Bread

Bari, Italy

Bari is a seaport city on the Adriatic Sea. It has a beautiful old town. As you enter Bari, it’s a large city. as you approach the old section, which is on the sea, you must park in lots at the edge of the old section and walk in. This area is pedestrian and Vespa only. The streets are narrow and wind around. It is easy to get lost but we used GPS on our phones to find our hotel.

Once we found the hotel, we were surprised to see it was closed until 4 pm. We had to walk our suitcases back out to the car. Then we explored and had some lunch. The city has a wonderful Piazza in the old section which comes to life at night. There are great restaurants here that can get very crowded.

After a good exploration, some lunch and some Limoncello, we retrieved out bags and headed for the hotel again. The owners of the hotel also owned a small restaurant across from the hotel. They gave us a plate of cheese and bread.

That evening we tried a restaurant in the Piazza and was rewarded with a great meal and a show of Italians parading by. This is what we love about Italy. Don’t rush! Don’t have a tight agenda! Visit a few places but get to know them well. Enjoy the local foods and wines. Observe the locals. Enjoy life more and be less stressed! This is Italy!

…Most of all be romantic!…

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– George

Categories: Adriatic Sea, Bari, Beaches, Bread, Cheese, Eating, Eating Italian, Europe, Food, General Travel, GPS, Hotels, Italian, Italy, Italy BLOGs, Lemoncello, Limoncello, Puglia, Ristorante, Romance, sea, VLOG, Walking, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Bread in Italy

Bread has a bad name in America. It is fattening and for the most part has no taste. We became the white bread generation. Soft bread with no real crust or taste. Rye and wheats are not any better. Then you go to Italy (or most of Europe) and you get real bread. It is soft inside but crusty outside. It is always fresh baked. This is the real thing. No preservatives, no Monsanto wheat (at least not yet) and a taste to die for.

Bread in Italy is broken by hand never by a knife. You break a small piece by hand and eat it. You begin to wonder where has this delicious morsel been all your life. Italians eat it plain or in a little olive oil or as a spoon to pick up the left over gravy. In America, we load it with butter because it has no taste. When you try it in Italy try a piece without butter or oil. This is how you taste the bread. It is wonderful.

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You can find this wonderful food everywhere. Restaurants serve it, local supermarkets and small stores sell it. Delis have it as well. It is not hard to find and it is cheap. Enjoy it on your vacation. It will cause you to think of Italy each time you remember the bread.

There is usually a charge for bread even though it is brought out to your table. The charge is not much and worth it. This charge is called a Coperta (blanket or cover charge) on your bill.

Enjoy …

George

 

Categories: Bread, Coperta, Eating, Eating Italian, Europe, Food, General Travel, Italy, Traveling without a tour | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Why you really want to spend a night in Capri

Most tourists take a ferry from Naples, Sorrento or Positano to the Isle of Capri. They spend a day mostly waiting to get into the Blue Grotto and then return by ferry in the evening. This is a big mistake! After all these tourists leave, the natives of Capri come out. The streets of Capri City are much less crowded. You can enjoy your stroll without being knocked about by tourists. The island and the city become magical. The lighting is perfect for photographers. Restaurants gear up for the evening meal. Bars await customers looking for a drink.

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We had found a few small (alley like) streets off the main piazza. They had stores and restaurants. One store made custom sandals. You are measured one day and can pick up your shoes the next day. There were also small grocery stores. We decided to spend one evening eating at our hotel. We were able to get a bottle of wine, cheese, bread, olives and chocolate at one such shop. Our hotel with the fabulous view became a romantic restaurant for the evening. We dined on our private balcony overlooking Capri and the sea.

We tend not to like places were a lot of tourists gather. But these small streets were a real find. They are cooler in the summer, have fewer people on them and offer small cheaper shops that normally do not cater to the tourists. It would seem that tourists like to stick to the main piazza and streets. They shy away from small streets. Their loss!

Go to Capri and be romantic. Stay an evening or more. Make the island your island. If it is a special occasion, spend the extra money and stay at Villa Brunella. You pay once but will remember it for the rest of your life.

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George

 

Categories: Bars, Blue Grotto, Bread, Campania, Capri, Cheese, Chocolate, Eating, Eating Italian, Europe, Ferries, Food, General Travel, Italy, Italy BLOGs, Naples, Positano, Romance, Sorrento, Traveling without a tour, Walking, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Capri City

So we are on the Island of Capri and in the city of Capri. It is beautiful here. Most streets are pedestrian walkways but watch for hotel golf carts and scooters. There are many places to eat here and small stores where you can buy things to take back to your hotel. A bottle wine, some olives, fresh tomatoes, artichokes and of course great bread. Spread them out on a table top and you have a party.

