My Rome food walking tour: how to experience Roman food like a local

Walking Rome Food Tour - Italina "pasticcini"

Amazing off the beaten path Rome food walking tour in Testaccio, one of Rome most food rich neighborhoods, with Savor Italy Tours. How it went and why I strongly suggest it.

As an Italy travel blogger, I recently got in touch with the owner of Savor Italy tours.  She invited me to join their Rome food walking tour so that I could write about it.

Savor Italy tour have been providing food tours, wine tours, pizza tours and cooking classes for the last years in Rome and in Venice. They are a very well reputed Rome food tour operator, with a top ranking on Tripadvisor, so I happily accepted.

I took their Rome food walking tour last week: this post is about how it went. As a disclaimer, I was invited (so I didn’t pay for the tour). That said, the opinions in this post are 100% mine and haven’t been influenced by anybody.

I must admit that I was a little bit biased when I accepted. After 45 years in Italy, I wondered what else I could learn about Italian food. I also thought that I would taste some pretty common street food, a little bit of “pizza al taglio”, some supplì or arancini, and that would be it.

Well, I was absolutely wrong, and the tour turned out to be really instructive.

I discovered a local neighborhood I didn’t know before, tasted some amazing local delicacies I couldn’t have found on my own, spent a really nice time with my guide… and probably added 1 kg or so to my waistline!

Stay with me to know how it went…

Continue reading “My Rome food walking tour: how to experience Roman food like a local”

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The ultimate guide to Italian Pasta dishes: know what to order by region

Top 25  delicious Italian pasta dishes you should taste, beyond Spaghetti Bolognese,  described by by region with pictures and map

What is the most popular and famous Italian pasta dish? What are the traditional Italian pasta dishes one must absolutely try? What is the name of the traditional pasta dish I want to order?

These are very common questions, and this post is aimed at giving an answer to them, in an easy and funny way.

Buon appetito!

Continue reading “The ultimate guide to Italian Pasta dishes: know what to order by region”

How Italians drink coffee: the ultimate guide

Italian coffee

The ultimate infographic guide about how to order and to drink coffee the way Italians do! Have your coffee like a local…

Coffee is Italian the national drink, and an unmissable daily ritual. Wherever you go in Italy, you can be 100% sure to find a church… and a bar serving coffee!

On average, Italians drink about four coffees a day, usually two at home, one at the bar and one at the office, mainly at three times of the day: breakfast, mid-morning and end of meal / dinner.

Italians are creative people. While Espresso is the main way Italians drink coffee, there are actually many different options to order a coffee in Italy. And, guess what? They are not the ones you will find at Starbucks!

This Infographic will help you choose among the different options. That will be your first step to drink coffee “like a local”.

Italian coffee

But what are the main factors that distinguish an Italian at the bar?

There are five golden rules to follow if you want to drink coffee like a local:

  1. Coffee in Italy has no timetables. It can be ordered at any time (day or night). Inviting someone to drink a coffee is the trigger to most social and networking activities in Italy.
  2. To invite someone to drink a coffee, just say “caffè?”, they will understand, no need to say more
  3. Stand at the counter. An espresso must be express! Because it is prepared quickly and just as quickly should be drunk: standing, at the counter!
  4. In Italy if you say “coffee”, you mean “espresso”! So you would never order “an espresso” but simply “a coffee”. If you want a variant, then you’ll need to specify
  5. You are “allowed” to some variants to your espresso: Long or narrow, spotted hot or cold stained, corrected, Moroccan (look at the infographic for more details).
  6. Cappuccino? Never, never, never after 10 am!!! Cappuccino is only for breakfast, to be eaten with a “cornetto” (in the South) or a “brioche” (in the North)… rigorously standing at the counter!
  7. Be loud! In the rush morning hour, the “barista” will handle an amazing amount of orders at the same time. Don’t expect much care, unless you shout your order with a loud tone and a male expression (if you are a male, of course..)
  8. Get the ticket at the cashier before you order, the barista will ask for it before serving you
  9. Fight to pay for your mate’s coffees. Italian do insist to offer the coffee, so do the same! Just say “faccio io” (I’ll do it) and rush to the cahier before anyone else can do it!

Enjoy your Italian coffee!

Credits to https://nationalpositions.com/ and to https://specialcoffee.it

 

Driving in Italy: the ultimate 15 + 1 things you need to know

The top 15 answers to the most common questions about driving in Italy, to drive safely and make the most out of your Italy driving experience.

Many travelers are concerned about driving in Italy and eventually give up renting a car. This is unfortunate, since the “true” Italy is often found in small villages, rural areas and secluded landscapes.

