Pastry

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

A Typical Day in Italy

We typically get up and spend time on our balcony looking at the sea and mountains. Monte Stella is a beautiful cone-shaped mountain that protrudes through the clouds. Some days it is hidden by clouds and others it is right there. Our little town is below us on the hill. A train runs by often taking people from Naples to Sicily and back. Jo Anne takes a hundred pictures of this exquisite beauty.

We eventually get ourselves out and drive down to Casal Velino Marina for Breakfast. We have two favorite places: 1) Franco’s and 2) Isola Verde. Isola Verde has free WiFi so we can connect to the world and see what is happening. I order a Cafè (espresso) and Cornetto and Jo Anne orders a Cafè Americano and a piece of Torta (cake) for a few Euros.

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Cornetto

At Franco’s the selection is more exquisite. One of our favorite is sfogliatella.

sfogliatella

sfogliatella

As we sit and finish up with the internet, we plan our day. What city will we visit today? We then drive to our destination and start our tour/walk. At lunchtime we look for a small restaurant or a bar. Bars have great sandwiches and you can have a beer or wine. Small restaurants let you order a local dish and local wine.

After lunch we are back to touring, walking and climbing steps (lots of steps). We typically walk 5 to 8 miles a day and can climb as many flights of steps as 50. This helps work off lunch and maybe that afternoon gelato we can’t resist.

Sometimes we eat dinner locally or we may head back home and eat in one of our favorite local restaurants. Pasta, fish, pizza and other specialties are all prepared fresh and wonderfully. We get to talk with local people and maybe have dinner with friends.

Finally we head home to sit on our balcony with a glass of wine and reflect on Italy’s beauty and prepare for another day of the same encantment. We are blessed and lucky to have such a romantic place to call home!

George

 

Categories: Bars, Beer, Cafè, Casal Velino Marina, Coffee, cornetto, Dolce, Eating Italian, Espresso, Europe, Exercise, Food, Gelato, General Travel, Italy, Pasta, Pastry, Pizza, Ristorante, Romance, Small Towns, Southern Italy, Trains, 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

International Cuisine … Really?

I once saw a show on Cyprus last night that was talking about all the international visitors that went there. It then said it had an international cuisine and showed McDonald’s, KFC, Pizza Hut and several other American fast food chains. 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

I know burgers are important to you but give them up for one vacation and give your taste buds a break. Taste real food made from fresh organic ingredients and prepared perfectly. Caution: DO NOT EAT IN TOURISTY PLACES! Instead seek out real local restaurants that have locals eating in them and enjoy a meal. Here are some food from Italy that will delight your taste buds.

George

 

Categories: Buffalo Mozzarella, Cooking, cornetto, Dolce, Europe, Fast Food, Food, General Travel, Italy, Pasta, Pastry, Pizza, Risotto, Sweets | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

How I Fell in Love with Italy

I had a company that did programming and consulting in IT for large corporations. We were hired by a subdivision of Olivetti in Italy. I can remember my first trip with my business partner. It was my first trip to Italy. It was exciting and a little scary. What would we find? Would doing consulting there be the same as in the states? As we landed and cleared customs we were met by the President of the Olivetti subdivision that hired us. He was a real Renaissance man. I knew right away that this was going to be a fun engagement.

We were in Milan and the city was marvelous. The fashion was exquisit. We worked hard each day and partied harder each evening. Sleep didn’t exist. I could sleep all I wanted when I got home. Everyone we met was friendly and as interested in us and USA as we were in them and Italy. It was like being in a crash course on Italy. Each dinner brought new culinary experiences. The food and wines were perfect. I had never tasted anything like this. My idea of Italian food was being re-written!

They took us to do the mandatory touristic things like Duomo, La Scala (the Opera House), the Galleria and Sforza Castle. Milan was both a modern and ancient city. We soon learned and enjoyed the customs of Italian cafè and light tasty breakfasts at a stand or a bar. I was introduced to the biggest secret of all … the Italian white truffle! OMG my taste buds were on fire. I wanted more. Even the price did not deter me from my truffle quest. To this day I try to visit Italy during truffle season and order truffles flown in overnight.

We were there for several weeks and the time went fast. As we left we shed a tear. We had totally fallen in love with Italy, Italians and Milan. This romantic place had its teeth into me forever. I would have 50+ more trips to this beloved country. It would shape who I was and what I did in my life. Even this BLOG is a result of those early trips.

We all need to lower stress, live happier and acquaint ourselves with taste. Italians do this better than anyone I have ever met.

