I’m writing this with less than a week left in Italy. It is hard to believe. I came here three years ago thinking the time would seem so long but, as I’m staring at the very end of this tunnel, I realize the time has flown. Now, I find myself reminiscing. Sure, there were some bad times but there were a lot more good times – many of which happen to center around food and wine. I think that may have something to do with the fact that I happen to love both.
So take a moment to relish in some of those experiences with me as I recount what will hopefully linger as great memories for years to come and possibly encourage you to plan a trip to Bella Italia yourself:
1. I’ll start with the obvious….I love that Italians make such good wine!
2. I love that the food of Italy is made up of ingredients that are high in quality and low in quantity.
3. I love that Italians are adamant that certain shaped pasta must be eaten with specific sauces.
4. I love that the biggest wineries down to the smallest wineries in this country usually are experienced with your own personal tour guide….followed by a great tasting.
5. I love that in my little town of Monte di Procida there is Cantine del Mare Winery and La Taverna dei Sapori Ristorante. Both of which have wonderful owners who opened up their doors and hearts to me.
6. I love that what we Americans consider “fru-fru” gourmet produce, and pay high dollar for, grows wild alongside the road in abundance here – plants like fennel, arugula, asparagus, chamomile, etc.
7. I love that I happened to be placed in the region that is famous the world over for Mozzarella di Bufala and that I can buy it at a store in my town where they greet me kindly by name as they place a bag of freshly made cheese in my hand.
8. I love that I have become infatuated with many new wines…. and rediscovered my appreciation for white wines.
9. I love that I can experience several micro-climates in one day from merely looking out the wall of windows in my house….not to mention the breath-taking sunrises and sunsets.
10. I love that I have eaten all kinds of crazy foods just so I wouldn’t offend the chef. My palate has truly been widened.
11. I love that a friend of mine didn’t finish his food and the chef actually sent someone out to our table to see why.
12. I love that each region’s food and wine is so different from the next and rarely cross paths.
13. I love that NO one over-cooks the pasta.
14. I love that Italians really do make the best caffe’ (espresso) – and I don’t even care for coffee all that much.
15. I love that wine is such a part of the Italians lifestyle that the children grow up being able to explain the vineyards and wine making process as if they were born with it just rolling off their tongues.
16. I love the tomatoes of Campania – I am already consoling myself knowing I will not be able to enjoy them on a regular basis.
17. I love that even the highway rest stops have really good Italian sandwiches made with items like prosciutto, mozzarella, tomatoes, basil, etc.
18. I love that I can buy lemons as big as my head from a man selling them out of the back of his truck on the Amalfi Coast.
19. I love that in restaurants sparkling water cost about 1/8 of what it costs in America….and so does some of the wine.
20. I love that there are huge sugar doughnuts here known as Graffa…something so irresistible yet so necessary to avoid.
21. I love that I can get authentic pizza delivered to my door in 10 minutes by a kid on a Vespa for about 10 bucks.
22. And finally, perhaps most importantly, I love that Italians, no matter how rich or poor, really do embrace their motto of living “La Dolce Vita.”