We stayed in villa Brunella, a wonderful hotel. The pool  is great with fantastic views and a snack bar. There is also a restaurant on the top-level near the entrance. You will descend and climb many steps. The best rooms and most expensive are near the restaurant at the top levels. Each room (suit) is on its own level and has a living area, bedroom area and large bath with both a tub and shower. The bedroom is raised a step from the living room and faces sliding doors onto the terrace. You have a splendid view from the bedroom, living area and terrace.

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Views from Villa Brunella

Imagine waking up in Capri with this view and breakfast sent to the room. Romantic and beautiful. Breakfast is important because you will climb stairs and walk a lot to see this wonderful small city. A short hike back to the funicular places you in the middle of restaurants, bars, gelato stores and many designer shops. Things are not cheep here, after all this is Capri.

From the hotel if you go right to the end of the road, you get a fantastic view of Faraglioni Rock. This famous tourist attractions allows you to take a boat through a hole in the rock. From one side it looks like a giant gorilla.

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Faraglioni Rock and Mount Vesuvious

There are many many steps down to the sea. There are two restaurants at the bottom and a place to get a private boat (order from the hotel first). The boat will take you around the Island and to the Blue Grotto if you want.

Enjoy a night or two in this wonderful city. See Capri after the tourists have left on their ferries. It is magical!

My next BLOG takes us to the other city on Capri Isle, AnaCapri.

George

 

Categories: Bars, Blue Grotto, Bread, Capri, Caves, Eating Italian, Europe, Ferries, Food, Funicular, Gelato, General Travel, Italian, Italy, Ristorante, Small Towns, Traveling without a tour, Villa Brunella, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

The Reasons I Love Italy

Italy has a special place in my heart. I am not Italian but I did a lot of work there. I gained a respect and a love for the country, the people, the food and the wine. Italians seem happy with there life. They know what is important. Their families, their life , their food & wine are all very important to them. They have to work but it is not a important part of their lives. Walk any Italian city (big or small) and you will see the elderly and the young walking. They enjoy fresh fruit and vegetables. They love their cooking especially mamma’s cooking. Their coffee, wine, gelato and bread are a tradition to them. You can here them argue about how good or bad the pasta is at a restaurant. It will never be mamma’s pasta.IMG_3189
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As I walk through a city, I smell the cooking. I see the people outside all around me. I hear the language and the passion with which it is spoken. This is the Italy I so love. People are very friendly here. Just say Buon Giorno to a stranger and watch the smile appear and you will get a Buon Giorno back. If you are trying to speak the language remember there are informal and polite forms of speaking. The young are becoming less formal but the elderly still require a stranger to speak formally.

  • Come Sta – How are you (formal)
  • Come Stai – How are you (informal)
  • Ciao – Hello (informal)
  • Buon Giorno – Hello (Literally Good Morning – Formal)

Be respectful, smile and enjoy all that your senses are experiencing. I even enjoy seeing Italian laundry out to dry. No I don’t have a laundry fetish! I enjoy the colors and shapes against a backdrop of old buildings. It is one of my favorite photo op. In Italy you can buy a dryer but most people prefer the clean scent of drying their clothes outside.

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In the morning I enjoy being in the local bar for coffee and a cornetto. You are submerged in a group of Italians, all talking and quickly drinking their coffee and eating a small cake or cornetto.

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Cornetto

As you leave after breakfast, you are again engulfed in Italian life on the streets. Listen and watch how they talk and communicate with each other. Enjoy the scooters speeding by you. Take in the smells as you pass a restaurant. Later stop in a bar, pizzeria or trattoria for lunch. Bars are famous for eating standing up. It costs more to take a table. You will see Italians eating Panini (sandwiches) and drinking a beer or glass of wine. Between about 2 pm and 4 pm watch the Italian Passeggiata (walk). Families and friends stroll together to enjoy each others company.

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After your afternoon walking or visiting museums, look for a large piazza. Life really explodes in the Italian piazzas. You will find lots of bars and restaurants here as well. Pick a non touristy place for dinner. I always look for one with mostly Italians and few or no foreigners. You will have to eat late to see Italians as no one eats dinner early in Italy.

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Evening is my favorite time to walk, watch and have a gelato.

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Life here is much less stressful. Enjoy what you have and what you are. Be Italian for a short while.

George

 

Categories: Bars, Beer, Bread, Coffee, Cooking, cornetto, Eating, Eating Italian, Espresso, Europe, Fish, Fruit, Gelato, General Travel, Italian, Italian language, Italy, Pizza, Trottoria, Walking, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Fast Food when you Travel? Really?

International Cuisine is not fast food!. Many travelers look for McDonald’s, KFC, Pizza Hut and other American fast food chains when they travel. I have news for you, Fast Food is NOT cuisine! If you go to a foreign country and eat American Fast Food, you are missing out on the true gems of that country. Countries like Italy have unbelievably good food. It is NOT the same as Italian food in America. It is soooo much better. Go, see, experience and enjoy the food and wine.

