Food & Wine Archive

Read Article ▶ Destination Milano – Gateway to Italy

Monday, July 31st, 2017

Destination Milano - Gateway to Italy. Milano is the gateway to Italy and one of the most important business centers of the world. As the second largest city in Italy after Rome, Milan with its population of 5 million is a hub of Italian culture, music, media and sports. It is renowned for its historical attractions, architecture, fashion, food and lifestyle.

Milano Piazza Duomo

Situated in the centre of Milan is one of the most iconic and recognisable buildings of the city and indeed Europe, its gothic Cathedral simply known as, Il Duomo. The Duomo of Milan, is a masterpiece of gothic architecture, a decorative mish mash of styles, partly due to the fact that it was started in the 14th Century and not finished until the facade was completed in the 18th Century. Il Duomo features over 135 stone pinnacles on its rooftop. Visitors who climb to the top are rewarded with spectacular views of the city and beyond to the snow capped Alps. Milano also has a wealth of ancient churches, museums and art exhibitions as well as a world renowned opera house 'La Scala' where great performances take place on a regular basis.

Many famous artists worked in Milano such as Michelangelo, Bramante and especially Leonardo da Vinci who lived in Milano for extensive periods as the guest of Duke Ludovico Sforza. In Milano you can see Leonardo's famous fresco 'The Last Supper' in the church of Santa Maria Delle Grazie with its six sided dome designed by Bramante. You can also see Leonardo's famous Codex Atlanticus with sketches of war machines, diving suits, aircraft and agrarian machines housed in the beautiful Biblioteca Ambrosiana an artistic centre since the early 17th century.

Davinci Last Supper Codex Atlanticus Santa Maria della Grazie

Milano is the style capital of Italy and one of the world's great fashion destinations. The city's beautiful tree lined boulevards are home to famous Italian and International fashion designers such as Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci and Valentino who display their amazing designs and accessories in stunning window displays. Milan Fashion Week is held every year in September and attracts all the important designers and buyers from around the world. Milano is also noted for its design and the 'Salone Internazionale del Mobile' an annual world renowned furniture and furnishings design exhibition is held every year in April.

The idea of the Aperitivo, enjoying a bitter drink with snacks, took off in Milan in the 1920s and became a significant cultural aspect for locals and anyone visiting the city. Aperitivo, which simply translates as 'to open', a drink that opens and stimulates your appetite before going to enjoy your evening meal. In all the city's bars, expert barmen compete in developing unique cocktails for their guests. None more famous than Bar Basso which opened in 1947 and is famous for its signature drink Negroni Sbagliato. The drink was invented by the bars' owner Mirko Stocchetto who accidentally substituted gin for prosecco in a Negroni cocktail. The idea of getting together in the evening for a drink before dinner is a Milanese custom, a ritual and a must do experience at one of the many traditional and funky new bars when visiting the city.

As well as organsing private tours and private itineraries to Milan, Vita Italian Tours visit Milan on their boutique small group tour of 'The Northern Lakes and Dolomites'. The tour begins in Milano for a two night stay every year in June and travellers get to experience some of the most significant sights of the city as well as the ritual of the Aperitivo. The 11 day tour begins in Milan and also includes some of the most breathtaking scenery in Europe with stays on Lake Como, Lake Garda and the spectacular Dolomites Mountain range.

 

More information on the Northern Lakes & Dolomites Tour: www.vitaitaliantours.com/our-tours

More information on the City of Milan: www.comune.milano.it

More on the Duomo of Milan: www.duomomilano.it

 

Read Article ▶ Italy requests UNESCO recognition for Neapolitan Pizza

Wednesday, March 9th, 2016

Italy requests UNESCO recognition for Neapolitan Pizza. After the Mediterranean diet was added to the list of world recognised cultural icons, Italy is requesting special UNESCO status for the Neapolitan pizza as well as other national treasures such as Sienna's Palio horse-race, violin making in Cremona and a number of other ancient festivals.

