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, usually only venturing out to do my weekly grocery shopping. As Phase 2 unfolds and we are allowed to 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.
Here in northern Italy, rice is king. Rice has been cultivated in the Po Valley since the Middle Ages. So it is no surprise that risotto is a staple dish in these parts. I have loved risotto for years and even before moving to Italy, risotto was a regular staple at our family dinners. Risotto is usually served as a “Primo” (first course) dish which is followed by a meat or poultry second course but it can also be served as a main dish. Since moving here, I have seen and tasted a myriad of risotto dishes, everything from lobster to blueberry risottos. The flavors and combination of ingredients seem endless.
Back in January I visited one of my favorite churches in Milan, Basilica di Sant’ Ambrogio. I love exploring churches in Milan. As a Protestant, I especially like learning about early church history and there is lots to learn here. Milan’s history is long and rich and its Christian roots are some of the oldest in the world. Saint Ambrose, who was the bishop of Milan in the fourth century, built the church on the site of what was believed to be the graves of martyrs.