Anywho, we've been home for about 24 hours now and I'm just starting to feel my food baby begin to recede. The Italians do not mess around when it comes to food and drink. Salami is a snack. Pasta is a appetizer, and drinking at lunch is encouraged. Gelato is a daily occurrence. Vegetables? Didn't see one. At least you walk everywhere there. And its quite hilly in many areas, thank goodness. I think I managed to burn off at least a gelato and a shot (or three) of limoncello each day. Too bad gelato and copious amounts of limoncello were just the tip of the iceberg.
We actually did do more than just eat and drink. At least I hope we did....let me think. Yes! There were a couple of things I can remember doing that didn't involve food and booze. At least two.
We arrived in Florence and spent 2 days in an awesome river-front hotel with amazing views (including views of the famous Duomo that you could see from our bed). We took a walking food tour through the city where the guide took us to all the "insider" places that the locals frequent and we ate and drank our way through Florence from a non-touristy point of view. We sampled pastries, delicious beef, 5 kinds of gelato combinations, numerous local wines, cheese, 25 year old balsamic vinegar, truffle honey, the works. It was worth every penny!
From Florence, we headed to Orvieto, a small city in Tuscany. We stayed at a small bed and breakfast which is part of the growing Agritourism business in Italy. It is owned by a jolly fellow named Giampiero, who is the best host in the entire world. He even drove us into town one day when we wanted to go exploring (at breakneck speed around hairpin turns, no less). Every night, all of the hotel guests gathered in the dining room and ate a 5-course dinner, family style. They served some amazing dishes....fresh fig and prosciutto on foccacia, pasta with fresh truffles, roasted sausages, various kinds of bruschetta, apple cake, and copious amounts of organic wine. Oh, and unlimited limoncello and grappa. Danger.
After Tuscany, it was off to Positano, a town on the Amalfi Coast. I seriously could have stayed there forever...I did not want to leave. The town is built into the mountainside, which makes for breathtaking views, and a rare chance for at least some semblance of exercise. Our hotel was about halfway up the mountain, so if you wanted to go anywhere, that was great. Until it was time to go home, which meant that you either climbed 300 stairs, or walked 45 minutes through town and around a winding road, all uphill. Doing this made me feel better, but I'm pretty sure it never really put a dent in the calories we were consuming. Thus, the 10 pound food baby.
During our time on the coast, we traveled to Ravello, another small coastal town. It is home to Mamma Agata Cooking School, and honestly, there are no words to describe how amazing it was. I'll try to do it justice in tomorrow's post, but honestly, you just have to go. Its not easy to get to, and Lord knows it ain't cheap, but it was well worth it. It was my favorite day of the trip, and that's saying quite a bit since, well, what's NOT a good day when you're in Italy?
Anyway, after Positano, we headed to Rome. And...I know this is probably blasphemy to a lot of people, but I was underwhelmed. Don't get me wrong...it was beautiful and has a ton of history, but I found it to be crowded and impersonal and just didn't feel like Italy to me. There were SO MANY TOURISTS. I guess I just didn't find it to be as unique and authentic as the other places we visited. Maybe it was because it was last and we were tired, but I wasn't wowed. We did have a wonderful meal, though, which added pounds 9 and 10 to round out the food baby. So at least there's that.
It was a wonderful trip...a trip of a lifetime for sure. I'm happy to be back, though. I missed Lola and my comfy little home.
Here are some of my favorite photos from the trip...they certainly don't do the country justice, but we tried. And its actually more than 10. Sorry!