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From the early Middle Ages to the late 1800s, Italy consisted of separate republics, each with different culinary customs. These varying cooking practices, which were passed down from generation to generation, contributed to the diversity of Italian cuisine. Italy’s neighboring countries also contributed to differences in the country’s cuisine.

Many changes took place after World War II when the economy flourished and farming was modernized. Various culinary practices throughout the country’s regions were combined after people started migrating from the countryside to the cities. Many of the southern Italians traveled to the north, introducing pizza to northern Italians. Those from the north introduced risotto (a rice dish) and polenta (a cornmeal dish) to the south.