I'm back from 16 days in Italy! A 2.5-foot stack of mail, a backlog of Feral Knitter orders, jet lag, and a pile of laundry have generally been dealt with--now I can settle in to tell you about it!
First things first:
1. Where did you go?
We spent our time in three cities: Venice, Florence, and Rome, with a side trip to a winery in Orvieto. We went on the Rick Steves 10-day Venice-Florence-Rome tour, with extra days in Venice beforehand and Rome at the end. John and I can get overwhelmed by indecision when traveling on our own, so a tour seemed like a good way to add some structure to the experience.
We enjoyed the company of the other people on the tour--there were 28 of us all told, and we had a chance to spend time with most everyone. The Rick Steves tours are set up with lots of free time--in general we would explore with a local guide in the morning and then have the rest of the day free to do what we wanted. We ate a number of meals together--in one case, we cooked the meal together!
2. How was the food?
Ah, the food! Before I begin I must reveal some rather personal information: I cannot seem to tolerate gluten, the protein found in many grains, including wheat. It causes me to have very troubling intestinal problems indeed, although I do not have celiac disease.
(Revealing this often brings up other questions, so I'll answer them here: for the last 10 years or so I had noticed a troubling, embarassing, and increasing problem with my digestive system. I did an elimination diet a year ago--the Whole30--and carefully added back potential allergens. When I added the gluten, my problem flared up again. I will admit that I really wanted the problem to be caused by something, anything!, else, and I have on occasion tried the odd piece of bread, only to suffer the consequences.)
So, no pizza for me, no regular pasta, no bruschetta.... Upon hearing about my dietary limitations, people wondered what I could eat in Italy, the land of wonderful wheat-based foodstuffs.
Well, Italy is far ahead of most countries in recognizing the problem of celiac disease and gluten-intolerance. All children are screened for these medical problems. I could go into any pharmacy and find a selection of gluten-free products, and we found some restaurants that would fix old favorites with gluten-free pastas or doughs. I won't pretend it wasn't a PITA, though, and I would have loved to try so many of the things we saw....
At any rate, here are some random photos:
John at the In Tavola cooking class in Florence--we made a great meal (with some gluten-free options for me) at this fun class.
We took a totally fun food tour of the Testaccio district with a company called Eating Italy Food Tours. Domenico was a lively, music-loving guide to the joys of food in a regular (i.e., non-touristy) area of Rome. We sampled pizza, salami, cheeses, gelato, cannoli, bruschetta, some amazing pastas at Flavio al Velavevodetto, balsamic vinegars, tiramisu, suppli'..... ah, so good!
So, now we've dealt with the two main questions I've had about the trip! More photos to follow of non-food activities--but first, I'm off to Taos, New Mexico, for the Taos Wool Festival!