When In Italy: Eat, Drink and Have Gelato!

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Hello!

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,

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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.

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During our trip we drank, we ate and, most importantly, we ate gelato. A lot of gelato, actually…

Eat

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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Luckily, it was! That day our lunch included juicy vino de la casa, that every smart Italian knows to enjoys during a leisurely lunch,

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and homemade potato gnocchi bathing in slowly simmered marinara!!

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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!

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Homemade gnocchi makes IGE happy!

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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.

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Other memorable pasta eats of the trip include this fresh linguine tossed with pepper, cream & cheese,

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and spaghetti with house Bolognese.

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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!

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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?

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Chewy, thick, homemade pasta dripping with butter,

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and PACKED with fresh seafood straight from the Mediterranean.

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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!

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Enjoyed with crisp, white wine,

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a view to write home about,

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and the love of my life. :)

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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.

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While we sipped on local wine,

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and enjoyed the view

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we dined on homemade pasta with shrimp and squid.

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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!

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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.

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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. 

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Our favorite was whisper thin, salty prosciutto ham,  

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but we’d never turn down homemade sausage,

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or fresh tomatoes either!

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Pizza and Peroni makes IBE happy. :)

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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!

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There was no shortage of fruit carts dotting the streets of Rome,

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and the market in Praiano proudly displayed their local produce twice a day.

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Get it while it’s hot!

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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!

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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:

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We’ve got juicy watermelon, crunchy homemade granola and ham & cheese.

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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.

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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!

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Our hotel in Praiano served made-to-order cappuccinos,

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or caffe lattes every morning.

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Which brings me to…

Drink

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.

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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!

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I could start every morning like this!

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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. :)

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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,

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And on our private balcony in Praiano. Ahhh blissdom!!!

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Finally, we come to the star of our program…

Gelato!

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!

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Every evening (before happy hour) I satisfied my sweet tooth with a cool, creamy dish of luscious gelato.

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Thicker and more decadent than it’s ice cream cousin – this stuff is addicting!

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My goal was to try 8 different flavors from 8 different shops in 8 days…and I came close!

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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! :D

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My absolute FAVORITE flavors were tied between Kinder,

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and yogurt (recommended by a reader – OMG,)

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while Ben couldn’t get enough strawberry.

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I HEART GELATO!

Wrap Up

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!

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Comments

  1. Liz @ Blog is the New Black 09.13.2010

    Wow, my mouth is watering. The pizza and gelato look incredible. So glad you enjoyed your dream vaca!!!!

  2. Lauren 09.13.2010

    I am literally speechless. I think I just vicariously lived every single dream through this post! So amazing Kristin!!!!

  3. Katie 09.13.2010

    It all looks so perfect- the dinners, the fruit, the wine, the gelato, the views! I’ve never had a strong urge to visit Italy but ummm this is making me move Italy right up the list.

  4. Carrie 09.13.2010

    Kinder was my gelato flavor of choice when I went to Italy, too. :)

  5. Melanie 09.13.2010

    Funny that Italians are big on meat and cheese sandwiches for breakfast, too! My fiance’s family in in Germany and that is definitely the norm – though his mom is so sweet and always makes sure to stock up with milk, cereal (Müsli), and PB when I visit! :)

    Loved reading about your trip – now wishing I was there!!!

  6. AmyLou 09.13.2010

    Ohhhh, it looks like you have a lovely time in Italy!! I am very jealous. The food, wine, culture, everything looks spectacular! Can’t wait to hear more! :)

  7. Amy Loftin 09.13.2010

    I linked to your blog from my daughter’s. So GLAD she found you!!!
    Just wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed your vacation to Italy,
    hope to go there myself one day. Thank you so very much for sharing your adventures, all the great recipes and pictures.

  8. Sarah 09.13.2010

    Wow! All that food looks absolutely delicious! Sounds like a great trip! That gelato looks great. I’ve never had it. There’s a great Italian restaurant in Sheboygan, WI called Il Ritrovo. They make pizza just like that and most, if not all of their ingredients, come straight from Italy. It’s to die for!