Neapolitan Pizza Margherita

The Neapolitan pizza was voted by Italians as one of the dishes that was a national symbol above Spaghetti alla Bolognese and Bruschetta with olive oil.

Pizza as we know it today originated from Naples and was traditionally a food of the poor Neapolitan people sold in open air stalls on the street. The story of the Pizza Margherita originates from 1889 when a local pizzaiolo Raffaelle Esposito made a pizza with mozzarella, tomato and basil leaves, representing the red, white and green of the Italian flag. The pizza was made in honor of and presented to Queen Margherita of Savoy who was visiting Naples with her husband King Umberto I. It is quite possible that the origins of this style of Pizza are from much earlier than the arrival of the Queen Margherita in 1889 although the story of Esposito's Margherita is what has been popularised to this day.

The art of pizza making is a central element of Neapolitan and Italian identity. A symbol recognised around the world. The Neapolitan pizzaiolo insist that the three quality ingredients of mozzarella, tomato and basil are all that is needed to make a perfect Margherita pizza. The pizza base must be a 3mm disc of dough with a softer 1-2cm crust needed by hand and cooked in a wood fire oven.

Neapolitan Pizza Making   Traditional Neapolitan Pizza Margherita

The pizza industry in Italy is reportedly worth over €10 billion and employs around 100 thousand people. Italians want pizza recognised and protected as today many imported ingredients are continually replacing the genuine Italian products such as tomatoes, olive oil and buffalo mozzerella. We await the decision by UNESCO in Paris in 2017 with great anxiety.

On many of our Vita Italian Tours when visiting the Naples area travellers have the opportunity to experience the joy of eating an authentic Pizza Margherita. Buon appetito!

 

Read Article ▶ Panettone an Italian Christmas Tradition

Tuesday, December 29th, 2015

Panettone Panettone II

 

At Christmas time in Italy, the most traditional sweet eaten is 'Panettone'. The traditional fruit cake's history can be traced back to Milan as far back as the late 1400's.

A favoured legend on the origin of the name is attributed to the story of the lowly servant boy called Toni who worked in the kitchen of the then ruler of Milan, Ludovico 'il Moro', of the Sforza family. This servant boy saved the household chef from embarrassment and sacking when the chef accidentally burnt the sweet he had made. Toni offered him the mother yeast which he then used together with eggs, flour, sugar, raisins and candied fruit to make a soft dough and bake into a sweet bread. The guests loved the sweet so much that Ludovico named it 'Pan de Toni' in honour of its inventor.

The 'Panettone' is traditional for Italian families at Christmas time and is nowadays enjoyed by people around the world. It comes in the traditional form with candied fruit and raisins or in modern adaptations with beautiful fillings such vanilla cream, chocolate and even Limoncello (lemon liquor) flavoured. Panettone makes a great gift for a loved one or friend at Christmas time and as most things Italian is best enjoyed together.

 

 

Read Article ▶ Milan Expo 2015

Friday, June 19th, 2015

 

Friday 19 June, Milan - Milan Expo 2015. The focus of the world is once again on Milan, Italy for the 67th edition of the World Expo. Milan Expo 2015 takes place from May 1 to October 31 and has the theme of "Feeding the Planet - Energy for Life".

expo-2015-duomo-4

 

There are over 140 countries from different parts of the world that from their individual country Pavilions will be showcasing and sharing the latest technologies which are used in producing foods to feed the entire planet in sustainable ways. These technologies illustrate the most innovative ways we have today of growing enough food for the entire world, while at the same time protecting the precious resources of the planet.

On a huge site that covers over one million square meters north west of Milan, the Expo 2015 allows people from different walks of life to share their ideas and solutions on the theme of food in order to promote creativity and innovation to other countries to move forward for a sustainable future.

 

Italian Pavillion Expo 2015
The Italian Pavilion at EXPO 2015

 

The Exhibition is attracting millions of visitors from around the world who are interested in learning about agri food and traditional gastronomic dishes. Most importantly they will be able to taste amazing dishes from all over the world.

