Travel // Journey to… Italy with Matteo Gazzarata, Your Travel Recipes {2020}

I love following other travel bloggers, I find it such an inspiration to see where they go. Like me they’re often obsessed with finding the best places to go, going off the beaten track and I can almost always pick up some good travel tips. Matteo Gazzarata from ‘Your Travel Recipes’ is no exception, he has a travel obsession but also loves to eat good local food wherever he visits. You all seemed to really enjoy ‘Journey to… Laos with Dom Smith‘ so I’m super excited to continue this series.

This summer especially I’ve enjoyed following Matteo’s travels all over his beautiful home country of Italy. So in a year where I haven’t been able to visit Italy myself, as I would usually do in the summer, I’ve enlisted Matteo to share some Italian delights so that we can all travel vicariously through his pictures. 

A little bit about Matteo Gazzarata 

Matteo is a tour leader and local guide from Piedmont, in the north west side of Italy, which borders Switzerland and France. He has impressively visited all seven continents with his work. He took his very first trip abroad at the age of 16 to the UK, visiting London, Brighton, Windsor, Oxford and Cambridge. (Here’s his Instagram)

Matteo Gazzarata (Image courtesy of Matteo Gazzarata)
Matteo Gazzarata (Image courtesy of Matteo Gazzarata)

Being based in Turin, his guided tours cover the whole Piedmont region, one of the best areas, of Italy, if you love good food and wine. If you find yourself on one of his tours, he’ll not only wow you with his expert knowledge on Italian art and history but also his love of good local food and wine. Want to know where mortadella is from? Where to get the best salami? Why do Italians have the best ice cream? He’ll share all that and more. His blog covers a lot of detail and I love his unique approach when sharing local food tips. 

So grab a cuppa or a glass of Italian vino and some bruschetta (when in Rome and all that) and let’s travel through Italy with Matteo…

So what’s the first thing that springs to your mind when I say ‘Italian Holiday’?

When I was a kid, my parents used to take my siblings and me to Sicily for our holidays. We had a little house in Messina and that is where we would spend the whole summer break. For most of the Italian families with children, picking a place and going there every summer is still an easy option and a firm favourite, especially the seaside. 

Sicily

Growing up I started roaming around Italy and Europe with my schoolmates thus “discovery” was our travelling key. Italy is a blessed piece of land, both naturally and artistically, thus travelling here is a genuine opportunity to mix up your experiences: the mountains for winter sports, the best beaches of the mediterranean and some of the most impressive art heritage on this planet (Italy ranks 1st in the UNESCO list of protected sites). 

My travel memories of Italy growing up started with the great beaches of Sicily and then onto the cultural cities I visited as a student in high school (I first visited Venice at the age of 14). I have spent the last two decades travelling abroad but now, due to covid I am looking back to see what I’ve done and what I still have to discover about my birth Country and heritage. 

If we had two weeks to spend in Italy what itinerary would you suggest? 

Let’s pretend it’s your first trip to Italy… I’m going to suggest you follow the so-called “Bell’Italia” route which covers, in my opinion, the pillars of Italian culture. 

Stop 1: Venice (3 nights)

No human settlement on earth can be compared to this incredible floating city, Venice. Exploring Venice and doing it justice, takes some time, especially because you have to rely on your own two feet for getting from one place to the next. 

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Together with the very popular St. Mark’s Basilica and the Doge’s Palace, there are infinite places in Venice, to tempt your eyes. From the “art schools” such as Scuola Grande di San Rocco or Scuola Grande di San Marco, the mighty Basilica of the Friars (Santa Maria dei Frari), the Accademia Gallery as well as the Peggy Guggenheim Collection at Palazzo Venier dei Leoni on the Grand Canal. 

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Venice is an intricate maze of small alleys, but getting lost is quite difficult. You’ll find arrows pointing to several attractions at almost every crossroad. These signs are painted on the walls of the buildings. For example, if you leave St. Mark’s Square you can follow the signs pointing to “Rialto” and you’ll reach the famous bridge without a chance to get lost. 

Doge’s Palace, Bridge of Sighs and St. Marks’ Basilica are in the same place, The Accademia and Peggy’s Collection are close to each other on the same side of the Grand Canal called “Dorsoduro”sd.

I suggest you spend the first two days exploring the city (the best thing to do in Venice is to just stroll around) plus one day to discover the Lagoon: take a water-taxi or a Vaporetto and visit Murano which is the island where blown glass was born. 

