Before I went to Europe, I thought Italian food was nothing more than pizza and pasta. What a mistake!! I was lucky enough to follow my husband over there on a business trip and we spent 8 days in Tuscany.
We also spent two days in Milan (where my husband had meetings) but it wasn’t as amazing for me. I didn’t like it too much, apart from the restaurants and the view from the Dome. If you do go to Milan, you have to climb up there for the views from the rooftop.
Then we took the train to Florence. Part of me wished that I was there in the summer to see the beautiful typical Tuscan colours that you see on every postcard, but the autumn did not disappoint. The landscape is seriously beautiful. We spent 3 full days trying to see as much as we could like Palazzo Pity, the Bobili Gardens, the Uffizi for Boticelli’s paintings (it took us three hours to see it all because it is so big) and also the lovely views on the river. We nearly ran out of time but I made sure we also went to the Galleria dell Accademia. I just couldn’t leave Florence without seeing Michelangelo’s famous David – and am I glad we did!
During the days we were busy sightseeing so we didn’t really stop for long lunches and just grabbed paninis (toasted sandwiches with ham & mozzarella cheese, yummy) but in the evenings we took our time and really enjoyed some classic Italian dishes. On our first night we had Tagliatelle with Bianca truffa. It is impossible to forget the smell and the taste of this dish. We were lucky to have it as it’s only available during the truffle season. We spent the rest of our trip in Siena. It’s a much smaller city with historical monuments. You can’t miss the Piazza del Campo in the center of the city. This is the place you can watch the famous horse race called the Palio. Spectacular. We didn’t have time to visit Montepulciano or Montalcino but we did experience a great wine tasting and we ate bread and fresh olive oil and then scaloppine alla Fiorentina – tender veal cooked with tomatoes, mozzarella, spinach and a touch of cream – beautiful. I always wanted to go to Italy for its monuments and Renaissance paintings but I never imagined this country had so much else – especially the food!
Ever since I arrived back home I have bought different types of olive oil and a Tuscan cookery book, so I try new pasta recipes every week – although nothing has been quite as good as the real thing yet! Anyone got any other Italian recipes I can try?