Saturday, January 5, 2008

L'Italia, li amiamo!

There is so much to love about Italy it is difficult to put in words what I like best of all, the history, the art, the food, the architecture, or the wonderfully warm and friendly people. It's an unbeatable mix. We've visited Italy a number of times in the past, and we're still in love with it, perhaps more so than ever. This time we divided our time between Rome and Florence, and it was our first time in Rome. We've been saving that one for a trip with a good block of time. A previous trip to Rome had been scheduled shortly after 9/11 but was cancelled due to all the uncertainty of air transportation. Florence is an old friend that keeps calling me back. (The photo is Florence's Via Calzaiuoli in its Christmas splendor.)

As I think more about it, I think perhaps it is the people who make Italy so magical. Since restaurants open late for dinner by American standards, we found a little bar near our Rome hotel that had happy hour with a wonderful assortment of goodies to munch with a glass of wine while waiting to go to dinner. The second day we went there, the owner greeted us with big handshakes as if we were old friends. And so it went with each place we went to more than once.

And while on the subject of food, I think the winner in the best thing we had to eat category was an exquisite risotto with artichokes in a Florence restaurant ... bravissimo! Oh wait ... there was that delicate pasta with porcini mushrooms topped with shavings of tartufo nero (black truffle) in a little place around the corner from our Rome hotel. Hmmm ... maybe that was the favorite ... well, you get the picture. The food is wonderful, and it's really quite difficult to find a bad meal.

I have to confess that we were at the door of Central Market when it opened early this morning to get some focaccia, Genoa salami, and aged pecorino cheese to try to duplicate our favorite pannini so easily found in all the little snack bars.

And on top of all the wonderful people and exquisite food, the sights of Rome and Florence are an unending feast for the eye and the soul.

L'Italia, li amiamo.