Dolce, per favore, molte grazie!

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.

Spaghetti pomodoro

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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).
  6. 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”).
Giada knows what’s up

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.

Confession: this was a daily occurrence.

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,
Sherri

Advertisements

How not to spend an hour in Florence.

You know how to make God laugh? Tell her/him your plans. This is one of the best scenes in Evan Almighty. Plus Morgan Freeman plays a very dapper God, don’t you agree?

Photo courtesy of https://www.imdb.com.

I love making and executing a well thought plan. It’s a little neurotic, but not quite to the point where I’m seeking meds (ask me next week though). When the trip I had been dreaming of for years changed with take-off in less than 2 weeks, I scrambled. Luckily, the major components fell into place, such as, where to sleep for example. But the rest? Ah, the rest was figured out on the fly.

Not my favorite way to operate.

I was completely out of my comfort zone. Not only was I in a foreign country, I didn’t speak the language, and I didn’t really have a plan. And the ones I kind of had, did not exactly work out.

There are so many stories of adventures, left turns, missed trains and the like. I’m not sure what value it would hold for you, my sweet reader, but I know what it holds for me.

Lots and lots of lessons about letting go.

Control is just an illusion anyway, like holding onto running water.

Some of the most beautiful moments of this trip were totally unplanned. Some of the most frustrating moments of this trip taught me the biggest lessons.

Missing the Uffizi Gallery was not something I planned at all. In fact I spent money so that I would NOT miss this. But here’s the story, which now is funny, but at the time was most assuredly not.

Photo courtesy of Trip Advisor

We left Riomaggiore a little later than expected. I naively thought that we could get to Florence in just a couple of hours. We had pre-purchased tickets to the Uffize online for a 3:45pm entrance. By the time we made our 4th transfer of the day, we knew it would be close.

If we could just get to Florence, check in to our hotel, dump our luggage, we might just make it. Also, it was unbelievably hot and we had our share of cars lacking air conditioning. A shower was calling, but would risk doing without one if necessary.

Lesson #1. Pay attention to the train schedules, stops and maps.

The train came to a stop, but we did not see any signs. So we waited patiently for the train to resume. People got off, and more got on. The cleaning crew actually passed through with a cute little vacuum. After 30 minutes of sitting still, we came to accept that we were going to miss the museum.

Then much to our horror, the train began moving. Backwards.

We were going back – away from the city center. You know, the stop where we were supposed to have gotten off. And could have, like 30 minutes ago.

We ended up traveling back, getting off, going back around on the next train, and kicking ourselves the entire way. Had we realized where we were, we probably could have made it.

Lesson #2. Give yourself plenty of time to arrive.

The entrance lines for these major attractions are excruciatingly long, and there were no other available times to purchase online. Uffizi, you’ll have to wait until next time.

Um, no. Just no.

There were several times where Lesson #2 came into play. We learned as we went along. And isn’t that the hope? Not to avoid failure entirely, but to learn, and then perhaps we won’t have to repeat it.

Stay tuned for more lessons from Italy. Thanks for reading!
Sherri