There is a saying in Italy that those who eat well, live well. I may have even mentioned this in a previous post but I can tell you for a fact that the eating and hence, the living, is one of the best in Tuscany. Pictured is a wonderful afternoon snack we munched on in Siena near Piazza del Campo, the locale is called Pizzicheria De Miccoli and you can sample an assortment like the above for around 35 Euro for two people. If you dress up and flirt with the pair of owners, they might even give you a wonderful, fresh glass of white wine to wash it all down (hint, hint). They speak English, not to worry, one of them used to have an American wife and he certainly stressed the use of the past participle to us. Here is a close-up of the goodies...and yes, those are truffle shavings on the cheese. Heaven.
The other activity besides eating that I would highly suggest while in the Tuscany area is drinking. We took a tour to Montalcino to sample Rosso di Montalcino and Brunello, which some say is the best wine in the world. After a few tastings, I was very agreeable with that opinion. Brunello must be aged for at least 5 years, therefore the most recent year that has become available is 2009. At one of the wineries, we even got to smell the 1965 (photo at bottom left). It took all my willpower not to drink it and call it an accident.
During our grand tour of Northern Italy in search of wedding venues, we were able to stop in Clusane for lunch, a little town situated on Lake Iseo. That is one of things I love about Europe, you can drive 30km and be in a totally different atmosphere- different food, different people, different accents. You can go from a bustling city to a lakeside laid-back village in the blink of an eye. In four hours, you can take the train from Bergamo to Siena (like we did) where you will find yourself amongst the gold, rolling hills and vineyards so typical of Tuscany. The Tuscan sun is brilliant, it warms the entire landscape until everything seems to glow. Florence was the home of so many artists simply for the rarity of this light and the desire to capture it in by any means. This post will mainly be photos, even though not even these do justice to the beauty of this region. Next post: food and wine tastings in Tuscany.
Just got in from drinks in Piazza del Campo with my mother. The greatest accomplishment of the night was walking all the way there in 4-inch wedge heels and only having an almost-ankle-break once. Does that mean I am almost Italian? I have to backtrack a bit, these are some moments from our days in Bergamo. For those of you unfamiliar with Italy, Bergamo is a city in the region of Lombardy in Northern Italy. It is actually made up of an upper and lower city, Città Alta and Città Bassa respectively. Città Alta is surrounded by high stone walls and true to it's name, is located higher. It offers amazing views and is very popular for having a typical passeggiata (supposed to be a casual walk around town, but really turns into couples and families putting on their best outfits and showing each other off to everyone else).
I adore Bergamo, but of course I am biased. Personally, I think it is a beautiful, historic city that offers luxury if you are searching for it, but most of the time gives off an air of modest elegance. If Bergamo was an outfit, I would consider it well-put-together. To it's advantage, Bergamo is surrounded by hills and the mountains are visible on a clear day. The hills are dotted with picturesque villas and estates (see photo after 'Read More').
The brand is Hogan and the Italians are obsessed. You out there (unless you are from Europe/Hong Kong/the Emirates), you have never even heard the name. But if you come to Italy, you will soon find out because I swear they are on the feet of women and men everywhere. All you have to do is look for their trademark H on the side of the shoe, as notable now as GG or LV or the double-F of a Fendi baguette. Hogan originated as a cricket lifestyle brand, very odd indeed, and is now pretty much synonymous with city-dwelling Italians. These trademark shoes are meant to symbolize a casual luxury, although there is nothing very casual about the price tag. Italians are known to be trend-setters, but it must be said that once a trend has started, everyone follows suit. Prime examples are Hogan sneakers, Timberland boots, and Moncler winter jackets. A huge grazie to family-owned Cortecci ( http://www.corteccisiena.it/) who gave me an unheard of discount on this pair today (plus remember, you get a tax refund on top of it!).
The rules of gelato are that there are no rules.
