Pastry

Is it Time for you to Take a Trip to Italy?

Have you longed for a trip to romantic Italy? Have you dreamed about eating real Italian food? Do you long to see the museums or architecture? Maybe you have relatives there and just want to reunite old ties. What ever your reasons are, Italy is a great place to spend a vacation. After a week you are feeling relaxed and enjoying life. After two weeks you are totally relaxed, speaking some Italian words and loving the food. Longer periods in Italy will make you an Italian for life!

The northern lake Area offers beautiful scenery overlooking the Alps or maybe Tuscany with its wines and romantic scenery. The large cities of Milan, Venice, Florence, Rome or Naples are great places to see Italians being themselves. They also are great for seeing living history. Look at the buildings the architecture and envision the people that built these great cities. Maybe southern Italy with its Amalfi coast and Capri or farther south into the Cilento National Park. Beauty unspoiled by man and pristine beaches. What is stopping you?

If it’s being afraid of big tours or doing it on your own, we offer an alternative for the selective traveler to see what they want to see and spend as much time as the want. If you find a great Italian spot, the last thing you want is to be taken away by a tour bus. It would be wonderful to change your plans and just stay in your new found location. Italy is all about love, romance, beauty and spontanaeity.

Italy creates many wonderful memories and experiences but you have to touch it! Get away from the crowded tourists areas and meet real Italians. See places that will change you forever. Don’t eat in tourists restaurants. These will be memories you will never forget.

George

Categories: Amalfi, Amalfi Coast, Anacapri, Architecture, Beaches, Benvenuto al Sud, Blue Flag Beaches, Buffalo Mozzarella, Campania, Capri, Casal Velino, Casal Velino Marina, Castellabate, Cortona, Eating, Eating Italian, Fish, Food, Gelato, General Travel, Italian, Italy, Maratea, Matera, Mount Vesuvious, Mountain Towns, Mountains, Naples, Paestum, Pantheon, Pasta, Pastry, Perugia, Pizza, Pompeii, Positano, Romance, Rome, Saint Peter's Basilica, Small Towns, Southern Italy, Traveling without a tour, Trevi Fountain, Tuscany, Umbria, Vatican City, Venice, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Walking Rome

When Jo Anne and I were in Rome (Jo’s first trip to Italy but I had been there many times), we wanted to really experience the city. There is no better way than walking! Rome has excellent metro and bus services that will get you anywhere you want but walking lets you be a Roman. You experience this great city first hand. All the important sites are walkable if you can walk a few miles.

We stayed centrally at Hotel Trevi just around the corner from the Trevi fountain. This is a hard hotel to find even with some cab drivers but worth a stay. It has been getting more popular and the price is going up. From Trevi fountain you can easily see:

  • Spanish Steps and shopping by the steps
  • Villa Borghese
  • Pantheon
  • Trastevere
  • Vatican City
  • Castel San Angelo
  • Forum
  • Old Rome
  • Coliseum
  • Piazza Navona
  • Basilica San Clemente

As you walk to these wonderful tourist attractions, take in the buildings, architecture, streets and people around you. Stop in a bar for a coffee or glass of wine. Hear the motorcycles and scooters all around you. Listen to the music of the Italian language. This is Rome! This is Italy! It must be enjoyed on the streets with the people.

Never stop in a tourist restaurant (any place very close to one of the above attractions). Seek out small family run trattoria that are full of locals enjoying their meal. People eat later in Italy than in the states (except large cities like New York).

Breakfast is usually at a bar on the run. You have a coffee and sweet roll or cake as you catch up on gossip and sports with friends. Lunch is at a pizzeria or trattoria and is taken around 1 or 2 pm. Dinner is much later around 8 or 9 in Rome. Farther south dinner can be as late as 11 pm. Restaurants will open for tourists around 7 or 7:30 pm. The terrible tourist only places stay open all day.

I love strolling these ancient streets, meeting modern-day Romans and partaking in their ancient customs. Let Rome take you away. Enjoy it fully. Don;t be afraid of it. There are pick-pockets everywhere but violent crime is very rare. As you return to your hotel, review what you did that day. Relive each important moment. These are memories you will enjoy for the rest of your life.

Be Romantic …

 

George

 

Categories: Bars, Coffee, Coliseum, Eating, Eating Italian, Europe, Food, General Travel, Italian language, Italy, Metro Travel, Pantheon, Pastry, Pizza, Planning a vacation, Romance, Rome, Shopping, Traveling without a tour, Trevi Fountain, Trottoria, Walking, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 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

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.

IMG_2059

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).

cornett02 cornetto1

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.

IMG_0933

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

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