Italy's first extant recipe book, attributed to Marcus Gavius Apicius, dates, apparently, to the second century of the modern era. Ancient authors mentioned others but only scattered citations have survived. Recipes and documents on related subjects began to appear again in Italy only in the 14th century. Since then, they have issued from the printers in a steadily widening stream. As the recipe books, from the earliest to the most recent, clearly show, the basic characteristic of Italian cuisine, its regional imprint, has changed relatively little. However, attention has shifted from the overly elaborate cooking preferred by aristocrats intent on displaying their wealth to the varied but comparatively simple and wholesome dishes of the less well to do or the out-and-out poor. In all periods, Italian cooks whether amateur or professional have built their culinary edifices on a solid foundation, the intrinsic quality of the food products. As a result, the Italian or Mediterranean diet is among the world's tastiest, most wholesome and most varied. The recipes presented here provide only a limited but extremely intriguing introduction to a vast and tantalizing world of authentic flavours and aromas.