What to eat when you’re eating in Italy (1)

Soo, I haven’t been here for a while! My vacation in Italy would be responsible for that. We (that would be, my lovely partner-in-crime and I) toured Italy by train from north (Torino/Turin) to south (Taranto) and back up again, passing by Ravenna. What can I say… I was in culinary heaven for two weeks. So I’m eager to share my newly discovered not-so-secret addresses with you, for those who ever pass by in one of the Italian cities we visited. Some of them were gastronomically advanced, some were very simple fishermen’s restaurants and in some we got really rude treatment from the waiter. But all were great in their own way. Here we go!

Our first stop was Turin, home of the slow food movement. During the day, we encountered a fantastic supermarket-meets-restaurant/coffee bar place called Eataly (apparently it’s a chain in Italy). You can buy some great quality groceries here (pasta, coffee, fresh vegetables…), have lunch downstairs, sip some coffee upstairs… I fell in love with the place at once. We had dinner at L’Oca Fola (the crazy goose). We found this restaurant, which happened to be very near our hotel, through a slow food-guide. We went for a complete dinner menu, which was a little more than we could handle… We tasted some very typical Turin dishes like risotto and gnocchi with heavy cheese sauce, accompanied by local Barbera wine. Breadsticks, which were invented in Turin, were also omnipresent. Let’s say the menu was a bit on the heavy side and reminded us of food you’d want to eat if you were about to go do heavy work all day. We definitely shouldn’t have tried eating all the dishes that kept coming at us, and the free grappa at the end of the meal was very welcome to help digestion! The food was good, but not especially refined. If you’re in Turin for just one day, I’d recommend looking at one of the restaurants more towards the city center, but L’Oca Fola is great to try if you’re there for several days.

Eataly, the fabulous supermarket in Turin

Next, we moved on to Perugia, a cosy little city with a very medieval feel and lots of stairs and elevation (they even have a public elevator in the middle of town!). During the day we came across a restaurant/wine bar called Énonè and decided to try it for the night. It was fantastic. We tried some local cheese with honey and preserved figs as an appetizer. As a first course, we had pasta – simple ravioli in tomato sauce and spaghetti with scampi. My main course was something called ‘Grand Vegetarian’ – a simple collection of grilled vegetables such as tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant which was absolutely delicious. The dessert was something scrumptious with mascarpone and amaretto cookies with grand marnier. As we were sitting at the table chatting away after the meal, the owner brought over some bitter liquor to taste. Needless to say, I’d recommend this restaurant to anyone going to Perugia and we’d absolutely go there again! Another thing to try in Perugia is Sandri, a bar that’s been there for several decennia and looks exactly that way. The waiters wear those traditional uniforms and they have a bar filled with sweets and pastries… It’s great to just sit on their terrace, which is in Perugia’s main street, sipping from a cappuccino, nibbling on some sugary piece of pastry and watching people pass by. Or sipping a bellini cocktail and having some rice ice cream, or downing an espresso with a piece of chocolate pie… You get the point.

Scenic view at Perugia

We went on to Orvieto, where we had a nice but not especially remarkable dinner at Mammaurelia, with some very good wine. We followed the Lonely Planet guidebook to an ice cream parlor called Pasqualetti and had some delicious gelato there with a view on the impressive cathedral. We also took the underground Orvieto-tour, which went past the underground colombaria or dovecotes. These were basements of peoples’ houses carved out to accomodate doves, which were then caught and prepared as a lovely dinner!

The impressive cathedral of Orvieto, barely fitting into the picture
Dovecotes dug in people's cellars at Orvieto

We went on to see and eat at Napels, Salerno and more… will be featured in the next post!

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