In case you are a newer reader, I just returned from a 10 day dream vacation to Rome and the Amalfi Coast in Italy with my husband, Ben. It was a trip that I’ve thought about taking since I was a teenager and was thrilled to be able to make a reality this summer!
We began our adventures by spending 4 days exploring the ancient ruins, and indulging in all the fresh pasta our stomachs could make room for, in Rome,
and continually repeating to each other “people actually live here” over the next 4 days in the spectacular seaside town of Praiano, precariously perched on the cliffs of the Amalfi Coast, overlooking the Mediterranean.
During our trip we drank, we ate and, most importantly, we ate gelato. A lot of gelato, actually…
Ben and I both agreed on what we were most looking forward to in terms of Italian eats (besides gelato…) Fresh Pasta & Pizza. We definitely got our fill, and reckon we’ve become experts on both after our trip!
There was no shortage of either items in Rome, available in any of the adorable, street side trattorias, offering up homemade goodies and unforgettable dining experiences to boot.
One restaurant I fell in love with was the adorable er Faciolaro. Located in an ally near the Pantheon, I felt like I was on a movie set as we sat down to eat in between buildings that seemed centuries old and on a street alive with the sounds of people and the smell of food lovingly cooked from family recipes.
The open windows, crumbling paint, and elegant street lamps surrounding us were enough to make me pinch myself and ask if it was all real.
Luckily, it was! That day our lunch included juicy vino de la casa, that every smart Italian knows to enjoys during a leisurely lunch,
and homemade potato gnocchi bathing in slowly simmered marinara!!
Plump, tender and dripping with the most fresh, bright tomato sauce I have ever tasted. I scooped up and savored every. last. drop. of it!
Homemade gnocchi makes IGE happy!
This restaurant was particularly memorable because Ben had the best meal he’s ever had in his life. Spaghetti with bacon, pepper, olive oil and parmesan cheese. That’s it! He called it humbling it was so good – HA! That’s one thing we absolutely loved about Italian food. They seem to use very few ingredients, but every dish is SO satisfying and delicious.
Other memorable pasta eats of the trip include this fresh linguine tossed with pepper, cream & cheese,
and spaghetti with house Bolognese.
The crazy thing about literally ALL the pasta we had, is that it was cooked to absolute perfection. Not once did we have an overcooked strand. Italians know pasta!
Still not satisfied? How about Fresh Pasta with Seafood from Bucca di Baca in Positano, Italy – a mere stone’s throw away from where we stayed in Praiano?
Chewy, thick, homemade pasta dripping with butter,
and PACKED with fresh seafood straight from the Mediterranean.
Ben got his seafood fix in the form of Seafood Risotto. Umm, omg! I couldn’t keep my fork on my side of the table!
Enjoyed with crisp, white wine,
a view to write home about,
and the love of my life.
On our last night in Italy, we went down to the beach in Praiano and dined on some more seafood at the restaurant Il Pirata.
While we sipped on local wine,
and enjoyed the view,
we dined on homemade pasta with shrimp and squid.
I die. I die for this dish!!!! There is some magical way that Italians cook shrimp, by the way. Somehow they cook it until it’s so tender that it literally falls apart – like it’s been braised for 15 hours or something. If you know the secret, you’ve GOT to tell me!
Now for the pizza!!! I’m not going to lie – pizza dominated our trip. I think it’s all Ben ate for like 4 meals in a row, or something like that.
Each pizza was hand pressed, topped and quickly fired up to reveal a thin, crispy crust in contrast to the oozy cheese and fresh toppings.
Our favorite was whisper thin, salty prosciutto ham,
but we’d never turn down homemade sausage,
or fresh tomatoes either!
Pizza and Peroni makes IBE happy.
It wasn’t all pizza and pasta though, nosiree. There is absolutely no excuse for not eating well while on vacation – at least when you’re vacationing in Italy!
There was no shortage of fruit carts dotting the streets of Rome,
and the market in Praiano proudly displayed their local produce twice a day.
Get it while it’s hot!
Here’s one of the fruit feasts I had while in Praiano. I absolutely loved that I had seen all of these items growing in the orchards around the town during our hikes everyday!
I also made sure to get my fruit fix every morning during breakfast. We were lucky enough to have breakfast provided for us at both of our hotels, and we made sure to fill up each day before heading out on our adventures. My meals usually looked a little something like this:
We’ve got juicy watermelon, crunchy homemade granola and ham & cheese.
I know! It’s very European to have meats, cheeses and hard rolls for breakfast. I remember having them in the mornings when I went to Germany as a teenager. UGH THEY ARE SO GOOD.
Of course, every breakfast was also accompanied by diesel fuel. Aka Italian coffee. Whew! The hotel we stayed at in Rome did NOT mess around with their coffee – it would wake the dead!
Our hotel in Praiano served made-to-order cappuccinos,
or caffe lattes every morning.
Which brings me to…
Italian coffee is simply divine and I’d be crazy not to partake every morning. After breakfast in Rome, we’d wander into the bar, as they call their coffee houses, conveniently located in the bottom of our hotel, pay by the door and wait in line to hand our drink ticket over to the barista.
Most people order their espresso shots and drink them right at the counter as they devour their morning croissant, but I liked to sip my caffe lattes by the window and look out over the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore right across the street from our hotel!
I could start every morning like this!
Every afternoon at our hotel in Praiano, we’d read books in the lobby of our hotel, sipping hot, frothy cappuccinos to our heart’s content.
Wine also played a dominant force in our vacation plans and 1 or 2 glasses were consumed in the evenings on our rooftop patio in Rome,
And on our private balcony in Praiano. Ahhh blissdom!!!
Finally, we come to the star of our program…
I’m not going to lie – I think the gelato shops every 4 feet in Rome are there more for the tourists then anyone else (although they WERE always packed with locals!) but gosh darn it, I’m sure glad they were!
Every evening (before happy hour) I satisfied my sweet tooth with a cool, creamy dish of luscious gelato.
Thicker and more decadent than it’s ice cream cousin – this stuff is addicting!
My goal was to try 8 different flavors from 8 different shops in 8 days…and I came close!
In the end, I snagged the title of 10 different flavors (they let you put 2 in a cup!) from 5 different shops in 8 days. Pretty good if I do say so myself!
My absolute FAVORITE flavors were tied between Kinder,
and yogurt (recommended by a reader – OMG,)
while Ben couldn’t get enough strawberry.
I HEART GELATO!
One of the coolest things we observed in Italy, is that meals are events. They are 3, 4 sometimes 5 course happenings that are to be enjoyed and not rushed. I think we can totally take a cue from our Italian friends in that regard.
How often do you sit down to dinner, wolf down your food and move onto the next task at hand? I know Ben and I do that way too often and I think after seeing how “the other half” does it – we’re going to try and slow down a bit.
Life is short – SAVOR!
Have a good night!