14 Types Of Italian Sandwiches You Should Try At Least Once

When you think of Italian food, your mind may first go to pasta or pizza, but that's far from all the country has to offer. In fact, if you're going to try some of Italy's best dishes, you don't need to go to the trattoria or the enoteca. Skip the Michelin star tasting menus when you visit because Italy boasts some of the world's most celebrated (and delicious) sandwiches ... and you'll find them at cafes, corner shops, and casual restaurants alike. They may not be fussy or overcomplicated, but more often than not, they contain some of Italy's freshest, most delicious ingredients.

We've compiled a list of some of Italy's most famous sandwiches, ranging from the simple to the extravagant. This, of course, is not a comprehensive list of Italian sandwiches worth trying, but it's a good place to start if you're interested in learning more about Italy's incredible sandwich culture. Whether you're planning on taking a trip to Italy sometime soon (or live there!) or just want to get a taste of what Italian sandwiches have to offer wherever you are on the globe, this list can get you started on your Italian sandwich journey. These are some of the Italian sandwiches you need to try at least once.

1. Panino con il lampredotto

Go to Florence, the capital of Tuscany, and you'll get the chance to try a panino con il lampredotto, a popular street food. The meat inside the sandwich is tripe, or cow stomach. It's chewy and textured, and once this meat simmers in a tomato-based sauce, it gets beautifully juicy and tender. The tripe is cut into small pieces that are easy to bite into and then piled on top of a crusty bun split down the middle. If you order your panino con il lampredotto "wet," the bread will be dipped in simmering broth just before the sandwich is assembled. Sometimes, the sandwich will come with a flavorful sauce that can be mild or spicy. The combination of the slightly chewy texture from the tripe and the crusty bread is truly a match made in heaven.

These sandwiches are often sold at small stands that offer not just the panino con il lampredotto but also a variety of other tripe dishes. If you love richly textured sandwiches packed with flavor, there's a good chance you'll love what this sandwich has to offer.

2. 5 e 5

Another Tuscan classic is the 5 e 5, which hails from the coastal city of Livorno, sitting right on Italy's western coast. This veggie-forward sandwich is bound to be a hit amongst those who are looking for a meat-free alternative (not always an easy task in some parts of Italy). The 5 e 5 is made with pane francese, a type of bread that has a flavor similar to a ciabatta but that looks more like a baguette. 

Between the pieces of bread rests torta de ceci, a thin pancake made out of chickpeas. The torta de ceci is flavored with olive oil and salt, which provides the perfect base for the other ingredients piled on top, like grilled or pickled eggplants, chili, and garlic. A sprinkle of salt and pepper on top finishes it all off. We love this sandwich because it's seemingly super simple, but when all of the different components come together — the chewy bread, the crunchy chickpea pancake, the flavorful pickled eggplant — it's an undoubtedly sophisticated snack.

3. Panuozzo di Gragnano

Have you ever craved a pizza in sandwich form? If so, look no further than the panuozzo di Gragnano, which hails from the Italian region of Campania, in a city called — you guessed it — Gragnano. Yes, it's actually made with real pizza dough. Instead of being formed into the shape of a pizza, though, it's stretched into a large piece of bread.

There really isn't one way to make panuozzo di Gragnano, since it can be filled with a wide variety of ingredients. The original version of this sandwich, which was reportedly created in the 1980s at Pizzeria Mascolo, contained pancetta and mozzarella (preferably bufala), but you can swap the pancetta for prosciutto or add vegetables like mushrooms and greens. The result is a meaty, melty mess that rivals the best pizza you've ever tasted. You may not be able to find this sandwich everywhere, but if you ever get the chance to try it, it's an opportunity you can't turn down.

4. Puccia

If a massive panuozzo di Gragnano sounds too heavy for you, you may want to try puccia instead. This sandwich, which was born in Salento, also utilizes a pizza crust-like bread. The best part is, there are not necessarily any set ingredients that have to be stacked on top of the bread, though there are some common themes. 

