Italian cuisine has developed through centuries of social and political changes, with roots as far back as the 4th century BC. Italian cuisine has its origins in Etruscan, ancient Greek, and ancient Roman cuisines. Significant changes occurred with the discovery of the New World and the introduction of potatoes, tomatoes, bell peppers and maize, now central to the cuisine but not introduced in quantity until the 18th century. The cuisine of Italy is noted for its regional diversity, abundance of difference in taste, and is known to be one of the most popular in the world, with influences abroad.
Pizza and spaghetti, both associated with the Neapolitan traditions of cookery, are especially popular abroad, but the varying geographical conditions of the twenty regions of Italy, together with the strength of local traditions, afford a wide range of dishes.