Pizza, pasta, prosciutto, risotto, and gelato- oh my! Excuse me while I drool. Those are just a few of my favorite dishes from our numerous trips to Italy. It’s hard to believe that I was 27 years old the first time I stepped foot in Italy. I’ve made up for lost time and have been back at least four times.
Since that first trip, I’ve inundated myself with all the mouth watering meals that are iconic with Italy.
When in Venice, you have to indulge in the local cicchetti culture. We were first introduced to cicchetti (the Italian equivalent to Spanish tapas) on a Venice Walks of Italy tour. Not only are cicchetti delicious, but also relatively cheap (€1 to €3). You can find cicchetti at local pubs called Bàcari. We’ve found that Bàcari are typically crowded with locals and are often standing room only. Don’t let that deter you. The food alone is enough reason to stay.
My favorite Bàcari in Venice is Al Merca. I always get at least two prosciutto, truffle oil, and rabiola cheese mini-sandwiches– life changing, trust me— and gulp them down with a glass (or two) of wine. Chris’ favorite Bàcari is Do Mori, known as one of the oldest in town as it dates back to 1462. Chris isn’t the only one with an affinity for Do Mori. It’s rumored to have been a frequent haunt of Casanova himself.
Let me tell you a little story. The first time we visited Rome, we found a little gelateria near our apartment called Captain Cone. We would frequent the shop as we came and went and it soon became a staple for our days in the city. We had friends visiting us one day (hi, Corey and Paul!) and I asked Chris to go fetch a little bowl of gelato for us. He came back with with a THREE GALLON BUCKET stuffed with gelato. I couldn’t believe he thought that we would eat that entire bucket. And then miraculously, the next day, it was gone.
Needless to say, multiple gelato stops are to be expected every time we visit Italy. It doesn’t matter if it’s freezing outside, I won’t consider it a true visit to the country until I’ve had at least one scoop of Stracciatella.
I can’t possibly talk about Italian food without a nod to pizza. What I love about enjoying a pizza in Italy is that traditionally you get an entire pie to yourself. And no one blinks an eye when you finish the entire thing! My favorite thing to order when in Italy is a good margherita pizza. Chris, on the other hand, will enjoy his pizza with almost anything on it.
Amalfi Coast Lemons
The Amalfi Coast is home to stunning vistas, gorgeous beaches, and lemons that are literally the size of your head. The first time I laid eyes on an Amalfi lemon I mistakenly thought it was a cantaloupe. And while these lemons are more peel than flesh, they smell amazing and are mighty tasty. In my opinion, the best way to enjoy these lemons are to drink them- either in a granita (basically an Italian shave ice) or a limoncello.
I would be doing a severe disservice if I didn’t talk about Italians and their coffee. Being from Seattle and having slung coffee as a barista for many years, I feel pretty confident in my knowledge of all things java. That being said, Italians enjoy their coffee in the purest of forms. For example, it’s considered a faux pas to enjoy a cappuccino–or any other milky form of coffee– after about 10am. Italians believe that the abundance of milk associated with said coffee drinks will mess with digestion. And good luck finding a fancy frappucino in Italy. The closest you’ll come is an affogato- a scoop of gelato with a shot poured over the top. I actually prefer an affogato to any blended concoction you might find at home.
Pro Tip: Italy tends to serve its coffee with a glass of water on the side. The water is meant to be imbibed before the coffee in order to cleanse the palate.
Your safest bet is to simply order a caffè (aka a shot of espresso) served in a tiny porcelain cup. You can top it off with some sugar if you like but coffee in Italy is so perfect it rarely needs any additions.
We’ve experienced Italy both on our own and through catered tours. I love exploring a new destination sans guidebook or plan, but I’ve really enjoyed the tours that we’ve experienced while in Italy. Luckily for you, Bookmundi offers a variety of tours in Italy that offer a little something for everyone (including a bread tasting tour). I’m already looking forward to our next trip to Italy and can’t wait to show baby Holden everything that we enjoy about the country (and its food).