I didn’t know that it was possible for my heart to sing with so much joy.
After seven whole years, from that particular autumn in 2007, I’m finally heading back to the place which captured my heart and never let it go.
This was a very on-the-spur-of-the-moment decision.
While Juan and I have always fantasized about returning to Italy – land of my Tuscan dreams – I’d never expected that we’d make the trip there this year. And not to mention, next month. We were talking about it one day, and then asked ourselves, “why not?”.
So…we finally asked for leave from the office and bought our plane tickets this week, and I’m bursting with excitement and joy that’s almost quite impossible to describe in words. I’m estatic!! Beyond ridiculously happy!
And best of all, I get to visit this beautiful country – whose beaches are so stunning they take your breath away; whose people speak a language so full of life and passion; and where food is just an incredibly large part of its culture – with Juan, and we get to create beautiful memories together in Italy.
A few years ago, my original plan was to go to Italy to live someday – whether it be for a few months or years, I wasn’t sure. Yet, because the future is uncertain, and I’ve resolved to focus on the here and now, the current and the present, I think a ten-day trip to the South European boot-shaped country will do me much more than just good.
We’ll fly from Buenos Aires to Rome, where we’ll spend a couple of days in the Italian capital, which I’m so anxious to visit.
There are the ruins, the Colosseum, the Vatican and mostly, the people. I want to soak and immerse myself in the Roman culture, and as the saying goes, “when in Rome, do as the Romans do”. Argh!! Just thinking about it makes me want to scream out in happiness, and these days, reading Rachel’s blog makes me wish I were already in Rome.
I’ll even forego my grain-free diet for these ten days just to be able to dip freshly-baked bread in locally-pressed olive oil, lick my oil-stained fingers with unabashed confidence and then sigh in absolute bliss. I’m dreaming of generous helpings of cheese with white wine, and finishing each meal with the digestive limoncello. I want to run from galeteria to galeteria and taste all sorts of gelato flavors – I’m gunning for hazelnut, nutella, pistachio and whatever other exotic flavors they have – bring it on!
From Rome, we’ll catch a train or a bus South into Naples, where the ingenious concept of pizza was born, and hometown of my friend Suzy’s husband Francesco.
I’m planning on visiting the pizzeria which is supposedly where the first pizza Napolitana was served; and bite into it’s thick crust and melting cheese without a single ounce of guilt. We might stay there for a night if we like the city enough, and the next morning, we’ll head further south straight to the Amalfi Coast.
Perhaps we’ll rent a car (I’m crossing my fingers – Juan will be driving so it really depends on him) – and I have wild visions of us cruising along the scenic seaside highway in a convertible, the roof down, my stylish sunglasses on, and a scarf barely holding my hair together as it flies in the salty sea breeze. What wouldn’t I give to live that dream, that will soon become a reality!!
We’ll probably make Sorrento our base, and explore the rest of the Amalfi coast from there – Positano (bellisimo!), Ravello and Amalfi, for sure. If we have the time, we’ll even squeeze a day or two for Capri, the island which Suzy insists on me visiting.
The pictures I’ve seen of the towns along the coast remind me of my time in Cinque Terre, where brightly colored houses are propped on hills and small pathways constructed for the people to walk on, single file. There is the gorgeous landscape, of greenery and cliffs, set against the breathtaking backdrop of the turquoise blue sea.
What I remember particularly so, of my days in Italy those many summers ago, is soaking up golden sunshine which leaves your skin toasty and warm, like that of a baby’s fat bottom.
My friends and I would typically start to sunbathe in the earning morning, and when it started getting too hot, we’d troop to a trattoria perched on a cliff, overlooking the waves crashing against the shore, and then get down to eating plates of lip-smackingly delicious pasta.
I know, pasta is kind of a big deal in Italy, and I might have to take a ten-day sabbatical from my grain-free diet. But in the meanwhile, before I get to Italy, I’m going to start living the Italian life – and eat freshly shredded zucchini noodles with tasty pesto sauce clinging to it. I’m going to eat these bright green noodles with popping red cherry tomates and crunchy walnuts, and I’m going to twirl these noodles around my fork, relishing each bite of it.
As the Italians say….”Mangiamo!” Let’s eat!
WALNUT PESTO ZUCCHINI NOODLES
For the pesto:
1) 1 small bowl of fresh basil leaves
2) 1 handful of walnuts (or a mix of walnuts and almonds)
3) 4 tablespoons of olive oil
4) 1/4 cup of room temperature water (or a bit more if pesto is too thick)
5) 1 large garlic clove, roughly chopped
6) Salt to taste
For the zucchini noodles:
7) 1 large zucchini (or 2 small zucchinis), julienned with this julienne peeler
8) 1/4 bowl of cherry tomatoes, halved
1) Combine basil leaves, nuts, olive oil, water and garlic in a food processor and pulse until you can a thick sauce (if too thick, add 1 teaspoon of water at a time until it reaches desired consistency)
2) Add salt to taste.
3) Julienne the zucchini with the julienne peeler
4) In a large bowl, mix the julienned zucchini with cherry tomatoes and pesto sauce