When one travels to Italy, one knows it will be a trip rich in history. One has to spend extended time there to take in even a fraction of its splendor. One has to visit again and again to absorb the different regions.
But one only has to visit once to fall in love with the food.
We lingered on piazzas at night, listening to violin players and enjoying the wafting scent of flowers accompanied by the sing-song voices and laughter of small children on evening strolls with their parents, grandparents, cousins and neighbors.
We ate by the seashore in Amalfi where produce lined the shelves and spilled onto the streets.
Pizza after pizza after pizza after risotto after gnocchi, followed by cheese ravioli’s with original sauces, seafood caught nearby, salamis and breads, cappuccinos and espressos.
So how was it that we returned home a few pounds lighter in spite of all that we enjoyed eating there?
My theory on that is twofold:
1. Italians eat regionally and prepare foods without the preservatives so prevalent in the States. Breads are baked fresh. Fruits are picked and served from nearby orchards. Tomatoes are red. Pastas are homemade. Cheeses are artisanal.
2. We walked. We walked. And we walked. There was the occasional train or bus, metro line or plane. But for the most part, we walked. Sometimes we’d sit by the side of a fountain, balancing lunch on our laps in the perfect afternoon temperatures (we were there in October). We’d climb steps that then turned a corner, only to find more steps. But each climb was so enticing. What was waiting around the bend?
The first few days my feet hurt and my knees hurt but after that, I could clock lots of time and many miles walking and climbing. It doesn’t take long for our bodies to adjust.
“Isn’t that perfect?” I thought. A perfect word for our experience there.
Do you have a country, state or region whose foods are your favorite?
One that you particularly enjoyed eating your way through?
One that you dream of digesting?