In Venice there are no cars or buses, thus the only means of public transportation is a boat called vaporetto. Line n. 1 goes along the Grand Canal and makes several stops, thus if you have to go from the train station (Santa Lucia) to St. Mark’s square allow at least 40 minutes. You can use vaporetto also to go to the Islands of Murano and Burano. 

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In Torcello you can see the very first settlement in the lagoon and its nice and tranquil Basilica. Basilica is a simple three naves church with a portal looking to the west and the three apses looking to the east (to the sunrise). The name derives from the roman basilicas which were the buildings used by emperors to administer justice. The one in Torcello is very romantic and quiet (get there early in the morning and you’ll get what I mean).

Tip: Torcello is pretty far, so suggest using a private water taxi. 

Once in Venice, eat what the real venetians eat: the “Cicchetti”. These are sort of canapes (slices of bread dressed with a huge variety of ingredients) which are the very traditional light lunch or aperitivo for the Venetians. Try the cicchetto with baccalà mantecato (cod fish) at “Osteria Do Mori”, in the San Polo District.

Which of the locations in Venice is your personal favourite, which one would you not miss for all the tea in China?

That is seriously pretty hard to say as Venice amazes you at every turn you take. However, there are some areas I love more than others, especially those that are less crowded and let visitors enjoy and understand the city in a better way. Venice is divided into 6 districts called “sestieri”. My favourites are Sestiere Castello and Sestiere San Polo.

At Castello you will find the only building of Venice surrounded by canals on three sides, which to me is an impressive view that allows an extensive understanding of how living in Venice was in the past centuries.

At San Polo, where the Grand School of San Rocco is located. For those who love the arts, this place is heaven, not only for the mighty ceiling of the main hall painted by Tintoretto, but also for the most amazing boiserie (the carved wooden sculptures covering the wall) you can ever see.

Stop 2: Bologna (2 nights)
(Travel time from Venice, by train, 1.30 h)

Bologna, the capital of the region Emilia Romagna, in Northern Italy. Not only is it the homeland of Lasagne, but it is also the birthplace of some other famous Italian dishes like Tagliatelle, Tortellini and Mortadella. 

bologna

That aside Bologna is also a place with a lot to see. Piazza Maggiore is home to the second biggest church on earth called Basilica di San Petronio, it was left unfinished because the Vatican was upset that its size could overtake that of St. Peter’s in Rome. You can visit San Petronio both outside and inside. It’s an immense Church mixing Gothic and Renaissance. 

basilica

Tip: A very interesting highlight inside the church is the longest sundial in the world, painted on the floor of the basilica by the astronomer Cassini in the 1700s. 

The very first university in world history was established in Bologna in 1088 and it’s definitely worth a visit. It is very centrally located, just a few steps away from the main square, along Via Zamboni. It still carries its original Latin name: Alma Mater Studiorum. Make sure you save time to visit the so-called “Anatomical Theatre” which was where the anatomy lessons were held. It’s an oval room with a big marble table in the middle where the corpse was placed and a big stand for the teacher who touched the corpse from a distance with a long wooden stick. 

bologna food

Spend at least two nights here to enjoy the history and the great food! Once in Bologna you must try the local lasagne and tagliatelle. The local wine is a pretty light fizzy red wine called Lambrusco, do not expect it to be the best wine because it’s not, but it’s pleasant and perfect to enjoy with the local food. Take a visit to Mercato di Mezzo, very close to San Petronio Area and eat in a small restaurant or “Tavola Calda” or even just get a take away.

Stop 3: Florence (3 nights)
(Travel time from Bologna, by train, 40 minutes)

The birthplace of the Renaissance deserves a long stay. There is so much to see that a quick visit won’t let you fully appreciate everything Florence has to offer. On the first day visit the mighty Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore and it’s marvellous dome built by Brunelleschi, using a technique that still befuddles contemporary architects today. The Dome is the second largest in the world, after St. Peter’s in Rome. It’s covered by red tiles and topped by a “Lantern” which offers one of the most beautiful panoramic views on earth. 

Florence view copy

Tip: If you want to climb the dome, the bell tower or the terraces of the Cathedral, you have to book in advance. The slot you book cannot be changed so make sure you get your timing right. 

From here move onto one of the most impressive museums on earth: the Uffizi (book in advance on this portal). 

florence1

If you’ve been efficient with your day you may still be able to squeeze in a cab ride to the terrace of “Piazzale Michelangelo” (you can get there on foot using a shortcut, but it takes approximately 40 minutes from the city centre. You can also take a taxi at approximately 10/15 euros). Once there, marvel before the impressive view over the city centre. Sunset is a very good moment to go there as the sun will be on your left. The place is usually pretty crowded at that time, however, you can also go at night, the view is well lit.

