Hello readers, it’s been a whirlwind of a month (rather, 2020 in general) and I feel like in a matter of days, my life has been flipped upside down- along with many others who work in the travel industry or anything to do with Italy. I feel like we have all gone through the stages of a breakup trying to understand what the hell just happened, and now I’m at the stage of acceptance and hope.
I started composing this post from the airport in Florence last week before the nationwide lockdown occurred, awaiting my return flight with a heavy heart and confusion over Italy’s long path ahead to recovery. I am fine/healthy, and am definitely practicing social distancing while laying low.
This post is intended to share my impressions/thoughts as someone who works in the travel industry, including resources from locals on the ground.
In a few posts back, I detailed navigating into a new chapter in San Francisco. It’s been a decision steadfast in the making. I spent last year a couple months at a time in this complicated California dreamy city on the Bay to see if I really wanted to make the leap.
The last 7 years in Florence have been extremely transformational, and in certain ways it is where I’ve become an adult and put down professional roots- you remember this is where my Florence food and drink tour baby was born then with Bologna tours to follow (and is still growing and still running- possible to an awesome team on the ground who leads and manages the tours so not to fret!) Hence, leaving Florence was not the easiest decision to make.
It’s now been since March I’ve happily landed in San Francisco and I’ve rarely missed Florence if I can be honest, for a litany of reasons. I genuinely love it here and am so glad I followed by gut instead of staying behind in Florence out of fear or resignation.
I’m painfully slow when it comes to jotting my travels back to you. I blame the ease of Instagram for my lack of consistency in travelogue’ing. Snippets and soundbites are all too easy to upload! But a blog post requires me behind a screen after work…which is again usually behind a screen….you see the dilemma?
As the sun spills in my little study nook in San Francisco I’m currently dwelling in, crunching away at a bowl of fresh pomegranate fruit, I reminisce over my visit to Modica this past May and of this year coming to a close. It’s been a fruitful year in many ways: I became a certified sommelier after nearly a year of studying, this blog was selected as a Finalist for Saveur Annual Blog Awards, loads of great meals and time with dear ones had and I was lucky enough to travel between San Francisco and Italy for a good chunk of the year, including 2 jaunts to Sicily. Continue Reading →
Hey guys! This will be a fast and furious post, as I just landed a few hours ago from the states. Ungodly jetlag is setting in- my body and it’s surroundings feels like we’re going in circles. Please forgive typos and off syntax more than ever!
In any case, I wanted to share a quick note regarding the horrible earthquake claiming several towns in Central Italy. On Wednesday August 24th 2016, a 6.2-magnitude quake hit a series of towns in Central Italy’s Apennines, just around 100km from Rome. The towns most affected are Accumoli (Lazio), Amatrice (Lazio), Pescara del Tronto & Arquata del Tronto (Le Marche) and Accumoli (Lazio). If you’d like to understand where the earthquake affected Central Italy and where it did not- check out this post by Browsing Italy. There have been continuing tremors and aftershocks disrupting rescue efforts, the death toll and # of displaced people continue to rise. I can’t imagine what people there must be going through and send my deepest condolences to everyone affected.
However, I am very comforted and impressed with the world’s response to this unfortunate occurrence. An Italian blogger Paolo Campana sparked a viral donation effort when he proposed on social media that the dish Amatriciana from Amatrice, one of the towns terribly affected and closest to the quake’s epicenter, be used to encourage donation efforts.
