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(Note: lumache are also a broad, tubular pasta shape that vaguely resembles a snail, big enough for stuffing and baking)

Snails are more common up north; Lombards cook them with the typical accompaniments of garlic and parsley, or add spinach and onion to make a sauce ('in umido'). There is a similar dish in Tuscany, where snails are called chiocciole.

Romans do them up with cherry tomatoes, anchovies, chili flakes, mint and basil. In Calabria they're put in a stew with tomatoes, oregano and peperoncini. Around Italy you'll find cooks that put them on pasta and even in risottos.

In Lazio they are called ciammotte or ciammaruche.

In Sicily snails are called babbaluci. Sicily shows another Arab influence here, using an Arabic-derived word for snails. They're the traditional dish in Palermo for the Festa di Santa Rosalia, cooked simply much the way the French do.

The Sards have been chasing them for millennia; piles of shells are always found at Neolithic settlements. Different corners of the island have over a dozen names for snails, including sizzigorrus, which seems to suit them perfectly.


bagioi Snails cooked in a stew with tomatoes, parsely, olive oil and fresh mint (Liguria)

lumache, lumachine di mare: chiocciole di mare, sea snails

bovoleti Small field snails in the Veneto (also known as chioccioline di prato) generally cooked with garlic and parsley.

An annual Sagra della Lumaca takes place in Valmontone in Lazio at the end of June, with snail dishes, sports, music and dances.

Food Festivals


Text © Dana Facaros & Michael Pauls

Images by Darius K, Didier