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gastro-tourism Italia 2020 Gennaio

Santa Maria Novella Pharmacy

A shop (and now also a museum) that has been around since 1221 CE, the Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella is credited as the world’s oldest pharmacy.

We tasted mallow tea, rose tea, and bitter herbal liqueurs. I of course bought some to bring home.

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cooking gastro-tourism Italia 2020 Gennaio

My second lesson at Mama Florence

This place is so awesome! The instructors are great chefs and excellent teachers: they are engaging, fun, patient, and quite knowledgeable. In addition to teaching us how to make the food, they shared helpful information about technique and food science. (Anyone who knows me knows these are a few of my favorite things.) I was almost sad to leave at the end of the lesson.

It was also more fun this time because Mom was with me. After thousands of pizzas she’s made for me, I was finally able to return the favor.

Today we made pizza (with perfect crust!), tagliatelle with black kale and garlic pesto, eggless cavatelli with eggplant ragù, and (without any exaggeration) the BEST gelato I have ever tasted – orange and vanilla with berry sauce.

If you are ever in Florence, you absolutely must treat yourself to a class at Mama Florence!

Here are the finished products:

A couple of process photos:

Our class also included a tour of the Mercato Centrale, where our instructor taught us about the vegetables, fresh pasta, cheeses, and meats. She even gave us a cheese tasting (but I was too busy to take a photo of that).

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gastro-tourism Italia 2020 Gennaio

Osteria de Pitti

Osteria de Pitti is my favorite restaurant I’ve been to on this trip. A newly-opened restaurant with fantastic food and excellent service, it’s one of the few places I’ve gone to more than once. I took Mom there last night and we both had a great dining experience!

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gastro-tourism Italia 2020 Gennaio

Cioccolata Calda

Checked off another thing from my must-try list. An Italian hot chocolate – “cioccolata calda”. It’s richer and creamier than any hot chocolate I’d get at home – like drinking a melted candy bar!

All of the chocolate here – whether it’s in a drink, pastry, or candy – is much less sweet than in the US, letting the flavor of the cocoa come forward. I wish I could bring this tradition home with me!

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gastro-tourism Italia 2020 Gennaio

A day at the beach – Santa Severa

I know, you’re surprised that I willingly went to the beach.

Mom had the idea to see the sea and it was a lovely day! We got a little sun and some fresh salt air. We split a bottle of red wine. Mom ate some sea creatures (😝 to each their own, I guess). It was leisurely, but left us both pleasantly fatigued.

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gastro-tourism Italia 2020 Gennaio

The Best Pizza I’ve Had So Far

While I let Mom recover from her flight, I took a walk, and the guy at the hotel front desk recommended Pizzería Mediterránea. It was an interesting experience: Lots of people hurrying in and out, taking numbers, and the people behind the counter scurrying back and forth, frantically serving Pizza al Taglio (cut to order and priced by weight).

Crispy, flavorful, and decadent – it’s the perfect snack!

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Italia 2020 Gennaio

I’m back in Rome

I’ve reached the halfway point of my trip. I’m very glad that Mom will be joining me soon!

Yesterday I took the train back to Rome. I checked into the Hotel I had reserved and it was totally gross. Luckily, I was able to find a last-minute deal on one right around the corner which is way better and has a restaurant in the hotel. I always seem to have good luck when I’m traveling.

Today was pretty chill – more walking and a little shopping (I’ve bought several scarves and hats while I’m here since they’re all on sale).

The view from the train
The view from the train
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Italia 2020 Gennaio

Il Duomo

This is one of the sights I was most excited to see in Italy, ever since I learned about it in my Visual History class at the U of Memphis. I’ll leave it to Wikipedia to tell the full story, but the size and weight of the dome required an incredible advance in the engineering of the time and was inspired by the shape of a chicken’s egg, which is a naturally strong shape.

The cathedral is covered in incredibly intricate art. It’s incredible the lengths that the Italians went to create a physical manifestation of their faith.

I climbed all 463 steps and was rewarded with a great view

After a short rest, I also climbed the bell tower that you see in the pictures above (Giotto’s Campanile).

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cooking gastro-tourism Italia 2020 Gennaio

Cooking lesson at Mama Florence

Today I attended a cooking lesson at Mama Florence cooking school. It was amazing. We made pear and pecorino salad, spinach/ricotta ravioli, taglierini con limone, mashed pumpkin with thyme and caramelized goat cheese, and two kinds of biscotti for dessert. I also improved my knife skills and learned several re-usable cooking tricks. This place is absolutely great!

I didn’t take many photos, obviously because my hands were messy the whole time, but here are some:

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gastro-tourism Italia 2020 Gennaio

Florence

I love walking around this city. There are lots of narrow cobblestone streets that diffuse the traffic and lots of cool shops. The city is full of great art, big and small, old and new:

I went up to the Piazzale Michelangelo and got great views of the city.

I visited the Basilica di Santa Croce, where several historical figures are entombed: Florence Nightingale, Michelangelo, Galileo, Machiavelli, and the opera composer Gioachino Rossini.

I’ve had some great food. The best thing about restaurants in Italy is all of the fresh-baked bread.