What I Learned In Two Month In Italy

The life I knew in the United States was, if I remember, not very healthy. I saw too much of society in which, as I recall, everyone was always running around, eating and partying. For me, it was too much and when I returned to the East, I tried to create environments, especially social environments, where the focus was the beauty, the naturalness and the humility of existence in nature.

I am so happy to be back in Italy, where the natural beauty, art, culture and culinary traditions of the country continue to inspire me throughout the year. And I feel honored to have been able to spend a few months learning, and seeing for myself, what makes a good Italian person.

I spent my three months in Italy (December 2013 to January 2014) focusing on three areas:  Food  – Food for dinner, lunch and dinner out, snacks from an assortment of little shops, and a big buffet spread, and, of course, eating out during the Italian week.  Fashion  – Fashion and beauty trends, and the culture surrounding them.  Wine  – Discovering what it is that inspires you, and where to find it.

The first thing I did was visit two of my favorite Italian restaurants: the Casa Nocerino, in Florence, the home of the Nocerino and the Casa di Torellari’s Tuscan-meets-Pas-de-Calais location on Via Piazza Venezia which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The most spectacular thing: both of the restaurant’s floors of paintings and artifacts by Francesco Guastafiristi, a prominent and beloved Italian painter, are now in my apartment.

Here are my tips on dining in Italy:

Dinner, lunch and dinner  – For dinner, I love either visiting an old-style and traditional Italian family-owned restaurant that has such delicious food , or, for lunch, I find it better to ask for an Italian style pizza (pasta or tomato sauce), rather than asking for spaghetti, meatballs, rice, a salad or anything else.  –  You need to try different things in each part of Italy: at the family-owned Italian restaurant’s or a local Italian restaurant, find a place with small plates and salads, you might want to try asparagus risotto, zucchini salad or eggplant parmaigliata.  – There’s so many amazing things to eat around Milan, Florence, Rome or Venice, that if you live anywhere else in Europe, or even South America for that matter, it’s difficult to have good meals. Just remember to visit your Italian grandma’s bakery to get pastries from all over Italy or, if you are in Florence, visit the bakery near the Piazza della Signoria, the square where the Mona Lisa was painted.  – For dessert, in Rome, Florence and Siena, I order pastas or soups in the morning  and then lunch, usually with small plates or salads and a glass of wine.  And in Milan, try the ice cream at Il Baccano.  –  If you are traveling for a full day, like I was during my time there, try the  Mondo Cappellini , which is a traditional Italian restaurant and food truck.

When you find yourself in Italy, it is nice to have a plan of what you do, so that if you end up having to work outside of your comfort zone, you know what your plan of attack will be.  Having some great Italian cooking in the city of your vacation can make all the difference in eating out and eating well, so that when you find yourself in the restaurant again, your eating becomes almost normal, which means more efficient and happy eating. This is a big advice to have.