George

 

Categories: Bars, Duomo, Europe, Food, General Travel, Italy, Milan, Pastry, Romance, Traveling without a tour, Truffles, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Coffee in Italy

Coffee or caffè in Italy is a way of life. It is not guzzled in gallon sized mugs but sipped in small demitasse cups. It is what we call espresso. Italians love their caffè because it is not just a drink but a social activity. You meet friends and colleagues on the way to work and have a caffè. Their caffè is never bitter but it is strong and delicious. It is always drunk hot and quickly in a few sips.

Pavoni 2

Cafe Machine

Caffè is purchased at a bar. This is where Italians eat breakfast. Breakfast is a caffè and a pastry like a cornetto (croissant).

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Cornetto

This breakfast is fast and light. It is not as sweet as our pastries. It is not about sugar but taste. You never sit and drink 5 caffè in a row. You drink one and may return later for another and to meet a different set of friends.

I was doing consulting in Milan many years ago. I was working for a division of Olivetti. We met a 8 am to start our meeting. I put a schedule of what we wanted to achieve on the board. It took about half an hour. Then the president of the subdivision said, Let’s go to the bar! I thought, WOW they want to go to the bar at 8:30 in the morning? What I soon learned is that the bar is where you eat breakfast and more importantly get caffè. I was learning and enjoying life in Italy.

I never worry about getting breakfast with my hotel room. I know there is a bar on just about every corner. I can get the most delicious and light pastry and a great cup of caffè.

OK you want a big cup of coffee not so strong. No problem! You just ask for Caffè Americano. Cappuccino is very popular all over the world but no Italian would dream of ordering it after 11 am. There are Caffè coffee rules to be followed in Italy. There are also many types, with associated names, of coffee. My favorite name is Caffè Corretto (Coffee corrected – with liquor).

When in Italy go to a bar and have breakfast or lunch or gelato. It is not like bars elsewhere. They are family oriented and fun. I remember arriving in Rome one afternoon. I was tired and heading up the elevator of my hotel with my luggage. Two older American women got on with me. The one looked at me and asked, Are you American? I replied affirmative. They then asked where they could get something to eat before 7:30 pm. I said in Rome most places do not open until after 7:30. I suggested going to a bar. The one lady gave me a very stern look and said, Sonny, I have never been to a bar and I won’t start now. I had a good laugh and had to think, How unfortunately for them. They would never experience the simple delicious meals at a bar. Oh well you can not help everyone!

George

I will continue to do this BLOG while Jo Anne does her’s on southern Italy BLOG.

Categories: Bars, Cafè, Coffee, cornetto, Europe, Food, Gelato, General Travel, Italy, Pastry, Sweets | 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

Some of Our Best Memories

We have assembled pictures of some of our best memories in Italy. Italy is always romantic and it is always memorable. There are so many special little moments. The architecture, the sites, the history, the people, the food, the wine, … and so much more.

Enjoy your trip to see relatives, sites, museums or to just be Italian for a short while.

Dolce far niente!

George & Jo

Categories: Amalfi Coast, Assisi, Beaches, Blue Flag Beaches, Casal Velino Marina, Cilento, Coliseum, cornetto, Dolce, Dolce far niente, Duomo, Eating Italian, Europe, Florence, Food, Gelato, General Travel, Greek Ruins, Italy, Marina Casal Velino, Montepulciano, Mountain Towns, Museums, Naples, Owning a home in Italy, Paestum, Panini, Pantheon, Pastry, Pizza, Planning a vacation, Positano, Ravello, Ristorante, Romance, Rome, Siena, Small Towns, Sorrento, Southern Italy, Spanish Steps, Stairs, Traveling without a tour, Trevi Fountain, Trottoria, Tuscany, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

How to Plan a Trip to Italy – Part 12

Now you are in Italy and have a great small hotel. Where do you eat? I have posted on this before but to be complete in this series, we will post it again.

Italy is an easy place to find great local food. It is always fresh and usually organic. Italians love their country, their food and their wine. It shows when you eat in one of their restaurants. We have a few rules about food in Italy:

  • Do not eat at tourist places – they are usually close to the monuments tourists go to see. The food is not real Italian. You can find hamburgers, poorly prepared pasta and cheesy pizza.
  • Restorante are top of the line restaurants – They serve excellent food but are expensive.
  • Trottoria’s are local food for a moderate price – This is where we like to eat. They are everywhere and have fresh local food prepared correctly.
  • Pizzeria – These are restaurants that serve Pizza. You can have Restrorante and Pizzeria, Trattoria and Pizzeria or just Pizzeria.
  • Enotecca’s – these are wine bars that allow you to buy and sample different wines. You can usually eat small dishes as well. This is a great way to taste some of the local wines and determine which you like.
  • Breakfast is easy! Go to a local bar … that’s right a bar. They serve coffee (espresso or American or Cappuccino) and pastries. Cornetto is a croissant like pastry. The pastries are magnificent. Crispy and light. Normally you pick what you want and eat and then go to cash register and say what you had and pay. Some bars require you to pay in advance and take the ticket to the bar and order your food.

