Testaccio: A Taste of Rome

My first thought on my last short visit to Rome was, why did we never live here? Florence is only an hour and a half away by train but Rome feels like another planet away. It’s a different region, a different lifestyle, a different set of people and traditions. Different food. I have to admit, my main reason for wanting to spend a few days in Rome a couple of weeks ago was purely to indulge myself in its tasty food, and more specifically in... Read More

A wine harvest lunch

There are two things that I love about the vendemmia, the grape harvest: the conversation between the vines and the lunch that follows. The vendemmia in Tuscany usually begins in that magical moment between the end of summer and the beginning of autumn, when the grapes are ripe but not too much and perhaps a bit of rain has swollen them nicely. I have always wanted to do a vendemmia and finally jumped at the chance when some friends who have a beautiful... Read More

La Bombetta: Butchers do it Better

The bombetta. Little, innocent-looking morsels of joy. We came across them for the first time in a butcher shop in the pretty, white-washed town of Cisternino, in Puglia’s Itria Valley.  In these parts, a butcher is not just a butcher. He’ll also grill the meat for you and you can eat right there at tables in the butcher shop or out on the street. They are known as Fornelli Pronti (literally, ‘ready ovens’). We were there for a taste of the... Read More

Forgotten Flavours of Puglia

Somewhere between neat, tall rows of grape vines and the sea of shimmering olive trees with their ancient, disfigured and twisted trunks, I found myself in heaven. An intense blue sky and picturesque white-stoned towns only added to the already blissful atmosphere. I’m in Puglia. And more precisely, I’m slowly eating myself to death in Puglia. Not on purpose, but that’s just the way it’s done here. Food is taken seriously. When they say “antipasto”... Read More

Unwinding with Tagliolini al Limone

We all need time to unwind and relax, to get away from the usual routine and leave the “to do” list at home. A weekend by the sea is my preferred technique at the moment, while the Spring weather is still not too hot yet not too cool, sometimes stormy, but mostly gloriously sunny. We are blessed to have a place where we can always stay in a little beach side village on the Etruscan coast, one of my absolute most favourite parts of Tuscany. The... Read More

Rose petal Jam from a Venetian monastery

Waking up on the Armenian monastery of the Island of San Lazzaro, floating in the mist of the Venetian lagoon, is like waking into a dream itself. Water softly laps around the edges of the monastery and that is about all you can hear except for the occasional speed boat on its way to the Lido. I spent several weeks here over two years during my days interning as an art restorer. While I worked on the flooded etchings and photographs (one of the downsides... Read More

A Taste of Florence

Any food lover is likely going to love to eat their way through Florence, but many of city’s most traditional dishes are probably not what you think they are. The Florentines, like most Italians, have a very important relationship with their cuisine. They have very strict rules about what can be eaten when, with what accompaniments and in what particular order. You can even tell what month of the year it is by looking at a Florentine menu. It is... Read More

Livorno for Foodies

Most people may not know this but Livorno is a great foodie town. It’s only an hour’s drive from Florence but it seems a world away from the Tuscan capital. Historically known as a very open city, it was a duty-free port from the 16th century with an open door policy that allowed its merchant population –made up largely of Jews, Armenians, Dutch, English and Greeks in particular – to flourish. It lost its status as a free port when Italy was... Read More

Artusi’s February: Agnolotti

I noticed that this month’s list of Artusi’s suggestions for the perfect lunch included Agnolotti (Artusi spells it “Agnellotti”), a traditional meat-filled pasta from Le Langhe in Piemonte, a gorgeous region in the north western corner of Italy for which I have a soft spot. Home to famous red wines such as Barolo and Barbaresco, the hearty, country dishes speak of the land, the hills and the traditions of the area. The restaurant of the historic... Read More

The art of cicchetti-ing in Venice

Venice in the quiet of the winter is when I love this city the most. There is something about the mystery of the dark, damp city that is brought out even more by the misty weather. Thomas Mann described Venice as “half fairy-tale, half tourist trap,” an observation that is still valid even a century later, and is actually, I think, one of the things that contributes to the city’s mystery and charm. For me Venice is almost always a fairytale,... Read More