I spent five weeks in Colombia this summer. In my memory it was, and forever will be, a country of dynamic beauty. On one particularly long and arduous journey from Salento to Bogotá, my friends and I were astounded by what we saw outside the grimy windows of the collectivo bus that left a thick trail of black smoke in its wake. Mountains like ragged gods with roads gouged precipitously from their sides, so swerving that I lost count of how many roadside shrines we passed with headlights from previous accidents watched over by the Virgin Mary.
Gelato in Florence; my friends and I ate it with every meal. We wandered those springy alleys, marveled at the winding Renaissance architecture, and the rich, red tiled roofs and the yellowness of the buildings. We fell in love with the food, the smells, the sights, and became enchanted by the city from which the Renaissance sprung. The city was inspiring, and the scoops of gelato that we were spooned were heavenly.
Well, we’re back in the Bubble, and everyone’s asking: What did you do this spring break?
Have you ever been to Italy? Probably. Have you ever been to Calabria? Probably not. But here’s why you should.
With 4th Year upon me and the “real world” in sight I have decided that as a Social Anthropology student, having spent four years reading about other cultures it’s about time I actually go and experience them for myself. This isn’t part of some “I never had a gap year” syndrome or “I want to be a carefree Arts student forever” rubbish, I promise. I just think it’s important to see a bit of the world and so that’s what I plan to do! My mother approves greatly of this not getting a job and going travelling instead plan, I mean is that not what I’ve spent the past four years at university for?
For me, digging into a bowl of hot, homemade pasta, is just as delightful as spending a day in my pyjamas watching Gilmore Girls. Needless to say, Italian cuisine is one of my guilty pleasures. During my trip to Rome at the end of summer, I decided to spend my days making my own pasta in varying shapes, colours and sizes. Much to my mother’s amusement, my shopping list requests revolved around bags of Tipo 00 flour and multiple boxes of eggs – what else would an intrepid pasta enthusiast need? Although the process of making fresh pasta is a little messy and a fair bit sticky, the satisfaction of eating homemade pappardelle is definitely worth a flour explosion!
This August, I had the opportunity to live with an Italian family in the countryside of Verona, one of the most beautiful areas in northern Italy. Our shared love of food and wine quickly brought us together, and by the end of my stay, I felt like a bona fide Italian! Their house was located a few minutes from the famous vineyards of Valpolicella, home to the world-renowned Amarone. Being one of Italy’s top wine-manufacturing areas, wine plays fundamental role in the economy, regional identity, and everyday life.
Cesinatico is one of many bustling beachside towns in Italy’s gastronomic capital Emilia Romagna. Packed with beach clubs, restaurants, and discotheques, it is the ideal spot for Italians during their August vacation. During my short stay there, I sampled many of the regions classics; spaghetti with mussels and clams, various charcuteries and my favourite, Piadina. This soft, hearty flatbread is to Emilia Romagna as a baguette is to France. It can be served as sandwich bread with cured meats and cheeses, or simply on its own. Try pairing it with salami picante, pecorino and pickled artichoke hearts.
Last summer I visited Rome for the first time and was completely captivated by it. As a French and Latin student, I was drawn to both the flamboyance of the Italian language and of course, the overwhelming history of the city. This September, I chose to spend twelve intensive days learning about the Classical world in the heart of its capital, on a undergraduate summer school run by the British School at Rome.
A final-year Italian essay title asked me to define Italy; whether 150 years after its unification, Italy can be considered a united country or just a collection of different regions under one title is debateable. Having spent ten months living in and travelling around the country, I am confident that my answer will be the latter. Every city in every region has a particular character – its own delicious food, individual culture and unique history. Veneto, one of the most well known regions in Italy, is full of some of the country’s most famous cities; it was there that I spent my year in Padua.