Verona

With Love From Verona

I hope you all had a very Happy Valentine’s Day full of tons of love, laughter and of course some good chocolate. I spent my Valentine’s Day traveling to Verona with my roommate, Jennie. We arrived in Verona with a happy heart, despite the mushy gushy couples that surrounded us. At the train station we were greeted by a sweet old Italian man that Jennie knew through a mutual friend. He bought us Italy’s best chocolate and offered to put us up in a B&B for two nights as well as show us around the town he knew so well. Little did we know that his favorite parts in town included just about every food group we could think of.

Off we went as 20 year old women with a 60 year old man (what a pimp), to lunch at one of his favorite restaurants. He knew the owners so we walked right in and took a seat. We ordered our first plate in Italian, I had the penne with zucchini and ham which was incredible. After we enjoyed that, he said we needed to order a second plate, something our college pocketbooks hadn’t been able to afford prior to this day. So we went with his suggestion and got a broiled fish dish that was delectable. Next up was pastries followed by coffee which Jennie and I declined since we were already full of good food. 2 hours later, we came to the conclusion that there wouldn’t be much sightseeing going on today even though the weather was pristine.

We headed into town after lunch and explored the Verona In Love festival which housed chocolate and cheese and a plethora of beautiful couples holding roses and stealing kisses. After grabbing a cappuccino with Robert (our host) and his friend, we headed back to our B&B but made a pit stop on the way at Robert’s favorite Pasticceria. Still stuffed from lunch, we wondered how we could fit anything else in our stomachs. But out came hot chocolate, which in Italy is more like a pure melted dark chocolate bar (hello cavities), and a platter full of galani and fritelle. Galani has the consistency of a cannoli shell but tastes like a funnel cake and is decked in powdered sugar, it was fabulous. Fritelle is a custard filled pastry that I wasn’t too fond of. Nonetheless he made us finish the platter and hot chocolate as Jennie and I entered a sugar coma, unable to physically put anymore food into our bodies. We made our way to our B&B which was a beautiful apartment just outside of town and rested until dinner… And so began another food frenzy. We met Robert and his wife at a lovely, quaint Valentine’s dinner that included pumpkin tortellini in Amarone sauce (AMAZING!), steak and vegetables followed by a rosemary infused crème brulee… Are you drooling yet? Although it was a 4 hour dinner, we enjoyed the decadence and headed home to nurse our food baby.

Saturday started with a bang as we shopped around the fabulous stores and made our way to Juliet’s house. Although crowded and way less intimate than the Letters to Juliet movie portrays, we got our picture holding Juliet’s boob which is meant to help us find our true prince then explored her house and got a picture on her balcony. We walked the streets as we fell in love with the porches draped in flowers and beautiful colored window shutters then grabbed a fresh soft pretzel as we made our way back to our apartment for a nap. We met Robert for another 2 hour dinner (seriously a hard thing to do for this fast eater) but this included only one course of fresh, delectable pizza… It was a little place called Tabia, you must go if you are ever in Verona!

We woke on Sunday and headed to town, gawking at the old Italian ladies who walked the streets in their marvelous fur coats. We grabbed another pretzel (they were too good to pass up!) then climbed the Lamberti tower to see the best views of Verona. Little did we know that it was noon and although people were still climbing, the bell did still go off! After losing our hearing and taking several pictures, we did a little more shopping then headed back to the train station. It was a fabulous, relaxing weekend that included way too much food but hey, when will I ever again get the chance to be wine’d and dine’d by an old Italian man??

Our apartment for the weekend.

Our apartment for the weekend.

Juliet's Balcony!

Juliet’s Balcony!

View from Lamberti Tower.

View from Lamberti Tower.

Castelvecchio.

Castelvecchio.

Touching Juliet's boob to find my prince!

Touching Juliet’s boob to find my prince!

Verona in Love.

Verona in Love.

Main square with Lamberti Tower.

Main square with Lamberti Tower.

Until next time, I will be anxiously waiting be departure for Milan Fashion Week on Friday!

Molly

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Choose Chocolate

On Tuesday, the professor of my International Marketing class gave a lecture introducing the class then showed us a series of pictures from one of the most controversial advertising campaigns the world has ever seen. United Colors of Benetton, which is a European based clothing company, bravely did a campaign full of pictures that highlighted racism, sexuality and body image among other things. Never before had a company taken a risk that huge in the marketing world. One of the photos my teacher showed us was the photo I have included below. While surrounded by body image issues everywhere I turn, it made me think about the eating habits in Italy as compared to that of Americans.

Body image ad by United Colors of Benetton.

Body image ad by United Colors of Benetton.

As I mentioned in past posts, everywhere you turn there are Italian women in outstanding fashion, exemplifying class and confidence as they stroll through the streets without a care in the world. One of the main things I notice about these women is that none of them are obese and none are stick thin. Somehow these women seem to have mastered the art of balance in accordance with their weight. In America, it is normal to see an extremely obese person strolling behind a young woman who looks like she needs a burger… Or 5. In Italy, that is simply not the case.

Whether it’s the amount of walking they do or the flights of stairs they climb to their apartment (it’s actually a wee bit overkill), these women exemplify what I believe the perfect woman should look like. Unlike America, the gyms here are small and empty, normally only full of American students. There is no craze to stay in the gym for hours on end followed by a trip to the local organic store for a mysterious green smoothie. These Italian women walk or bike to their destinations and they start their day with a croissant and coffee then end with a plate of pasta and cheese (did I just use three carbs in one sentence?!). Americans seems so incredibly black or white in their habits as compared to the Italian culture who have acquired a sound equilibrium. Maybe their love for a more conservative life at a slower pace is what we Americans should be aiming for in order to create a better balance in our society. Maybe we should be using our time to build healthy relationships instead of creating unhealthy habits, finding others opinions of ourselves more important than our own.

Speaking of balance, how off kilter would I be if I declined a visit to a chocolate festival that’s only 10 minutes from my apartment?? After hearing everyone in every class talk about the chocolate festival by the train station, my roommate and I set out to find out what all the fuss was about. Sure enough there were tents upon tents full of chocolate. If you know me well, you know that I was drooling… Quite literally. My mom can attest to the anxious, “OMG I want everything” attitude I get when surrounded by good food/desserts. You can bet your bottom dollar that same emotion was present when I stepped into those tents on Tuesday! Chocolate fountains, chocolate truffles, chocolate croissants, chocolate crepes… Oh happy day! Remembering my wise words from above, my roommate and I split a flakey dark chocolate croissant and I only had one dark chocolate tartufo (those free samples they hand out don’t really count as calories).  It was a wonderful day in my book as I walked away with a happy heart and maybe a little bit of chocolate still left on my lips.

Although taking the overindulgent, off-balance approach to food when I first arrived here in Italy, I am slowly learning the Italian way of eating is much more enjoyable. Taking your time and as my favorite movie (Eat, Pray, Love) says “having a relationship with your food”, is the best way to enjoy what I consider to be one of the greatest pleasures in life. Acquiring balance with anything you do in life is important and I cannot wait to continue learning from the fabulous Italian women who know what they want and don’t feel guilty about getting exactly that.

Until next time, Happy Valentine’s Day! I will be spending mine in the City of Love, Verona! My roommate and I plan on visiting Juliet’s house and spending the weekend falling in love with the new life we are living here in Italia.

Molly