Hello from Delta flight 67 Rome to Atlanta!

Now that our time in Italy has wrapped up, I thought I’d try to compile some thoughts on our overall experience in Italy. This was my first time traveling in Italy. I’ve been wanting to visit for some time since I love Italian food and I have some heritage in Italy via my mother’s side of the family (according to my DNA report, I’m just under 25% genetically Italian heritage). And, for various reasons, the Italian culture is the one that has prevailed in my family’s traditions. So, the trip was more meaningful to me than most.

In short, our time in Italy was fantastic! The food and scenery both exceeded my expectations. The food especially just seems so much better than what we have access to in the US. Even simple, raw ingredients, like a tomato, tasted much better than anything I’ve had before. And for more complex ingredients like olive oil and cheese, well, Italy is just producing stuff on another level compared to America. I’m definitely returning home feeling inspired to do what I can to find local, fresh ingredients for meals at home.

One experience that is really sticking with me is making pasta in our airbnb. The host provided the ingredients and suggested a simple preparation of just olive oil and cheese crumbled on top, which is what we did. We simply cooked the orecchiette in salted water, topped it with olive oil, salt, and crumbled cheese. We added fresh tomatoes as garnish. This dish was fantastic! And it took all of 15 minutes to prepare. I’ve cooked a lot of pasta at home in the US and I’ve never had something be so easy and incredibly delicious. There was no skill on our part, so the only explanation is really great ingredients.

Looking back to the places we visited, in order: Rome, Florence, Tuscany, Puglia. I don’t think I can pick a favorite. In fact, I think a highlight was visiting multiple regions and seeing the differences in food and culture. We learned about Italian history and how most cities (and the regions around them) were distinct with their own cultures and dialects until Italian unification in 1861. Even to this day, these regional differences carry on. We learned of a few different dialects and how different they are from one another. So, if you visit Italy, I’d definitely suggest visiting a few regions to experience these differences.

In Rome, we loved seeing the ancient Roman history in the Colosseum and Imperial Forum. It’s amazing to have a view onto this ancient civilization and see the city they built. It’s also incredible to think that Rome has been inhabited continuously since antiquity. We also enjoyed modern Rome, meaning it’s a vibrant city beyond the touristy parts. This means you can find authentic, local food without too much trouble. Some of our favorite dishes were in Rome.

Florence was amazing to see the art and the beautiful Renaissance era buildings and streets. If you stay in the central part of the city, it’s very walkable. Florence is also very touristy, every street is filled with tourists. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but is the reality of visiting the historic parts of Florence. The food can be great here too, we had one of the best meals of our trip here. So, it’s certainly possible to avoid tourist traps and find great places.

Tuscany was beautiful. Just driving through the countryside, or even better, biking through it, gives you so many scenic views. I enjoyed that we got to stay at a farmhouse and enjoy some agritourism while we were there. Visiting all the small Tuscany towns was very fun too, each one has its own unique history and feel to it. Of course, the food is great in Tuscany. We loved the handmade pici pasta, and had one of the best cacio e pepe dishes of our trip in Tuscany. The wine is great here too, and it was fun to visit a few vineyards and see exactly where the grapes came from.

Finally, our time in Puglia was great as well. While both Puglia and Tuscany are heavily into agriculture, I think Puglia exceeds Tuscany in this regard, giving you access to fresh, local foods almost everywhere you go. In fact, many of the foods we had in Puglia were the best on our trip. We loved the bread (especially the focaccia), cheese, meats, and seafood here. Puglia is also a lot less touristy than Tuscany, especially if you get away from the coast and head inland. Our e-bike tour through Puglia was one of the best rides of my life. The Pugliese countryside is beautiful in its own, unique way. I also loved the cities rendered in white, from the cobblestone streets to the buildings. Puglia definitely felt as if it could have been a different country from Tuscany and the cities of Rome and Florence.

So, overall the trip was great! I’m already thinking about when we might be able to return to Italy. I’m definitely going to miss the great food (and lack of humidity) after returning home!

Housekeeping and thoughts on blogging

Just a quick housekeeping note: I’ve gone back and added categories to all these Travel Report posts to make it easier to find them and read any that were missed:

You can find these categories and all my prior posts on the Archive page.

This trip was the first time that I’ve tried blogging about travel and I’m very happy that I decided to do this. Not only has it been a nice way to share with family and friends what I’ve been up to, but I’m happy to have it for myself as a detailed log of what I did. It’s also been fun to reflect on every step of the trip and think of what I wan to write about and which photos I want to share. It’s been a fun creative outlet.

So, thank you for following along! I hope you’ve enjoyed reading these as much as I did writing them. I don’t currently have any big trips planned in the future, but whenever I travel next, I think I’ll keep up with the travel reports. So, if you prefer to follow via email, you can subscribe here and receive posts shortly after I publish them. My About page also describes other ways to follow, such as RSS or ActivityPub/Mastodon.