The typical New Yorker rushes into their favorite lunchtime joint, blurts out a complicated numerical order with personalized additions, then anxiously taps their feet, as if being impatient ever made the world run faster. Once the order is made, they sprint out the doors with half the sandwich already eaten, and the other half saved for the subway ride home. Don’t forget the super sugary soda to wash down the greasy contents of yet another fast food lunch.
Travel three thousand miles across the Atlantic to the Boot of Europe, and watch your life change from every aspect, especially your diet. Key words: Slow Down and Be Patient. Every trattoria, ristorante, osteria, and enoteca will force you to enjoy your meal, with endless appetizers, bountiful glasses of wine, and homemade desserts and pasta dishes. The usual slow, relaxed service and casual atmosphere will further prevent you from keeping the New York minute mindset. What’s next? Why, of course, once you realize how important food is in the Italian culture, you begin to honor it in the same way.
Food and wine are naturally celebrated in almost every region, in a variety of festivals throughout the year in Italy. Take, for example, the Wine Festival in Greve in Chianti, every mid-September, where tourists and locals alike enjoy up to eight samples of local Chianti wines while also enjoying local dishes to compliment the wines. Adventurous tourists with only their feet to guide them can also venture to nearby Montefioralle, and discover a long-gone castle town–after a steep walk uphill–complete with belle viste of the Chianti vineyards, and a charming restaurant, La Castellana, located just outside the village’s center. With unforgettable views from the covered terrace, and delicious dishes like the Norcina with truffle, nothing could make a visit to Chianti more complete than the free Limoncello and Grappa the waiters bring out before the check. On the walk back into Chianti, be sure to take gamble through the olive groves bordering the road.
Trips to Chianti, or neighboring Bologna for Ragu pasta, or to Certaldo for food festivals, will leave any visitor to Italy with a full stomach–and new appreciation for food. Perhaps you once thought Top Ramen in front of your TV was dinner. Think again–once you have eaten fresh foccacia bread, with brie cheese and salami, on the steps of Piazza Michelangeliolo overlooking Florence. The sunset and bouquet of international languages around you will entice you to stay long after the last of your homemade appetizer is done. Three thousand miles from the metropolis of New York never felt so far away, or so good.
Story and Photo by Charlotte Tyran