Posts Tagged With: Trattoria

Finding good food in Italy

Finding great food in Italy is easy. Like anywhere it pays to know a few rules when eating in Italy. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. Ristorante are top of the line restaurants – They serve excellent food but are expensive. Some even serve Pizza. They usually are called Ristorante/Pizzeria.
  3. 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.
  4. Enotecca’s – these are wine bars that allow you to buy and sample different wines. You can usually eat small dishes as well.
  5. Pizzeria – A restaurant that serves pizza. Usually a sit down restaurant that serves great individual pizzas. They are not pre sliced but come out whole. You eat them with a fork and knife.

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.

cornett02 cornetto1

Breakfast is easy! Go to a local bar … that’s right a bar. They serve coffee (espresso or American or Cappuccino) and pastries. The pastries are magnificent. Crispy and light. Cornetto is a croissant like pastry that can be plain, chocolate filled or jelly filled. 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. Enjoy

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Bars, Cafè, cornetto, Espresso, Europe, Food, Italy, Pastry, Pizza, Ristorante, Trottoria, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Italy – Travel the right way

Traveling to Italy is important. It is the dream of millions of people. It doesn’t have to be just a dream. It can be a reality. Save each month for a vacation to Italy. When you have enough, make reservations. See this beautiful and romantic country. Airfare is the most expensive part of the trip. Traveling off-season can drastically reduce airfares. Stay in small European hotels not big name American hotels. Make sure you have a private bath. Eat in bars or a trattoria. Never travel in August! It is hot and very crowded.

Tour groups can be expensive as well. They are run like cruises. The initial expense doesn’t seem bad but then they always have side-trips you want that can run up on the bill. They guide you to their restaurants and shops that give them a kickback. These are not always the best places for a memorable vacation. Be a smart traveller! Do your homework. Buy a guide-book or study the Internet. Here is a checklist:

  1. List the cities you ant to visit. Don’t try to do all of Europe or even all of Italy in one trip.
  2. List the top things you want to see in each city.
  3. If museums are your thing, list the top things in each museum that you want to see. Don’t try to do all of a large museum.
  4. Research Italian hotels. Look at location, price, amenities and other travelers reviews. Don’t worry if breakfast is included. Breakfast in Italy at a bar is cheap and delicious.
  5. Estimate the time you need in days in each city. Then estimate travel time between cities. You can fly, drive or take a train. Flying gives you the most time in your cities if they are a distance from each other. Trains are romantic and you can see the country side.
  6. List entrance costs and local transportation (metro) to get to each attraction. Many cities can be walked if you are in shape.
  7. Now estimate your trip. List days in each place and when you should go. Airfares are often cheaper on Tuesday through Thursday than weekends.
  8. Now you have an itinerary and an estimate on cost. Add in spending money and extras that you will find spur-of-the-moment.
  9. Now you are ready for a wonderful trip. Sit back and enjoy it.

We love taking people around Italy. We enjoy seeing the amazement in their eyes and the joy they feel. When we take a group it is always small and we don’t try to do everything in a single trip. It is important to end your vacation feeling happy and full of memories, Our rules are:

  1. Visit the main cities first. See the top ten things in each city. Experience the city as an Italian. Meet and talk with people. Most Italians speak some English as it is the national second language.
  2. Visit small mountain and sea-side towns next. Some of these are so small that the large tour busses can’t get to them.
  3. Never go to touristy restaurants or shops. Be spontaneous and see what you find during your walks.
  4. Have a general itinerary but be spontaneous and be able to change it.
  5. Experience not just the monuments but the people, food and wine.

Italy is a passionate and romantic country. Experience all of its emotions.

George & Jo Anne

 

 

Categories: Bars, Europe, General Travel, Italy, Money, Mountain Towns, Museums, Romance, Small Towns, Trains, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

So many places to eat and so little time!

