Discover more from Elizabeth’s Newsletter from Italy
June 2023 News from Elizabeth
Traveling Thoughts, Trastevere Guide & Eggplant Parmigiana
Last week a journalist wrote to me since she was working on a article: "Mistakes Tourists Make When Visiting Rome, As Told By Locals.” Naturally I had opinions. I always have opinions.
Here’s what I wrote back to her:
One of the biggest mistakes travelers make when coming to Rome is timing. I realize that if you are traveling with kids then your timing may be restricted by school schedules. But if not, I would suggest avoiding Rome in high season. One of the best times to visit is the first half of December, when Rome is decorated for the holidays. And I love Rome during January and February. You can have major attractions like the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps and St. Peters almost to yourself.
We all imagine Rome will look like that photo above. But in reality I took this picture last week 2 minutes after it had stopped raining. Within 5 minutes there were so many people you couldn’t even see the sidewalk. Rome is insanely crowded this week and seems to me to be reaching the breaking point.
What is your opinion about traveling off season? Are you willing to put up with a bit of rain or cold to avoid the crowds? Another option is to visit places that are so far off the beaten track there are barely roads. (yes, I’m talking to you Basilicata, Calabria and Abruzzo). I’d love to hear your opinions, since it’s something I think about a lot when we are planning tours. This is why we lead our tours to Puglia and Basilicata in March and April. What better luxury is there than having a place like the World Heritage sites of Alberobello or Matera to yourself without crowds of tourists?
It was such fun having my friend Jenny Rosenstrach lead a tour for us in Sicily. It’s the same itinerary that I usually lead, but with Jenny as the host she brought her enthusiasm for home cooking as well as her Sicilian heritage to the table. We’re already planning a repeat, so make sure you’re signed up to Jenny’s newsletter to hear about the next one.
And speaking of collaborations, we are always on the lookout for fun enthusiastic food world folks to host our tours. Is there someone you follow that you’d like to explore Sicily, Puglia or Parma with? Leave suggestions in the comments below.
Sophie and I have a lot of fun tours coming up in the fall. Even though all the tours are currently sold out, we are happy to add you to the wait lists. You never know! Keep your eyes on this page, in case any spots open up. We update it every day.
If you are already planning for 2024, you can find our ever-expanding schedule of tours for 2024 here. Send us an email and we’ll be happy to forward you the brochures of the tours we have available for 2024. And we are always happy to add you to any wait list.
(If the button doesn’t open directly into your email program, just send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org )
WHAT I’M READING
I’m currently half way through The Convenant of Water which I chose not just because it’s an Oprah pick (but that’s usually a good sign) but also because I loved Abraham Verghese’s earlier Cutting for Stone. The novel follows 3 generations of a family on the southern coast of India. A great summer read.
I’ve always had a thing for birds. This splendid opinion piece is obviously not just about birding, but at the same time makes me want to pick up a pair of binoculars.
In NYC and want to get out into the countryside without a car? Here’s a great one day itinerary that has a bit of everything: culture, nature and food.
I never know what to do with all the nespoli that show up in Italian markets this time of year. Here’s a collection of great recipes for the fruit you probably know better as loquat.
I’m going to be spending a few days in Venice later this month, and one of the first places I look to for insider tips is Yolanda’s Newsletter Yolo Intel. Her ‘black books’ are extensively researched and useful lists for anyone traveling to the places she knows so well. Well worth upgrading to the paying version.
WHERE I’VE BEEN
Both Sophie and I spent a lot of time in Rome this month, so I thought I’d share some of our favorite places to eat in Trastevere. Actually, it’s much more Sophie’s list, since she spends a lot of time there for work and for fun. Trastevere is one of Rome’s cutest neighborhoods, and while it’s definitely touristy in parts (all of Rome is at this point) it still has corners and places that remain very authentic. Here is a short list to feed all your needs
MINI TRASTEVERE GUIDE
Pizza: Ivo a Trastevere
Pasta & Traditional Roman Food: Da Augusto
Natural Wine: Enoteca L’Antidoto
Street Food: Suppli’
Cocktails: Santo Trastevere
Coffee Bar: Bar San Calisto
WHAT I’M EATING
I had the most delicious and intriguing version of Eggplant Parmigiana while I was in Sicily last month. My friend Alessia served it to us during a cooking class we shared with our guests during our Week in Sicily Tour. It’s so unlike any eggplant parmigiana that I’ve ever seen or eaten that it seems a stretch to even call it that. But it’s the version I’ll be making all summer long.
It’s basically a non-recipe recipe.
SICILIAN EGGPLANT PARIMIGIANA
2 medium eggplant, cut into 1/4 slices
Oil for frying (olive oil is best, but you don’t have to use your best quality oil)
2 cups of your favorite rich, simple tomato sauce
1 cup grated ricotta salata
Fry the eggplant slices in about 1 inch of oil, until tender and slightly browned. Remove to a paper towel to drain.
To serve: Place the fried eggplant slices on a platter, in a single layer, slightly overlapping. Spread a thin coating of rich tomato sauce on top. Then scatter with a layer of grated ricotta salata and garnish with basil leaves.
That’s it! It’s served room temperature so it couldn’t be easier. If you want to fry the eggplant ahead of time, store them in the fridge until ready to use. Then let them come to room temp before assembling. If you don’t want to fry, you can always bake the slices, coated with olive oil, in the oven.
I hope you have a nice start to summer. Since I’m not leading another tour until September this is the time of year I take vacations. Besides just hanging out on our terrace in Rome (hello staycation) , this month I’m heading to Venice for a couple of nights, and then to Copenhagen and Norway! I am so excited, since I’ve never been. So if my instagram feed looks a little off brand it’s still me, but the Fjord version.