Top Tip: Visit “Antica Farmacia Santa Maria Novella”, it’s the birthplace of Perfume. Here you can try some of their scents, they’re sure to be like nothing you’ve ever smelt before. 

For day two head over to one of the quietest museums in town: the “Bargello”. It’s only a few steps from the main square and displays sculptures by Michelangelo, Donatello, Cellini and other Renaissance masters. 

Then it’s over to Santa Croce, a national monument, where the masters of the Italian Literature are buried. These are not common tombs but monumental sculptures. Outside is a memorial to Dante, the author of the Divine Comedy (you probably know Dante’s Inferno which is one book out of the three composing the “Divine Comedy“). Dante is buried in the city of Ravenna, so you won’t find his tomb in Florence. 

Ponte Vecchio

Then take a short walk across the river over Ponte Vecchio, the oldest bridge of Florence. The two sides are populated by small houses and jewelry shops. Move on to the Santo Spirito area. There is a little square here with a lot of small, very lively restaurants and bars where both locals and visitors like to spend the evenings sipping wine, chatting and sitting on the steps of the Church of Santo Spirito. The Church itself looks simple from the outside but it it really is worth a visit. It is home to the only wooden sculpture by Michelangelo which is a Christ Crucified, as well as paintings by some of the most important Renaissance masters.

When eating in Florence you can’t go wrong when asking for a pizza with the local prosciutto crudo or with “finocchiona”, which is a large salami with fennel seeds. However, the main food event in Florence is the T-Bone steak (Bistecca alla Fiorentina), it’s so big it must be shared. And only ask it to be “well done” if you want to offend the locals. 

Tip: The best place to have T-bone steak in Florence is “Il Latini“, it’s very centrally located. Book in advance or you will stay in line forever. 

On day three take a day-trip over to Siena, a beautiful Medieval town. Make sure you go up the Mangia Tower as well as Biblioteca Piccolomini, then take your time and stroll around the narrow alleys pretending you’re a gentleman or a lady from the 1300s. 

siena

(At the present moment the tower is closed to visitors as the stairs are too small to secure social distancing during Covid-19. Generally it is open and you can climb the 88 meters and get to the panoramic terrace. The price is 10 euro and tickets are available only at the booth below the tower).

Stop 4: Rome (3 nights)
(Travel time from Florence, by train, 1.35 h)

Rome is commonly referred to as the “Eternal City”. The city centre could take you years to fully discover it all. Thus I suggest we keep your ambitions reasonable and visit these must-see places in Rome. 

rome

The Vatican Museum: Enter into the Sistine Chapel to gaup at the most popular frescos on earth by Michelangelo and end inside the Basilica of St. Peter, the largest church on earth, whose dome was designed by Michelangelo himself. 

Then on to the Roman Foro, starting at the Colosseum, near to the famous arch of Constantine. This is where the entrance to the archaeological site is and which unfolds how the city became the capital of the longest lasting empire in world history. 

Then head up Via del Corso, making sure you have your eyes peeled, take a left and get to the Pantheon and Piazza Navona. The Pantheon is the best kept roman building in Rome, a huge round building whose dome shows a big hole which allows the light to illuminate the place from the sky, especially the chair of the Emperor. 

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Piazza Navona, close by, is one of the most beautiful squares of Rome, built on the remains of a former Roman Hippodrome. In the middle of it is the very famous statue of the four rivers by Bernini, then take a right, and resist the temptation to jump into Trevi’s fountain. The basin of the fountain is full of coins, which are once a year collected by the local municipality and put towards the restoration of the buildings in Rome. Legend says that if you throw a coin in the fountain you will come back to Rome… by the amount of coins, apparently every visitor wants to.

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Take your time when visiting Ponte Sant’Angelo and the round Castel Sant’Angelo, which is also the set that opera composer Giacomo Puccini picked for the final scene of “Tosca”. Ponte Sant’Angelo is the most beautiful bridge over the Tiber River. Its balustrades are decorated by baroque statues sculpted by several different artists, including Bernini. 

Top Tip: Go to Villa Borghese (both the park and the Museum) and the terrace of Pincio for one of the most impressive views over the city of Rome.

