Friday, July 21, 2017

Italian Food, in Italy

When foreigners speak of Italian food it's a plate of pasta, likely with tomato sauce that comes to mind. With reason, in Italy this is the first course:
Italian food is obviously more than pasta but relies always on one thing, which is fresh flavor. 

A family grill over a wood fire consists of meat, olive oil and salt. The truffle toast in the background is made of truffles and olive oil with a little parsley. 

Lard and wild boar sausages, more delicious than you might imagine:

In Umbria food is made up of meat, more meat, preserved meat, fungus including truffles which are very fashionable right now, and everything needs to be fresh and local. Fast food, preservatives and chain franchises are anathema. You take a little wine with lunch to help digestion and finish with the inevitable coffee:
Stopping off for lunch we watched five police officers at a neighboring table order up lunch...mixed cold cut platter to share followed by pasta choices, main meat course with vegetable, salad and fruit washed down with a liter of red wine and several bottles of mineral water. Then coffees all round. We imagined our police chief spotting his officers on such a lunch break...
My sisters and brother-in-law shooting the breeze after our extended grilled picnic.  They would no sooner eat canned food or Chinese food than they would eat horse manure. Indeed one of the frustrations I have with Italians is how unadventurous they are when it comes to food. Home made caprese salad with local fresh mozzarella and tomatoes from the garden. 
When I was growing up in Italy meals ended with fresh fruit, fruit that smelled like fruit, that had fresh crisp sweet consistency, that often ended up pealed to satisfy the Italian hypochondria a bout omnipresent germs. Nowadays Italians eat delicious sweet desserts full of cream and sugar and cake. 
Oh dear.
 Italians eat well and they eat a lot but they eat healthy, hypochondria aside, and they love flavor and texture and freshness. Less is more.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Gubbio, An Italian Hill Town

Gubbio lies in the foothills of northern Umbria overlooking the main river Tiber valley below.  They didn't know it when they built it but hundreds of years later photographers would be thanking them for their design and style.

Moto Guzzi's answer to the scooter craze of the 1960s, called the Galletto (little rooster) 200cc with two identical wheels quickly detached to enable the spare wheel to fit both ends. 

People say you don't see many Vespas on the streets of Italy. I say rubbish, you just have to look among lower cost non premium scooters in daily use. 

Our hotel, and very comfortable in the middle of the old town:

Palazzo dei Consoli - old city hall.

Looking south down the Tiber Valley:

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Venice Boatmen

Boats seen in and around Venice starting with a vaporetto, the term used for a bus:

Venice's only woman gondolier, glimpsed while at lunch:

A cab, at rest:

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Gallivanting Around Rome

These pictures are of Rome, first arrival and a night ride to the Vatican...the climb up the dome of St Peter's in the Vatican City the next morning after standing in line to get in and pass metal detectors, the new reality in a world of terrorism. All 515 steps climbed in a series of contortionist stairs progressively worse the tighter the cupola gets higher up. Also a pause in the roof where souvenirs and refreshments are sold and where there are...toilets. Then inside St Peter's followed by some outside views and photos of Swiss Guards etc...and then we rode rented Vespa 300s to lunch well outside the walls in a restaurant built around Roman walls made with discarded pottery