American Fast Food

Fruits & vegetables in these countries are so fresh and ripe. You can smell them and the taste is so delicious. Fish is wild caught and meats are raised and fed properly. Everything tastes great the way it was intended to taste.

In addition to the raw ingredients, the recipes are old and delicious. In Italy you don’t find heavy sauces or a dish with 17 different ingredients. Dishes are simple and stand on the taste of the one or two main ingredients.

I suggest that you try different things when traveling in Italy. Even if you don’t think you like it. This is how you expand your taste buds. There is no better place in the world to do this than Italy.

My memories are of the bread, coffee, gelato, pasta, pastries, pizza, fish, truffles, buffalo mozzarella and wine of Italy.

Mangia … Mangia!

George

 

Categories: Bread, Buffalo Mozzarella, Coffee, Espresso, Europe, Fast Food, Fish, Food, Fruit, Gelato, General Travel, Italy, Pasta, Pastry, Pizza, Sweets, Truffles, White Truffles, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Feelings of Living in Italy

Many people ask us, what it is like to live in Italy? A foreign country intrigues some and scares the hell out of others. We love our area of Italy it is in the Campania region south of both Naples and the Amalfi Coast. Our hamlet is called Velina, which is part of the city of Castelnuovo Cilento. To be even more confusing the whole area is referred to as part of Casal Velino. Velina is a small town that has stores for food, clothing and miscellaneous items. It has a post office, church and cell phone store.

When I am there it is all about the friendliness of the people, the sounds, the smells, the tastes and the visuals. Lets look at each of these and how I feel about them:

 

  • People – We are known to be foreigners by our look and dress but if you greet someone with Buon Giorno (good Day), you will get a smile and a Buon Giorno in return. These are people who enjoy life, family and their way of living.
  • Sounds – I go to sleep and wake up at our condo to the wonderful sounds of a rooster, birds and an occasional dog bark. There are also church bells early in the morning. You can hear the train go by below us. These have become sounds I look forward to and expect when I am there. They gently rock me to sleep at night and slowly wake me in the morning.
  • Smells – Italy has wonderful food smells. As we walk through our small village and enter stores we are aroused by the smells of bread, cheeses, sweet rolls, chocolate and of course Cafè. We have grown accustomed to these smells and look forward to them. They bring on a level of awareness and hunger. What a great way to start a day. Buon Giorno a tutti (good morning to all).
  • Tastes – Now that we are awake we head to one of the local bars for a Cafè and cornetto (Croissant like pastry). Now the coffee awakens us more and hits our sense of taste. It is strong and has a wonderful flavor. The cornetto is softer than a croissant but is delicious. You can get it plain, filled with a light cream, filled with chocolate or filled with jelly. They are tasty and never over sweet. The fillings are small for flavor never over filled.
  • Visuals – Now fully awake we can take in and enjoy the visuals all around us. We have the wonderful sea, the huge mountains, the towns, the architecture and the people. On market day we get an added visual of all the stalls selling clothes and foods. This adds more to our sense of smell and sometimes we taste a sample.

Yes we love Italy a country that really gets it.

George

Categories: Bread, Buffalo Mozzarella, Chocolate, Europe, Food, Gelato, General Travel, Italy, Pasta, Pastry, Traveling without a tour, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Food in Italy

Italy is known for its food but why is it different from Italian food in other countries? The main difference is it is:

  • Organic
  • Fresh
  • Simple
  • Tasteful
  • Prepared properly

Most countries have Italian restaurants. The pasta is usually prepared over cooked not al dente. The dishes mix many different ingredients and tastes. We associate certain dishes with Italian but they are not. Spaghetti and meatballs is in every restaurant in America but it is not Italian! Italians do not serve this (except in tourist restaurants to please tourists). They do serve spaghetti and later will serve meatballs but not together.

Just observe Italian life. It is simple and fresh. People in Italy do not buy frozen or prepared foods. They shop each day for that day or maybe the next. Vegetables and fruits are fresh out of the Earth, meats are organic and fresh from local farms, fish is just caught in the sea and breads and pastas are made fresh. This is what makes real Italian food so good and so different from what we expect.

When you go to Italy, order the local dishes and wine. Stop and taste the flavors. Eat slowly and enjoy each bite. Take a piece of crusty bread without butter or oil. Taste the freshness of the bread. Experience the crusty texture of the crust. This is eating Italian.

OK you like sweets. Taste the Italian pastry, gelato and candy. It is not as sweet as sweets in other countries. It is tasty. Enjoy what you eat slowly. Each bite is an experience. Avoid tourist restaurants and please do NOT eat American Fast Food in Italy! Your taste buds deserve to be treated to a real experience.