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Rome is the birthplace of one of the most iconic Italian recipes: Pasta alla Carbonara. It’s a simple recipe made with egg yolks, black pepper and guanciale, which is the lard taken from the cheek of the pork. Most of the best food places are outside of the city centre. My favourite is in a district called “Garbatella” where a very small restaurant is found, named “Ar grottino der Traslocatore”. 

Stop 5: Naples, Pompeii, Capri and the Amalfi Coast – 3 nights
(Travel time from Rome, by train, 1.10 h)

On your first trip to Italy you must make time to go to this area in southern Italy. (If you can spare more than three nights I suggest you go with at least five) 

naples

First up, Naples, with an impressive set of art pieces that are more than worth a visit. Start with Plebiscito Square and the Royal Palace, as well as the Monastery of Santa Chiara offering a nice view over the Vesuvius Volcano. Stroll around the city like a local, which is actually the most amazing part of a stay here. Naples is the homeland of Pizza. You haven’t had an outstanding pizza, until you have a pizza in Naples. Also try their famous Pastiera Napoletana, a cake made with buckwheat and a bit of orange scent. Heavy but delicious.

Pompeii: the biggest archaeological site in Europe. I think it’s safe to say that everybody knows about the story of the eruption of the Vesuvius which destroyed this city, but there is a chance to feel what really happened by visiting. A few musts for your itinerary in Pompeii are the Odeon, the Amphitheater and the red light district. 

Then journey onto Sorrento on the jaw-dropping Amalfi Coast. The village is pretty small but the view over the Gulf of Naples is unparalleled and makes this stop worthwhile. This is the birthplace of Limoncello, a light liquor made with the skins of the lemons. Its texture is dense and a little sticky, very good after a heavy meal. You will find Limoncello everywhere along the Amalfi coast, it’s imperative that you taste it here at a restaurant or bar. It is usually kept in the fridge as it’s best drunk very cold. If you want to buy a bottle, the best place is the old limoncello factory in Amalfi called “Antichi Sapori di Amalfi”, very close to the Cathedral.

sicily2

Hop on a ferry over to the island of Capri for a day-trip: you will quickly become apparent why it was much loved by Roman Emperors, European Monarchs and even Hollywood stars. There is nothing else to do here but relax: sip on a vino, explore the island (which is very small) and enjoy the Italian “dolce far niente” (literally: doing sweet nothing). 

sicily3

Top Tip: Once in Capri try the simplest and delicious Caprese Salad: sliced tomatoes paired with sliced Mozzarella, olive oil, salt, pepper and basil…made to honor the italian flag (red, white and green).

Once back to the mainland complete your stay in a seaside town of Positano or Amalfi. Their steep hillside views over the rocky beaches will be the perfect sunset to your exploration of Italy. 

What is the best way to find accommodation in Italy? 

If you want to experience a bit of the real Italian atmosphere I would recommend you to stay at a Bed & Breakfast or at an “agriturismo”.

B&B’s are commonly found in city centres and are the home of a local, who turned some of his/her rooms into accommodation for tourists. The level of the service and the price depends on how centrally located the B&B is but it is usually more convenient than a hotel.

Agriturismo: these are commonly found in the countryside and where a farmer has turned one or more of their farming buildings into accommodation for guests. The service can vary but some will serve food, the food is often made with the farm’s own produce. 

For both B&B and Agriturismo, they’re easily found on the main portals such as booking.com. 

If you like a treat and a little more comfort then your best bet is a hotel. Keep in mind that the quality of Italian 4* and 5* hotels is usually higher than in other European Countries due to the pretty strict national rules, thus the quality of the service can be high as well as the price. 3* hotels are pretty much the same as elsewhere in Europe.

What’s the best way to get around in Italy, do you need to have a car? 

That is a very good question. Until ten years ago the best way was to rent a car… Nowadays, the new high speed railway connects the whole country and your travel time is very short, even if you have to cover long distances (there are almost no more night trains which was very common just ten years ago)

To book your journeys and transfer from one place to the next you simply go to the official website of Trenitalia, the National Italian Railway service. Frecciarossa is the name of the fastest train we have, run by Trenitalia. Frecciarossa makes travel time very short: from Milan to Rome, it will take you as little as three hours. From Venice to Bologna, it’s 1.5 hours and so on. Frecciarossa is very modern and comfortable. There are special offers if you book in advance or for roundtrip tickets. The other fast trains are called Frecciargento and Freccia Bianca, also pretty fast but Frecciarossa is the best way to shorten transfers.

