Thursday, September 4, 2014

Of Rest and Food and Italian culture

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I have actually been back from my summer break already a while ago but it took me a little bit to sort through my pictures and share with you. But here I am ready to show you all the beauty and fun and adventure that was my summer break or at least the part I spent in Italy.
This is already the second time this year (oh the beauty of living in Central Europe!) that I have traveled to the beautiful land of pasta and tomato and cheese and wine and so much history.
We all know that I love Italy a lot but this time around was different and I got to experience it all a lot more local and people based than ever before.
So this is going to be a post about winding down, calming down, new appreciation for food, exploring history and dealing with a language I don't speak. All accompanied with the pictures I took.
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Becky and I had decided to make the trip down to Orvieto a journey as well and stopover for a night at Lake Como. We decided to stay at a youth hostel for the night and keep driving the next day. It is after all a 8-10 hour drive. We arrived at the hostel in the evening. Upon entering I personally just wanted to start laughing because all my European youth hostel stereotypes came alive in one little instance. There were people from all over the world sitting around tables drinking wine and there were bulletin boards with lots of offers for leisurely activities. On top of that the owners were dressed in their alternative style. When we entered our group room we both had somewhat of a coming off age moment. It was a moment where I knew this was it, the last youth hostel I'll probably ever visit again. The night was well half asleep half awake and when we woke early in the morning we were happy to just take the ferry to a nearby town to explore and indulge in Italian breakfast. We also had this breakfast the way it should be, at the counter sipping Cappuccino and eating croissant oozing with chocolate. Heavenly and one of many of this trip. When it comes to pastries you can hardly beat a chocolate croissant and I am not even a big chocolate person.

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The next couple of days we stayed at a private B&B which I would like to call "Marcella's castle". In fact the tower is over 1000 years old and Marcella did a great job at up keeping this property.
While Becky was out glazing her pottery with a local artist I stayed with Marcella who barely spoke English. So I tried my best Spanish and mime and we found a way of communication. We went for a walk and hung out by the pool and she cooked amazing food for us. All natural, all local and simple. The first night when we arrived she made Bruschetta with tomatoes and truffle cheese accompanied by a good wine. She called this the perfect meal for when you have a lover at your house. I will just take that as an idea for the future husband. Check and check.
As she also does cooking classes we asked if we could do one and cooked a four course meal with her from soup de courgette to tomato sugo and eggplant parmigiano and filled zucchini. All of it bathed in her own olive oil. What more could you ask for?
It definitely upon everything else helped me view food a little different again and how to go about creating and remembering recipes and trying new techniques. And that is the core of any cooking class isn't it?
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We left Marcella's castle and stayed in Orvieto the rest of the trip. One of the days we spent the morning at the art studio glazing. I learned how to glaze in the most simple ways and while the professional artists went about their amazingness I sat there listening to the music, glazing tiles. It was nice and cool inside the studio and getting hotter and hotter outside. Every once in a while I stepped out and breathed in the air scented with fresh rosemary other herbs. It was beautiful and quiet and so far removed from my day to day life. It gave me time to breathe in and be inspired, to let my soul rest.
The afternoon continued like this as we went to Lago di Bolsena and laid by the beach or talked in the water. It was probably one of my favorite days as we didn't watch the time and we had some amazing conversations where we shared our hearts. There is something about being by the water. Maybe it's the rising and falling of its melody or the way the sun reflects on the water and makes it shine like little diamonds. Whatever it is for you or for me it was definitely the perfect afternoon finished with a trip to Civita, the city on the hill.
This day was followed by me traveling to Rome and seeing it in the 12 hours I had walking everywhere with a vague city map and a city guide. So I walked from the train station to the Colloseum, through the Roman Forum, to the Pantheon, to the Vatican, then to the Spanish steps and Trevi Fountain and back to the train station. Crazy I know. To summarize Rome I have to say I am glad I went. I saw the main things, quickly, but I did. I had to remind myself in between that I was walking on historical ground, I decided to watch Gladiator again and was affirmed again that this is not how I like to visit some of the most beautiful cities in Europe and that I'd rather take my time, explore, go where the locals are, take it all in. But you learn out of experience right? Right.

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After Rome I only had two more days left before I took the train back to Germany. So we did as the Italians do. We got up in the morning went for a run, had Italian breakfast at a cafe, strolled through the city and explored the farmer's market and made it back into the B&B right at noon. We stayed inside eating tomatoes and mozzarella and pecorino and cucumbers and peaches drinking espresso and watching So you think you can dance. Then we spent the afternoon visiting the beautiful town of Orvieto which I totally fell in love with.
The Duomo is one of the most beautiful churches I have seen so far and the frescos which initially inspired Michelangelo to paint the Sistine Chapel impressed me a lot more than the Sistine Chapel did.
The evenings were spent at local restaurants with lots of truffle on everything and good conversations before we fell into bed happy and rested.
Looking back this vacation couldn't have been better or at a better time. It was all I could have asked for and the two weeks followed by this trip I mostly just stayed at home as it was raining and cold. But it didn't matter because I was cooking and trying out recipes, watching Sherlock and having my girl friends over to share dinner and stories.
And now the summer is slowly coming to an end and one of my favorite seasons lies ahead and I hope with it new adventures and growth and all the change that Fall holds.



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