Saturday 2 August 2008

On holiday

Just look at the colour of that sky. J and I went on holiday recently to Italy, to escape the grey dullness which appears to be passing for the great british summertime (well, at least here in the northwest!). The weather was gloriously hot and dry - perfect for doing nothing and just relaxing. We visited a few cities, travelling by train between them.

Unfortunately the Euro is really strong at the moment, and it almost seemed as though we were getting euros for pounds, which was quite dispiriting and made everything rather expensive. We didn't go out for any smart meals, preferring instead to stick to local pizzerias - inexpensive but extremely tasty. No pictures of pizza though because I still feel odd taking pictures in restaurants. I guess that'll pass though, as I decide I want pictures to share on here!!!

Our first port of call was Bologna, and we stayed in a really lovely hotel, the Albergo Centrale. (Thoroughly recommended - the hotel was in a very central location (the clue is in the name!), friendly staff and a great room!) They had a lovely breakfast spread, as seen in the photo below:
and they included some lovely little pastries too - J informs me that they were very tasty, but I prefer to stick to bread and jam for breakfast, no hardship at all as the bread is so delicious and fresh.
We moved on to Bolzano (Bozen) in the mountains in the far north of Italy. We had been there before (and stayed in Hotel Feichter last time and this) and loved it so much that we wanted to go back. I feel I ought to mention the breakfast provided by Hotel Feichter too - it was one of the reasons we both enjoyed staying there so much - there is a lovely spread with fresh rolls, alpine butter, homemade jam and what looked like rhubarb compote (as well as the more ubiquitous industrially made jams in little containers), crossaint type pastries (but sweeter than French croissants), cereals, milk, yogurt, sliced cheeses and cold sliced meats, fruit juices and your choice of coffee/cappuccino/hot chocolate etc made freshly and brought to your breakfast table and probably more that I'm forgetting - we only needed a light snack for lunch!!! Bolzano is very much more Germanic than Italian, in fact the principal language seems to be German (which suits me as my German is rather better than my non-existant Italian!) which is unsurprising as the area used to be part of the Austro-Hungarian empire until relatively recently. It is slightly odd to be greeted in two languages when entering shops, museums and restaurants though! Below is a gorgeous display of bread in a shop window in Bolzano - there are so many yummy bakeries that it's hard to resist diving into all of them, and J let me peer into windows to indulge my fascination with all things bread. Yum! (If you look closely you'll be able to find the bread mouse in the basket - it's in the top right of the display!)
The rather sticky hazelnutty cakey slice above was also from one of the Bolzano bakeries.

Cantucci from a pasticceria in Florence, another brief stop on our tour of Italy - we certainly managed to cover a large area! I must find a recipe and try and make these myself, so that I can leave the nuts out (sometimes it's really irritating being allergic to stuff!) and see what they taste like for myself.

Anyway..... onto the important subject of Gelato. When in Italy, it is imperative to eat a lot of icecream. It's delicious and perfect for cooling down during the day, or eaten whilst walking back to the hotel in the evening as a way of rounding off a meal. On our last visit to Italy, we found a fabulous gelateria in Florence, which made the most delicious chocolate gelato, but sadly, when we went back this year it just didn't seem to live up to my excellent memories. I seemed to think that they included chocolate pieces in their chocolate gelato (always a bonus) but not this time. (Apologies for the shocking photo but there wasn't quite enough light and working with icecream is difficult since it has a tendency to drip and melt onto you if you take too long getting the picture!)

Perhaps the problem was that we'd been spoilt by the absolutely amazing (and I really, really mean that!) gelato that we'd had in Bologna.

This gelateria was recommended to us by a fellow traveller and was a bit of a walk (15 minutes from the city centre in 30+C heat!) but so, so worth it. Hidden away in a more residential part of the city this is an absolute gem. When you walk into the shop you can see through to the immaculate kitchens in the back where they make all of their own gelati, and the small crowd of Italians both in and outside the shop lets you know you're onto something very special.

The gelati below are chocolate and espresso, no prizes for guessing which is which! This is far and away the most intense and delicious chocolate gelato I have ever tasted and so with this final picture of seductively melting and dripping gelato I will leave you to drool.......

No comments:


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...