Is that your case? Then no worries! Here are the answers to the most frequent questions I receive on my blog about driving in Italy, and all the things you should know to drive in Italy.

Continue reading “Driving in Italy: the ultimate 15 + 1 things you need to know”

Romantic Rome: look for romance in Villa d’Este, Tivoli

One of the most romantic things you can do while in Rome is to visit Villa d’Este, in Tivoli. It will be a fantastic escape from chaotic Rome, and you will love its renaissance gardens and fountains. Villa D’Este will definitely be one of your Romantic Rome highligts.

Villa D’Este and its amazing fountains are arguably one of the most romantic day trips from Rome. Strolling in its fresh alleys, admiring the amazing fountains and the beautiful views over the valley, loosing yourself in the lost in time atmosphere will be one of the most enchanting memories of your Italian trip.

While you are there, you could also visit Villa Gregoriana. It’s a nice walk in a deep gorge, with waterfalls everywhere and a tiny round Roman temple overlooking it. Actually you can see this sight on many 18th and 19th paintings, since this has been an inspirational view to legions of famous painters.

Alternatively, you could visit Emperor’s Adrian villa amazing ruins. A Unesco heritage site, and a top romantic visit. Unmissable if you are in Tivoli!

 In case you don’t want to bother organizing your day trip to Tivoli on your own, here is a nice tour that combine Villa d’Este and Villa Adiana

Villa d’Este is a really romantic place during daytime, and it becomes absolutely magic after sunset!

Don’t miss the opportunity of a night visit. Villa d’Este opens to the public at night, from July 4 to September 13, only on riday and Saturday nights, from 8:30 PM to 00:30 AM (this is for 2017, better to check for 2018).

Admission is limited to 2.000 persons, so better to reserve at the following number: 199 766166.

If you are lucky enough to attend the night visit, what about spending the night there? Click here to find the best places to stay in Tivoli


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Delightfullyitaly.com is the insider’s Italy travel guide for independent travelers. Here you will find city guides, travel itineraries, Italian experiences and much more.

If you wish to visit Italy for the first time, or if you already discovered Venice, Rome, Florence, the Amalfi coast, but still want more, delightfullyitaly.com is here to disclose to you Italian Must See as well as Italian hidden treasures.

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Weird Italian food you’re going to love

Chianti-osteria Nerbone 2

Nowhere else in Europe you will find the same variety  of regional recipes you can find in Italy. With a bit of curiosity and, sometimes, courage, you’ll discover much more than just pasta!

Italian incredibly high number of recipes derives from its being separated for centuries into many independent “states”, each one with its peculiar traditions, and from the variety of its territory (and what it could offer to be cooked). There’s also another aspect to consider: Italy was a rather poor country. The need to feed an increasing population with the available resources, united to the unbeatable Italian creativity, has given birth to some real weird, hence delicious, dishes.

In this post I’m presenting a selection of my favorite “weird Italian dishes you are going to love”. Buon appetito!

Continue reading “Weird Italian food you’re going to love”

Most romantic places in Italy, off the beaten path

Most romantic places in Italy_Ravello
Courtesy of Wikipedia

Top romantic places in Italy, arguably the most romantic destination you could think of. Discover Italy most romantic cities and places, with a particular emphasis on off the beaten path destinations, and locate them on the interactive map. Get insider’s suggestions about Italy most romantic hotels.

Saint Valentine day is getting closer, and you still don’t know were to go with your beloved one? Then here is my personal selection of the most romantic destinations in Italy!

Are you thinking of Venice, the Amalfi Cost, Bellagio, Capri, the Cinque Terre? Much too easy! Of course, these are fantastic places, full of romance, atmosphere, history, candle light dinners… and tourists! Yes, because since they are so famous, they easily get crowded (and expensive!). Don’t you think your love deserves destinations off the beaten path, getaways to be discovered in (nearly) solitude, hands in hands, pretending you are there all alone?

If the answer is “Yes!”, then this is the right post for you. And, by the way, you don’t need to wait for Saint Valentine day to visit these destinations, they are fantastic all year round!

Italy most romantic places - Map

 Italy most romantic place #1: Verona, the city of Romeo and Juliet

Well, Verona is not exactly “Off the beaten path”, but it is surely underrated compared to nearby Venice. In fact, ever since Shakespeare wrote Romeo and Juliet drama, Verona has been the portrait of the Italian romantic city (and it surely is!). That’s why I picked it up to start our tour.

Unsurprisingly, in Verona you will find Juliet’s house, complete with her balcony and statue, as well as thousands of love letters tucked into the wall around Valentine’s Day (you can even write one yourself!)