Often, the sandwich will come with stacks of Apulian meats like soppressata and salami. A few cubes of cheese will typically accompany the meat, and vegetables finish it all off. The crisp crunch of lettuce, the bold sharpness of onion, and the chewy sweetness of sun-dried tomatoes are common additions to the pizza-like sandwich. Whether you're looking for a quick lunch or an easy dinner you can enjoy while sitting on the beach under an umbrella, the puccia is an undeniably tasty choice (and one that's probably a lot easier to eat when you're on the beach than a pizza is).

5. Cuzzetiello

If you're craving a sandwich but are feeling especially hungry, you need something hearty and filling between two pieces of bread, and the cuzzetiello will give you exactly that. It's a Neapolitan sandwich that's usually eaten for lunch and made using a variety of leftover ingredients. Typically, the sandwich contains ragu, sausage or meatballs, and ragu. It can also house mushrooms, spinach, and sweet peppers. All of these ingredients are piled on top of thick, fluffy bread.

Don't eat meat? No problem. These days, it's getting easier and easier to find meat-free versions of this classic while you're roaming the streets of Naples (or you can even try to make one at home). Take a break from all the pizza you're eating and give this sandwich a try to get a different taste of what the legendary food city has to offer.

6. Panino

Few things in this life are as delightful as cured meat, which is why, in our opinion, it deserves to take center stage in whatever dish it's served in. That's certainly the case with the panino, which gives cured meats like prosciutto and mortadella a chance to shine. It's a simple sandwich, but when you're using high-quality ingredients, you don't need to cover up their flavors much. 

A panino can just be meat piled in between two slices of bread (which can vary depending on where you get it). However, sometimes, it's paired with other ingredients, like fresh cheese, arugula, or tomato. The more stacked version may make for a better meal, but we love the simplicity of just the meat on its own. Order your panino with prosciutto if you like fatty, thinly sliced meat on your sandwich, or opt for the mortadella if you're looking for a silkier texture. You can find this sandwich in grocery stores, casual cafe counters, and stands throughout Italy.

7. Piadina Romagnola

Perhaps you're looking for a sandwich that's a little less bread-forward than some of the dishes we've already discussed. In that case, you may want to try to find yourself a piadina Romagnola. These sandwiches are made with thin slices of freshly cooked dough and provide some structure (and sometimes, a slight crispiness) to the sandwich but don't overwhelm the other flavors in a sea of carbs.

This allows the other ingredients in the sandwich to shine. There's not necessarily a set combo of ingredients that has to be included in a piadina, but common fillings include a variety of cured meats, soft cheese, vegetables, honey, jam, and Nutella. The result is a filling sandwich that makes for an ideal lunch.

Whatever you get in your piadina, you'll want to make sure you don't take too long to eat it — these sandwiches are at their best when they're fresh, as the bread is made on a griddle right before it's served.

8. Tramezzino

If you've ever seen sandwiches made with soft white bread cut into perfect triangles conspicuously lacking crust in Italy, you've probably come across tramezzini, perfectly portioned sandwiches that are ideal for quick lunches and tasty aperitivos or snacks. The moist, soft white bread used for these sandwiches is called pancarré, and it's the main factor that makes a sandwich a tramezzino, but the sandwich can be filled with an array of different fillings.

The Venetian version of tramezzino is more overstuffed than most, with popular fillings such as tuna, boiled eggs, mortadella, ham, and olives. There is always a generous amount of mayo to provide a layer of fatty flavor for the other ingredients. They tend to be rather inexpensive, which is ideal if you're trying to eat on a budget. You'll be able to find tramezzini at most bars in Venice, so grab a drink and enjoy a simple but delicious lunch.

9. Pane e panelle

You'll have to travel to Sicily if you want to try pane e panelle in its birthplace — and if you ask us, that's definitely a trip worth taking. It all starts with the filling, which consists of stacks of chickpea fritters. These fritters are made with chickpea flour and then fried to crispy perfection after being cut into a rectangular shape. Then, those fritters are placed onto the bread (typically a type of sesame-crusted Sicilian bread known as mafalda) to create a crispy, fried sandwich that's somehow both filling and relatively light. The airiness of the bread and the crisp of the panelle makes this a combo we can't help but love.