IMG_2059

Cornetti (multiple cornetto)

  • Gelateria – Italian ice cream. These places have a large number of types of ice cream. They are all made fresh and served soft. You can ask for a sample of several types and then choose what you want. You can get your gelato in a cone or a dish. Some places even make fresh waffle cones. Gelato is generally lower in calories, fat, cream, and sugar than other styles of ice cream.
  • Auto Grills – These are restaurants on the autostrada. They have surprisingly good food. You can get a panini, pasta, or sweet rolls. They also have tourist things like bags of pasta, candy and cookies.
  • Fruit & Vegetable stands/stores – Most large and small towns have these. Stop and buy some fruit to eat. Grapes, strawberries, peaches, apples or what ever is in season. Smell the fruit! You can actually smell fruit that is in season and ripe. Choose the most aromatic ones.

Choose wisely and enjoy the food. You don’t need to speak Italian. Just read the menu. Most items are listed the same as in nice Italian restaurants in the states. Point to what you want. Ordering the house wine is usually a treat in Italy. It is very good and inexpensive. It doesn’t come in a bottle but a litter or half litter pitcher.

Enjoy

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Auto Grills, Autostrada, Bars, cornetto, Enoteca, Europe, Food, Gelato, General Travel, Italy, Panini, Pastry, Ristorante, Trottoria, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How to Plan a Trip in Italy – Part 4

Where to stay is a big decision. There are many types of places to stay in Italy:

  1. American Hotels – These are large chain hotels with larger rooms (smaller compared to rooms in America) and usually the most expensive option.
  2. Italian Hotels – These are smaller hotels with smaller rooms at a very reasonable prices. Breakfast is often included with the room charge. You can get a private bath in your room or share a bath in the hall. We prefer private baths. Be sure you have this if you also prefer it.
  3. B&B’s – Like anywhere in the world these provide rooms and meals. The price is expensive and usually between the price of the large hotels and the smaller Italian hotels.
  4. Agriturismo – These are nice small family owned hotels that are part of a farm or ranch. The food is locally grown (usually on their property), organic and delicious. Rooms are modern and comfortable. You can usually also contract for lunch and lunch & dinner as well.
  5. House or Apartment Rental – These can be the largest and best priced depending on the area especially if you are traveling with other couples. In Paris we were four people and rented someone’s apartment. It was large, comfortable with two bedrooms and two baths. The price was cheaper than two hotel rooms.

Once you decide on what type of place you prefer, investigate options in the cities you will visit. Use sites like TripAdvisor to get other people’s opinions of the property. Remember that their opinions can be very different from yours. We never worry about negative reviews that say small rooms. We expect small rooms in Italy.

TripAdvisor

Be sure to investigate where your hotel/rental choice is located compared to the sites you want to see. Try to get centrally located hotels (these can be the most expensive but will save time going and coming to the sites).

Booking your hotel with airfares on discount sites like Orbitz can get you a discount on the hotel. Check multiple sites and compare prices. Look at pictures posted of your choice and determine if it is the right choice for you. Booking hotels on discount sites usually charge your card when you book not when you arrive. Hotels in Italian are Albergo or just Hotel (the H is always silent in Italian).

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If breakfast is not included do not pay extra for it. Breakfast in Italy is very cheap. You find a bar near your hotel (they are everywhere). At Italian bars you can get Caffè (espresso), Cappuccino, Coffee Americano (an espresso in a larger cup with more water) and mastery choices. A Caffè and cornetto will cost you between 2 and 4 Euros ($2.20 to $4.40). Italian croissants are called cornetto. They come plain, filled with chocolate or jelly and filled with cream. Pastries in Italy are not as sweet as in America. They are delicious.

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Tomorrow we will look at car rentals for your trip if you plan to drive.

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Agriturismo, Air Fares, Bars, Coffee, cornetto, Espresso, Europe, Food, Hotels, Italy, Pastry, The holidays in Europe, Traveling without a tour | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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