But Verona is much more than that, and its air of romance doesn’t come by association alone. You’ll have plenty of romantic options: enjoying an old fashioned carriage ride, strolling along the river and in the narrow old streets, or relaxing in an outdoor cafe on a renaissance square.

My personal top choices for a romantic walk are Piazza delle Erbe (where you can sit and have an Aperitivo while enjoying the beautiful setting), the old bridge, the Roman theater and, of course, the fantastic views from the belvedere at Giardino Giusti (one of the most notable renaissance gardens in Northern Italy).

By far the most romantic (and, in general, best) accommodation in Verona is the Palazzo Victoria hotel. Palazzo Victoria is located in the very heart of Verona, a few steps away from Juliet Balcony. Everything here is luxury and elegant.

Italy most romantic place #2: Villa d’Este gardens and fountains in Tivoli

Villa d’Este, with its fabulous palace, garden and fountains, is one of the most remarkable Italian Renaissance accomplishments, and, in my view, an incredibly romantic place, especially when visited after sunset. It is located in the small town of Tivoli, 30 km from Rome.

Villa d’Este displays an incredible concentration of fountains, nymphs, grottoes, plays of water, and music (water powered!) and is a unique example of an Italian 16th-century garden. It is rather far from traditional touristic itineraries, and it’s about one/one and a half hours from Rome. For these reasons, it never gets very crowded, and if you go thee during week days, chances are that you will be nearly alone.

During summer time, Villa d’Este is opened also after sunset, and that’s pure magic!

If you spend the night in Tivoli, you should also dedicate some time to visit the fascinating and hyper romantic villa Gregoriana and Villa Adriana.

For a romantic night in Tivoli, book a room at the B&B Al Palazzetto, a beautifully renovated 15th-century building, in the historic centre and easy walking distance form Villa D’Este.

Italy most romantic place #3: Pienza, and the views from the via dell’Amore

Pienza, a Unesco world heritage site, overlooks the Val D’Orcia and is the first example of Renaissance “ideal city”, i.e. a town bult according to architectural criteria of antique classics that would impact directly on the human soul, stimulating spiritual well being.

It’s old walls and buildings are full of atmosphere and are a fantastic romantic destination.

The wonderful walk along the ancient walks has been named “Via dell’Amore” (no need to translate…), and offers fantastic views over the Val d’Orcia.

For your Romantic stay, the relais  Il Chiostro di Pienza is arguably the most atmospheric choice.  It is an ancient Franciscan convent, just in the center of Pienza. It has a  wonderful panoramic terrace with view on the romantic Senese’s hills. You can actually sit on the terrace while sipping a café or a drink  (cheaper than spending the night there, indeed!).

Most romantic places in Italy_Pienza 5

Pienza could be an excellent hub to visit the worldwide renewed Val D’Orcia.

Italy most romantic place #4: the island of Ponza, a hidden jewel in the Mediterranean sea

For sure you know Capri, you may have heard of the islands of Ischia and Elba, but hardly anyone other than Italians goes to Ponza: lukily enough, this tiny group of islands has managed to stay away from mainstream touristic itineraries.

So here it is, your private paradise ready for you to discover, explore and enjoy!

Stuck in time atmosphere, laid back life style, gorgeous natural landscapes, gelati-colored houses, fisherman in bright boats, turquoise water and white limestone cliffs, secret grottos for snorkelling, fantastic uninhabited beaches, incredible sunsets over Palmarola island: everything contributes to make Ponza one of the most amazingly romantic places I stumbled upon in Italy (and elsewhere)!

For your stay, consider the posh Grand Hotel Chiaia di Luna, and its fantastic terrace overlooking Chiaia di Luna cliffs. Even if you don’t sleep there, it’s a perfect place for an Aperitivo or a drink after dinner (god music provided!). Unmissable at nigh, when the full moon lights up the cliffs.

Most romantic places in Italy_Ponza 3_01

Italy most romantic place #5: Ravello, window in the sky of the Amalfi cost

Ravello is a tranquil and tiny medieval town which sits high up on the Amalfi mountains, offering stunning views of the Mediterranean sea.

Richard Wagner was inspired by Ravello….and described it as the closest place from earth to heaven!

Most romantic places in Italy_Ravello 4_01
Courtesy of Wikipedia

Ravello is cosy, sunny, and loaded with notable buildings (such as its 1086 cathedral). Despite its choice position on the Amalfi coast, Ravello manages to retain the aura of an old-fashioned village, and the typical southern Italy laid back atmosphere.

Most romantic places in Italy_Ravello 5_01

In Ravello, the most romantic place of all is the fantastic Villa Cimbrone, a luxury hotel with a beautiful park that can be visited. But the true highlight  are the terraces, and their unbelievable views over the Mediterranean see. Villa Cimbrone is actually used to celebrate wedding parties, and I had the chance to be invited to one of them, some years ago. Indeed, it was a Wow! experience!