This sandwich is a classic street food that can be eaten as either a snack or a meal. Unlike most of the other sandwiches on this list, pane e panelle doesn't contain any animal products, making it suitable for vegetarians and (sometimes) vegans.

10. Mozzarella in carrozza

We love a fresh sandwich packed to the brim with an array of bright, colorful vegetables. Sometimes, though, you just want something fried, and mozzarella in carrozza definitely delivers on that front. As you probably guessed, this sandwich is stuffed with mozzarella, which is sandwiched between two slices of crustless bread (which tends to be stale). The result is a grilled cheese sandwich sort of situation but much, much better, mostly because you get a crispy sort of crust around the entire sandwich. Sometimes, the mozzarella is the only filling inside the sandwich, but our favorite version of the dish also contains small salty anchovies, which cut through all of that fat to offer a pungent note to the bite.

This sandwich is eaten all over Italy, but it's especially popular in Campania. Not only is it delicious and relatively easy to make, but it's also a great way to use up that stale bread you would have otherwise just thrown in the bin.

11. Pane con la milza

Offal, or organ meats, shine in the pane con la milza. This Sicilian sandwich is filled with boiled meat from lungs, spleen, and the trachea. These chopped organs are cooked in the fat of the animal, yielding a buttery, deeply flavorful layer of meat. The meat is then piled onto a sesame bun called vastella. Cheese like ricotta will often be added to the dish to provide even more of that creamy richness.

This sandwich was reportedly first prepared during the Middle Ages by Jews who worked in Palermo, the capital of Sicily, as butchers. They wanted to utilize the offal meat, so they found this ingenious way of creating the perfect sandwich meat. It's a sandwich that's traditionally eaten during feasts, particularly the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, and it can even be enjoyed first thing in the morning for a hearty, filling breakfast. If you can manage to get your hands on offal meat, perhaps at a local butcher's shop, it's even possible to make this sandwich at home. Otherwise, you'll have to head to a Sicilian cheese shop to snag this sandwich.

12. Porchetta di Ariccia sandwich

There are few sandwiches more decadent than those made from porchetta de Ariccia, made by roasting an entire pig on a spit. It's the kind of dish that's not especially easy to make at home, so you may have to head to Ariccia, located in Rome, to get a taste. The pig is first deboned and then seasoned simply with a rub that includes salt, pepper, garlic, and rosemary, which lends the pork a savory, floral scent. They roll it into the shape of a log and then tie it before roasting it over a fire. This cooking method results in a crispy crust and a succulent interior that drips with juices when you take a bite.

Sometimes, porchetta de Ariccia is served with potatoes, but often, you'll find it stuffed in between two slices of bread to make a sandwich. Because the meat itself is so incredibly flavorful, this sandwich doesn't need a ton of other flavors to shine.

13. Muffuletta

The muffuletta may be one of the best-known Italian sandwiches in the U.S., despite the fact that it wasn't actually created in Italy. Instead, this dish was invented in New Orleans, where Italian immigrants harnessed the flavors of their homeland while utilizing the ingredients available in the U.S. South at the time. This sandwich is no joke — it's stacked so high with deli meats like salami and mortadella that it can sometimes be a challenge just to pick up. Often, Italian cheeses like provolone and mozzarella add a creamy kick to the fatty, decadent meats.

This sandwich isn't without its fair share of freshness, though. It often contains greens, like lettuce, but the star of the show is the olive salad that's made with, of course, olives but also giardiniera (which are pickled veggies) along with capers, shallots, and sometimes, pepperoncini. All of these very intense flavors come together to create the ideal accompaniment to the deeply flavorful ingredients that make up the rest of the sandwich. You can find muffulettas all over the United States these days, but if you want to get your hands on one of the best, you'll want to make your way to New Orleans.