August is a strange time in Milan. It’s usually unbearably hot, very humid and eerily quiet in the city. The streets are deserted, many shops and restaurants are closed with signs posted on their doors that read, “Chiuso per ferie,” which means closed for vacation. Most Italians take their yearly vacation in August. In Milan, that means the city is virtually empty as the Milanese escape to the seaside or to the mountains. This year we made our August escape to the mountains, specifically the town of Merano, nestled in the hills of Trentino- Alto Adige.
In November of 2018 my family and I moved to Milan, Italy from Southern California. We had known for a few years that there was a possibility we would make the move so I prepared as best I could. One of the ways I prepared was by learning Italian. It was important to me that I be able to speak Italian fluently. I wanted to be able to adapt to my adopted country and navigate my everyday life without the fear of not being able to communicate. I also wanted to develop genuine relationships which, of course, requires in depth conversation.
What comes to mind when you think of Sicily? Cannolis? The Mafia? Mount Etna? To be sure all those things are part of Sicily’s identity, but as I discovered recently, Italy’s iconic island has so much more to offer.
Cinque Terre (Five Lands) is one of Italy’s iconic travel destinations. It’s a stretch of the Ligurian coast made up of five colorful fishing villages perched on rocky cliffs. These five, picturesque towns are linked together by train and a famous coastal hiking trail. I’ve wanted to visit Cinque Terre for many years but I’ve always been hesitant. My Italian friends warned me that it’s very crowded and advised me never to visit during the summer peak season.
During quarantine, I made a list of places I’d like to visit once we were allowed to travel. At the top of my list is a place that’s only an hour’s drive from Milan. It’s the kind of place that is so beautiful, so scenic, that I’m mesmerized by it every time I visit.
After being closed due to COVID-19 for months, the cathedral opened to tourists on May 29th. Of course, social distancing and other measures have been put in place but it is open nonetheless. No visit to Milan is complete without visiting this iconic site. Its towering gothic spires decorated with hundreds and thousands of statues are impressive. Step into the church and you’re immediately struck by the grandeur, beauty and size of the towering, sequoia size marble pillars. The Duomo of Milan was definitely built to impress. You can learn more about visiting the church in my previous post.
From the moment I saw this recipe I knew I wanted to try it. A combination of salmon, chives, lime zest and a cheese I’ve never tasted sounded intriguing. Robiola is an Italian soft-ripened cheese of the Stracchino family. It is from the Langhe region and made with varying proportions of cow’s, goat’s and sheep milk. Outside of Italy, you can pick it up at an Italian specialty store. If you’re not able to find it, you can substitute with ricotta or a mixture of ricotta and mascarpone cheese. You can find the original recipe (in Italian) here. It was the first time I’ve cooked a dish that combined pasta and fish. This dish is so delicious, I was not disappointed! This recipe is fairly simple, quick and easy.
For more than two months I have stayed within a two-mile radius, only venturing out to do my weekly grocery shopping. As Phase 2 unfolds and we are allowed to travel outside our city of residence, I’ve slowly ventured out of my neighborhood. Yesterday was the first time since late February that I left Milan. My husband and I headed to the city of Como, on Lake Como, for a lunch date. It was a beautiful day and a perfect afternoon exploring the streets of Como.