Every once in a while – and always when I’m embarking on a New Year – I feel the urge to gorge myself on a delicious cecina, a chickpea flatbread which is the typical street food of Liguria and Northern Tuscany.
I did it, at long last! Wandering about the streets of Rome on Italy’s iconic motor scooter, the Vespa!
I had been dreaming of this since I had first seen, as a child, the 1953 romantic comedy film “Roman Holiday”, in which the beautiful woman I was lucky enough to call my godmother, Audrey Hepburn, drives through the Eternal City astride a silvery, fidgety Vespa.
Do you still remember the time when TripAdvisor and the like did not exist? When it was creatures of flesh and blood – and not applications and algorithms – who pointed and steered you, in a confidential tone, to a little-known gem of a restaurant, a picturesque back road or an unfrequented beauty spot?
They are everywhere… Over the last twenty years, the monotonous Monobloc – a lightweight stackable polypropene chair, often white in colour – has proliferated like mushrooms all over the world, and most noticeably at beach bars and seaside resorts.
The numbers make your head spin: a billion Monoblocs have been sold in Europe alone, and I’m told that one Italian manufacturer turns out 10 million units a year!
I have always loved wandering in the aisles of markets, covered or open-air ones.
So when I found out, in Giulia Scarpaleggia’s excellent cookbook, From the Markets of Tuscany, that Livorno’s market is probably the liveliest and most impressive in the whole of Italy, I decided it was high time for a visit.
“I really like the way you’ve furnished your bar, Francesco. No wonder people keep flocking in.
— Thanks for the compliment, Katharina. I think I’ve been lucky.
— Lucky, I don’t know, but you’ve sure done something right. Remind me, when did you set up shop?
— About a year ago. Already! Come vola il tempo…
— You’re telling me!”
During the time when I was working on the renovation of our Palazzo Ca’nova, I took countless walks in the area around it, just to explore, stretch my legs, get some fresh air…
On one occasion, I ended up on the Campo dell’Angelo Raffaele, a lovely piazza in the Dorsoduro neighbourhood. I have no idea how I landed up there, but this is the rule in Venice: getting lost in its labyrinth always leads you to the best surprises.
Good news, I’m starting to be “with it” as far as social media are concerned.
You may remember the article I posted in late August about the Trust & Travel Instagram account we had just created. Now I recently went a step further with this popular photo-sharing service by hosting a special “Instagram event” in our Palazzo Ca’nova apartments in Venice.
You may remember, dear readers, that I recently wrote an article about the festive sagre, these celebrations held in myriad villages and towns in Italy, all year round, and during which you can taste local delicacies and enjoy a most convivial atmosphere.
A few weeks ago, in the lovely village of Montisi, south-east of Siena, I discovered the Sagra del Primo Olio, entirely dedicated to the freshly pressed extra virgin olive oil, and a great opportunity for the uninitiated to see how this magic nectar is actually produced.