Most romantic places in Italy_Ravello 1_01Most romantic places in Italy_Ravello 7_01

The iconic hotel Villa Cimbrone  is by any mean your top destination in Ravello… if you can afford the rates (you can and should visit its gardens, anyways)! A more reasonable suggestion for your stay ? The  Hotel Villa Fraulo ,  to enjoy breathtaking views over the cost from its terrace and a great design and service.

Most romantic places in Italy_Ravello 8_01

 Italy most romantic place #6: Ninfa romantic gardens

The enchanting Ninfa English garden in the Roman countryside was once a small agricultural town founded under the Roman Empire, passed through the ages from Pope Pasquale II in the 12th century to the Colonna family in 1293 until the 14th century, when a devastating war with the neighboring cities brought about the fall of Ninfa and its definitive abandonment.

What you see today was started in 1921 by Gelasio Caetani and his mother Ada Wilbraham, who would bring diverse species back to this garden from her various travels and transform it into one the the most amazing, yet unknown, marvels of central Italy.

Among the various treasures to be found in the gardens are the ruins of a 10th-century church (Santa Maria Maggiore) complete with 12th-century fresco, a picturesque river complete with crystal-clear water and ancient bridges, and a plethora of plants from around the globe, such as red Japanese maples, yucca, yellow begonias, orchids, cherry trees, lavender pathways, Himalayan and Mexican pines and miniature pomegranates.

But what makes Ninfa truly unique and atmospheric is having real roman and medieval ruins dotting a lavish English garden, in an incredibly beautiful and peaceful setting. Not easy to find such a romantic place elsewhere!

Whether you are a botanist, bio-diversity expert or Roman/medieval history buff, these gardens will surely excite the inner dreamer (and lover) in you.

 Italy most romantic place #7: Moena enchanted mountains

Moena lies in the middle of the Dolomites, which are widely regarded as being among the most attractive mountain landscapes in the world.

Their intrinsic beauty derives from a variety of spectacular vertical forms such as pinnacles, spires and towers, with contrasting horizontal surfaces including ledges, crags and plateaux, all of which rise abruptly above extensive talus deposits and more gentle foothills. The bare pale-colored rock surfaces beautifully contrast with the forests and meadows below.

The beauty of the scenery and the majesty of Moena’s panoramas will surely capture Travelers in love with nature.  Some of the rock cliffs here rise more than 1,500 meters and are among the highest limestone walls found anywhere in the world.

Just lie in a meadow (or stand in the snow with a cup of Vin Brulé in your hand) and wait for sunset: the pale grey rocks suddenly turn into unbelievable pink and orange nuances while the sun sets down beyond the peaks. In minutes, the stars will appear in the dark sky, highlighting peaks shape. Believe me, few places look as romantic as the Dolomites at Sunset!

Apart from the gorgeous surrounding, the beautiful village of Moena definitely deserves a visit. It’s a delightful hamlet, known as “la fata delle Dolomiti” (the Dolomite’s fairy).

In the lovely traditional mountain huts, with a hot Stube (local brick stove) to warm the room, you will enjoy delicious local Ladin dishes.

Your romantic choice for Moena  is the lovely Hotel Garden. Everything is great: the views, the traditional tyrolean style rooms, the food and the SPA.

Italy most romantic place #8: Sardinia at its best: Capo Testa hidden coves

Capo Testa is a windy, wild area, located in the north of Sardinia, in the Gallura region. It offers unique, lunar landscapes, and incredible beaches.

Most romantic places in Italy_Capo Testa 3_01

Lapped by translucent blue waters, backed by macchia (scrub land perfumed by wild herbs such as thyme, rosemary and oregano) and framed by Mistral-warped granite outcrops, northern Sardinia beaches are among the finest in the Mediterranean.

 

Here you are far from the posh beach resorts of nearby Costa Smeralda, and you can savor the wild Sardinia nature at its best.

In particular the rock bluffs, carved by wind and water into natural pillars reminiscent of Roman columns, are an impressive and unbelievable sight

A really inspiring accommodation close to capo Testa is the Saltara country house (agriturismo), which provides lovely bungalows around a nice pool.

Enjoy your romantic holiday in one of these Italy most romantic places!


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Delightfullyitaly.com is the insider’s Italy travel guide for independent travelers. Here you will find city guides, travel itineraries, Italian experiences and much more.

If you wish to visit Italy for the first time, or if you already discovered Venice, Rome, Florence, the Amalfi coast, but still want more, delightfullyitaly.com is here to disclose to you Italian Must See as well as Italian hidden treasures.

