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Italy 2012

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Italy 2012 - Page Text Content

S: Italy 2012: Rome & Florence

FC: Italy 2012 Rome & Florence

1: Due to some weather delays, Shannon got there a day later than I did. I survived 24 hrs in Italy on my own! | We made it!

2: Via Filippo Chiappini #16, Rome Italy 00153 | Trastevere

3: We rented an apartment for our 4 nights in Rome. Just a block from the Trastevere train station, the area is described as the "seedy" and "bohemian" area of Rome, but it was lovely. The location worked out perfect; we could walk just about everywhere we wanted to go..

4: {Day 1} Our first Italian Meal: Pizza! (and melon with prosciutto)

5: {Day 2} A traditional, seasonal, cookie shop. | Adorable buildings ... I loved all the little alleyways and window-box gardens. | {Day 1} One of our first random, sightseeing stops: The Church of St. Cecelia. (thanks for the recommendation , Rick Steve's Guide to Italy!)

6: Outside | Inside | [Day 2} We walked up to the Colosseum, looking exactly like tourists, and were approached by a tour guide asking if we wanted pay a little more than the ticket price to join his tour. Dubious, having lived in tourist traps ourselves, but ... "when in Rome ..." we agreed. The tour was great and well worth the money. This was the first "random guy walks up and ask if we want to join a tour" that we did, but it wasn't the last and they were ALL wonderful. Who knew? | The Colosseum

8: Stone Mural on the walk between the Colosseum and Palatine Hill | The Rise of the Roman Empire | 27 BC

9: 200 AD

10: In the Forum Square | Via Sacra (the actual, original stones that made up the road, ya'll!) | Continuing with our fab "come-join-us" tour, our Collusseum tour guide (who again, was great, and had us acting and feeling just like ancient Romans) passed us off to an equally as great (and, much cuter/younger) tour guide who took us to the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill and told us way more about all the great, ancient things than my brain could even retain for the 30 seconds it took to walk to the next great ancient thing ... There was the Arch of Titus, Basilica of Constantine, House of the Vestal Virgins, Arch of Septimus Severus, Circus Maximus, the Imperial Palace, Romulan Huts .... | The Roman Forum & Palatine Hill

12: {Day 2, con't} After being whooped by sightseeing knowledge, we made our way to the Trevi Fountain (so beautiful, so immense!), then to a nearby spot for wine, cheese, and bread (I'm sure there was other food too). | Trevi Fountain

14: Fabiolous Cooking Day Going to a cooking class while in Italy just seemed like a good idea. We found one online (fabiolouscookingday.com) and luckily enough, they had room in their class for the next day {Day 3}. We met Monica, our chef/tour guide and the 4 other people in the class @ 8:30am on Saturday. Monica took us on a walking tour through the Jewish Ghetto, to the Pantheon, then the Trevi Fountain. During the tour, we stopped at the market at Campo Dei Fiori to pick up all the fresh produce for our dishes. Then, she took us to the cheese shop for fresh ricotta and mozzarella, and then to the butcher for pork. All along the way, she asked us what we did and didn't like and customized our menu for the day. After shopping, we walked to Faibo's apartment and then cooked, and cooked, and ate, and drank, and had a truly fabulous time with Monica and the other folks in the class (George, George's wife, Haley, and Haley's grandma). After eating everything, we walked to Fabio's restaurant, "That's Amore" for coffee and dessert. | Cheese Shop | Butcher | Jewish Ghetto | Pantheon

15: Campo dei Fiori Market

16: Ingredients For Pasta: 3 eggs & 10.5 ozs flour | Directions: Pour flour on working surface and make a fountain with a hole in the middle of the flour. Break the eggs into the middle of the fountain. Gently beat the eggs inside to absorb the flour. While beating the eggs, add a little flour at a time with the tip of the fork. When all the flour is mixed and you have a dough consistency, knead the dough by pressing and folding gently with your hands. Now, work the dough with palm of your hands – holding with the left hand and pressing with the right, then fold the dough over and turn. Repeat this process for 5 minutes. Let the ball of dough sit for 30 minutes in the fridge. Roll the dough out with a rolling pin into a long rectangular shape, careful not to roll to wide for the pasta machine. If you do not have a pasta machine, continue to roll with the rolling pin until you reach the desired thickness. Don’t rush the process in the pasta machine – start on the thicker pasta setting and put the dough through the machine numerous times (changing the setting each pass), patiently reaching the desired thickness. Each time you will need to sprinkle flour on the pasta to keep it from sticking to the machine. Cut the dough into long rectangular pieces. Use a pasta cutter to cut the fettuccine. Sprinkle some flour and boil immediately until they float. | Success! | Fresh Pasta | All recipes copied from Fabio's website. I didn't take such detailed notes. :)

