Why we love Italy and I have always wanted to visit-
Italy, the land famous for many things including architecture, fashion and design, literature but probably most of all their cuisine, there are so many delicious dishes to try in Italy. That’s definitely one of the main reasons I’ve been itching to go to Italy for a long time. I missed out on going there over 10 years ago with Nic and her family as I was still paying off a trip to Florida the year before. So as Nic had already been twice before, she wasn’t as fussed to go there again straight away. I can’t complain though because in that time we have travelled to many beautiful places, but for me Italy was still right up there on my list of places to visit. So then came the planning for our long term backpacking travels and deciding where to start, Nic suggested that we start in Milan as she wanted me to experience the delights of Italian culture. I have always loved Italian food, but Nic has always told me that there is nothing better than the real authentic food.
Our favourite Italian food-
Like I said, I’ve always loved Italian food. There are so many different types of food to enjoy, all with unique flavours, smells and textures. Some of my favourites are the obvious choices such as pizza, lasagne and different styles of pastas. Then there is gnocchi, bruschetta and risottos. Being veggies we can enjoy pretty much every dish that Italian cuisine has to offer, as each dish could easily be made without meat/fish.
What we just had to try done the authentic way-
Although having sampled a fair few different types of Italian dishes from restaurants at home and supermarket versions and having really enjoyed them. Nothing comes close to the authentic tastes of real Italian food. It is something that you need to actually try for yourself to understand what I mean. Even the cheap pizzas (€ 4) from late night fast food shops are prepared using fresh dough and cooked to perfection using an authentic pizza oven. We also discovered a really cool pizzeria called Mr Panozzo, the chef himself comes out to greet you and makes you feel very welcome. We ordered a Margherita but added onions and mushrooms, the mushrooms were delicious, it tasted like they were cooked in garlic. The prices here are cheap for the service and quality which they deliver, our pizzas cost 7 euros each. I couldn’t recommend this place highly enough!
We decided that we must find a lovely Italian restaurant during our stay in Milan and try some pasta dishes. We found ourselves wandering around the beautiful Brera district during the Milan design festival. The atmosphere was superb, with lots of people sitting outside different restaurants in the sunshine, the smells were amazing and enticed us in. We chose a restaurant at random as we knew they were all going to be great. The waiter was really helpful when we asked about veggie options, and there was actually very little that we couldn’t actually have. We both chose the same thing, (this happens a lot as Nic likes to always copy my choices!) which was a bruschetta with mozzarella, garlic and tomato to start, and for the main we both had the pesto lasagne. I’ve never experienced lasagne like this, you could tell that everything was made from scratch, it was gorgeous.
Our time in Italy wouldn’t really be complete without trying a gelato which is the Italian name for ice cream. These aren’t just like any ordinary ice cream though. The texture is unique, as it contains less air and more flavouring than other typical frozen desserts. We had been wanted one all the time whilst in Milan but never got one. We finally got one in Bellagio, a lovely town situated on the land mass that divides the stunning lake Como in two. We had been riding some bikes along lake Como for most of the day which had worn us out, so we decided to hand the bikes back to where we rented them from and go get ourselves some gelato. This definitely had to be one of my best days travelling.
Making food on our own-
As we are backpacking and trying to stick to a relatively strict budget, we knew that making our own food whilst travelling was a must. Especially in Italy as eating out every night is quite expensive. So whilst staying up in the Dolomites in Badia for a few days gave us the chance to make our own meals. There was a local Spar open in the village (pretty much the only thing that was open at this time of year, as the ski season had just come to a close) which stocked fresh pasta, bread and some of the best ingredients to cook your own food with. We picked a few bits up which would last us 2-3 days, this was far cheaper than eating out. Although it wasn’t the quality of the lasagne we ate a few days previous, it was still very tasty and better than what we usually find in the supermarkets at home. We made spinach and ricotta ravioli both nights, one with a lovely tomato sauce and one with pesto sauce. I always find you can’t go far wrong with pesto, it’s definitely one of my faves.
Some time in the future we would love to tour the whole of Italy, and the food is definitely one of the main reasons to come back!