  9. erica 09.13.2010

    oh.
    em.
    gee.

    excuse me while i wipe up the huge puddle of drool at my desk….the food! the coffee! the gelato!!!!!!!!! i need to book a vacation there ASAP.

  10. Jessica H 09.13.2010

    Did you plan this trip through a travel agency? It seemed so perfect! Do you speak Italian, or were the menus also in English? Did things cost a lot or were things reasonably priced? I am so jealous of your vacation!!!

  11. Ahhhh I miss Italy and Italian food SO MUCH! I also spent 10 days there last spring and ate my heart out. It was the most amazing trip of my life!

  12. Oh. my. goodness. Talk about food heaven! I too became ADDICTED to gelato when we travelled to Italy a few years ago!

  13. All of your pictures are breath-taking and the food looks out of this world! I am definitely craving some gelato right now :)

  14. Yay!!! I am so glad you tried the yogurt gelato. I lived vicariously through you while reading this. I’ve missed that yogurt gelato since I went to Italy 5 years ago. I seriously ate it twice a day.

  15. Bridget 09.13.2010

    Gorgeous pictures and details!! I’m so happy for you and your travels. We eat as leisurely as possible and the kids help us slow down. They love to talk about their day and we like the family time. My husband and I spent time in Spain a few years ago and loved the “pace” and the view!

  16. Daisy 09.13.2010

    Incredible. that is all.

  17. jen 09.13.2010

    Wow. Cannot get over how spectacular that looks. All of it!

  18. oh my gosh. i love it. it’s 10 pm but now i want italian food. in italy. yum.

  19. heather 09.13.2010

    if i went to italy, heaven forbid, i know for a fact that absolutely all i would do is eat(i feel like i do that quite a bit already, too, but it’d be at a frenzied state in roma). the tomato pizza, those strawberries!!, and that one bright green gelato…i’m sitting in a pool of saliva. very chic.

  20. *Andrea* 09.13.2010

    lovely pics! everything looks picturesque and tasty. i wanna go to italy now!

    you and ibe are so cute. i love the photo of you with your capuccino. your skin and smile are gorgeous :)

  21. Kara 09.13.2010

    It looks like an amazing trip-and is making me want to go back to Italy! The pizza, pasta and gelato…..oh my! Hope you enjoyed every moment of your trip :)

  22. Wow…my envy is through the roof. Everything looks so amazing. I know where I’m going for my next Europe vacation…keep on adding pictures. :)

  23. There are no words for this post! I’m literally drooling right now. What a vacation, what a place! I love Italian food so much….your pics are bringing back fond foodie memories from my trip to Rome a decade ago or so when I was 12. Those were the days…

  24. sassy molassy 09.13.2010

    Fabulous recap! You two sure enjoyed Italy’s eats! I love that you tried so many gelato flavors. It really is amazing how Europeans totally live a slower life and realize that life is meant to be LIVED not worked away. Such a good perspective.

  25. Rachel 09.13.2010

    Oh. My. God. The food in your post makes me want to cry. No joke.

  26. Judy 09.13.2010

    Everything looks so good!

    I wanted to ask, where did you get the white blouse/dress in one of your pictures? It’s so cute!

  27. Manya 09.14.2010

    What a beautiful vacation! I also love Italy. Kristin, your next trip should be to Greece…you cannot imagine the life there. People eat dinner at 10:00pm and after that the party starts!

  28. Amelia 09.14.2010

    OK- Italy is next on my hit list. Your pictures are beautiful and the food looks unreal! Glad it was such a great time!

  29. Sara 09.14.2010

    SO COOL!!!! I’m drooling. Thanks for sharing your trip with us :D

  30. Marina 09.14.2010

    What an awesome trip!
    I can’t wait to go to Rome and experience it all!