Italy is the land of great food. It is easy to find great food and wine everyplace. The Italians like simple food. They don’t like fatty sauces or a lot of mixed things. Keep it simple and tasty. There are some rules:

  • NEVER eat at touristy places unless you want bad hamburgers or hotdogs or well done pasta.
  • Trattorias are inexpensive and almost always will serve you a great meal (as long as it is not a touristy one).
  • Ristorantes are more expensive with table clothes and also serve great meals
  • Pizzerias are for a fast pizza.
  • Bars serve coffee and sweet rolls in the morning, Panini (sandwiches) at lunch or dinner times. You can always get a drink, beer, soda or wine as well.
  • There are new Happy Hour places that discount drinks and provide simple hor d’oeuvre in the early evening.
  • Eating standing up (especially at lunch) is the cheapest while a seat will cost a fee.
  • Wine can be ordered by the bottle but you can also get a carafe of local wine must cheaper and it is excellent.
  • Don’t forget to save room for a gelato or some chocolate.

Wherever you decide to eat, try local specialties and wine. Eat slowly and enjoy the food. Smell it, taste it and savor it. Look around you and enjoy the other people. This is Italy. Time slows down (as does your blood pressure). Life is to be enjoyed not worried about. Enjoy your trip!

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Chocolate, Cooking, Europe, Gelato, General Travel, Italy, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why is Italian Food so much better in Italy

I have asked this question over and over again. Even when Italians move from Italy to America, their food changes! Why? There are many reasons I have seen:

  1. Food in Italy is naturally organic and fresh
  2. Produce is sold only fresh (never canned or frozen)
  3. The fruit & vegetables still have dirt on them and smell good
  4. Cut into a tomato and it smells and tastes like a great tomato
  5. Great food takes time to prepare (Americans are always in a hurry)
  6. Food in Italy is a love for Italians and a way of life
  7. There are American fast food junks but most people eat well most of the time
  8. Fried foods exist but the oil is fresh and the temperature is maintained to absorb as little oil as possible (in America it is not profitable to use fresh oil all the time)
  9. Dolce (Sweets) are never too sweet. Chocolate is usually dark but even the milk chocolate is no where as sweet as here
  10. Pastries are crispy and flaky (I remember these here when I was a boy but they are really hard to find now)
  11. Ice Cream is not as sweet or fatty, Gelato is a different recipe from our Ice Cream
  12. Stores exist to make one type of thing well, Our little town in southern Italy has the following types of stores::
  • Bread store
  • Sandwich store (Panini)
  • Pasta store
  • Fruit and Vegetable store
  • Bufala Mozzarella store
  • Pastry shop
  • Butcher Shop
  • Fish Store
  • Chocolate shop
  • Wine store

We survive on extra-large refrigerators (sometimes two) and huge freezers. In Italy there are normally no separate freezers and the refrigerator is small by American standards. Why? It is because everyone shops for that day only! husband and wives in our town bring home what they need for dinner and maybe breakfast fresh. The refrigerator is plenty big for that. Pizzas are normally eaten at a restaurant not taken home or delivered. This allows them to be eaten hot they way they were meant to be eaten. Gelato is eating at a Gelateria. Bringing it home and putting it in the freezer forms ice crystals and changes the flavors. Vegetables and fruits are so fresh, tasty and smell so good. Why wouldn’t you eat more of them?

I have spoken to many restaurant owners that have had successful restaurants in Italy and in America but the food here is VERY different from Italy. When I ask them why? They say:

  1. Americans complain about al dente pasta so we make it soft
  2. American’s want huge portions so they can take it home for another meal (but it won;t taste the same)
  3. Americans don’t want a lot of vegetables
  4. They want very sweet desserts
  5. They want fatty pasta sauces like Alfredo (which was invented by a roman for the American market)

So when you finally make your trip to Italy, stay away from touristy places and big hotel restaurants. Get out and go to small trattoria’s that Italians are eating at. Order the specials. Enjoy the bread and the taste of the food. Have some wine to sit and relax with. Observe the other people. ENJOY … ENJOY … W+ENJOY!

