During our 28-day stay in Italy, we spent time in Rome and Tuscany and enjoyed plenty of fantastic food along the way. It was truly an Italian foodie vacation. We walked for miles each day exploring so we never felt guilty because we walked off most of the calories we consumed. As Baby Boomers, over 60, we also needed a little time to put our feet up after hours of tromping over cobblestones. That’s probably why we stopped at so many restaurants and cafes. LOL
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Our first evening in Rome we struck gold
We arrived in the morning after an arduous 4 ½ hour flight from Los Angeles to Philadelphia and another 8 ½ hour flight from Philadelphia to Rome. Bags in tow, we took the train from the airport to Termini station. (about 1 hour) When we arrived, we grabbed a cab to the Lirico Hotel, next to the Opera House but it was way too early for check-in.
We were ravenous and since we had some time to kill, we dropped off our bags and grabbed a nearby gelato at a cafe nearby. After one spoonful, I realized I wasn’t in Kansas anymore. We walked around a little to get our bearings and then checked in so we could rest and refresh for a while. A little later we ventured out again to search for a restaurant for dinner near the hotel.
We wandered into some back alleyways checking out a few prospects and finally came upon a small trattoria called Ristorante La Forchetta d’Oro le Anna. It wasn’t open yet but intuition told us we had to eat there.
Since it was too early to eat we walked a few blocks to the Basilica Santa Maria Maggiore. It’s the largest and oldest Catholic Marian church in Rome and is amazing inside. It was constructed sometime between 432-440 AD.
Basilica Santa Maria Maggiore
Our tummies were growling so we walked back to the trattoria. By that time several people were seated inside having dinner, and they all looked like locals, which was a good sign. Soon the restaurant was filled up to capacity so we were glad we walked in when we did. The owner started us off with a plate of amazing bruschetta made with fresh, ripe tomatoes, garlic, and parsley spread on crusty homemade bread. Our first bite told us we had hit the jackpot. I don’t remember ever tasting more flavorful tomatoes anywhere. Our foodie vacation had officially begun.
Our first course was an addicting plate of pasta topped with porcini mushrooms, shrimp, and fresh tomato sauce. There was more on the plate but I’d already dived in before I remembered to take a photo. That’s the foodie in me!
Next was a delicate and flavorful veal scallopini.
We also enjoyed a plate of freshly grilled zucchini, eggplant, and peppers dripping with mouth-watering olive oil and fresh-cut herbs.
We didn’t any room left in our bellies for the Tiramisu, but the owner insisted we finish off our meal with a glass of Limoncello. When in Rome. . .
Even though we ate at many restaurants on our 28-day trip and they were all amazing, this first one was our absolute favorite! How lucky is that?
I couldn’t get enough Italian food after that
Authentic Italian food is elegant, richly flavored, and lighter than its American version and it’s served in reasonable portions. Still, we often split our meals not only because it was economical but because we wanted to save room for dessert. No foodie vacation to Italy is complete without trying their delectable sweet treats, even though I don’t indulge much in dessert at home. We had to sample some of their famous Gelato as well as several renditions of to die for Tiramisu.
Once you’ve tasted Italian Gelato it’s hard to go back to regular ice cream.
Then, there’s the wine
I’ve cut back on my wine consumption from one glass a day to 1-2 glasses per week. But that went by the wayside while we were in Italy. Italian wine is too sublime to set limits. You can’t have a foodie vacation in Italy if you don’t drink like a Roman!
We started our day with an Italian breakfast
The Italian owned hotels we stayed in always served up wonderful buffet breakfasts that included hard-boiled and scrambled eggs, Italian cold cuts, fruit, cereal, and incredible fruit pastry tarts. It gave us the fuel to go go go!
Every morning I would sip on a cappuccino that tasted 10 times better than anything I’ve had in the States. Starbucks “Eat your heart out!” The Italians drink cappuccino in the morning but never in the afternoon.
Eating on the fly
Our hectic schedule didn’t give us much time to snack between meals, which was good because I didn’t want to gain weight. For lunch, we would stop at an outdoor cafe or small eatery to relax and munch on a Panini sandwich, a piece of pizza, pasta, antipasto, or Tuscan soup. Although we stopped a few times at Starbucks to use the bathroom, we NEVER ate at an American style restaurant the entire time we were there. When I travel, I like to infuse myself with the culture and the food was so good, why would I not?
A tip when you are at a restaurant in Italy
If you order a salad in Italy don’t ask for salad dressing. Salads are typically served lightly dressed with a few drops of olive oil and sometimes vinegar. That’s all you need.
At one restaurant, Doug dared to ask for mustard to spread on his Panini sandwich and the owner of the sandwich shop looked at him like he was a space alien. At another, a server handed him a bottle of hot sauce to keep because he kept asking for it to put on his scrambled eggs.
Doug almost fainted when a server brought him shrimp that had its eyeballs bugging out. He won’t eat anything that’s looking at him.
Satisfy your sweet tooth
Everyday desserts are everywhere and they’re all so amazing. You’ll see plenty of pies and tarts made with real fruit. So yummy!
If you could go on a foodie vacation, where would you go? Please leave a comment below.