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Venice Carnival, and five other top Italian Carnival destinations

Discover Italian Top carnival events, beyond worldwide known Carnevale di Venezia.

February in Italy means that just about every city on the Peninsula is invaded with masks, confetti, colors and lights that make for a very exciting and unique atmosphere: it’s Carnival!

In 2015, carnival will take place between January 31st and February 17th (celebrations dates may vary depending on the location): what are you waiting for?

Continue reading “Venice Carnival, and five other top Italian Carnival destinations”

Ten unmissable adventures in Italy

A travel to Italy can offer so many great adventures! Here are the ones that, in my opinion,  should have a place in your bucket list.

Enjoy this week’s photo challenge!

 

Feel the thrill of ancient Christians in Rome’s catacombs

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Find out more in my post: Cycling on history: discover Rome Appian Way and its catacombs

 

Walk the trail from Faraglioni to Natural Arch in Capri

www.delightfullyitaly.com-Capri_Faraglioni walking tour_30

Find out more in my post: Capri: breathtaking Faraglioni and Natural Arch walking tour

 

Descend the 50 meters deep Pozzo di San Patrizio in  Orvieto

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Find out more in my post: The astonishing Orvieto cathedral and the incredible St Patricks’ well

 

Assist to Assisi mystical Stations of the Cross

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Find out more in my post: Mystical Stations of the Cross in Assisi

 

Participate to Venice Carnival and pretend you’re Casanova

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Find out more in my post: Fabulous Venice Carnival

 

Sky on Europe’s largest glacier

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Find out more in my post: Courmayeur’s Vallé Blanche: skiing on the roof of Europe

 

Climb on St Peter’s dome and admire Rome from above

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Find out more in my post: Climbing up St Peter’s Basilica’s dome

 

Spend a night (or more!) in a true Tuscany castle

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Find out more in my post: Sleeping in a Tuscany castle (at a very reasonable cost)

 

Wander in Rome at night

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Find out more in my post: Night walk in Rome

 

Discover (and enjoy) Italy’s unexpected food

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Find out more in my post: Weird Italian food you’re going to love

 

Enjoy your Italian adventures!

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Delightfullyitaly.com: Italy top destinations and travel itineraries, off the beaten path

Delightfullyitaly.com is the blog for all the ones in love with Italian culture, Italian sights, Italian monuments .. and with Italian food! If you wish to visit Italy for the first time, or if you already discovered Venice, Rome, Florence, the Amalfi coast, but still want more, delightfullyitaly.com is here to disclose to you Italian Must See as well as Italian hidden treasures. And if you like what you read, why not follow delightfullyitaly.com and get free updates

Best Christmas Nativity scenes in Italy

Discover the best Nativity scenes (“Presepe”) in Rome and in Naples, and attend the unique live Nativity scene in Greccio

Nativity scenes_Italy

Even though Christmas trees are widespread,  the traditional Italian Christmas decoration is by far the Nativity scenes: il “Presepe”. From December 8, the Feast Day of the Immaculate Conception, through January 6, the  Epiphany, you will find the Presepe literally in any family, church and shop. We could say that Presepe is the quintessence  of Italian Christmas.

The Presepe is a fascinating ancient tradition. It originated in Italy in 1291 when St. Francis of Assisi asked Giovanni Vellita from the village of Greccio to create a manger scene. St Francis held a Christmas Eve mass there, starting  a century old tradition. Over the years, displays became more and more elaborate, well  beyond the manger scene and  the traditional saints and biblical characters. The most elaborated  Presepi include vibrant and lively representations of an entire village or neighborhood, often in  a medieval-renaissance style setting. Complicated lights and water effects are fairly common.

If you are in Rome (or, in general, in southern and central Italy) around Christmas, you shouldn’t miss a Presepi  tour. It could actually be an interesting activity on Christmas day, when most museums are closed.

Nativity scenes_Rome_Map

Every single church will display his own Presepe, but some should definitely be part of your tour. Here are my pics.

St Peter’s nativity

Nativity scenes_Italy_Nativity scene in St Peter's square

Probably the most visited Nativity scene in Rome (of course!), it’s an open air Presepe, right on St Peter’s square, so you can’t miss it. It features life-size figures and last year  was inspired by the Unesco Heritage site “Sassi di Matera”. A Christmas Eve mass is held in St. Peter’s square, usually at 10 pm.

Nativity scenes_Italy_Nativity scene in St Peter's square

Spanish steps nativity

Nativity scenes_Italy_Nativity scene at the Spanish Steps

The second largest Roman open air Presepe is located  right on the Spanish Steps. The nativity scene is set in a typicall old Roman neighborhood (looks like “old Trastevere”!). Funny enough, just down the Spanish steps the restaurant La Rampa offers a very similar setting in its main dining  room! It can be a convenient place for your “Pranzo di Natale” (Christmas lunch).