17: Fettuccine with Homemade Breadcrumbs | So simple, but so tasty ... crunchy breadcrumbs and tender pasta ... mmm | Ingredients: Fettuccine For the breadcrumbs: Capers Olives Extra-virgin olive oil 2 c left over (or even stale) bread 1 c grated pecorino cheese 2 cloves of garlic Directions Use 3 cups of leftover bread. If the bread is too soft you can bake in the oven until it becomes hard. Place the bread, pecorino, capers, olives and garlic into a food processor and blend. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the fettuccine until just barely al dente. Drain the fettuccine, and add the breadcrumbs. Transfer everything to a large serving bowl and serve immediately with a bit of olive oil. | S | <--- view off Fabio's balcony.

18: Ravioli Stuffed with Zucchini and Lemon | Ingredients: For the filling and sauce: Parmesan cheese Ricotta cheese Zuchinni Zest of 1 lemon Directions: Slice zuchinni and boil until tender. Allow to cool, then mash with a fork. Combine the mashed zuchinni, egg yolk, a pinch of salt, ricotta cheese, lemon zest and parmesan cheese for the ravioli filling. Then place in the fridge to cool. Make dough per Fresh Pasta Recipe Cut the dough into long rectangular pieces. Fold the dough in half to find your starting point. Place the filling. | 4 cloves garlic, finely sliced Butter Extra Virgin Olive Oil Salt Grated Pecorino Romano Cheese | Brush the pasta with egg white to hold the dough together. Fold the dough over to make edges meet. Begin on one end pressing firmly with fingers in the middle then work to the edges in order to assure there is no air left inside the pasta. Use a pasta cutter to cut the ravioli. Sprinkle some flour on the surface and remove the ravioli using a spatula so they don't stick. While the ravioli are cooking heat a piece of butter in a large sauce pan over medium high heat. Add garlic to the pan and cook for 30 seconds, then add leftover pasta filling, stir and cook for 5 minutes. Reserve cup of the pasta water. Once the ravioli are al dente, drain and add to your pan. Add the pasta water, cook for 1 minute stirring constantly. Serve with pecorino cheese on top.

19: Gnocchi with Tomato Sauce and Mozzarella | Ingredients For the sauce: Tomatoes 4 cloves garlic, finely sliced 1 glass dry white wine Extra Virgin Olive Oil Onion Fresh Mozzarella Directions Clean the potatoes, scrubbing the skin well. Boil them in salted water until they are soft – you can check with the tip of t he knife. Drain the potatoes then cool them for 10 minutes. Remove the skin. Mash the potatoes, not in a food processor but with the hand tool then mix them together with the flour using your hands, working the dough for 10 minutes until it’s mixed together well and you have a nice consistency. Add more flour to the surface if needed and roll the mixture with your two hands to reach 1 inch diameter. Cut the roll into small pieces about an inch long. Roll each individual piece on the back side of a fork to make the gnocchi groove. Cut the peppers and the onion into slices and the cherry tomatoes in halves. Heat a large pan over medium high heat, add a couple glugs of olive oil. Add garlic to the pan and cook for 30 seconds, then the peppers onions and tomatoes, stir. Once is ready, pour everything in a conical strainer. Mush the sauce separating the liquid from the solids until you reach a nice creamy sauce. In a pan put extra-virgin olive oil and add garlic. Once the garlic begins to turn golden, glaze with the white wine. Cook the gnocchi in boiling water until it floats. Add the pasta to the pan with sauce. Add hunks of mozzarella to the top. | For the pasta: (flour should equal of the a mount of potato) 17.5 ozs red potatoes 4.5 ozs flour

20: By this point, we were already stuffed, but had to keep eating, it was so good. | Pork Saltimbocca | Ingredients 8 slices ham 8 pork cutlets, thinly sliced and pounded flour spread on a plate for dredging 2 tablespoons olive oil 2 tablespoons butter 8 sage leaves 1/2 cup dry white wine salt and pepper to taste Directions Place one slice of ham on each piece of pork and pound in lightly with a meat pounder. Secure a sage leaf on top of the ham with a tooth pick. Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Dredge both sides of the pork in flour to coat, shaking off any excess. Place them ham side down in pan and cook, turning once, until lightly browned on both sides. Transfer to a warm plate. Drain oil from pan, place back over heat and add butter. When butter is melted add sage and sauté for one minute. Add the white wine and scrape loose any bits from bottom of pan, then add a pinch of salt and pepper. Place pork back in pan, ham side up and cook until sauce is reduced by half and meat is heated through. Transfer pork to serving plates, two pieces per person, spoon sauce over top and serve.