To coincide with our Northern Lakes and Dolomites Tour which is due to begin in Milan on 29 June we have booked many of our travellers tickets to visit this monumental event before coming to explore the beautiful Northern Lakes region of Italy with us.

 

Take a guided virtual tour of Milan Expo 2015

 

Read Article ▶ Generational Coffee in Pesaro

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

Generational Coffee in Pesaro Pesaro, 22 October - We, at Vita Italian Tours, are always trying to introduce our travellers to new and authentic places that exhibit local charm, style and that certain ‘Italianita`’. Travellers on our tours always remark how they love the feel of regional Italy and in particular the seaside town of Pesaro, in Le Marche Region.

In Pesaro, there is a quintessential Italian cafe`, central to the lives of so many locals which plays host to great debates on politics, sport and current affairs. It is a place for a momentary escape from the daily grind where one enjoys the slowly extracted pure liquid gold in a cup: the expresso! So when we are in Pesaro, we regularly go to this little gem and would like to share its unique story.

Like so many things in Italy, the family is central to everything. Here we have the 'Caffe Barriere', located close to the main square and run by the Rinaldo family who work together in what has been their labour of love for three generations. Paolo and Carla along with son Andrea, daughter Samuela and granddaughter Eleonora pour all their passion into every cup of coffee to the throws of locals who come from nearby and far away to experience their unique coffee and great hospitality. Their signature coffee that keeps people coming back is their ‘caffe completo’ an expresso coffee infused with zabaglione and a cold sugared crema. The effect is a creamy coffee explosion of flavor in your mouth sure to keep you buzzing all day!

Come an experience this fascinating local along with many others just like it on one of our tours.

www.vitaitaliantours.com/our-tours/

 

Photo of three generations of the Rinaldo family; Carla, Samuela and Eleonora.

 

Read Article ▶ Italian Prosecco outsells French Champagne

Monday, December 30th, 2013

Prosecco2 Veneto, 30 December - Italian Prosecco is more popular than it’s more famous and pricier competitor French Champagne. According to ANSA around the world sales of Prosecco and other Italian sparkling varieties in 2013 have increased substantially and their popularity is constantly growing.

The Prosecco grape is predominantly grown in northeastern Italy in the Veneto region. In the tiny valley of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene, where the finest Prosecco makers are, the wine enjoys a DOCG certification. This certification is handed down by the Italian government and is the highest ranking and stringently regulated designation for an Italian wine region.

A reason for the rise in the popularity of Prosecco is that it is a less expensive option for consumers when compared to French Champagne or other sparkling Italian varieties. This is largely due to the production process as Prosecco undergoes secondary fermentation in stainless steel tanks rather than the more expensive method of fermentation in individual bottles. Prosecco can vary from drier and crispier to slightly fruitier varieties depending on the amount of residual sugar in the wine.

Prosecco can be enjoyed at anytime of the year and is also a perfect way to toast your New Year celebrations. A very popular way to drink Prosecco in the warmer months is when mixed with Aperol and soda in a drink called an ‘Aperol Spritz’, always a favourite aperitivo with travellers on all our Vita Italian Tours.

Read Article ▶ Sardinian Pecorino fights cholesterol

Tuesday, July 30th, 2013

Pecorino_Sardo Sardinia, 30 July - Pecorino Cheese, is a favourite amongst Italians, and is often used in antipasti, on pasta and is an essential ingredient in traditional pesto Genovese. Now there is even more reason to enjoy this mild flavoured cheese. A recent study has shown that Pecorino can lower cholesterol levels by those eating it by as much as 7%.

