It's hard not to love the food in Italy, a country where everyone from the greatest chefs to the most modest home cook respects the seasons. Many of the best-loved Italian dishes use only a handful of ingredients, from Caprese sala d to spaghetti all puttanesca, yet deliver a real flavour punch thanks to the choicest ingredients.
While some dishes can be emulated at home - everyone has their own signature bolognese recipe these days - others require prime components straight out of Italy to capture their true essence.
One of the best examples is Parma ham, Prosciutto di Parma, a wafer thin delicacy that's entirely free from additives or preservatives.
The prized meat is dependent on a traditional production process of dry-curing passed down from Roman times.
Parma pigs must be specially bred breeds, born and raised by authorised farms in northern Italy.
Their diet is specially regulated and includes whey from Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
The Italians take this kind of stuff very seriously and by law Prosciutto di Parma can only be made in the hills around Parma.
Yet even within this designated area not all hams are equal.
If your ham isn't deemed quality enough to carry the official Ducal Crown certification mark then you may not use the name Parma on your product. Such strict regulation has served the ham well, lending it status as one of the world's finest gourmet treats.
Made from the rear haunches of the pig, which are cured with sea salt, there's nothing else added, only time.
Prized for its sweetness and purity it's the perfect accompaniment to a simple slice of ripe melon, fresh asparagus or goats cheese.
Don't be afraid to cook with it either - these creamy croquettes will be snapped by kids and grown-ups.
Recipes courtesy of www.prosciuttodiparma.com