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

Italia

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!

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Onwards to Firenze!

After a few days in Rome we managed to secure a hotel in Florence (“Firenze”).  This was not an easy feat, as it was Holy Week and everyone and their mother was flocking to Italy’s famous cities.  But we found a cheap room and made it to the Trenitalia station bright and early, despite staying up waaaaay too late drinking and chitchatting the night before.  Hey, you only live once!

On to Tuscany (Toscano). Due to our pathetic condition, we didn’t get to enjoy the scenery on the train ride as much as we’d  hoped.  By the time we got to Florence it was cold and raining (these SoCal kids are NOT used to that!) and we were desperate for food and a nap.  Several pizzas and several hours later, we were back in shape and ready to go look around the slightly wet city. Florence had a lot more varied food options than Rome did, strangely.  We stuck to Italian food though; it was just too good!  Florence was much smaller and easier to walk around than Rome, but still packed with gorgeous architecture and history!

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Basilica di Santa Maria Novella

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The (fake) David, by Michelangelo, in the Palazzo Vecchio.  The real one was is inside the Academia Museum (Academia di Belle Arti di Firenze), but tickets sell out months in advance and we didn’t think that far ahead.

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Perseus killing Medusa.

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Battling the Minotaur.

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Ponte Vecchio, super old bridge covered in jewelry shops.

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Stunning view over Florence from Piazzale Michelangelo.

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Santa Croce

Tomorrow we’ll get to Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, one of the most famous churches in the world, and climbing it’s beautiful dome!

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