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Bread, Chocolate, Cooking, Dolce, Eating Italian, Europe, Fast Food, Food, Fruit, Gelato, General Travel, Italy, Sweets, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Memories

As Jo Anne said in her BLOG Mezzogiorno Living, We had no idea of what was in our little area of Italy when we bought. There were no resources to find restaurants, stores, bakeries, bars, etc. We felt lost without good internet knowledge. This is one of the main reasons she is so passionate about her BLOG. She provides this information to all.

I remember thinking, I can go on Google Earth and walk the streets of our town. I did just that and found what looked like an industrial area. The buildings all had metal shutter doors pulled down with graffiti on them. This was in the afternoon! Where was everyone and why was our new town so industrial looking? Was it a ghost town?

After our first trip we found out that the metal shutters protect store windows. When they were up the town was transformed into this cute little village. There were bread stores, pasta stores, delis, candy and pastry shops, a bar, a buffalo mozzarella store and a vegetable stand. There were also clothes stores, digital photo store, Gelateria, Pizza place, Wine store  and a mobile telephone shop.

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Looking down on our little town

But how did this magical transformation happen? What we forgot was the passeggiata (walk). Stores close from around 1pm to 4 pm. Store owners meet with friends and family to walk and have lunch together. During this personal time all stores are closed. The metal shutters are pulled down and the town is transformed. After 4 pm the town transforms back to a wonderful small town.

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Bars, Bread, Buffalo Mozzarella, Campania, Europe, Food, General Travel, Italy, Pastry, Pizza, Small Towns, Traveling without a tour, Velina, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Where to Eat in Italy

French wines are usually made to accompany food.

French wines are usually made to accompany food. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

People that have been to Italy often ask us what is the difference between the types of restaurants in Italy? It can be confusing so we give you this guide.

Italy has fantastic food everywhere. We even stopped at an “Auto Grill” on the autostrada (highway) and had a great espresso and pastry. Other times we will get a Panini at the Auto Grill. Not like our turnpike rest areas. In Italy there are several common types of places to eat and a few others in certain areas.

Types of Restaurants in Italy:

  1. Bar – A place to eat or drink. In the morning you go here for coffee and pastry, at lunch you go for sandwiches (Panini). In the evening you go for a drink and a snack. Many bars also serve gelato. Bars are cheapest if you stand and eat. Sitting at a table costs more but allows you to relax and observe Italy and its great people.
  2. Tratteria – these are small private owned eating cafes with great food at reasonable costs. Lunch and dinner are great. Usually Italian favorites as well as local dishes are served. The atmosphere is simple but comfortable. A version of these are Pizzeria Trattoria. These include pizzas along other dishes. Some have outside and inside seating available.
  3. Ristorante – These are for lunch or dinner and are nice but expensive. The atmosphere is classic and the food is great. You can also find Pizzeria Ristorante’s. The wine lists are more extensive and the atmosphere is more formal.
  4. Osteria  – These are places that usually serve wine and simple food with limited menus.
  5. Enotecca – Small wine bars that allow tasting local wines (for a charge) and serve small dishes or sandwiches or Tapas like foods. These are a great way to get to know local wines.
  6. Rotisserie – Small restaurants that specialize in roasting meats on a spit.
  7. Agritourism – Usually a farm-based establishment with a B&B type hotel and food grown or raised on their farm. They sometimes have stores to buy products and take home. One near our home in Italy has a vegetable and fruit market as well.

Pizza is everywhere! You can have it in Trattoria’s or Ristorante’s. The bread in Italy is great. It is crusty on the outside but soft or airy inside. Always stay away from touristy places serving hamburgers and hot dogs. The food won’t be good and prices will be high. Enjoy your trip, taste Italy’s great food & wines. Sit back and smile as you watch the Italians strolling with family at lunch time or in the evening. Lunch usually ranges from 12 noon to 3 pm (shorter in the north) and dinner from 6 pm (for tourists) to 11 pm. The south of Italy eats much later than the north. The south also serves more fish than the north. If you happen to be in the north of Italy in the fall, DO NOT MISS the truffles.

Remember Italy is the land of romance. Sit back and enjoy yourself. Stay away from the American Fast Food places. You are in Italy enjoy its great foods and wines. Save the fast food for when you get home. Do NOT go into eating establishments in Italy and be in a hurry! Use a bar if you have to eat fast. Good food takes time to prepare and serve properly.

George & Jo

Categories: Agriturismo, Auto Grills, Autostrada, B&Bs, Bars, Bread, Cooking, Enoteca, Fast Food, Food, Gelato, General Travel, Italian Facts, Italy, Pastry, Pizza, Ristorante, Romance, Truffles, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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