  31. Looks like an amazing trip! I love Italy, I have been there twice before and it truly is my “happy place”. Everything about it makes me GRIN. I don’t think I have ever been unhappy in Italy! I can’t wait to bring my hubby there some day :)

    xo
    Kris

  32. mariasangria 09.14.2010

    You are going to be VERY disappointed if you try any of the gelato in Des Moines. I’ve tried it all and none of it has the same consistency as the Italian version. Not even close. :-(

  33. Beth @ bethcooks 09.14.2010

    OMG. Everything looks amazing! We are going there on our honeymoon in May, so I will definitely be emailing you for recommendations! You just got me soo excited for the trip :)

    I’m so glad you enjoyed it so much!

  34. Mellissa 09.14.2010

    Gelato was my favorite thing about Italy, well besides getting married there. I think we tried 45 flavors!

  35. Emily 09.14.2010

    Oh god, now I’m hungry. I remember the pizza being out of this world when I was in Italy years ago. Did you try limoncello or stick to the wine?

  36. Oh my Gosh-what an absolutely amazing looking vacation! Your pictures are incredible! I am so glad you an amazing time. Thanks for sharing the pictures with us…they are so beautiful!

  37. sarah 09.14.2010

    your trip looks amazing! i miss italy so so so much and this made me miss it even more!

  38. Gretchen 09.14.2010

    I’m headed to Italy in 3 weeks and this post has gotten me so excited for all the pasta, pizza and gelato!

  39. Italians know food that’s for sure! I’ve been to Rome, Venice and Bologna and the food is always amazing. Always. Looks like you had some fab eats and a great vacation.

  40. Chris 09.14.2010

    OMG! Couldn’t have said it better myself! We did Italy (Rome, Florence, Venice) in May and you are so right! I miss the gelato something fierce! And the wine…the pizza…the pasta…the Morretti. THANK YOU for letting me see Italy again. Off to check out my photos to reminisce…

  41. Kacie 09.14.2010

    Ben’s favorite pasta is in the style of “alla gricia”. Its a roman pasta and very easy to make at home with quality ingredients. I lived in Rome for 5 months and this was one of my favorites dishes!!

  42. […] When In Italy: Eat, Drink & Have Gelato! […]

  43. AJ 09.14.2010

    I adore this post!!!! What great pictures. I don’t know if I will ever go to Rome, but I am pleased to get to read about it from a fellow Iowan.

  44. terra 09.15.2010

    Amazing! Looks like you had the time of your life! I’ve always heard that Europeans make events out of their meals – that’s the whole reason people say French women are so skinny, because they enjoy and savor every. single. bite.

  45. […] remember that shrimp from Praiano? Seriously though, how’d they get it so tender?? After I retire and move there, I’m […]

  46. […] food and snapshot-ready scenery make it memorable, but it’s sites make it unforgettable. […]

  47. Manissa 09.17.2010

    This post made me hungry in the middle of the night! Great pics, and the pasta all look…. asdfhkajsdflkajdf (can’t even explain it in words I guess)
    Do you maybe have a list of all the gelato flavors you tried? :)

  48. […] Ohhh, it is so juicy & luscious! It totally reminded me of the sauce we had on our pizzas in Italy! […]

  49. […] What happens when you find yourself waking up, night after night, still dreaming of the chewy, homemade pasta and briny, freshly-caught seafood you had on your dream vacation to the Amalfi Coast? […]

  50. Troy 10.02.2010

    Thanks for the post, got here from another blog about food…ah, I could read about Italy everyday and think of the fantastic food and wine and pine away for the little towns we’ve stayed in. Our experience has been on the northwestern coast but we’ve found similar food quality and simple ingredients, fantastic gelato, excellent espresso EVERYWHERE. We enjoyed it so much the first time three years ago that we’ve been back every summer since. Someday, we hope we could live there…at least for a while! Thanks for sharing!
    I agree with your suggestion to save a little each week/month for the goal. That’s how we do it every year…we just plan ahead and stay cheap and eat our way through vacation!

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