I have always found a deep connection between food and art. Both are forms of expression so visceral in the reactions they create that it seems no wonder they often reinforce one another so symbiotically.
A trip to Italy, known across the globe for its passionate love affair with food and art, has been a dream of mine for many years. Finally, this summer, my boyfriend and I made the trip and filled our 11 days there with an overwhelming amount of food experiences, combined with trips to some of history's most iconic structures.
I can't possibly do justice to all the special moments we had throughout our stays in Rome, Tuscany, Florence and Positano. I have thus decided to organize our trip into three posts - this first one concerns the highlights in the cities of Rome and Florence.
After a tumultuous trip to Rome, one which ended up having us redirected through Amsterdam for the better part of a day (no complaints there!) we made it to Rome in the evening and headed straight to the Trastevere neighborhood. Recommended to me by many dear friends, this is the place to go for fun nights full of energy and Italian flare. Our first bites were at a small spot called Il Ciak, serving Romana and Toscana food. We enjoyed classic antipasti like their Caprese salad with bufala mozzarella and juicy sweet tomatoes which alone almost brought me to tears and Tuscan proscuitto shaved at a table right behind ours. We also enjoyed our first pasta dish - fresh noodles with wild boar. All paired off with a bottle of Nero d'Avolo and I knew we had arrived.
With so many spots to choose from, it is a huge testament when you happen upon a couple you simply cannot resist returning to. For us, this was Salotto 42 for apperitivo or late night cocktails in Piazza St. Pietro, and Verso Sera, just off of Campei di fiori.
Salotto 42, highly recommended by my Italian friends who know my affinity for craft cocktails, is the kind of cocktail bar where fun things always happen. Any of their drinks are exquisitely fashioned with Italian twists and style. Our top fave was their Moscow Tea Mule and their Spritz 42, Aperol, ginger beer and bitters.
Verso Sera was the quintessential Italian dinner everyone dreams of experiencing. Off a beaten path in a lesser frequented square (Piazza del Bisione), it is tiny, with wine bottles lining the walls. Everything we had there was sublime. Cacio e pepe, fiori zuca fritti (fried zucchini flowers stuffed iwth anchovies and mozarella) and the wine! Oh the wine...do yourselves a favor and order their vini del casa, white or red. 7 euro for a half liter. You're welcome.
There is never enough time in Rome, but alas, we had to move on. Florence (firenze) is very different and a couple of days is enough to get a good feel and handle on this walk-able city. Must-dos are a visit to the Duomo and the Boboli gardens..and challenging yourself to find a 'secret bakery' where wafts of freshly baking goodies await you.
My favorite moment, apart from beholding Michelangelo's 'David', was the Mercato Centrale. Stocked full of Italian vendors, go here to pick up your picnic needs for your stroll through the Boboli Gardens.
It feels incredible to look back upon such a short number of days and the amazing things we experienced in these two cities. Italy is a pocket of beauty, brimming with passion, pride and a ceaseless energy.
I could have written a book on just these two cities, but do look forward to sharing our moments at the vineyards in Tuscany and on the beaches and islands of Positano and Capri.
**Special thanks to Max and his incredible photo skills for some of these amazing photos.