George & Jo Anne

 

 

Categories: Chocolate, Cooking, Eating Italian, Europe, Gelato, General Travel, Italy, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Looking for a Different Type of Vacation?

Imagine an adventure with horse back riding, hiking, camping, soft white sand beaches, nature or a hotel with sea views and great breakfast on or near the beach. This can be yours for a vacation in the Cilento National Forest of Campania, Italy. Campania is a region of Italy in the south with Naples at its northern border. It includes Capri, Sorrento, Positano and Amalfi as well as the famous Amalfi coast. Cilento is at the southern part of this region below the Amalfi Coast.

Cilento has many of European visitors but few Americans. It is not well-known in America and should be. It has a large town on the northern edge of Cilento called Agropoli. Just north of this are ancient Greek ruins in better shape than those in Athens. This is the region that produces the world-famous Buffalo Mozzarella. There are too many small hill-top towns to count. Be adventuresome, choose some and just drive to them. Park and walk around. Have a coffee like an Italian in a bar or stop for lunch or dinner in a local trattoria. Try the local wine. Best of all observe the people, be friendly and communicate with them.

This area has ferries to Amalfi from Agropli and Casal Velino Marina. Take the ferry to Amalfi and from there you can take one to Salerno, Positano, Sorrento, Capri and Naples. Ferries don’t run that often so you will need to stay at least one night before returning to Cilento. There is also a local train that connects to Salerno and Naples. From there you can take a high-speed train anywhere in Europe. You will need a car as most places are a drivable distance away.

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Cilento, Cooking, Eating Italian, Europe, General Travel, Italy, Naples, Positano, Small Towns, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lombardy Cooking

The Lombardy region of Italy is in the north and contains Milan, Largo Guarda and Largo Como. It contains the most people and has a diverse cooking style. Some of the foods known in this region are:

  1. Veal
  2. Risotto
  3. Polenta
  4. Cow’s milk cheeses
  5. White Truffles

Most American’s think of this area as heavy creamy sauces but those are for the tourists. Milano has great pizzas, meat dishes, vegetables and cheeses. During the end of the year is truffle season and you can get fantastic pasta or veal with white truffles. These are expensive but worth a try. Milan is often overlooked as a tourist destination but I think it’s a great city. It is the fashion capital of the world. It has well dressed people and fashion is everywhere. Sit and try a pizza or a pasta. Visit the Duomo (cathedral), Galleria, and Opera House. Become a Milanese and enjoy life with a glass of wine

Risotto with White Truffles from Alba - Italy....

Risotto with White Truffles from Alba – Italy. photo by Simone (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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George & Jo Ann

 

Categories: Cooking, Eating Italian, General Travel, Italy, Milan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Orvieto Italy

English: Facade of Orvieto Cathedral.

English: Facade of Orvieto Cathedral. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Italy is famous for its hill-top towns. They were built high up to protect from invaders and pirates. Some cities have two parts, one at the sea as a port and the other high up on a hill-top. As invaders were coming, the town people went to the hill-top part to protect themselves. Orvieto is a hill-top town between Florence and Rome in the province of Umbria. It is easy to get to by car or train. The train and car parking is at the base of the mountain. There is a funicular that travels up the hill to the town above. The views are spectacular from any wall around the town. The town is made of small cobblestone streets with great shopping and dinning. If you can only do a day travel to Orvieto on an early train and stay until after dinner. The Duomo (Cathedral) is amazing and incredibly large. It sits on a small piazza against one of the town walls. There is a small hotel and restaurant on the piazza as well. One has to marvel at how they built such a structure high up on a hill.

The town only allows local residents cars to drive up the windy road to the top. You can see residence walking up and down this road during the day. We took the train from Rome to Orvieto and returned to Rome in same day. The trip through the mountains was enjoyable. This is a city worth seeing and exploring. You do NOT need a guide! Just enjoy the city. Look at the wonderful leather goods and ceramics. Eat lunch and dinner at a restaurant, Trattoria or cafe. In the morning stop at a bar for coffee and a pastry. Don’t forget the wonderful local white wine from Orvieto.

