Italian cuisine has developed through centuries of social and political change, with roots dating back to the 4th century BC. and was influenced by the cuisine of ancient Greece, ancient Rome, Byzantine, Jewish and Arabic.
Important changes occurred with the discovery of the New World and the introduction of new ingredients such as potatoes, tomatoes, peppers and corn, now fundamental in cooking but introduced in large quantities only in the 18th century. Italian cuisine is known above all for its vast regional diversity, its abundance in taste and condiments and as a classic example of the Mediterranean diet, recognized as an intangible heritage of humanity by UNESCO, in 2010, and is considered the most famous gastronomy in the world, with great international influence. US broadcaster CNN ranks it as one of the most popular cuisines globally.
The main feature of Italian cuisine is its simplicity, with many dishes consisting of 4 to 8 ingredients. Italian chefs rely on the quality of the ingredients rather than the complexity of preparation. Traditional dishes and recipes, over the centuries, have often been created by grandmothers more than by chefs, and that is why many Italian recipes are suitable for home and everyday cooking. Many Italian dishes that were once known only in their regions of origin have spread across the country. Cheese (food of which Italy can boast the greatest diversity of existing types) and wine (of which Italy is the world's largest producer) constitute an important part of Italian cuisine, with many autochthonous varieties and specific legal protection, the Denomination of Controlled Origin (DOC). Coffee, especially espresso, is also an important and typical drink of Italian cuisine.