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food

While in Rome… eat, pray, love and cook!

Since the beginning of the times, every traveller had one main goal: to experience, to create memories of emotions lived during the travel, to come into contact with local culture, local traditions and learn about local habits.

If you think about visiting Italy, and especially Rome, among the first things you might have on your check-list are: the Colosseum , the Vatican together with the Sistine Chapel, and you will be surely looking forward to taste delicious Italian food!

The food, by all means, is the best way to live an extraordinary experience and bring back home vivid memories.

We have already written here about Italian coffee, Italian (Sicilian) chocolate and about the worldwide famous Italian pasta.

We from City Lights have thought about our future guests who might like to experience a little bit more and among different options of Cooking classes and Food tours, we actually decided to offer you all of this in one tour.

We are sure that the most intriguing part of this new City Lights tours package will be this Cooking class that will have maximum 8 participants.

It will be, at the same time, easy and exciting to follow this fantastic experience.

Your chef, who is fully licensed, professional and accredite, will lead and follow you from the very start to the very end of this experience.

First, you will meet him at one of the most characteristic and authentic markets of Rome where you will start to collect all the necessary ingredients. You will see what kind of tomatoes Italians use for each recipe (and believe it or not there are dozens of types of tomatoes, each for different dish), you will visit a so-called Salsamenteria where you can discover the most typical kinds of cheese, cold cuts of meat and all characteristic Italian delicacies and you will also visit a typical Italian butcher where we will collect some of the ingredients for our recipes.

Then, together with the Chef you will reach his studio in Trastevere and the real discover will start. While you will be preparing pasta on your own and while he will be looking after each and every participant, he will start to reveal the most important secrets of the every-day cooking. You will be surprised of how many things you will learn and how easy can be to implement these small secrets for an easier life!

The Cooking Class will include preparation of: three types of pasta, a main dish and a dessert.

While you’ll be starting to get more self-confidence by preparing your (probably first in your lifetime) dough, the chef will offer a taste of some special red or white wine and if you’re lucky you will have a chance to taste special artisanal olive oil (of his own production).

Before the pasta will be ready to be cooked, you will also prepare a main dish (meat or fish) and during this preparation process you will discover some simple, small secrets that will add more to your discovery of why the Italian cuisine is so famous.

As soon as you finished preparing your pasta, the cooking process will start and you will finally taste your own creation. The sauce prepared by all the participants will be combined with pasta and the lunch will be ready to be served.

The complete meal, prepared by you and other participants, under the attentive eye of the chef, will be served and accompanied by an excellent wine.

The dessert, that Italians are going proud of, will also be part of this cooking/tasting class and you will see how with few ingredients you can make an excellent, typically Italian, dessert.

Your Cooking Class – Tasting experience will not come alone.

The package will also include one or two tours of your choice that can be:

  • the Vatican, Sistine Chapel and St Peter’s Basilica tour the
  • Colosseum & Roman Forum tour,
  • or both

You just need to decide and to let us know how would you like to get the best of your holiday.

The first European PGI chocolate might be Italian!!!

If you say Sicily you can think of beautiful island in Italy, surrounded by clear blue sea, fantastic beaches, great food. You will also remember huge archaeological sites, history and culture of this unique place. And don’t forget the Etna volcano, still active and smoking.

However, these things are not the only uniqueness of Sicily.

Modica Chocolate, produced in Sicily, has been included in the list of EU-certified products while awaiting final acknowledgement and, therefore, official protection. Actually, the PGI stands for Protected Geographical Indication and certifies the authenticity of unique products to a particular area.

This chocolate produced with old manner treatment, avoiding the industrial production is an added value to this unique product. The technique was acquired by Spaniards (who lived in the area centuries ago) and the result is an inimitable granular consistency of the Modica chocolate. The making process consists in low heat (35°-40°) elaboration of the cocoa paste.

This “old school” production procedure maintains the sugar crystals that never melt. The result is a nubby, crunchy, uneven brown colour chocolate blocks. The uniqueness of these chocolate is not only the production process or the shape. The first impression is the taste of roasted cocoa beans that can be also flavoured by nuances of cinnamon, vanilla, red chilli, coffee, Sicilian citrus flavours, pistachio, etc…

What are you waiting for… come to Italy and ask for cioccolato di Modica!!!

When in Italy… have a cup of coffee

It will probably happen that while on holidays in Italy and in between a stroll in the Roman Forum or a visit to the Sistine Chapel you would like to enjoy a little bit more of Italian culture. You will more likely find a nice Italian bar and order a cappuccino. It that happens in the morning, that will be perfectly normal. However, if you sit down at 5pm and you order a cappuccino, the barman will immediately know that you’re not a local. In Italy to order a cappuccino after 11.30am is quite a heresy.