Santa Maria Maggiore nativity

Nativity scenes_Italy_Nativity scene in Sta Maria Maggiore

This is the oldest known nativity scene. The first example of figurines for nativity scenes started in the late 13th century when Arnolfo di Cambio was commissioned to carve marble nativity figures for the first Rome Jubilee held in 1300. The nativity can be seen in the museum of Santa Maria Maggiore Church.

Other great Presepi to be visited can be found in the churches of Santi Cosma e Damiano, Santa Maria in Trastevere and Santa Maria in Aracoeli.

Nativity scenes_Italy_Nativity scene in St Cosma e Damiano
Santi Cosma e Damiano nativity
Nativity scenes_Italy_Nativity scene in Sta Maria in Trastevere
Santa Maria in Trastevere nativity
Nativity scenes_Italy_Nativity scene in Santa Maria in Aracoeli
Santa Maria in Aracoeli nativity

Worthwhile visiting is also the exhibition “100 Presepi”, which is held in Piazza del Popolo.

By the way, if you during your visit you have the feeling that key characters are missing (including the Divine Infant himself…) don’t get too worried: characters “arrive” based on the biblical sequence, so you will only see Baby Jesus in his manger after the night of December 24, and the Magi after the Epiphany.

After all these tours, if you feel you still didn’t have enough Presepi, there are some great opportunities of touring around, using the hunt for the best nativity scenes as an alibi.

Naples – market of San Gregorio Armeno

Nativity scenes_Italy_San gregorio Armeno market

Naples is the best city to hunt for Presepi. During the 17th and 18th century Naples turned the nativity into an art form. The presepi included the nativity scene but also represented life in Naples at the time. Today many artisans are still dedicated to the craft of creating handmade figures for Presepi.

The street Via San Gregorio Armeno in central Naples is filled with displays and stalls selling Nativity scenes all year. Don’t expect to find “only” an unbelievable variety of biblical figurines and settings. Given the world wide known fantasy of Neapolitan artisans, don’t be surprised to find, among  the traditional characters, also figurines of modernicons such as Steve Jobs and Pope Francesco the 1st!

Nativity scenes_Italy_San Gregorio Armeno - Steve Jobs

Nativity scenes_Italy_Pope Francis 1st

Also interesting to visit is the Neapolitan Nativity Scenes Association  exhibition in Gesù nuovo church, in Piazza del Gesu’. Many of the handmade Presepe you will find are extremely elaborated and may use antique figures.

Greccio – living nativity

Nativity scenes_Italy_Greccio Living Nativity

Each year, the small town of Greccio organizes the Historical Re-enactment of original San Francesco  living nativity scene. With the participation of people in medieval costumes, the historical representation brings to life the story of the birth of the first nativity scene (Christmas 1223) made by St. Francis of Assisi with the help of the Noble Lord John of Greccio Velita, (click here for the schedules).

Buon Natale!


Delightfullyitaly.com: Italy top destinations and travel itineraries, off the beaten path

Delightfullyitaly.com is the blog for all the ones in love with Italian culture, Italian sights, Italian monuments .. and with Italian food! If you wish to visit Italy for the first time, or if you already discovered Venice, Rome, Florence, the Amalfi coast, but still want more, delightfullyitaly.com is here to disclose to you Italian Must See as well as Italian hidden treasures. And if you like what you read, why not follow delightfullyitaly.com and get free updates?

What to eat in Bologna: a Bologna food guide to discover local specialties

A complete Bologna food guide to decipher a Bologna restaurant menu and to discover what to eat in Bologna such as tortellini, lasagne and tagliatelle

Bologna amazing food is worldwide known, just think of Lasagne, Tortellini and Tagliatelle alla Bolognese. “Spaghetti alla Bolognese” are, just like “Pizza”, the most famous Italian dish in the world. Actually, you will never find “spaghetti alla Bolognese” in Bologna, but this is a different story…

Like in many other Italian regions, the traditional cooking can vary a lot among the different towns of Emilia Romagna. You are likely to find rather different menus in Modena, Ferrara or Bologna.

In this post I will talk mostly of Bologna food, leaving you the pleasure to discover the food peculiarities of the other Emilia Romagna cities.

Tortellini, Tagliatelle, Lasagne: undoubtedly the core of traditional Bologna food is “Fresh Pasta” (made with eggs and flour and not dried like spaghetti, hence “fresh”). Fresh pasta can be either plain, like Tagliatelle, or stuffed, like Tortellini.

