I’m writing this in gloves. I know it’s only just March, but you have to admit that needing to wear gloves indoors when technically it’s spring is absolutely bloody mental. Being perpetually shivery is the downside to living in my dream cottage in this tiny little village, but I’ve always thought it would just give me an excuse to sip wine by the fireplace. I didn’t think it would mean I consider myself scantily clad if I so much as remove my dressing gown. I’m currently in my bedroom, the temperature of which, if you follow me on Twitter, you will know I whinge about. A lot. Hence the gloves.
Those of you that know me (in fact, also those of you that don’t, as I freely proclaim it from the rooftops at every given opportunity) will know that one half of my family is Italian. Those that know me better will know that the fact I’ve never been to Italy is the albatross necklace that daily adorns my shoulders. So this + hideous cold weather = me thinking: it’s about time I visited this beautiful country and got myself a little bit warmer.
I think this summer will be the perfect time, it’s just I haven’t quite worked out where to go. I think I’d get all antsy if I had to stay in one place, so I’m thinking about exploring three or four places over a two week period. But where? Roma, Napoli, Venezia, Firenze? They seem the most obvious, but what about Milano, Bologna, Rimini, plus there’s all the Lakes. And let’s not even begin to think about the fact I’m a wine adviser and haven’t yet mentioned the vineyards.
I don’t know where I’m going or how I’m getting there, but I do know what I will be enjoying when I do get there:
1. Pannetone, or more likely Panbriacone
Every Italian loves pannetone, right? My fam certainly can’t get enough. Panbriacone is loosely translated as The Drunken Cake, and I introduced this marvel to the Vickers clan at Christmas: all the goodness of pannetone, but the utter filthy delight of it being soaked in passito and vin santo – that’s gorgeous, sticky sweet wine to you and I. OM NOM NOM.
You can find out more here and there are plenty of UK stockists at varying times of the year, particularly at Christmas.
Eddie Izzard does tres funny standup about this, but it’s true: the Italians love a scooter. There’s something ever so vintage chic about that. But look:
When you’re driving down a street as beautiful as this, the wind whipping your hair into a frenzy, the sunbeams slanting through gaps in the ancient buildings, knowing you’re on your way to get some gelato… is there really anything better than that?
Italian winemakers do it best, maybe because they live the kind of life that is best-suited to slurping juicy wine out of massive glasses in a sunny, nonchalant haze. What do I know? I’ve never been. Reckon these pictures do it justice though:
I especially love Chianti: ripe, juicy sour cherry, tea leaves, earthy tones, melting into pasta dishes and lasagne… little bit special, that.
Does this picture not do it justice already? Just… wow. If you’re looking for the best ice cream in the world, you’ve come to the right place. Molto saporito!
Many thanks to Flavio@Flickr for this one!
5. Italian Attitude
Look at this happy old Italian guy! Apparently, he’s called Aldo and is an eighty year old farmer. I just love the way my family and all the Italian people I know gesticulate madly, get emotional and express themselves, while at the same time knowing when to party hard and when to just chill out and enjoy life. It sort of rubs off. I’m a bit scared I’ll want to stay forever.
Photo this time from Monica Arellano-Ongpin.
I’ll need all the help I can get, so please give generously: I need recommendations for where to go, how to get there, what to see… grazie molte!