With school starting in less than a week, I’ve got unpacking, packing, and moving on my mind which consequently means the end to my travels abroad for the summer of 2014. Through ups and downs, but wait, no downs; it has been a great opportunity in every way possible. To conclude my trip, I can’t wait to sum up all my faves from the past 6 weeks. So for those looking to travel Italy or those just curiously reading, enjoy!
Best Gelato – This is a toss-up. Not only did I get to try the best awarded Nocciola gelato of 2014 in San Gimignano, but I discovered other flavours that blew me away; and lucky for me a few weren’t far from home! The chain Amorino, which I visited in Milan, had an amazing selection and incredible depth to their flavours. Their salted caramel definitely came out on top! Being a HUGE salted caramel fan, I can get a little picky at times, but I had no critiques, absolutely perfect! The Gelateria delle Olmo in San Gimignano definitely gets a mention for their incredible Nocciola, definitely worth the wait and definitely worth those awards. The gelato somehow tastes like you’re biting into real hazelnuts as you eat away at your cold, little (or not) treat. Next, both the gelaterias in Siena also worth mentioning are Kopakabana and Caribi. Both definitely have a great variety of flavours and well worth multiple trips, at least in my case. My personal favourite at Kopakabana was the pink grapefruit; still very tart but maintains that smooth taste of a gelato. At Caribi I had a rotating few, their Bellini, After Eight Mint, and Dark Chocolate Orange flavours are all well worth a visit! To best honest, I think the Dark Chocolate Orange and the Bellini made an exceptional combination as well as my top two flavours from the entire trip! Combination is everything, as you’ll soon see!
Best Gelato Combinations – To me, eating the gelato is one thing. But eating bits of each flavour isn’t quite enough, the combination is key to having the perfect gelato experience. So here is a run of a few of my favourites: green apple and dark chocolate, nocciola and dark chocolate, bellini and dark chocolate orange, mint and dark chocolate, amaretto and caffè, almond and nocciola. Can you tell I love dark chocolate? 😛 I find the bitter taste of the dark chocolate compliments such a wide variety of flavours, so therefore it ended up in a lot of my combinations.
Best Cookies – I didn’t get out and try as many different places as I probably could have, but that’s probably a good thing. However, I did find a couple places that served the cookies juusssstttttt right! My favourite Italian cookies are the flourless crackle cookies often in almond and cocoa flavours. My top two were also in Siena. Top almond cookie was just around the corner from the Duomo, on the corner of Via di Città and Via San Pietro in a little Pasticceria. The moist insides let the cookie melt in your mouth at every bite, not overcooked and lots of that almond taste I can’t get enough of! The best cocoa flavour is across town not far from the bus station called Panificio on Via Montanini, where similarly the insides are perfectly saturated in cocoa flavour and not at all dried out. I can’t stop thinking about them even now!
Best Wine – This was challenging, but I’d definitely have to say that my personal favourite was the white wine I described earlier in Cinque Terre. Being a locally made wine, we were curious to see what the grapes we’d admired on the hikes had to offer. The Sassarini Sciacchetrà didn’t disappoint and definitely did Monterrosso proud!
Best Meal Overall – Again, this was difficult….but it comes down to the lunch we had in Montalcino with our class and one of our dinners in Rome. The dinner in Rome was at Urbana 47 (also the address) that amazed entire table away. The lamb that I had in the little zucchini gourd was so light and yet wasn’t overpowered by anything else on the plate. The light taste of the green apples in the salad made the whole dish very summer appropriate and perfect for our night out on the town.
Best Pizza – Without a doubt my best pizza was in Milan at the Obikà Mozzarella Bar! The ultimate in freshness from the mozzarella balls that were melted right on the pizza along with freshly cut tomatoes and the perfect dough made it exquisite! Definitely worth the visit! And the views made the whole walk up even more worthwhile.
Best Tiramisu – Although Tiramisu really has to be made with mascarpone, I didn’t have one with cheese that was perfectly layered and flavoured like my favourite Italian make at home. BUT the best tiramisu that was cream based has to go to Urbana 47 again! That place had it right, with a slight coffee flavour throughout the cream layers as well as in the lady fingers and the cute little pots made it irresistible.
Best Aperitivo – In terms of food, I’m going to have to say the Marc Jacobs Café in Milan. The little cups of pasta, the mini-sandwiches, the fruit platters, the bruschette, the olives, and so much more were the best quality you could possibly ask for at an aperitivo. With the low prices for such an outing and enough food to last you for the night, it’s hard to come across something as high quality as I found there, really top notch! And location-wise, the square has a little church of its own as well great people watching opportunities (one of my favourite pastimes in Europe!).
There are lots more bests to add to the list, like Spitzes, which I’m sure, got tested far more than I could have imagined by some of my friends; so if you’re reading, you’re more than welcome to comment!
And most importantly, I had the best company throughout. Thanks to everyone that made this trip a blast! 🙂