It has to be one of my favorite things about Italy, as it likely is for anyone that has ever visited the bel paese. What I love most about gelato is that it is socially acceptable to eat at almost any time of day, except perhaps extremely early in the morning. You never have to justify having a gelato, it is perfectly healthy- what could possibly be wrong with milk and fruit? In fact, I once met Massi's father in Milano during his lunch break and he opted that we get gelato for lunch. For lunch! If that is not a good enough reason to move across the Atlantic Ocean, then I have no idea what is. Now let's talk flavors. Like I mentioned in an earlier post, my absolute favorite is rose, but it is rare and hard to find. I would have to say second place belongs to mint (pictured above) or puffo (which refers to a Smurf in Italian, puffo is usually a bright blue that is supposed to taste like licorice but I think this is a lie as I am repulsed by anything licorice, yet I adore this flavor). Maybe I just love saying puffo (poo-foh). Yes that could be it. I have every intention of getting a white, fluffy cat and naming it Puffo. I am totally serious. That is all for now, stay tuned for posts about last days in Bergamo and first days in Siena (where I am right now, writing to you from Hotel Italia while watching the MTV Italia Music Awards from Firenze and listening to the hosts mess up American band names).
Why hello there! Just writing to you from the cutest flat in all of Bergamo on Via Borgo Palazzo. There are actually many cute holiday rental apartments on this street including La Petite Suite and La Corte Dei Cappuccini, both of which I have stayed at (in case you happen to visit, I recommend this area). My mother and I have spent the day zipping across the surrounding areas to look at wedding venues in our ugly, yet functional rental VW Touran, the European take on a mini-van more or less. So far, we have been to San Pellegrino, Cassano d'Adda, Lecco (on Lake Como), and around Lake Iseo. No George sightings to report thusfar unfortunately. I will include a smattering of randomly selected photos of venues that we have looked at, however I will not comment on which, if any, have made the cut, you will have to come to our wedding to find out...Click the 'Read More' link for the photographs.
Lunch today was at Ginepro (see: http://www.gineprofoodwine.it/) with the most breathtaking view of Lake Iseo, I dare to say it is worth going to just for the panorama (although the food is delizioso too). Tomorrow is Friday and we have two more venue viewings planned, then at 18.00, Italy's national team, gli azzurri, are playing their second game in the World Cup so naturally the streets will be empty and the bars filled.
Two years ago between third and fourth year pharmacy school, I travelled to Forio, Ischia to study the science of eating and living well Mediterranean-style. There was an entire group of us spending mornings in a classroom that opened to the sea, gulping down those oh-so-creamy and oh-so-frothy cappuccinos made famous by one of the owners. And needless to say, the nights were spent eating at La Casereccia (see: http://www.lacasereccia.com/) or having impromptu dance parties at the hostel. After three glorious weeks of gluttony, we all went our separate ways whether that meant home to Canada or to explore more of Italy. During our last dinner together, I was given a beautiful ceramic painting of Ischia as a gift and told to hang it in my future house. See photograph below and smile.
A huge thank you to my now-colleagues, I know that every time I see it, I will smile too.
Look who I ran into at Heathrow Terminal 5 while waiting for my connection to Milano. My grandma would say that we are destined to be together. She believes that when you run into certain people over and over in different places (and different continents), it means you are tied together in some way. Guess that means I am stuck with this one.
So this a lifestyle blog and since there is nothing better in life than a new pair of shoes, that is what this post is about. This pair of blue wedge slingbacks come courtesy of a search for Italy-appropriate attire. Now was is that you ask? There is this eternal struggle between style and sensibility that one must always face when choosing footwear to wear in our beloved Europe. There is nothing cute about stumbling around on cobblestone or breaking a heel off in the middle of your night out in Trastevere in Roma (this may or may not have actually happened...). Thus the search always almost points us to the wedge. Stay tuned for in-action photos of these beauties.
Alot of well-meaning, perfectly logical folk tell me that I am crazy to move to Europe. What will you do? Where will you live? Why did you get an university degree? Why give up a promising career, friends, and family? These are are valid questions and I have no answers. People like to tell me how brave I am, how courageous, but I am neither. I am simply a girl who knows what makes her happy. Some of these snapshots of happiness are tiny- the taste of a rose flavored gelato (my favorite) on a hot summer's day, the whoosh of wind through my hair on the back of a motorcycle zipping through lush green valleys. However, the big picture is what makes me sure of this choice and it has to do with lifestyle. I know that my soul belongs somewhere where it can be enveloped and challenged by a different culture, surrounded by a thousand years of history and art. So following your bliss, this is no risk at all.
Jasmine is a former pharmacist turned freelance writer, foodie, and fashionista from Alberta, Canada living "the sweet life" in Bergamo, Italy.