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You can also use the regular trains, which do still run on the traditional rails. They also are pretty efficient but travel time will probably be much longer. Some destinations can only be reached by car or bus: for example, you cannot get to Amalfi or Sorrento by train, you have to take a public bus or rent a car, just for that section of your trip. As a rule buses are usually less efficient than trains in Italy. There also is a private company running fast trains. It’s called Italo and it connects all the major cities in Italy.

Renting a car: this is the best option if you want to be more independent or you plan to include excursions to places that are not covered by the railway or by public transport. All the major international car rental companies are available in Italy as well as some local ones. Take into account that highways are tolled in Italy and payment depends on the distance covered. Gasoline is sold by liter (if you measure in Gallons, a liter is approx. a ¼ of it).

What are your top 15 stand out things to do and visit in Italy? 

Oh, this can really be a very long list!!! I will point out some of my favourites.

1 – The Hunting Lodge of Stupinigi (Torino) is one of the 14 Palaces of the former Italian Royal Family. Shaped as a keyhole, this palace will amaze you. The frescoes of the ballrooms are simply magnificent 

2 – The Sistine Chapel – Holy See/Rome. Michelangelo’s masterpiece 

3 – The Cathedral of Monreale – Sicily (its mosaics are really impressive) – 

4 – A Boat Ride on Lake Maggiore (Piedmont/Lombardy Regions). The lake is the most romantic place in the Country, a boat ride will take you to the three islands that look like small villages floating on the water. 

5 – The Skyway Monte Bianco (Curmayeur – Valle d’Aosta) that will take you to the roof of Europe at 3866 meters of altitude. 

6 – A Gondola Ride in Venice, at sunset.

7 – Wine Tasting at La Court -(Castelnuovo Calcea in the district of Asti). Enjoy wine tasting at a vineyard that is disseminated with contemporary art installations.

8 – Olive Harvest at Villa Altair (Mazara del Vallo – Sicily) – Take part in the harvest and learn how to make the incredibly tasty Italian olive oil. 

9 – Castel del Monte – (Andria, Puglia). One of the most iconic castles in the world, which also is one of the symbols of the Country. 

10 – Hiking on the Puflach (Anello della Bullaccia – Alpe di Siusi – Trentino Alto Adige). It’s a five hour comfortable and easy hike in the Dolomites, the Unesco protected section of the Alps. 

11 – The Best Pizza in the World at “I Masanielli” (Caserta – Campania Region). This is definitely the very best! Try the four-tomatoes-pizza. 

12 – Reggia di Caserta (Caserta – Campania Region). Visit to the Largest Royal Palace in the world. 

13 – The Panoramic Terrace of La Morra (Cuneo – Piedmont Region). This terrace provides you with a 180 degrees view over the Unesco Protected vineyards of Piedmont. 

14 – Archaeologic Site of Pompeii (Campania Region). The largest archaeologic excavation in the Country. The whole roman City is now visible, including its controversial red light district with sexually explicit frescoes. 

15 – Costa Smeralda – The Emerald Coast (Sardinia). If you’re looking for the most beautiful beach on earth, it can be found along this coast. The area is pretty crowded in summertime, but the beaches are unparalleled. 

Bit tongue in cheek – but in your opinion what is the best photo spot in Italy? 

I am not a big a “selfie” person, but I could recommend two photo spots in Italy:

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  1. Piazzale Michelangelo in Florence: This is very obvious but you can’t prevent your heart from losing a beat before the magnificence of Florence.
  2. The Amalfi Coast: any place will do here. Spanning from Positano, to Amalfi itself or Sorrento, the coast is so unique that your selfie will be the most romantic ever.

One location which has surprised you in Italy?

There are several, but if I had to pick the one that really took my breath away I would say the Dolomites. If you ski, you’d better go in winter, if you don’t, the summer is magical here and that is when I went. 

dolomites1

I heard about this section of the Alps for so long, but I never had the chance to visit them. As I do not ski I always thought there was no good reason for me to visit. It soon became clear why the Dolomites are so beloved and appreciated. The landscape and the atmosphere are really out of this world. So quiet, tranquil and relaxed that you feel you may never want to go back to your day to day life. 

dolomites

I stayed in the city of Bolzano (Bozen in German) and moved around from there: I went to the Renon Mountain using the funicular and walked to the earth Pyramids, which are rock formations similar to those that are found at Bryce Canyon in the USA, then also went to the Puflach at Alpe di Siusi, which is a popular place for summer hikes in the Dolomites.

