The Healthy Italian: A Vegan Food Tour Of Italy

Quest’articolo tratta del veganismo in Italia. Parla del sud d’italia dove, generalmente, la cucina è più ricca di verdure e frutte e meno di carne. Molte volte, il tipo di mangiare in queste zone è chiamato “mangiafoglie”. L’articolo parla anche dei ristoranti più famosi sparsi in tutta italia consciuti per il menù vegano. In aggiunta, l’articolo descrive come questi risortanti usino solo gli ingredienti di stagione e le ricette sane. Il veganismo sta diventando più popolare perché aiuta il benessere di tutti.

My family is from Molise, a region in the northern part of southern Italy, in a valley away from the sea so seafood is not readily available. Southern Italian food is largely plant-based, la cucina povera, with an emphasis on typical Mediterranean vegetables like eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, peppers, olives, and artichokes, but very little meat. My people and those of the south are called the mangiafoglie (leafeaters), their main source of protein being legumes and pasta, like pasta e fagioli which is eaten with an abundance of vegetables made into soups and often with pasta. Bread, cheese and wine are consumed daily. 

Let’s explore some vegetarian and vegan restaurants in the south. 


Italian dishes such as Pasta Puttanesca, typically made with anchovies, are made without meat or fish in Napoletano vegan/vegetarian restaurants. Naples has an abundance of such restaurants.

Amico Bio Napoli: Un Sorriso Integrale: The first vegetarian/vegan macrobiotic restaurant in Naples opened 25-years-ago. It is run by the AmicoBio association and farm which grows their organic produce. Their menu incorporates a natural, ecologic and “spiritual” philosophy.

Pizzeria Da Michele: Even though not touted as a vegetarian/vegan restaurant, they serve vegetarian food with half the menu being vegan. This traditional pizzeria has been around since 1870.

Milkaway Sweethouse: The first “Pasticceria Vegana e senza Lattosio di Napoli” is also a gelateria.


Puglia is perhaps the best region in Italy for vegan and vegetarian food.

Pesto di Pistacchio: Located in Trani, “Vegan cuisine…ethical, good and healthy.” You will find creative foods such as “Troccoli leek and avocado with Hibiscus reduction.”

Crianza: For food lovers, Crianza has gourmet as well as street food, offering what nature gives us, "semplicitá e bontá,” and presented as “un’esperienza sensoriale.” Located in Lecce.

Grotta Palazzese Hotel Restaurant: In Polignano a Mare, this seaside cliff restaurant is one not to be missed. The dishes are made in the Apulian culinary tradition and are expensive, but the view is priceless. My sister and I can vouch for that. Vegan/vegetarian options.


Calabrian vegetarian and vegan-friendly restaurants are many and can be found on, and other review sites. Those listed here are traditional Italian restaurants that also serve meatless and cheeseless options.

Mirco Gelateria: Vegetarian-friendly with vegan options.

La Tavernetta: Mediterranean, barbeque and soups with vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options.

Pizzeria Mandalari: Great reviews by vegans who seek this traditional pizzeria while traveling through Calabria.


Sicily is only second to Puglia for its vegan and vegetarian restaurants concentrated on the east coast with many on Isola di Ortigia near Syracusa.

In San Vito Lo Capo, a beach town in northwest Sicily, at the Cous-Cous Fest, my friend and I found vegan and vegetarian food everywhere. We were in awe of the abundance of vegetable dishes including panelle, chickpea fritters. 

Olivia Natural Bistrot: Syracuse only serves fruit, vegetables in season, flours from ancient Sicilian grains, fresh pasta produced from ancient wheat, and quite a variety of local cheeses, many I had never heard of. Vegetarian and vegan dishes.

Schiticchio: In Sicilian, “abbuffato” or binge. A pizzeria and panineria in Syracuse.

MOON: Move Ortigia Out of Normality is a classy vegan restaurant, cocktail bar and cultural center. While visiting people near Syracuse, my son suggested I eat at MOON, on Isola di Ortigia. I was very disappointed when the restaurant was reserved for a wedding party. My palate was primed for their “pasta fresca with a red pesto made from nuts, sun-dried tomatoes and wild fennel fronds with garlic bread and beetroot dip.”

After being closed due to the pandemic, this statement on MOON’s Home Page sums up the philosophy that most Italian vegan restaurants ascribe to and what motivates them to exist and persist. “Many new, good and colorful dishes; so colorful because [they are] full of essential vitamins, the ones we rely on to fight the bad little guests with crowns that have ruined the beginning of a new decade and that increasingly remind us that food is important, for the soul but above all for our health. We are what we eat!”


Please send your questions about nutrition, exercise or mindfulness to Diana at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. If I don’t know the answer, I will find it.

Diana Lucarino-Diekmann, has been working in the field of Health and Fitness since 1980 helping others achieve optimal health and happiness. She has a BA in Exercise Physiology as well as Pilates and Yoga certifications and an extensive knowledge of nutrition and disease. Having taught almost every type of exercise class, she now specializes in Yoga, Pilates, meditation, and mindfulness, not only in exercise but also in life.

The contents of “The Healthy Italian” are for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or your personal health.