21: Ingredients Cherry tomatoes (Breadcrumbs) 2 c left over (or even stale) bread 1 c grated pecorino cheese Fresh herbs from the garden 2 cloves of garlic Provolone cheese Directions Use 3 cups of leftover bread. If the bread is too soft you can bake in the oven until it becomes hard. Place the bread, pecorino herbs and garlic into a food processor and blend. Cut tops off tomatoes and remove seeds. Fill the heads with the breadcrumb mixture and a piece of provolone cheese. Place them on a cookie sheet and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil then place in a pre-heated oven for 15 minutes at 275F. | Stuffed Tomatoes | Fried Zuchinni Blossoms | Ingredients 5 zucchini flowers flour as needed 1 c ice cold sparkling water c parmesan 1 pinch of salt 1/3 c olive oil mozzarella anchovies Directions Combine the salt, ice cold sparkling water and parmesan in a bowl and mix well. Add some flour and mix well, keep adding until you feel you’ve reached the right consistency for the batter mixture. Clean and slice the zucchini flowers. Add a piece of smoked mozarella and an anchovy in the middle of the flour. Dip each slice into the batter and place in a pan with a few table spoons of olive oil over medium heat and fry for a couple of minutes on each side until the batter turns a golden brown color. Remove from the heat and place on a plate lined with a paper towel to absorb the excess oil.

22: Spanish Steps

23: We finished our cooking day around 4pm, then walked to the Spanish Steps on our way back to the apt. The guidebook says the steps are a famous place to "be seen." There were hordes and hordes of people there, so one would not have any problem being seen.

24: Florence

25: {Day 4} we said Arrivederci to Rome and took the high-speed train to Florence. We splurged the extra 20euros or so and traveled first class. Really nice way to go ... drink service just like a plane,comfy seats, a good book, and the 1.5 hrs to Florence sped by.

26: Inside the Duomo | We got to Florence around lunchtime, so had plenty of time to wander around the lovely old city before staring our bike tour the next day. We walked down to the Duomo - amazingly huge and ornate. And of course toured the Academia Gallery, where we saw room after room of amazing sculptures and artwork, including famous David. There was a color replica of David in a courtyard of the museum (you're not allowed to take pictures of the real thing), where we learned he's a natural blond.

27: A little tired (and hot) from walking, we made one last stop at the Galileo museum, where we'd heard Galileo's middle finger was on display. But we never did find it. Later we dined on boar (a specialty of the area )pasta al fresco on the streets of Florence.

28: Marble operations maps recording the achievements of the American armed forces in the area. | 4,402 of US military who died in between Rome and the Alps in WWII. | On Monday {Day 5}, we met David, our bike tour coordinator/guide in Florence where we took us in a van to pick up our bikes. Our first stop was supposed to be a local winery, but because it was Monday the winery didn't open until later so David took us on a special detour to a WWII Memorial for US troops who fought in Florence. | Florence American Cemetery and Memorial

30: After getting our bikes, we followed David on an easy, and scenic, 3-mile ride to the Winery.

31: In Front of The Winery

32: David took us on a tour of the winery. Besides making wine (we were in the Chianti Region), they also produced olive oil and grappa. | Adjacent to the winery was a beautiful garden and the residence of the owners.

33: After the tour, we had a lovely lunch with a few different wines in the upstairs restaurant/dining room area of the winery.

34: A little break after a nice downhill | Once done with lunch, David handed over our maps for the next two days and a cell phone, then we finished out our 15 mile ride to Greve (the red highlighted route on the map) on our own. | I love those pointy trees.

35: Giant Chianti Cork! | Random Fruit Trees

36: We arrived in Greve later in the afternoon, where our luggage was waiting for us at a quaint little B&B in the Old Market Square. | Old Market Square (The B&B was to the right of the building in the center of the pic.)

