Tag: Italy

Seasonal eating guide in Italy: Spring

Seasonal eating guide in Italy: Spring

What’s in season: fava beans (fave), asparagus (asparagi), artichokes (carciofi), zucchini flowers (fiori di zucca), spring peas (piselli), leeks (porri), beets (barbabietole), beans (fagioli), garlic (aglio), lemons (limoni), kiwi (kiwi), strawberries (fragole), cherries (ciliegie)

Vegetable gardens burst into bloom when spring comes around and eating in Italy enters a sort of extended party phase that lasts through the fall. Delicate vegetables like asparagus, zucchini flowers, and spring peas are classic spring fare.

Many more fruits also start to come into season, most notably, strawberries, which flavor everything from tarts to gelato, and are also delicious all on their own. Spring marks the end of heavy root dishes and the start of lighter meals, prepared fresh and with care.

Differences between Arancini & Supplì

Differences between Arancini & Supplì

The Sicilian people will be having some stern words with us for combining their beloved arancino with it’s Roman cousins, supplì, and vice versa but the fact remains that when in Italy you should try at least one type of freshly-fried rice ball.

These starch bombs appear in bars, restaurants, and market stalls all over Italy, but if you are going to order one, it helps to know the difference. The Sicilian arancino is often larger, and either conical or circular in shape. In fact, its name means “small orange.” It is typically filled with ragu and some sort of cheese, with optional veggies like peas, mushrooms, or eggplant.

You will also find specialty arancini like carbonara, though purists tend to turn up their noses at these newfangled inventions. Supplì are a Roman specialty usually found in pizzerias and as antipasti. They are oblong in shape and traditionally contain only rice, tomato sauce, and a large piece of mozzarella in the middle.

The iconic Italian Gelato

The iconic Italian Gelato

No trip to Italy is complete without gelato! If you’re tempted to have a scoop a day don’t worry, it’s totally normal to eat gelato on a regular basis in Italy, especially in the summer.

Though gelato translates to ‘ice cream,’ it’s not quite the same. The low-fat content means that gelato is served a bit warmer and tends to melt in your mouth faster, it also intensifies the flavor and gives it a more velvety texture.

Finally, good gelato isn’t made for long-term storage.

So how can you know if it’s the good stuff or not? When seeking out fresh, artisanal gelato there are a few things to look out for.

Do you know the Fiorentina Steak?

Do you know the Fiorentina Steak?

A bistecca fiorentina, or Florentine T-bone steak, covers all of the characteristics of Italy’s best dishes: a specific cut of meat from a specific cow prepared in a very specific way all within the confines of a specific region.

In the case of the enormous bistecca fiorentina, it’s a T-bone steak cut thick from the loin of a Chianina cow raised in Tuscany.

The Florentines tend to prefer the higher cuts, nearer to the rib cage, which contain the fillet known as bistecca nella costola, whereas beyond Florence in Tuscany you’ll likely get a bistecca nel filetto, a lower cut that tends to be smooth and more melt-in-your-mouth.

The Florentines argue that the bistecca nella costola comes from a more used muscle, meaning it’s more flavorful.

The Ravello Concerts in Italy

In April: The Ravello Concerts in Italy

Ravello is a popular destination for travelers year-round but it fills up even more during select dates in the spring and autumn for the annual Ravello Arts Concerts.

Far from the throngs of summer tourists, this is a time when music lovers fill the gardens and banquet halls of the historic Villa Rufolo for concerts.

Although it began as a chamber music festival, the event has expanded to include jazz. Today it boasts more than 1,750 concerts during the two concert seasons, meaning there is something to suit the taste of almost anyone.

Things to see in Il Grande Museo Del Duomo

Things to see in Il Grande Museo Del Duomo

In a masterstroke of archaeological detective work, the curators and artisans of the newly-expanded Florence museum, Il Grande Museo Del Duomo, have reconstructed the original façade and put many of its beautiful sculptures on display. By painstakingly studying a single 16th century drawing by Bernardo Pocetti, artists and researchers rendered a scale model of the lost façade from resin and marble dust. In the same room they have restored Lorenzo Ghiberti’s “Gates of Heaven” Baptistery doors to their original position vis a vis the facade in order to fully recreate the original vision and iconographic relationship between the Cathedral and Baptistery.

Greatests things to see:

  • Lorenzo Ghiberti’s two masterpieces: The more accomplished of the two bronze doors depicting biblical scenes is the one facing the reconstructed Duomo Façade.
  • Donatello’s Penitent Magdalen (Maddalena Penitente): Michelangelo himself called it the “Gates of Paradise” and it’s this door’s copy that draws the crowds in the Piazza. Perhaps the more historically significant door is the North Door.
  • Michelangelo’s Other Pieta: Visitors to St. Peter’s know you can’t miss Michelangelo’s depiction of loss and motherly sorrow in the Pietá, but not all of the artist’s works were resounding successes. As an old man Michelangelo returned to the scene of the Jesus’ crucifixion to begin work on another Pietá intended for his own grave.
The Coffee in Italy

The Coffee in Italy

For coffee drinkers, there’s little better than enjoying a coffee in Italy.

Just remember, Italian coffee isn’t like coffee in your local Starbucks.

Read our complete guide on how to drink coffee like an Italian, to learn when, where, what, and how to drink coffee in Italy.

From a regular “Caffè” to a cappuccino, a caffè macchiato to a caffè latte, coffee is ubiquitous in Italy but there is a considerable amount of regional difference.

Of all the coffee-crazy cities in Italy, Trieste has, by our humble reckonijng, the finest coffee and cafe culture.

Its long history as a tax-free port brought some of the first coffee beans to the city during Europe’s first coffee craze in the middle ages.

Today Italian coffee king Illy has its headquarters there and the city still imports many other brands as well.

The Iconic Mona Lisa

The Iconic Mona Lisa

Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa is a painting that hardly needs an introduction, but perhaps a few words on why you should see it – and you definitely should – will whet your appetite for an image that is so ubiquitous it often seems a little commonplace.

The Mona Lisa is not the most artistically accomplished painting in Louvre, nor the most beautiful, it’s not the most emotive or even the most awe inspiring.

He painted the Mona Lisa with a technique of his own devising called “Sfumato” in which he layered coats of semi-transparent paint washes one on top of another to create a sense of three dimensions using light and dark.

Mona Lisa’s smile has been the subject of countless works of art criticism, mostly because of the ambivalence that it suggests.

Finally, and more prosaically, the Mona Lisa was stolen in 1911 and not recovered for a full two years – leading the world to believe one of its finest works of artistic heritage was lost forever.

The submerged bronze statue of Jesus Christ

The submerged bronze statue of Jesus Christ

Did you know? In Italy, there is a submerged bronze statue of Jesus Christ of 2.5 metres tall.

Christ of the Abyss (Italian: Il Cristo degli Abissi) is a submerged bronze statue of Jesus Christ, the original of which is located in the Mediterranean Sea, off San Fruttuoso, between Camogli and Portofino on the Italian Riviera.

Various other casts of the statue are located in other places worldwide, both underwater and in churches and museums.


Where to ski: Best for… snowboarders

Where to ski: Best for… snowboarders

Livigno is often overlooked by non-Europeans in favor of fancy Cortina or traditional Courmeyeur, but the remote resort has a lot to offer-and for cheap: Duty-free Livigno is one of the most budget-friendly resorts in Italy, both on and off the slopes!

Livigno has 110km of slopes that range from beginner to black-diamond abilities.

The nearest train station to Livigno is in Tirano, about 70km from Livigno, so a bus or taxi will have to complete the journey for you.