The days are winding down, fast. We officially have one week left in Italy. In one week we’ll be in the Big Apple, we’ll be enjoying Thai food and Central Park. But I have to put those thoughts aside for a while.
As my time in Italy comes to an end, I am doing my best to enjoy it, reminding myself that it is undetermined when I’ll be back here again. Sure, it’s proving to be a bit difficult; I’m so excited to be home, I want to see my family and I want some spicy food! But this week it’s time to take a step back and just enjoy La dolcezza di non fare niente. That is the sweetness of doing nothing, which is a favorite phrase to describe the Italians fondness of their lifestyle. The only problem is that I’m doing far from nothing.
I mentioned in my updated About section that the one thing that I want to do before I leave Italy is take a Vespa ride through the Tuscany hills. I am planning on doing that the day before we leave. Lorenzo, of course, is worried that I’ll injure myself beyond repair and the whole trip will be cancelled. But he doesn’t seem to realize that I’m a competent human being that has the ability to learn something new. I also have travel insurance.
I have been planning something new every evening, I want to re-visit all of my favorite bars and aperitivos places. I’m doing my best to eat as much Italian food as possible, one feat that I’m actually not doing well at since the days are now crawling near ninety degrees and nothing sounds worse than a steaming bowl of pasta. But I’m trying.
Cheap wine is a blessing here, especially as we’re soon to head to Australia, the land of outrageously priced alcohol (seriously guys, what gives?). Besides, where else can I pay €7 for a glass of my choice of alcohol and two plates of appetizers? Not in the U.S., and not in Australia.
La Sagra di Cinghiale
Last weekend we had the ultimate Italian experience. Some of my friends mentioned that there were some great Sagras in the coming weeks and we knew that we wanted to get to a few!
A Sagra is a celebration of local food. Generally, they take place in small towns in the hills or far outside the city center. Each festival is in honor of one specific food item, featuring different dishes created with that ingredient. Mostly they feature locally grown produce or locally hunted meats.
Usually held in sports centers, as you walk in you’ll find a handwritten menu with all of the offerings of the town. We went to the Sagra di Cinghiale, meaning the festival of wild boar. Every course had at least one dish featuring this Tuscan delicacy. Although it may sounds strange, wild boar meat is delicious and delicate and I was very excited to eat as much of it as possible!
For an appetizer of salami and sausage, a first course of pasta with cinghiale ragú, a second course of cinghiale cooked according to your taste, three plates french fries, fresh bread, dessert of fresh strawberries, plus two bottles of wine and two bottles of water (we were six people), we paid eighteen euro a piece. That price is slightly higher than we paid last year when we went to the Sagra di Bistecca (Florentine steak) but we had a bigger group and an additional bottle of wine. All in all for such a huge meal eighteen euro really isn’t that much, and for the quality of the food, we were more than happy to pay it.
The problem is that the sagras are very difficult to get to via public transportation, however, not impossible. There are also some sagras that take place in towns closer to the center, as well as seafood festivals at the seaside, which is easier to get to with trains and buses.
I strongly suggest that if you plan on being in Italy, particularly Tuscany, in the late spring and summer that you do some work contacting Italians on couchsurfing or by other means. That way you can be the guest of someone (and get a ride!) to one of these fabulous food festivals.