37: Maybe one of the most adorable places we stayed during the whole trip. | Greve in Chianti

38: A Breakfast of Champions should always include cheese & bruschetta! | {Day 6} After a lovely Italian breakfast, spread out by our B&B host (who didn't speak any English), we were on the road by 9am to start our 27 mile ride into Siena (blue line on the map). David described this route as fairly challenging.

39: On the next page, you'll find many, many pictures of our ride to Siena. I stopped a LOT, so took the opportunities to take lots of pictures. This was a challenging ride, with lots of slow inclines. Shannon rode up most all of them, but I walked most, so this trip took a pretty good while to complete It did make for some nice downhills though. | We rode on pavement the whole time, with the occasional car passing by.

41: Even thought the ride was challenging, the weather could not have been more perfect. It was cool when we started and warmed up to about 80 later in the day. | View about mid-way up one of the hills looking back on the road we just rode. | Oh look, 800 meters of a 15% climb!

42: The halfway point in our ride was Castelina, where we stopped to walk around for a bit and have lunch.

43: An adorable little medieval town, there were a handful of nice cafes to choose from for lunch.

44: Etruscan Tombs | Also while in Castelina, we explored some Etruscan Tombs dateing from 700 BC and toured the Museo Archeologico del Chaianti Senese

45: Museo Archeologico del Chianti Senese

46: Entrance to our hotel: Chiostro Del Carmine | ... but look at the view! | The rest of our ride into Siena was easy by comparison,- mostly all downhill, as evidenced by the lack of pictures I took. :) Siena is a bigger city, so we had to dodge a good bit of traffic making our way to the very nice hotel David booked for us ... and where our luggage was sweetly waiting. | The rooms were nice, if a little on the small side ... | Hotel Courtyard where we had breakfast the next morning.

47: That night, we were pretty tired, but did manage to venture out to have dinner at one of the places David recommended - it was not disappointing. They hand-write out their menu daily, and the pasta was fantastic. After dinner, our waitress came over and put bottles of grappa and amaretto on our table with two shot glasses. She told us to enjoy and have a good night. Had we not already been so tired (and Shannon pregnant), that would have been a lot of fun. :)

48: Wednesday morning {Day 7} we took a bus from Siena back to Florence where we stayed one more night. This time we stayed at the Grand Hotel Minerva, which I picked, mainly for it's fabulous roof-top pool with a view of the Duomo. That afternoon we didn't do much more than sit on the roof, read, and have a few cocktails. | Relaxing in Florence

49: For dinner that night, we stayed close and just ate at the hotel restaurant, which was exceedingly good. They also handed out complementary Champagne, which of course didn't hurt either. We indulged in a traditional, lengthy, Italian meal: Primo was Boar Ravioli, Secundo for me was an excellent fish dish that they carved off the bone for me table-side. And the Dolce, was just nothing but beautiful.

50: Vatican City | St. Peter's Basilica

51: On Wednesday {Day 8} we took the train back to Rome. Our flights back home left from Rome the next day so we had an extra 1/2 day in Rome. Shannon said we couldn't come to Rome and not see the Sistine Chapel, so we headed to the Vatican. Waiting in line to get in, Shannon found us a tour guide, who ended up giving us one of the best, most interesting and informative tours we took while in Italy.

53: Proof that Shannon bought her mom a rosary from the Vatican. The Pope was unfortunately not available to bless it for her. | Kinda tired , but full of Vatican knowledge.

54: And that's it. :) We did a little shopping, stayed in a crappy hotel by the airport, and flew home early the next morning. :) | Some Observations: - Lots of people smoke. - Dinner is a minimum of 2 hrs, and it's hard to get the waiters to bring you the check when you're done. - Not every building has air conditioning, but stand-alone units work very good. - The water out of the tap is good, but waiters always ask "Sparkling or Distilled" and bring you a bottle to keep on the table. - The exchange rate sucked: 1 euro = $1.40 US. - The city of Rome is very clean, but also very crowded. All the buildings are very big and very close together. - Most everyone speaks at least a little English, but it is very helpful to know basic words & sentences. - There is no parking available, anywhere. So glad we didn't rent a car. - Trains are better than busses. By a lot. - Breakfast is usually a pizza sandwich and espresso. - Breakfast buffets include cold cuts and whole rounds of cheese. - The weather in September could not have been more perfect. - Everyone dries their clothes out on a line. - Gelatto is good every day.

55: “Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.” -- Terry Pratchett

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Klainie Nedoroscik
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