Posts Tagged ‘italy’

Of the many legends and stories about love, one of the most famous is the tale of Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet written by William Shakespeare.  Their romance takes place in Verona, Italy in the 13th century.

verona 19 tower views

verona 17 view

The Piazza Bra is an area where lovers strolled in days of old as much as today.

verona 2 piazza

Imagine those lovers sitting in the Arena or weaving in and out of the enormous columns day-dreaming of each other.

verona 4 colloseum

Perhaps they walked the fortified walls of the city where they were hidden from view.

verona 22 view brick bridge

Strolling along the riverside has long been a popular pastime for lovers too with beautiful views of the Alps far off in the distance.

verona 21 view river alps

Being in such an enchanting setting, we decided to visit Giulietta’s (Juliet’s) home.  Upon our arrival walls of graffiti from lovers pledging their affections to one another greeted us.

verona 6a grafitti

Surprisingly, other people chose to express their love with wads of gum.  Romantic?  I thinketh not.

verona 13a gum wall

verona 14 gum close

These plaques inform about the history of the home that now houses The Juliet Museum.

verona 7 juliet museum

verona 8 juliet museum

Directly above the plaques is the famous balcony.  From the courtyard below this balcony is where Romeo spoke these memorable words.

verona 9 balcony

“But, soft!  What light through yonder window breaks?
It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.”

verona 10 balcony close

“See, how she leans her cheek upon her hand!
O that I were a glove upon that hand,
That I might touch that cheek!”

          ~ Romeo longs for her as he watches her at her window.

A bronze statue of Juliet stands in a quiet corner of the courtyard garden.

verona 11 statue

Adjacent to the statue is an iron gate bearing locks, thousands of locks, with the initials of lovers who have symbolically locked their love together.

verona 12 locks on gate

As dusk falls on Verona, you can feel the romance of this beautiful city.

“My bounty is as boundless as the sea,
My love as deep; the more I give to thee,
The more I have, for both are infinite.”  (Juliet to Romeo)
verona 20 view dusk

And as night fell, we made our way to a beautiful meal in a cozy and romantic osteria.

“Good night, good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow,
That I shall say good night till it be morrow.”  (Juliet’s call to Romeo)

Our first course was Pasticcio con Asparagi Freschi, Funghi Porcini e Monte Veronese (Fine layers of pasta with fresh asparagus, porcini mushrooms and Monet Veronese cheese.  Served hot.  The pasticcio is so rich that you almost need to share it.

Verona asparagus dinner 2

My entrée was a succulent platter of lamb with a side of vegetables.

Verona food agnello

Dessert was a rich and sexy chocolate treat called Salami.  A mixture of rich dark chocolate, almonds, pistachios and amaretti (a crispy biscuit) laced with amaretto liqueur.  It is sliced into thick rounds and just before serving it is decorated with dark chocolate sauce.

Verona Food Choc Salami

“What’s in a name?  That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”  (Juliet speaks to the night)

verona 0 rose

Happy Valentines Day!


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Wending our way from Malpensa through Genova (founded in the 4th century), we ventured down the Ligurian coast to Italy’s Riviera. The Liguria region is known for its fresh seafood, served at local trattorias, using local olive oils, pesto and fresh herbs. It is simple cooking with complex flavors.

After a couple of hours of driving our hunger rose so we stopped in Santa Margherita for sandwiches and drinks. It is a beautiful little coastal area leading to the town of Portofino.

Portofino is a seaside village in the shape of a half moon. It is known as a destination for the rich and famous, a home to several luxury hotels and welcoming of luxurious yachts in the small harbor. That aside, the beauty there is breathtaking.

After satisfying our grumbling tummies, we resumed our drive south to the quaint town of Levanto.

This town. Levanto, is nestled in a valley that opens to the sea making it an important location in the 9th century as a defense to attacks from the sea. Then during the Middle Ages, it rose in value as a center for commercial activity. The architecture reflects several periods from the 9th century to the 17th & 18th and then again in the 19th & 20th centuries as more growth evolved. All this combines to make it a fascinating stop as part of the famous area of Cinque Terre.

However, our goal for today is to reach Levanto, our base for our exploration of the Cinque Terre (5 cities) on the coast.  True to form, my first interest upon our arrival in Levanto is the alimentari (grocery store).

Then we proceed to explore the coast of Levanto:

An early dusk but not quite sunset offers some interesting images:

Looking toward the hills:

Graffiti!  Anyone who reads my posts knows how I love street art and grafitti.  Unfortunately for Italy, it is overwhelmed with graffiti.  Everywhere.  It’s not a good thing.  I embrace it for the art that it is anyway.

The streets of Levanto:

And everyone in Italy needs a spot to enjoy an apertivo (a pre-dinner treat):

And sometimes the restaurant has additional seating across the narrow street.  Just take a seat and someone will serve you:

Surrounded by quaint streets we close the day with apertivo and great food.

And as the sun sets, the apertivo and dinner lull you to return to your hotel for a good nights rest:

This was a wonderful sip of Grappa with some mini-ham sandwich bites and traditional potato chips for apertivo.

I had a wonderful Eggplant Parmigiana for my entree.  My dining partner didn’t order as well as you will see.

This is the mistake dinner.  My dining partner ordered the coletto di pollo (chicken cutlet) con patate (potatoes)

We had a great evening and went to sleep satiated with travel and food.  Next day we rose and headed out to explore more of Levanto and then on to the village of Lucca.

Stay tuned.

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About eight weeks ago, I was offered an unbelievable opportunity. My love of travel and passion for food melded into one beautiful adventure almost seamlessly. I had little time to prepare for my 3 ½ week trip.

I read about the history and culture as much as time allowed and took a crash course in the basic language. I learned the exchange rates for money. Finally, I packed a single 20” suitcase, loaded the camera bag with lenses and extra memory cards, grabbed my passport and boarding pass, one light jacket and embarked on an amazing journey.

My wonderful task during the last several weeks was learning about the regional foods of Italy. This journey took me to Northern Italy where we focused on the foods from Lombardy, Liguria, Tuscany, Emilia Romagna, and Veneto. Due to the wide scope of Italian foods, this trip was limited to just five regions of the twenty regions of Italy.  Thank goodness!

This eating adventure was fun from the moment we boarded our airplane! Seated in first class, we enjoyed a beautiful breakfast on the way to New York.

We had a 3-hour layover in New York that afforded us enough time to enjoy the Admirals Club, shower, grab a snack and send a few last emails before we were without Internet reception.

Our flight from New York to Milan was as smooth as silk. Our seats had multiple ways to adjust as you can see by the remote control here.

Once in the air, and comfortable in our spacious seats, we were treated to hot towels to refresh ourselves.  We each received our own screen for viewing movies.  The alcohol was free and offered frequently. Our dinner was a three course event!

My appetizer:

My salad:

My dinner:

The alternate dinner offering:

After dinner we reclined with our pillows and blankets and slept soundly until our flight crew woke us for breakfast. What a sight it was to awaken to the Alps in the morning sunlight!

We landed in Milan 20 minutes ahead of time, hit the ground running, got our rental car and headed south from Lombardy to Liguria.

More to come…

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