That’s why is would be useful to read this short and comprehensive guide of how to “have a coffee” in Italy.

First of all, if you order a “coffee” in Italy you will be served a small cup of espresso that you are usually supposed to drink at the counter. This is the “only” coffee you will get.

However, there are many other alternatives that in the land of most famous coffee producers you can find.

So please follow with attention, so you don’t end up ordering a “frappucino with cinnamon and cream”.

Cappuccino is a “morning/breakfast” drink. It’s a coffee in a large cup with hot foamed milk. There are variations of cappuccino that you can ask for and mostly they are: with cocoa on top, not too hot (ital. tiepido) and light cappuccino (which means with just a little bit of coffee).

Caffè-latte is also a breakfast drink and it is usually served in a glass. It is, exactly, a full glass of milk with the foam on top and a cup of espresso in it.

Marocchino is something that you can have any time of the day and it will be served in a cup little bit bigger than an espresso. It is composed of espresso, a sprinkle of cocoa, a spoonful of frothed milk and cocoa on top. The original recipe includes liquid chocolate spread on the inside of the cup.

marocchino

 Latte macchiato is mostly milk with just a “drop” of a coffee and it is lighter in terms of quantity of coffee than caffè- latte. It is usually served in a big glass.

And finally his Majesty, Espresso, that you can order at any time of the day. It can be ristretto – shortor even macchiato, with a drop of cold or hot milk.

You also have the choice of caffè americano, caffè decaf, espresso ristretto (short), espresso corretto (coffee with a drop of liquor in it)

Coffee time in Italian culture can be any time of the day and it is a moment that you share with friends, colleagues or it can be an excuse to invite somebody you like out. Prendere un caffè is, in general, a very easy way to take a break from work or meet someone without too much commitment. There are many ways in which coffee is tangled with Italian culture and traditions, so much that there is a whole “philosophy” of “having a coffee” in Italy. In some parts of Italy you will be served coffee with a glass of water, while in other parts (especially in Naples) they say you shouldn’t have any water after you had the cup of coffee. That’s because you should keep the delicious coffee taste in your mouth.

The “coffee culture” in Italy explains why some Italian brands became so famous all around the world. The first espresso machine was actually invented in Turin in 1884. Shortly after that Lavazza brand was created in Turin in 1895. In 1933, the same year when the first moka pot was invented, Illy caffè brand was born.

Probably the origin of this big cultural imprint that the coffee has on the Italian culture is also the historical fact that the first coffeehouse to open in Europe was in Venice in 1654.

However, in Italy there are many historical places where you still can learn a lot about the local culture and where you can discover some more variations of coffee.

While In Turin and touring the Piazza Castello and Egyptian Museums you should not miss a caffe at Bicerin or while strolling down between Piazza Castello you should stop in Piazza San Carlo and have a delicious marocchino at the bar San Carlo.

Caffè San Carlo, Turin

 In Venice, after your tour at the St Marco’s Basilica or the visit to the Dodge’s Palace you should have a seat in Florian’s Caffe located right on the Piazza San Marco. Here you will have the feeling of being transported in another era. This caffè bar was there side 1720 and you can see the pictures of some famous people who used to hang out here.

A little bit more recent, but shrouded by almost the same historical/misterious veil is caffè Camparino just right next to the Duomo in Milan.   After you finish visiting Leonardo’s Last Supper you should have a seat in Jamaica Bar. This café is a meeting point of all the famous artists, artisans, students of the nearby Academy and famous journalists. You will feel a mix of modern and bohemian atmosphere and this will be a cherry on top after you visit this beautiful part of Milan called Brera. While in Rome you should pay a visit to the Antico Caffè Greco, just few meters from the Spanish Steps. Together with a delicious coffee you will have a chance to visit one of the most beautiful private art collections inside this historical bar. The price you will pay for coffee, by tacit agreement, will include also the visit to the art collection.

Antico Caffè Greco, Rome

A little bit more affordable is Caffè Sant’Eustachio, near the Pathneon, where just after to cross the doorstep you will smell the scent of coffee beans from all over the world. In Naples, coffee is has deeper roots than anywhere else in Italy. It’s not by chance that there is a caffè called caffè napoletano and it’s made in a particular pot that you  can still find in some shops in Naples. Therefore, while visit the Piazza del Plebiscito, you must stop at the Gran Caffè Gambrinus. The bar was founded after the union of all Italian regions, but during the Belle Epoque it gains a wider attention of the people of Naples and European aristocratic and artistic personalities.

Gran Caffè Gambrinus, Naples

Whether you are an art lover or passionate about the local culture and traditions or even a foodie, just choose your coffee bar carefully, because otherwise you will miss much more than a good cup od coffee.

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