Enjoy your trip!

Categories: Florence, General Travel, Italy, Orvieto, Rome, Umbria | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Bella Roma

Rome is the eternal city. There is no other like it. To walk its streets and think of Roman soldiers walking the same streets millennia ago wow! We love Rome. Its people, wine, food and buildings. Here is a simple tour of Rome and how to get around on your own. Rome is a walking city. If you can’t walk much take the metro or a taxi.

We love to stay near Trevi Fountain. We stay at Hotel Trevi. It’s central and easy to get to everything else.

  1. Pantheon, Campo de Fiori and Piazza Navona – Standing facing the Trevi Fountain take the pedestrian walkway to your left. It winds through some small piazza and past some nice restaurants to the Pantheon. Piazza Campo de fiori is a short walk away. It has Rome’;s flowers and fresh fruits and vegetables. Piazza Navona is a direct walk from here. It is a very large piazza with fountains and restaurants.
  2. Bocca della Veritá, Castel Sant’Angelo and the Vatican – Bocca della Veritá is a mouth that you put your hand into and if you are truthful you get it back. It’s fun. Accross the Tiber river from the mouth is the Castle. Castel Sant’Angelo is an old fort seen in the movie “Angels and Demons”. It is very close to the Vatican.
  3. Spanish Steps and Shopping – Facing Trevi Fountain the road on the right going behind the fountain leads to Rome’s best shopping area, more restaurants and the Famous Spanish Steps.
  4. Borghese Gardens – These are beautiful cool gardens to walk around. The museum here is a must but usually requires reservations. In the museum are Bernini sculptures. The two most famous are “Apollo and Daphne” and “The Rape of Proserpina“. It is hard to believe you are looking at marble and not real skin.
  5. Central Train Station – You can catch a train to nearby towns like Naples, Pompeii or Orvietto.

Enjoy your trip to Rome. Eat in non touristy restaurants and Trattorias. Meet the people they are fun and friendly. See Rome and imagine this great city during the Roman Empire. It is very romantic.

A 5x5 segment panorama taken by myself with a ...

A 5×5 segment panorama taken by myself with a Canon 5D and 24-105mm f/4L IS lens. Stitched with rectilinear projection to keep lines straight. This view is about 100 degrees horizontally, close to the upper practical limit of rectilinear projection. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: General Travel, Italy, Metro Travel, Rome, Trains | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Where do you eat in Italy?

French wines are usually made to accompany food.

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

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

  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. 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 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.
  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.
  4. Osteria  – These places 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. 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.

Pizza is everywhere! You can have it in Trattoria’s or Ristorante’s. 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.

Remember Italy is the land of romance. Sit back and enjoy yourself. 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: Amalfi Coast, General Travel, Italy, Milan, Positano, Rome, San Gimignano, Velina | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

I can’t Travel without a tour, I’ll get Lost!

Deutsch: Eiffelturm Français : La tour Eiffel

Deutsch: Eiffelturm Français : La tour Eiffel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Have you ever said this? Think you can’t go to a foreign country on your own, especially a non-English speaking country? Think again. Most tourist areas have plenty of English-speaking people. Buy a tour book on the area you are going. Familiarize yourself with the top attractions to be seen. Mark off those places you want to see and mark them on a map so you can see which are close to each other. Plan your days and which attractions to see each day. A smart phone with a map app will work well here. You can “pin” each place and then get walking directions from one pin to the next. If you get lost it will help you get to your next place or back to your hotel.

Try the food and wine and enjoy yourself. Talk to the locals whenever possible. Shop in the small stores and talk to the owners. Get recommendations of where they like to eat. Europe is not so foreign, but it is fun. Enjoy Don’t be afraid of the Metro’s (subways). They are safe, clean and easy to use.

 

George & Jo

Categories: France, General Travel, Italy, Metro Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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