When buying Italian products, you gotta look out for red n’ yellow starburst labels with the letters “DOP”.

It’s a small detail that can make *all* the difference between taking home legit Italian foods and, well, copycat watered-down versions.

Italy produces some of the highest amount of packaged foods –– all that yummy cheese! –– but sadly, almost 2 out of 3 Italian-inspired goods on the international market aren’t really from Italy.

If you dig Italian food, read on so you can be in the know about buying only the good Italian stuff.

So –– what does DOP mean, anyway?

DOP stands for Denominazione di Origine Protetta, AKA protected designation of origin. 

Basically, it’s the EU’s trademark on food whose unique features totally depend on the environment where they’re produced.

Think balsamic vinegar from Modena and basil pesto from Genoa –– both are products that were made by locals, using local ingredients.

Literally everything, from the people involved to the packaging are bound to tons of strict regulations to actually receive DOP designation.

And it’s not always easy! For example, olive oil that’s made in its local region that doesn’t use traditional methods might not get DOP certification.

DOP certified shelves of antipasto

Gotcha. But why does consuming DOP food really matter?

Let’s put it this way: you’re hosting an Italian-themed dinner party. You’ve gone out of your way to look up traditional recipes, head to the store and feeling *so* ready to bring it.

Do you wanna go home with parmigiano reggiano that’s authentically Italian… Or that was manufactured in California?

If it doesn’t have a DOP label –– it’s a different scene. 

It’s not to say that that is always the easiest option to buy DOP (in fact, it’s likely that non-DOP foods are probably cheaper) for everyone, but we think it’s interesting to highlight how much work goes into certifying those goods.

Some DOP-labelled-goodies that are great to try:

And if you’re in Italy, our guides can show you the best food in Florence, Cinque Terre and Rome when you book a day tour in Italy –– if you’re in the market for remember-forever foodie moments.

DOP certified olive oil and tomatoes

DOP certified seasonings

Any other Italian food abbreviations I should know about?

If you’re a wine lover, yes!

There’s a few more three-letter labels to keep in mind, if you’re committing to authentic Italian products all the way.

And if a product has been DOC-approved for at least 10 years… 

It gets one more letter added on –– to make it DOCG, meaning controlled and guaranteed destination of origin. Wines that have a DOCG label are known for being incredibly reputable and are likely a good pick.

Great DOCG wines to try when you wanna treat yourself:


DOP certified vinegar and gelato

DOP certified wine

Want to pair DOP foods with good company?

Here are our favorite DOP picks, and how we can help you enjoy them if you’re visiting Italy.


DOP certified Pesto

DOP certified Peperoni


So –– want our guides to show you the best food in Florence, Cinque Terre or Rome?

Book a day tour here!

You’ll be able to choose from a handful of our curated experiences and experience these cities (and the restaurants) the way you would with a friend.

Italy is infinitely better when you’ve got our tour team showing you the way.

Got questions about our day tours or about our 7-10 night journeys? Leave a comment below!

DOP products can be found on Florence tours and cinque terre tours

Photos 2, 5, 11 by Leela Cyd

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