Create Your Own Wine Tasting in Barolo

“This wine is t-shirt and jeans,” says Stefano Moiso, owner of La Vite Turchese, a wine shop and wine bar in the village of Barolo. “And this wine is a fine skirt.” He places two glasses in front of me on the coffee table. Before telling me more, he excuses himself for a couple minutes…

Breakfast in Campo de’ Fiori

The taxi driver didn’t know the names of the streets, but he knew the way. When the car could go no further, he parked at the edge of Campo de’ Fiori in the heart of Rome and pulled our suitcases from the trunk. Once his hands were free, he dispatched his directions. A long, exaggerated…

Uncovering Family Roots in Abruzzo

In the first days of my honeymoon, I traveled to Abruzzo in central Italy to retrace the steps my great-grandmother Filomena walked after her own wedding, almost 100 years earlier. Everywhere we went in the town of Vasto, I thought of Filomena. Had she felt her first born kicking while walking along this stretch of…

Tuscany Away From the Crowds

Two hours outside of Florence there is a less-explored corner of Tuscany, in the mountainous Serchio Valley. It’s the kind of place you visit to get lost in small medieval hilltop villages and spend the day kicking back at a single biodynamic winery (winery-hopping is too ambitious; what’s the rush?). It’s also the kind of…

The Secrets Behind Real Balsamic

Eating in Italy often reveals everything we are doing wrong with food. We muddle dishes with too many ingredients. We use subpar ingredients. We lack patience. We want picture-perfect produce year-round and don’t pay enough attention to the seasons. We are wasteful. After every trip to Italy, I come back not only with a full…

Hunting for White Truffles by Moonlight

A man with a wicker basket lined with blue checkered cloth walked towards me. It was early November, the height of truffle season in the northern Italian region of Piemonte, and this truffle hunter was delivering a haul to a local restaurant where I’d just had lunch. I could have let him walk right by,…

The Porchetta Queen

“When you went to Frascati, you had the porchetta, right?” my husband asked me one night when we were planning our honeymoon in Italy. I thought back to a day spent in Frascati, a quiet and charming town a short train ride away from Rome. I remembered arriving a little too late for lunch and…

Driving in Italy

Driving around Italy is full of humorous moments. A nun walking out into the middle of thick traffic with her arm sharply extended, palm out, to stop traffic. The supposedly two lane coastal roads the width of a bus that become especially interesting to traverse, when a bus is coming the opposite direction. The tiny…

Best of 2015

In 2015, I feasted on seafood in Puglia and learned to make cheese in the Basque Country. I lured friends and family to Dublin for my wedding, but also for Irish oysters, music, and craic. I followed a dog on a truffle hunt in Piemonte, got my hands dirty during a cooking class in San…

Cucina Tipica Romana

The first place I set foot in Italy, was Rome. I remember smelling freshly pulled espresso when my plane touched down in Ciampino Airport after dark. At lunch, wine was often cheaper than bottled water. A whole pizza could be devoured for 5 euros. I walked and took photographs, connected dots on maps to visit…

A Flick of the Wrist

My grandmother’s family came from Naples, and though I never had the chance to travel to Italy with her, there was always her cooking. She was a patient cook, a true believer in the “low and slow” philosophy that results in deep, developed flavors. She loved the ritual of spending an entire Sunday in the…

An Italian Postman

I could walk for hours in the foothills of Campania and never encounter a soul. Each afternoon I left the rural Italian village I was calling home to head out on a daily walk. I spent mornings studying the language over a cappuccino, and when my brain could absorb no more, it was time to…

The Spritz

I was awake before school children singing songs came barreling down the lane. Closing the door quietly behind me, I entered a labyrinth of laneways without a map. I crossed bridges over still water, peered into cheese shops with the shutters still down. On this February morning, Venice was still very much asleep. The few…

Lessons from Angelina

I once lived in a little mountain village in Italy and my closest neighbor was Angelina, a woman in her 80s. On a particularly cold March evening when the wind began to howl, I heard a knock on the door. It was Angelina holding a heavy, warm blanket. She winked as she placed it in…

Positano Bites Deep

In 1953, John Steinbeck wrote about Positano in Harper’s Bazaar: ‘Positano bites deep. It is a dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone’. And later in the article, ‘In a few days we became aware of Positano’s greatest commodity – characters’. Steinbeck, a master…

Florence Snapshots

Two very special people to me are currently on the ground in Florence. Eating the gelato. Lingering over long lunches. Laying eyes on the statue of David for the first time. These thoughts sparked some digging into the archives of my digital photos for this photo essay of Florence (and daytrips from Florence) snapshots. What…

Springtime Snapshots

The first signs of spring arrived in New York this week. Blossoms on the trees. Sunny daffodils. Tables returned to sunny street corners. These signals that winter might be taking its final bow reminded me of springtime in year’s past. I spent the last three springs in Europe, and the photographs are full of bursts…

An Experiment in the Italian Unknown

I had vowed to spend 1 week only ordering food with names I did not recognize. This simple vow spiced up a trip to Florence in February 2008 as I ate my way through traditional Tuscan cuisine at affordable trattorias throughout the city. The most memorable dish came on Valentine’s Day, in the form of…

Staying Warm: Winter Travel Tips

The winter forces us to get a little creative. Heading south isn’t the only way to cope with winter – in fact – with just a few simple tips traveling during the winter might not seem so bad. As I was reminded this week during a taping of David Letterman, banish the winter blues while…

Massimo and his Music

With the final steps into Vernazza I was truly famished. I vowed to never again attempt a 2.5 mile hike having only a cappuccino and pastry in my stomach. I was arriving into the second village of Cinque Terre (the five villages) along the Ligurian Coast in Italy. The day before I had traveled on…