mothers, read Eating in Italy While Pregnant, Eating in Tuscany While Pregnant, Ten Foods You May Want to Avoid in Italy While Pregnant, and My Favorite Snacks to Eat in Italy While Pregnant.
Important: Always talk to your doctor when planning your pregnancy diet – especially when you’re visiting another country!
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(Pronounced ree-soht-toh pree-mah-vehr-ah in Italian)
Risotto is an excellent first course dish to order in Italy while pregnant (also for gluten-free mothers to be) because it’s filling, full of quality ingredients, and usually doesn’t induce indigestion or heartburn.
I always found many traditional pasta dishes to be a bit heavier than rice when pregnant in Italy, which is why it was always my preferred primo. You will notice that risotto options rotate to reflect the season and local produce. Follow the seasons and you are sure to eat some of the best vegetable risotto such as risotto primavera in the spring made with locally grown asparagus, spring onions, shallots, fresh peas and broad beans, particularly beloved in Veneto.
Tip: Traveling in Italy when risotto primavera isn’t in season? Try risotto con zucca (with pumpkin) in the fall and winter, risotto con radicchio (with radicchio) in the winter, risotto con zucchini (with zucchini) in the summer and risotto alla milanese year round in Milan.
Pregnant In Venice: For my detailed insights and experience on eating in Venice with a bump, check out Eating in Venice While Pregnant.
(Pronounced ree-bohl-lee-tah in Italian)
Ribollita is a hearty vegetable and bread stew from Tuscany chalk full of winter vegetables such as carrots, celery, onion, cabbage, kale, swiss chard and cannellini beans. The soup is thickened with stale bread, giving it bulk and body. Don’t forget to drizzle it with extra virgin olive oil and you have a complete meal all in one full of vegetables, starches, protein and fat!
Eat It in Florence: My favorite place to eat ribollita in Florence is at Buca dell’Orafo, on a chilly January day. For more of my favorite foods to try in Florence, read 10 Foods You Must Try On Your First Visit To Florence (Italy) and The Best Cheap Eats in Tuscany – 8 Unforgettable Tuscan Street Foods.
(Pronounced mee-neh-stroh-neh in Italian)
Minestrone is a chunky vegetable soup served year-round in Italy (not in August when it’s 110 degrees though) that is made to reflect the season. In the winter it will be full of dark, bitter greens while the summer will have things like zucchini and beans.
Minestrone is always served with bread but I always suggest that pregnant women order some form of protein to accompany this vegetarian first course. Things like an egg, a sformato (flan), a cheese plate (only eat pasteurized cheese!), sausage, grilled chicken or even a side of beans are ideal.
(Pronounced cahr-boh-nah-rah in Italian)
Carbonara is a dish to order in Italy when you are pregnant and don’t actually want to sit down for several courses but want to leave the table feeling satisfied. This traditional pasta dish from Rome (Lazio) is made with a rich sauce of egg and bacon, giving you all the protein and flavor you need.
The only thing you are missing as a pregnant traveler in Italy is a vegetable. Order a contorno or side dish and you are all set!
Pair It With: I like to pair my carbonara with a side insalata (salad) or verdura saltati (pan sauteed greens)
Sformato Di Verdura
(Pronounced sfohr-mah-toh dee vehr-doo-rah in Italian)
A sformato di verdura is a savory flan made from eggs and a bechamel sauce, typically flavored with a seasonal vegetable. You might see a sformato di zucchini in the summer and sformato di patata (potato) or spinaci (spinach) in the winter.
A sformato di verdura alone was never enough for me as an expecting mother so consider pairing it with another appetizer or a primo.
Tagliatelle Al Ragù
(Pronounced tal-YUH-tel-leh in Italian)
Tagliatelle is an egg ribbon pasta served in a rich meat sauce (otherwise known as bolognese sauce or ragù). What I love about this pasta dish is that I really don’t need to order anything else than a vegetable if I want because the egg pasta is full of protein and with the meat sauce, it’s filling.
The best tagliatelle al ragù is in Emilia-Romagna but this is an Italian favorite so look for it on any menu throughout Italy.
Tortellini In Brodo
(Pronounced tohr-tehl-lee-nee een broh-doh in Italian)
Tortellini is a small filled pasta with meat served in a bone broth. This was always one of my favorite foods to order in Italy when pregnant in the colder months. I found it particularly comforting to know that it contains bone broth.
And you don’t need to ask if the tortellini are made with uncured meats because if they are, they will be cooked in the broth to eliminate any risk of bacteria.
A Night In: Looking to eat dinner at your apartment rental one night? Pick up some tortellini at the market, an onion, carrot and stalk of celery to make a quick vegetable broth and poach your tortellini in. Easy and simple. No restaurant required!
Lasagne, similar to carbonara, is one of those meals for pregnant women in Italy on the go. It has everything you need to satisfy you and your baby (and you, of course!0. At most, you may want to order a vegetable but don’t worry if you don’t, the ragù is made with soffritto, a base of carrot, onion and celery.
Good To Know: Keep an eye out for vegetarian lasagne as well, which is equally filling and healthy for pregnant travelers. For more on the regional lasagne in Italy, read Eight Types Of Lasagna (Lasagne) – My Italian Family’s Favorite And Where To Eat It In Italy.
Scaloppine al Marsala
(Pronounced scah-lohp-pee-neh ahl mahr-sah-lah in Italian)
Scaloppine al Marsala is one of the Italian dishes I ordered more while pregnant in Italy when I wanted to feel like I was eating something as special as a bistecca fiorentina. Veal slices are slightly coated in flour, pan fried and finished in Marsala wine.
I suggest ordering mashed potatoes and the vegetable of the day to accompany your scaloppine.
(Pronounced ahr-ahn-chee-nee in Italian)
Arancini might not be the lightest item to choose from (beware those of you suffering from pregnancy heartburn) but it’s safe and super delicious.
Today they are made and sold throughout Italy but the most famous are from Southern Italy, in particular, Sicily as a street food.
I hope this list of foods I ate will help you during your travels in Italy while pregnant!