Also famous specialties are cured meat pork and the Cotoletta alla Bolognese, the local answer to the more famous “cotoletta alla Milanese”.

So here is what you could expect to find in a typical Bologna menu.

Continue reading “What to eat in Bologna: a Bologna food guide to discover local specialties”

What to eat in Venice

Fritto misto con Polenta

A short food guide to decipher a Venetian menu and to discover what to eat in Venice, beyond Pizza and lasagne

Venice cuisine is among the most fascinating you could taste in Italy, and not only for its delicious taste.

Over centuries, Venice has built contacts both with the inland and with diverse and faraway countries: therefore, its culinary tradition presents a variety of dishes linked to the different origins of ingredients. This is why you can see in Venice dishes baccalà (dried salted cod) from the Baltic routs, precious spices from the caravans of Asia but also fresh vegetables from islands of the estuary and fish from the lagoon and the Adriatic sea.

Antipasti (starters):

Continue reading “What to eat in Venice”

What to eat in Tuscany: best typical Florence food you must try

A complete food guide to the best Florence typical food you have to try when in Florence. Eat like a local and enjoy these great typical Tuscan dishes.

What should you eat when in Florence and in Tuscany? No, Pasta and Spaghetti is not the right answer! Of course you can find them in most touristic restaurant, nothing to worry about. However, Florence typical food is peculiar and so delicious that you absolutely need to try it.

Florence typical food: Menu

Actually, the best way to discover and taste local Florence food is to spend some time in the amazing food hall at Mercato Centrale, close to San Lorenzo. There you will find a huge amount of stalls displaying all the Tuscany local food you may dream of. Just choose what you want, point your finger, get your tray and enjoy! (read my post: Florence in a day for more directions) .

Florence typical food: mercato centrale food hall

Ready to start? So here is my Florence typical food guide!

Antipasti (starters):

Crostini con fegatini

Florence typical food: crostini con fegatini

You will hardly find a Tuscan menu that doesn’t offer Crostinis with salumi and a flask of red wine! The word crostini literally refers to the bread, similar to a baguette where the patè is spread. You will be offered many different type of crostini in Tuscany’s restaurants, but the real stuff is made of chicken livers. Other popular options are Bruschetta, crostini with minced tomatoes and olive oil and crostini with truffle oil.

Finocchiona

Florence typical food: Tuscany cured meat

The “typical” antipasto generally includes all sorts of salami, ham and cheese. While this may not differ that much from the salami you normally find in other Tuscany areas, there’s one which is typicall of Tuscany and that you shouldn’t miss: the Finocchiona.

Finocchiona is a variation on salami made of finely ground pork and fat, laced with fennel, and aged for a while. The unusual ingredient in finocchiona is fennel seeds, which give the salami an intriguing sweet, anise-like flavor. They are also behind the name, as finocchio means “fennel” in Italian. After the ground pork is stuffed into salami casings, the finocchiona is cured so that it becomes firm and dry.

Primi piatti (first courses)

Ribollita

Florence typical food: Ribollita

The Ribollita is the most famous Tuscan soup. It is a typical “poor” dish from the Florence and Arezzo cooking traditions, meant to reuse the left over bread and the most commonly available vegetables. The name, which means “reboiled”, derives from the former habit of preparing  the soup in large quantities, usually on Friday. The soup was cooked a second time (and therefore “reboiled”) in the following days, before being served. Actually, the ribollita gets tastier each time it is reboiled.

While many different vegetable can be used, a true ribollita always includes black cabbage (“cavolo nero”), Borlotti beans and dry bread. Once it is served, you should add one or two spoons of “exravergine” olive oil and freshly ground pepper.

Pappa al pomodoro

Florence typical food: Pappa al pomodoro

Half-soup and half-sauce, pappa al pomodoro is little more than ripe tomatoes, olive oil, and day-old bread. It’s a delicious summer dish, served in the majority of Tuscany restaurants.

Pici

Florence typical food: Pici

Pici is are thick, hand-rolled kind of pasta, like a fat spaghetti. The dough is typically made from flour and water only. It originates in the province of Siena in Tuscany; in the Montalcino area it is also referred to as pinci.

Pici are served with a variety of toppings, such as ragù (often from game, such as duck, hare or wild boar – “pici al ragù di anatra-lepre-cinghiale”), spicy garlic tomato sauce (“Pici all’aglione”) or porcini mushrooms (“Pici alla boscaiola”).

