Of course, a primary interest one has when traveling in Italy is the FOOD. I don’t know why, but it’s magical and delightful and didn’t cause a single pound of weight gain.
We knew we were in for a fabulous culinary experience when our meal at the airport was delicious. For real.
Our first meal in Italy – 2 glasses of wine, 2 glasses of still water, 2 pasta dishes, total of €38 or about $43. Not bad at all. I’ve paid over $30 for nachos and a beer at US Airports. Also, did I mention this was FABULOUS?
Each venue had its own flair, but overall I observed the following themes while feeding my face in Italy:
- No one is in a hurry around meal time. If you think you’ll go to Italy and squeeze in a quick lunch between this tour and that site, think again. Dining is ceremonious.
- When you ask for water, be ready with your preference of sparkling or still, as both are available. Kind of like sweet or unsweet tea in the South.
- Trust your instincts. I have a friend who visits regularly and gave us a personal recommendation for dinner. When the staff greeted us with annoyance and stress, we decided to go elsewhere. Your experience is important, and reviews are subjective.
- The food is so delicious, you are actually glad about #1. You don’t want to gulp it down, trust me. You’ll want to slowly savor every single bite.
- Save a piece of bread to absorb the remaining sauce. The actual name for this is Fare la Scarpetta, and it made us feel less touristy. It’s just wrong to leave it on the plate, and I wasn’t sure if licking it clean was acceptable (though I was tempted more than once).
- Dessert is necessary. We enjoyed a caramel panna cotta at La Lampara in Riomaggiore that was basically a sexual experience (“I feel like I should be naked while I’m eating this”).
Our favorite pasta was at Casa del Vin Santo in Florence. The Penne Gamberi was quite possibly the best food I’ve ever put in my mouth. Sadly, there are no actual photos of this, but the memory will live forever.
The most memorable meal and hospitality we received was at the Torcibrencoli Vineyard (it deserves its very own post – stay tuned). Raimondo, the owner of the vineyard, shared his favorite pizza place with us, and he was absolutely right. After walking past 37 other pizzerias, dinner at Berbere on San Frediano was incredible! Their menu was impressive, as they are fanatical about locally and organically sourcing all of their ingredients. It’s quite likely that most of the Italian establishments share this practice, but someone at Berbere knows a thing or two about marketing.
My suspicion? All of the air and soil is infused with such love, that pure divinity is the obvious result. The vegetables and herbs and olive oil and grapes and all things landing on a plate and in a glass were produced with love. Not stress, not rushing, just an enjoyable satisfaction that was clearly ordained from above by the angels themselves.
Thanks for reading, until next time,