Mangia Italia!

I’ve never been super into Italian food.  Maybe it’s because I’ve never really found the good stuff!  We CHOWED down in Italy!  Italian food is based on simple, fresh ingredients and exquisite craftsmanship.  Every restaurant worth its salt makes their own pasta and menus change seasonally.  Thank God we walked so much to stave off too much weight gain.

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Breakfast every day was cappuccino and “cornettos”, which are Italian croissants filled with Nutella!!!  Yummers!

Italia

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The antipasto was also amazing!  Here’s some bruschetta and prosciutto with melon before lunch!

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“Suppli” are basically breaded deep-fried risotto balls.  I want to eat these every day for the rest of my life!

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Cured meats, bread with gorgonzola truffle spread, tapenades, and veggies at the Mercate Centrale in Firenze.  Definitely go there for the amazing local food choices!

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The most epic meat and cheese board in the world from La Prosciutteria in Roma.

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Pasta made from scratch is SO MUCH BETTER than dried boxed pasta.  The pasta was really thick and rich!  I tried spinach-ricotta ravioli with garlic sage cream, spaghetti a la pesto, and many more!

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Last but not least, dessert!  Authentic tiramisu is not very sweet with a very strong coffee flavor.  This one was pistachio flavored, hence the green color.

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Gelato was also a daily occurrence.  This one was from Perche No! in Firenze, which I had dreamed of visiting since hearing so much about how good it was from a high school history teacher.  He’s now retired and I half expected to run into him there!  I can’t wait to go back to Italia with Zach someday and try all the goodies again!  Until then, I’m on the hunt for suppli in California!

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To the top of the dome!

Climbing Il Duomo di Firenze on top of Santa Maria del Fiore is a must-do in Italy!  We stuck it out through a three-hour-long line to get our chance.  The good thing about waiting in line with a group is that you can do shifts.  A couple of us would hold the place in line while a couple of us would wander off to explore the Piazza del Duomo, drink cappuccino, go to the bathroom, etc.  It was still a looooooong and slow-moving line!

The humongous and intricate Gothic cathedral was begun in 1296, and the dome was engineered by Brunelleschi.  The church is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  You can climb the dome, climb the belltower, or visit the baptistry.  The views from the top of the dome over Florence are amazing!

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Fresco of “The Last Judgement”

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Florence is beautiful!  I can’t wait to go back someday and see more of Tuscany!

The Holiest Place on Earth?

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Our second day in Roma included the necessary trip to the Vatican City (“Vaticano”).  Since it was Holy Week, we expected it to be thronged with tourists, and it was.  You couldn’t walk five steps without a street vendor trying to hawk you a selfie stick.  Lines were long to go into St. Peter’s Basilica (“Basilica Papale di San Pietro in Vaticano”), but we survived all the waiting and pushing for a chance to go inside the world’s largest and most famous church.  After clearing the ticket booth and two sets of metal detectors, the line of people began filing up a winding staircase inside the Duomo. The church is one of the most famous work’s of Renaissance architecture, designed in large part by Michelangelo.  It wasn’t until we made it to the first balcony that we got to view the magnificent ceiling and cupola.  Believe it or not, this entire ceiling is not paint, but a mosaic!

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After getting up close and personal with the amazing mosaic interior, we continued upwards.  The stairs got steeper and narrower, with the outside walls even tilting in on us.  I’m not normally a claustrophobic person, but the tight spaces and the slowly plodding line made this trek a little nerve-wracking!  I was really glad when we finally got outside at the top!

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The view over the rest of the Vatican and out into Rome was stunning!

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After taking pictures and buying some postcards from the rooftop gift shop, we headed back down 500+ stairs to go inside the cathedral.  So much ornate sculpture and artwork it was overwhelming!

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One could easily spend hours navigating the interior of St. Peter’s but by this time our crowd tolerance was wearing thin.  We headed outside, past the Swiss Guards, and off to a well-deserved lunch!

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