Food here is a mix of Italian and German tradition (most of the locals here are bilingual), thus try their traditional “Knödel” (Canederli in Italian), which are like dumplings, balls of dough scented with spices or vegetables, cooked in broth. There also is a special ham in this region called speck. It’s like a very tasty smoked ham (a bit like bacon) used to fill a panini or sandwiches. Polenta is also very popular here, try their cheese and speck polenta or even the goulash dressed polenta.

Is there somewhere you haven’t yet visited in Italy but really want to? 

Lampedusa

I still have a lot to cover in my own Country but if I had to pick an area I’d like to visit it would be the Island of Lampedusa. You might have heard about it recently because it’s the first european soil touched by the numerous migrants from Northern Africa. Beside this, it also is a very beautiful island in the Mediterranean Sea, halfway between Sicily and Tunisia. The beaches are outstanding, just take a look at Spiaggia dei Conigli and you’ll see what I mean. They also produce wine on the island. It’s one of those places that I plan to visit when I’m old and have time to amble around.

How are you keeping your travel bug alive during Covid-19? How do you think travel will change? 

Africa is my absolute favourite travel destination, so when Covid started I was working on my travel plan to Zambia for summer 2020. I put my plans on hold when Covid-19 hit, and decided to tour Sicily instead with my family. 

In the meantime I’ve had the chance to research and investigate other destinations I plan to visit in the future. I want to go back to Argentina and Chile as well as to Australia, thus I have kept myself busy reading books, getting in touch with the local tourism boards and gathering all the information I need to start planning those trips.

Here in Italy summer 2020 wasn’t all bad. There are very few foreigners around (just a few from neighbouring countries), but Italy has recorded a massive wave of domestic tourism, which has helped mitigate the impact of the pandemic. I think that travel groups will become smaller, individuals will be more welcome than larger groups and probably prices will increase a bit, at least in the immediate future. 

I can see it taking a while for the travel industry to get back its status quo. I predict that in the next few years we will all be more attracted to the countryside, it will give us a chance to discover areas that are very seldom included in our travel itineraries. For Italy, that will be good, because every single village has something good to say and share.

What is the best meal to eat in Italy?

My favourite food is a recipe I am pretty certain you’ve never heard about as it’s a very traditional dish from my area, Piedmont (Piemonte – literally “the land at the feet of the Alps). The recipe is called “Bagna Caoda” (translated means “hot sauce”, but it’s actually a dip). It’s not just a recipe but an autumn ritual, rooted in the middle ages. 

piedmont

Ingredients

The sauce is made with only three ingredients: garlic (at least four or five cloves per person), anchovies (at least 50 grams per person) and Italian olive oil (as much as needed). It sounds heavy, but I can assure you it’s not.

Recipe 

Put the peeled garlic cloves (entire) in a pot, cover with milk and bring to a boil. Let it simmer for a few minutes until they get very soft by checking the cloves with a fork, if they mash under the pressure, they are done, then discard the milk. Put a little olive oil into the pot and mash the garlic into a cream, then add more olive oil and all the anchovies and let them dissolve until the sauce turns into a light beige color. Add yet more olive oil and let it cook at low heat until there are no clumps. Then the sauce is ready. The whole process takes usually 30 minutes approximately, but it will depend on the volume of the ingredients, which also depends on the number of friends.

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Once cooked you keep it hot by using a special kind of individual soup bowl over a candle. You can dip any kind of uncooked autumn vegetable (except for potatoes which must be boiled in advance) try pepper, cabbage, cardoon (also known as Thistle), carrots, Jerusalem artichokes …any vegetable you want. 

Tip: When you are done with all the vegetables and you still have a bit of sauce in your bowl, break an egg in it and let it be cooked gently by the flame of the candle. It will take a while but the result is very tasty indeed.

This is a recipe to share with your friends, taking the time to talk and eat in the most relaxing way. It usually takes three to four hours to have it all. I usually make it once a year with just my very closest friends… I give you permission to skip your family for once, this a friendship tightening ritual.

Every year in November the Bagna Caoda Day is organised. It started from Piedmont but it’s nowadays an international event. (27-29 Nov)

There is just one side effect: the dip is made with a lot of garlic, so it may affect your social events the next day.

I loved following along on this culinary trip through Italy with Matteo, I could eat Italian food all day long, but pizza wins for me. Have you been to Italy? Where any of these cities on your itinerary? Any that you’d add on to the list above? I’d love to hear what your favourite things about Italy are, leave me a comment below. 

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