Castles & Cheese

by Bianca @ Italian Fix

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Castello

So, my husband is from Italy. He’s from a town called La Spezia. A never-in-the-guidebooks kind of place. It’s a port town and although it’s surrounded by incredible coastline — like the Cinque Terre (where we met) —  the city itself isn’t the attraction. My husband grew up in a middle-class neighborhood, and if you know anything about Italian culture you may also know the idea of “you can work hard to accomplish your dreams” is not very Italian. That’s more a North American version of upward mobility that doesn’t really resonate in Italy. You just are happy to have a job, and if it’s a posto fisso that means you’ve won the lottery. So I find it hilarious that my husband, who has been living in my culture (Canada) for 15 years — has adopted a lot of “Americanized” ideas. Like drive-thru’s (he had never seen one before) and the work-hard-and-you-can-achieve-anything underpinnings of “The American (Canadian?) Dream”. So now I see the saved castelli and immobile di prestigio on his real estate searches. Because we plan to buy property in Italy one day (soonish) we’re always looking. You can see some of these places that are in English on the luxury real estate site Romolini of which this photo was taken from — advertised between $1-2 million. (Which just happens to be the price of a garden shed in Vancouver.)


MANGIAMO

Have you ever tried Focaccia di Recco? It’s like an orgasm of cheese, only better. Years ago in Italy I shot a video with my daughter where I explained all the types of deliciousness you can find. Check it out here.

Image: Giallo Zafferano


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Soooo, maybe you’re not looking to buy your own castello. But that doesn’t mean you wouldn’t love to call one home for a few nights. If you’re headed to Tuscany – check out Castello Del Nero. This 12th-century castle has got Michelin Star dining, a holistic wellness center, and easy access to Florence and Siena. The mix of Renaissance and contemporary décor is so beautiful that it almost (just almost) makes you cancel your next stop.


WHAT WE’RE LOVING RIGHT NOW

The movie Luca. There’s a new Pixar film and it’s setting is inspired by the Cinque Terre. I actually read that the fictional town in the film was made up of unique and favorite parts of each village. My photographer friend, Leela, who has taught photography to our clients texted me after she saw it with, “They get the magic of the area perfectly”.

Image: Pixar


WISH WE WERE HERE

Rome

Sometimes we don’t need to escape the crowd. In fact —  sometimes it’s fun to be in the thick of things. So pack a picnic and people watch. Find a shady patch of grass and take in all the hustle and bustle. Don’t you love the feeling of walking into a scene you’ve only seen in textbooks or in magazines?


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With love + foccacia,

Bianca

 

 

 

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Stairs to the Ocean? Check. Bathing suit packed? Check. One week where you’ll do nothing? Check and check.

Renting a villa for a week is a fabulous thing to do — most villa rentals in Italy during high season are by the week. The Thinking Traveller has an excellent selection of curated villas in beachy locales I love. Here’s one of them in Cefalu, Sicily (you absolutely must day trip to the Aeolian islands if you stay in this area). Seriously though, you need to go spend a minute (or ten) ogling over the images of this beautiful spot — pictured above on the left, just casually at the foot of an old Norman tower.

Image: The Thinking Traveller


MANGIAMO

Making homemade pasta is very therapeutic. And who doesn’t need cheap therapy you can eat? If you have yet to try it, remember that you don’t need fancy ingredients or equipment to make many types of pasta. If you haven’t made pasta before, the easiest thing you can make is gnocchi, and you can work your way up to pasta. Here is a traditional gnocchi recipe from a friend in Tuscany. And here is a more classic pasta recipe where you’ll need a pasta machine — but a friend will likely have one you can borrow (like a treadmill, pasta machines get bought and forgotten). To make pasta all you need is a window of a few hours, a good mood, and some music. Do it — it’s so enjoyable and it’s so satisfying to eat. The adorabile Pasta Grannies on YouTube will get you in the spirit.


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Oh, how I love Sardinia — and how you will love it, too (if you love “off the beaten track” kinda places). It’s a very insider place to go — hip Europeans know where the good bits are. So, many Italians go to Sardinia — and I like knowing where the picky Italians go to holiday (hint: Sicily and Sardinia). I have several fave hotels there — Petra Segreta being one of them — have a look and see why.

