The last time I was in Italy, the Pope died on the day I arrived, so it is in the back of my mind that I am bad luck for pontiffs and I don't want to have a repeat of the passing of the pope in 2005. A quick Hail Mary on arrival and I feel ready to take on Italy again! Last time, my Italian travels took me from Rome and south and over to Sicily! This time, I want to get a northern perspective, so I am starting in Rome and heading North!
After almost two fabulous weeks in Morocco - where there were not many opportunities to drink, I feel the need for wine! After a train ride up to Florence (traveling average speeds of 250k per hour!) I arrive into the capital of Tuscany - Firenze - or Florence to western folk. Immediately I know there is something special about this city, and it is love at first night! Checking in after 9pm in any city usually means that you are out of options for food, but not so in Florence! This is the capital of eating, and the show doesn't start until 9pm and open til late late, so I can have my first Italian meal and a glass of chianti! For the first meal, I tuck into fresh bruschetta with red ripe tomatoes, creamy buffalo mozzarella and crunchy bread!
Follow that up with a big bowl of freshly rolled pasta with bacon, and ending it with a cup of gelato! I am in heaven!
I have decided to commit to having a minimum of one gelato per day while in Italy, and it is a commitment I will definitely take seriously! Notice that the only restriction I have placed on myself is that I have at least ONE per day - but it can be more...always with lemon gelato as first choice, and then with another option to mix things up! With all the walking I will be doing, it is going to be an easy commitment to keep!
The next day, I head north to do a tour of the Cinque Terra - a place that I have always adored from afar and longed to visit! We got to visit all 5 villages as part of a day tour, and then I stayed for a couple of nights in a town called Santa Margarita about an hour north of the CT by train. The villages that hug the north Italian coastline are all very similar at first glance - set on hills and painted in very brilliant colours - pinks, oranges, yellow, terra cotta and blues - from any point they look amazing, and what are typically small fishing villages are very tight knit communities who welcome the summer tourists by showering them with fresh seafood, homemade pastas and pizzas made with simple but fresh ingredients! Heaven! It really is a place to stop your brain from working too hard, and slow it down. Nothing is more important than taking things easy here, so I slow my roll and get into the Italian spirit of late lunches and dinners, simple food, wine and gelato.... This could be my happy place?
My chill out on the coast is short lived, as I head back to Florence, and prepare to go hunting for truffles! I basically planned the whole trip around this excursion, so am beyond excited to get into the hunt. In Italy, they use dogs rather than pigs as the dogs don't tend to break up the truffles when the dig them up, and our dog is a setter who has only ever known truffle hunting. For her, it is a game and she is so very happy to show us her talents! She finds us 4 truffles - about 600g in total - probably about 30 euro in value.
The Italian mamma of the house cooks us a feast using these freshly found precious black nuggets, and generously shaves gram after gram into our meal! To top off the day, we head off to a winery in the Chianti region, to sample and enjoy some of the area’s best grape juice! Every day keeps providing g me with amazing experiences, and I am really looking forward to starting my foodie tour from Rome soon!
So, after fare welling Firenze, I train it back to Rome - ready for a new adventure and ready to immerse myself into everything Italian!
Here I go again!