Having spent the last few weeks in Italy on a last minute decision to abandon all my US responsibilities, there was much experienced, learned, tolerated, and enjoyed. It was not the romantic last minute vacation that everyone seems to expect of us young, single, thirty-somethings...although we ate great food, we walked what seemed like10 miles a day, we ate more great food, and we walked some more. While I am happy to feel the clean fluffy carpet once again beneath my toes in my quiet apartment here in downtown Cleveland, I miss some of the grittiness and the humanity that Italy imparts.
There is no way to ignore the expressions of human life which reverberate throughout Italy, those which are so cleansed, starched and even looked down upon here in America. While there is the corner baker, and butcher that in Italy you grow to know quiet well (even in the biggest cities)... here in America, we shop at Costco, and Safeway- and we stick to ourselves. In Italy there is the evening passeggiata, when the streets fill with people, shopping, walking, and enjoying the evening after their day of work. Here in America, after work people are rushing home to have those last few hours of the day to themselves, before they have to start all over again so early the next day. On a 95 degree day in Rome, Italy, business men show small sweat marks through in their designer dress shirts as they glide along the sidewalks at high noon to the nearest bar for a bite to eat. After all, energy is expensive and it is just a little sweat...while in America, we blast our air conditioners so that we need to wear sweaters to the office...being hot is gross. This same Italian embrace of human life is of course reflected in Italian food and cooking. It is simple, but yet overwhelmingly fresh and flavorful.
At the amazing Artevita B&B on the Oltrarno side of Florence, Italy, with the help of our BnB owner, Leonardo, we were able to sample many of the neighborhood's very authentic (non-touristy) trattorias, rotisseries, and of course pizzerias. Two of our all time favorite dishes across the trip were the pollo arrosto con patate (roasted chicken with potatoes),
(which we had a few times)
and the fiore di zucca fritte (fried squash blossoms). These were also stuffed with warm ricotta cheese and anchovies, so that you get that rich salty filling with every crispy bite.
While over our many 95 degree days, I became very attached to the Caprese salad with my absolute favorite, Buffalo-milk mozzarella, and fresh super flavorful tomatoes,
I am actually most missing the perfectly foamy morning espresso
Brian actually attempted filling his morning cornetto with prosciutto and Nutella...He may actually have an idea there.
After a long day climbing to the top of the Piazzale Michelangelo, and vising the Boboli Gardens ( still 95 degrees and no shade). It was time for a little taste of Napoli in Florence. We stopped at the recommended Gusta Pizza, just outside the Pitti Palace. I once again had to order the buffala mozzarella with arugula, while we also shared the margherita. It was even better than it looks.
While Florence was only just one stop on our Italian adventure, it always seems to leave an impression on me, as much as I never think that it will. I am not sure if it is the quaint streets, or the Florentine fashion or just the amazing food (stay tuned for a post on Il Latini) and friendly people..or perhaps a little of it all. For many more recommendations in Florence, feel free to comment.
Buona notte Firenze, A Presto.