PS You need a car in Sardinia so rent one plenty far in advance – especially if you’re going in 2022 ’cause all 2022 reservations will be bonkers.


WHAT WE’RE LOVING RIGHT NOW

Vanessa Bruno, French designer and purveyor of very pretty summer dresses that I covet hard, has just released a limited edition capsule collection called Capri Collection. I adore so many things about this — go and browse summer getaway clothes. My fave items are this and this. What are yours?

Images: Vanessa Bruno


WISH WE WERE HERE

Summer officially starts in a few days. We wish we were beating the heat on this beach in Monterosso (Cinque Terre), gelato in hand…


SHARE THIS NEWSLETTER

Share our newsletter, get Italian Swag. It’s a simple way for you to share Italian Fix, and be rewarded with groovy things.

Wanna play? Click to share our newsletter, and we’ll send you gifties in the mail. Not lame cheap crap, but handmade, thoughtful and useful things to make your life more beautiful.

Share with 7 people, get an art print. Share with 17 people, a beautiful candle made in Florence. Share with 37 people, we’ll send you a skincare kit from the fanciest apothecary in Italy. Cause we’re crazy like that.

 

___

With love + foccacia,

Bianca

 

 

 

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Can’t Beat These Views

by Bianca @ Italian Fix

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Hiking in the Cinque Terre. This is a question we get asked A LOT. “Should we go hiking in the Cinque Terre? Do we need a guide? Can we walk between all of the villages? Can I go it alone?” The answer to all of the above is YES. You should 100% go hiking in the Cinque Terre. You can hire a guide if you like, but there are also trails that you can follow on your own. Of course, which ones you take will depend on your fitness level. Here’s a great resource from the National Park for checking out the trails. I like to recommend going with a guide at least once, because then you get to hear insider stories about the area that you wouldn’t hear otherwise. On our Cinque Terre tour, many of our guests will opt to spend a free day enjoying the trails. Just know that if you decide to hike the hills for 18 minutes or for 8 hours, these dreamboard worthy views will be something that you NEVER forget.

(PS: Pack a bottle of your favorite vino, cups for sharing, and some freshly baked focaccia for an easy picnic)


MANGIAMO

Masseria Serra dell’Isola is a 17th-century olive oil mill turned learn-to-cook homestay that has been in owner Rita’s family for three centuries. Puglian cuisine is renowned even in Italy, and with Rita you’ll get to learn some of the intricacies. Come for the weekend or even stay for a whole week – she’s got rooms for you too! Learn about the magic of truffles, pick your own herbs and vegetables from her garden, and accompany her to the local fish markets. We love her motto: “Arrive as guests, leave as friends”. Getting here? Nearby Bari has an international airport, and Rita will happily arrange a private transfer for you. 


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Speaking of 17th-century buildings — here’s one breathtaking building that also comes with breathtaking Mediterranean views. And yes. You can stay here, too. Monastero Santa Rosa is a once-upon-a-time monastery/convent perched upon the cliffs between Positano and Amalfi, in the small fishing village of Conca dei Marini. Whether you’re dining at the Michelin Star Ristorante Il Refettorio, or watching the sunset from the infinity pool, you better pack an extra bag, because you know you’re going to get here and never want to leave.


WISH WE WERE HERE

In this cozy mountain hut, drinking something bubbly, while watching the sunset — after a day of exploring (or more likely frolicking through) mountain meadows. This is the Auronzo Mountain Hut overlooking Tre Cime di Lavaredo, and you can access it by foot, or by car via one spectacularly scenic mountain road. 


SHARE THIS NEWSLETTER

Share our newsletter, get Italian Swag. It’s a simple way for you to share Italian Fix, and be rewarded with groovy things.

Wanna play? Click to share our newsletter, and we’ll send you gifties in the mail. Not lame cheap crap, but handmade, thoughtful and useful things to make your life more beautiful.

Share with 7 people, get an art print. Share with 17 people, a beautiful candle made in Florence. Share with 37 people, we’ll send you a skincare kit from the fanciest apothecary in Italy. Cause we’re crazy like that.

 

___

With love + foccacia,

Bianca

 

 

 

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