In Florence, for example there are restaurants getting behind this effort. If you are in town, and already plan on eating out, check out these eateries who are serving Amatriciana things and donating a portion of their sales to the relief funds:
Trattoria Da Burde- A bit off the beaten track and outside the city center but worth the taxi or bus ride. A Tuscan institution Address: Via Pistoiese, 6/R Phone: 055 317206
Corte Reale- This is a sort of modern, casual restaurant block attached to the city’s main train station so if you are leaving town for the weekend, fuel up with some pasta. Located near Santa Maria Novella Train Station, near Piazza Adua Address: Piazza della Stazione, 50 Phone: 055 264 5114
Il Magazzino- One of my personal favorites in darling Piazza della Passera which specializes in offal-centric pastas, historical classics and even sushi lampredotto, Il Magazzino seems to be serving up some amatriciana as well. I love their pasta in general and the owner rocks. NOTE: They are hosting a benefit dinner on Tuesday September 6th- info here via facebook.Address: Piazza della Passera, 2-3, 50125 Firenze Phone: 055 215969
FuoriPiazza- In the very local’s quarter of Beccaria in Via Gioberti, is a modest restaurant usually known for pizzas but they also have regular menu items. I personally haven’t been but it’s a good time to try it out! Address: Via Vincenzo Gioberti, 46R, 50100 Firenze Phone: 055 669957
Ara e’ Sud- Another fantastic eatery participating- Ara e’ Sud is a sort of “modern Sicilian” and I’m sure will be paying flavorful respects to Amatriciana, since they are meticulous about ingredient quality and sourcing. Address: Via della Vigna Vecchia, 4 Phone: 328 611 7029
I’Tosto- So I’m not sure what l’Tosto envisions serving since it’s a grilled sandwich kinda place. They do these things called “Toasts” in Italian, square white bread grilled sandwiches. Think like a hot tramezzino! Maybe they’ll be doing Amatriciana-inspired Toasts? Address: Via dei Servi 8/R Phone: 055 0515280
Enoteca Pitti Gola and Cantina- A great venue to visit for this pasta initiative in the center of Florence, also because their wines and service rock and the people who own/run are as soulful as their intention to help. They are doing Spaghetti alla Chittara (guitar string pasta) and will be donating 2eu for every plate. Address: Piazza de’ Pitti, 16 Phone: 055 212704
The list is growing daily- so keep your eyes peeled for anything “Amatriciana” on menus across Italy, the UK and America! I bet this will spread to other countries, too. For example, I just read that Mario Batali’s restaurants are pledging $5 for every plate sold.
I found some participating restaurants in Florence from an Italian food culture site called Il Forchettiere since it seems to have concise info, albeit in Italian! Another site listing restaurants in America pledging is Foodiamo.
I dig the idea for pop-up dinner/spaghetti feeds/virtual sagre to in a sense replicate the sagra (festival) which would have ran this weekend (and sadly would have been the 50th edition) in theme with the pasta Amatriciana, which is typical to the town of Amatrice, and has been one of the worst affected. Food-related sagre (festivals) yes celebrate traditional dishes, foods and wine but they also raise money for local projects/organizations- why not do some pop-ups and donate all the proceeds to Amatrice and surrounding towns affected? I’d be so happy to see a venue in Florence make such a genuine gesture!
Don’t know what Amatriciana is? It’s a simple spaghetti dish made with loads of tomato, pork jowl (guanciale), pecorino (ewe’s milk cheese and a touch of dried hot chili pepper. The dish has stirred some controversy recently (prior to the earthquake, of course) as some chefs have challenged it’s traditional recipe, desiring to alter it with garlic, using bacon instead of guanciale, black pepper and/or white wine. While I’m sure no one (I hope no one) is going to split hairs if the recipe varies at this time, it’s the thought and intention that counts, no matter how you find offers to pledge money. I read about a pizza place doing Amatriciana pizza too so the recipe isn’t limited to pasta in this effort.
Like I said, there are other ways to help and contribute, like donating blood and items like clothing, but I appreciate this option since it reminds/raises awareness about the food traditions of Amatrice, plus creates a unique source of solidarity- as food usually does. Donations can also be made directly to Croce Rossa Italiana
Check back with this post, my facebook page and Il Forchettiere– as they will be adding new venues to the list and I will update when I find new sites listing where pasta donations are being implemented.
In your pasta solidarity for Amatrice and surrounding areas affected by the quake,
p.s. other sites with great, up to date info is Slow Food International and Gambero Rosso.