In my small town in Italy, Friday is market day. From 6 am, the streets of the center get closed off, and vans with all kinds of products line up and open their stands.
At the end of Via Campo, you find the food section: meats, fish, cheese… But mostly – vegetables! If you’re planning a visit to this beautiful boot-shaped country, you’ll likely shop in one of these markets for fresh produce.
And, well, I hate and also love to tell you that usually, no one there speaks excellent English! Learning the names of vegetables in Italian, then, is a must if you want to have this immersive market experience.
Italy is renowned for its healthy and delicious Mediterranean diet. And what are the main ingredients of this diet? Why, of course, la verdura (vegetables)!
Free Italian vegetables poster
Print out this free and fun vegetables poster and stick it on your fridge. If you can memorize this list of some of the more popular vegetables in Italian, you'll be on your way to sounding like a local.
Why you need to learn vegetables in Italian
Aside from the above example of a great Italian market experience, there are more reasons to learn the names of vegetables in Italian, especially if you’re a food enthusiast!
Many world-famous chefs are Italian, and naming dishes in Italian has been a thing for years. For example, if you eat a parmigiana di melanzane, you need to know that melanzana means eggplant!
If you like having fun in the kitchen, knowing vegetables in Italian will allow you to follow authentic Italian recipes and improve two skills simultaneously: your vocab and cooking!
Last but not least, knowing vegetables in Italian will allow you to travel around Italy, order at restaurants and pizzerias, and even talk about your favorite Italian dishes with native speakers. Trust me, improving your vocab is never a bad idea. You’ll be surprised how useful knowing how to say cabbage in Italian can be!
In this article, we’ll look at the names of as many veggies in Italian as you can imagine, and we’ll give you the phonetic pronunciation too.
Even your friend’s grandma who doesn’t speak a word of English will know how much you loved her orecchiette alle cime di rapa!
List of vegetables in Italian
So, let’s start with our list of vegetables in Italian. By the way, the words for vegetable are “verdura” or “ortaggio”, which comes from the word “orto” (vegetable garden).
On the other hand, the adjective vegetable is “vegetale” in Italian. So, if you want a veggie burger, you’d order “un hamburger vegetale” or “un hamburger di verdure”. (Yes, I know there’s no ham in it – but this is how we say it anyway!)
Root vegetables in Italian
Here is a list of the main root vegetables you can find in Italy. They are called radici (roots) or ortaggi a radice.
|Celeriac||Sedano rapa||seh-dah-noh rah-pah|
|Parsley root||Radice di prezzemolo||rah-dee-che dee pre-tse-moh-loh|
|Swede||Cavolo navone||cah-voh-loh nah-voh-neh|
Tuber vegetables in Italian
Let’s now look at the tuberi.
|Kumara||Patata dolce / batata||pah-tah-tah doll-che / bah-tah-tah|
Bulb vegetables in Italian
Bulb vegetables are those you use for making a good soffritto (mirepoix) for a pasta sauce or a risotto. Don’t forget to buy lots of them if you’re planning on learning Italian recipes!
Here they are.
|Fennel bulb||Grumolo del finocchio||groo-moh-loh dell fee-noh-kyoh|
Stems and shoots in Italian
Let’s continue with stems and shoots in Italian.
|Bamboo shoots||Germoglio di bambù||gerr-moh-llyoh dee bahm-booh|
|Kohlrabi||Cavolo rapa||cah-vo-loh rah-pah|
Flower vegetables in Italian
Flower vegetables are plants in which the flowers are eaten. In the following table you’ll find these ortaggi a fiore. Which one is your favourite?
|Broccoflower||Cavolo romanesco||cah-voh-loh roh-mah-ness-koh|
|Courgette flower||Fiore di zucca||fee-oh-reh dee dzuk-kah|
|Gai lan||Cavolo cinese||cah-voh-loh chee-neh-seh|
|Turnip greens||Cime di rapa||chee-meh dee rah-pah|
Fungi and mushrooms in Italian
Mushroom are a big thing in Italy. When autumn comes, everyone in the countryside picks up their stick and basket and goes to the woods in search of our delicious funghi (foon-ghee). Out of season, you can always find dried or frozen ones at markets or supermarkets.
|Parasol mushroom||Mazze di tamburo||mats-tse dee tahm-boo-roh|
|Oyster mushroom||Funghi ostrica||foon-ghee oss-tree-cah|
Leaves in Italian
Here are the most common leaves you can find in an italian insalata (salad), and in many other delicious dishes!
|Bok choy||Bok choy / cavolo cinese||cah-voh-loh chee-neh-zeh|
|Brussel sprouts||Cavoletti di Bruxelles||cah-voh-let-tee dee broo-xell|
|Red cabbage||Cavolo cappuccio||cah-voh-loh cah-pooh-choh|
|Cavolo nero||Cavolo nero||cah-voh-loh neh-roh|
|Kale||Cavolo riccio||cah-voh-loh reech-choh|
|Water spinach||Spinaci d’acqua||Spee-nah-chee dah-kwah|
|Curly Endive||Indivia riccia||een-dee-vyah reech-chah|
Fruit vegetables in Italian
Let’s now make a list of the most common “fruit” vegetables in Italian. Here you’ll find vegetables that are actually fruits, botanically speaking of course. These include the typical Mediterranean veggies, like courgette and aubergine (eggplant). We put them all in the singular.
|Plantain||Banana verde||bah-nah-nah verr-deh|
Remember, the plural of zucchina is not zucchini! It is actually zucchine (dzuk-kee-neh), as it is a feminine noun.
Seeds and legumes in Italian
Here you find i legumi in Italian, which are legumes or seeds. We put them in their plural form in the table, as they are not often used in the singular.
Tip: In some parts of Italy, pisello (pea) is a childish name for male genitals!
Italian proverbs and slang with vegetables
Here are some curious Italian proverbs and expressions with vegetables!
|Italian expression||English translation|
|Le melanzane son le cotolette dell’orto.||Eggplants are the steaks of the garden.|
|Patate e peperoni son per tempi tristi e buoni.||Potatoes and peppers are for good and sad times.|
|Il ravanello fa il viso bello.||Radish makes your face beautiful.|
|Il miglior ortaggio è la gallina.||The best vegetable is chicken.|
Verdure per tutti!
The best thing to do now is to go out and practice your new Italian vocabulary. Go to the market and buy verdure per tutti (veggies for all)!