Pappardelle ala lepre

Florence typical food: Pappardelle alla lepre

Pappardelle are large, very broad flat pasta, similar to wide fettuccine. The name derives from the verb “pappare”, to gobble up. The fresh types are two to three centimetres (1 inch) wide. Like Pici they can be served with a variety of toppings, even though most popular Pappardelle dishes are “Pappardelle alla lepre” (hare minced meat sauce) or “Pappardelle al cinghiale” (Pappardelle with wild boar topping).

Secondi piatti (second courses: fish / meat dishes)

Bistecca alla Fiorentina

Florence typical food: Bistecca alla fiorentina

The most famous tuscan meat dish is actually… a T-Bone steak!

The true bistecca alla fiorentina (“Florentine-Style Steak”, normally called just “Fiorentina”, is huge (hardly less than one Kg, cooked on charcoal fire and traditionally served on a wooden cutting board. Though Fiorentina, is featured on the menus of almost all the restaurants in Florence, finding a good one isn’t at all easy. But when you do it’s heaven on earth, delightfully rich, flavorful rare meat so tender it can be cut with a spoon. Much of the secret is the breed of cattle, Chianina beef…

Cinghiale in umido

Florence typical food: Cinghiale in umido

This winter dish requires marinating the wild boar meat in red wine, vinegar, chopped vegetables, garlic, bay leaves, juniper berries and chili flakes for at least one night, and then cook it in a clay pot for at leat 2-3 hours. The result is a melt-in-your-mouth tender, deliciously tasty meat dish, often served with Polenta (cornmeal boiled into a porridge and eaten directly or baked, fried or grilled)

Lampredotto

Florence typical food: Lampredotto (Greve in Chianti - osteria Nerbone)

Lampredotto is a very famous dish from Florence, that you may find in restaurants or as street food (“panino col lampredotto”). Lampredotto is the fourth stomach of a cow, boiled in water with tomatoes, onion, celery and parsley. A typical Florentine peasant dish, the most popular way to serve it is in a bread roll, with parsley sauce and optional chili oil. ‘Snap up’ a hot cow stomach sandwich at one of the many street and market stalls in Florence that serve it. The most famous one is just in front of the famous “porcellino” statue.

Caciucco alla livornese

Florence typical food: Caciucco alla livornese

This is not a typical Florence food, but it’s worth mentioning because you may find it in your menu, and it’s delicious! Cacciucco (also called Caciucco alla Livornese – Livorno-style cacciuco) is a popular traditional Livorno seafood dish, fairly common also in Pisa, Lucca and in all the Tuscan coast.

It’s a delicious soup of assorted sea fish, shellfish and molluscs, poured over the toasted bread, which history stretches back at least five hundred years. The origin of dish name also proclaims the fact that cacciucco is rooted in a mixture of culinary cultures of many nations. It bears resemblance to the Turkish word ‘küçük’, which means ‘tiny pieces’ – small fish and molluscs were used to prepare the dish.

Dolci (Desserts)

Cantucci col vin santo

Florence typical food: Cantucci col vin santo

Originating in the city of Prato (close to Florence), Cantucci are presently the most famous cookies in Tuscany. You will probably be offered Cantucci col vin santo after all your meals!

Cantucci are oblong-shaped almond biscuits, made dry and crunchy through cutting the loaf of dough while still hot and fresh from baking in the oven. Traditionally, you are supposed to dip them into a glass of vin santo (Tuscany sweet dessert wine) before savor them.

Panforte

Florence typical food: Panforte

Panforte means “strong bread” which refers to the spicy flavor. It’s the traditional Siena cakes, and its origins may date back to 13th century.

The process of making panforte is fairly simple. Sugar is dissolved in honey and various nuts, fruits and spices are mixed together with flour. The entire mixture is baked in a shallow pan. The finished cake is dusted with icing sugar. The result is heavenly delicious! You may taste Panforte as a dessert in restaurants or purchase a slice in a “pasticcieria”. A tasty and spicy variety of Panforte is “Panpepato”.

Buon appetito!

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Venice with kids – how to make it a memorable experience

Top activities to do in Venice with kids: a two days itinerary for a great family experience. How to engage and entertain your younger travel mates in Venice.

 Visiting Venice can be a magical experience for kids, just like it is for their parents. My son is 9, and Venice is his favorite city, we have been visiting it at least  once per year in the last years.

However, in order to make your Venice with Kids experience a memorable success, you’ll need to tailor your itinerary and activities in order to best fit your children needs needs and to stimulate their interests.

In this post I put together all the “do and see” that I think kids will enjoy, based on my own travel experience with my son. It’s actually rather “stuffed”, so up to you to select what to skip and what could be more adapted to your family, based on your interests, the available time, age and resistance of the kids, etc…

Here are my suggestions for a two days stay. Continue reading “Venice with kids – how to make it a memorable experience”