The more common spices used in authentic Italian cooking include oregano, parsley, bay leaves, hot pepper, basil, rosemary, thyme and sage. In most cases, Italian cooks prefer to grow their own cooking herbs or purchase them fresh from local markets.
Italian cooks often use rosemary to flavor fish, seafood, poultry and lamb. They also include it in focaccia and several vegetable dishes. They also typically use sage with poultry, but include it with many meat dishes, including those featuring sausage. Sage is known for offering a distinctive Italian flavor to bean dishes, most notably Tuscan white bean soups.
Thyme complements tomatoes well, which is why it is frequently used in Italian dishes tomatoes play a large role. Cooks add it to marinades and stuffings and use it to season many types of meat.
Bay leaves are often found in Italian soups, stews and broths. Cooks use it to season grilled meats and roasted poultry. Generally, cooks use one bay leaf per dish, but in the case of large batches of soup, for instance, they may use two or three. Oregano is added to pizza and Sicilian and southern Italian pasta dishes. Sicilian and southern Italian cooks also use the spice with grilled fish and in marinara sauce.