In my mind, Italy had always been a place I associated with sensational food, beautiful cities and strong family connections – and I wasn’t wrong! When Luca announced that he was taking me to his home town, a place on the outskirts of Milan, I was both excited and nervous.
In the weeks leading up to our arrival I often heard him on the phone making plans to have lunch with one family member, dinner with another. Ah, the beauty of an Italian family. As excited as I was I had one major problem, I didn’t speak a word of Italian! I figured if I smiled and ate everything that was put in front of me, then I couldn’t go wrong. And OH MY GOSH did I eat! All you ladies out there with Italian boyfriends, you know what I mean. How my boyfriend stays so fit with the amount of food he eats I’ll never know. It was incredible to watch.
Let’s focus on lunch for a moment. In Australia, my lunch would usually consist of either a quinoa salad or a wrap of some sort. In Italy, that was simply a snack. One day during our visit, we went to his Nona’s house for lunch. I had to laugh because to me, it was a banquet fit for royalty, to my boyfriend it was a regular days lunch. And every time I finished a dish, within seconds, it was replaced by another.
Menu: a large slice of quiche, a bowl of homemade gnocchi, meat and vegetables, more meat, more vegetables, more meat, cake, fruit and of course espresso.
This was only lunch! And a few hours later we were scheduled to go out to dinner. In a matter of one hour I went from a size 8 to looking like I was three months pregnant!
But even though I ate in one day enough to last me a week, it was the most incredible food I have ever tasted. Italians are known around the world for their food and so they should be. My love for Italian cuisine was reinforced during this trip and now I will forever compare every Italian restaurant worldwide to the authentic flavours I indulged in, in Italy.
There’s so much about Italy that I love. The beautiful century old towns, the rich renaissance colour palet of the houses, the flowers that line the shop windows and the streets that are so small two cars couldn’t possibly fit side by side. Each street we turned down, we secretly prayed that no one else had decided to take that same street from the opposite direction, or come mid point, one of us was putting their car in reverse and backing all the way out in order to let the other pass. We definitely shared a few laughs on those occasions.
My favourite place that Luca took me too, was Orta San Giulio. Lake Orta is breathtakingly beautiful. The moment we arrived I was mesmerized. I had never seen a view so spectacular. With a picnic rug and a good book by my side, I could sit here all day everyday.
I truly love the atmosphere of Italy, the gelato and the warmth that comes from Italian families. When it came to meeting Luca’s family, even though I didn’t speak a word of Italian (maybe five words now) they made me feel within minutes of meeting them like I was truly part of the family. My favourite family tradition, participating in the annual picking and roasting of chestnuts!
There’s so much more of Italy for me to explore, so stay tuned for my next Italian adventure!