The studies conducted over a six year period at Cagliari University on the island of Sardegna found pecorino cheese produced from the milk of sheep that have been fed primarily (80%) on fresh grazing grass produced unique nutritional and therapeutic properties. The cheese contained high amounts of CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid), an Omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid found in some food groups which have beneficial properties for humans. Preliminary results of the study also showed that regular consumption of pecorino cheese which contains CLA significantly reduced fat content, suppressed diabetes, preserved muscle tissue and fought tumors growth on skin, mammary glands and the stomach.

Sardinian Pecorino cheese is not as well known outside of Italy as Pecorino Romano or Pecorino Toscano, although given the results of this study it may make up some ground on its more popular cousins. Try some today with pesto, together with fruit or honey. Buon appetito!

Read Article ▶ Shortage of pizza makers in Italy

Wednesday, May 15th, 2013

IMG_0913 Rome, 14 May - Despite the economic crisis in Italy and over 35% unemployment, Italians do not want to become pizza makers, and consequently, there is a shortage of experienced 'pizzaioli' in Italy.

Pizza making is an Italian tradition usually requiring long hours of hard manual labour with low wages. The Italian business federation FIPE is concerned about the shortage of local skilled pizza makers as the demand for pizza is growing enormously despite the recession.

In order to fulfill the high demand for pizza being consumed by Italians, who consider a pizza a cheap lunch time meal, young immigrants are being trained to take on these artisan positions. Of the immigrants being trained, Egyptians are showing a great ability to master the skills and artistry in making high quality pizzas. In fact over 80% of Egyptians who go to work in Italy end up being pizza makers.

On some of our small group tours we give our travellers the opportunity to enjoy an authentic Italian style pizza made in the traditional way.

Read Article ▶ Mediterranean diet to become law

Friday, November 16th, 2012

 Rome, 16 November - On our small group tours to Italy, we like to introduce our travellers to the abundance of fresh seasonal produce and traditional local food that Italian cuisine has to offer.

This week in Rome, Senators have put forward a bill intended to promote the Mediterranean diet which is such a key part of Italian cuisine and indeed the Italian way of life. Some aspects of the bill are: to make November 16 a national day dedicated to the promotion of eating the Mediterranean way and giving certain typical products a special seal so they may be identifiable as part of the dietary regime.

Features of a rich Mediterranean diet include lots of fresh produce such as olive oil, beans, fruits, nuts, legumes and of course every meal would not be complete without a good glass of Italian wine. More importantly, the Mediterranean diet is also not only about the specific foods you eat but also a way of living your life. A way of life that involves sitting down to savour meals slowly and sharing food and wine together with family and friends.

Travellers on a Vita Italian Tour get the opportunity to experience this way of life with relaxed lunches and dinners in local restaurants and trattorie.

Read Article ▶ Porcini mushroom season in full bloom

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

 Tuscany, 23 October - Wild mushrooms in Italy are considered a real delicacy and the Porcini mushroom is king amongst all wild mushrooms. Famous for its meaty texture as well as its rich earthy and nutty flavour, Porcini mushrooms work well in many local stews, sauces and most notably in mushroom risotto.

The season in Italy varies a little from year to year depending on the weather and the region. Rain or damp conditions followed by warmth and sun is ideal porcini weather. The autumn period of mid September and late October in the central Italian regions of Tuscany, Umbria and Emilia-Romagna is prime Porcini mushroom season. They are also found in the Northern Italian regions of Piemonte, Alto Adige and Veneto.

Porcini mushrooms are traditionally found at the foot of chestnut and pine trees. During the season mushroom hunting is a favourite pastime for locals who either use them for themselves in cooking or sell them to local Restaurants or at market. Secret growing spots are safely guarded by locals and can sometimes be past down from father to son or mother to daughter.

A large basket of fresh porcini on display near the entrance of a restaurant or local trattoria, as in this photo from our visit to Lucca on this years Best of Tuscany, Umbria & Le Marche Tour, is a good indication the traveler will have a very positive porcini dining experience.

Read Article ▶ Coffee crisis in Italy?

Monday, August 6th, 2012

Rome, 6 August - Coffee in Italy is a religion. It goes beyond a morning or mid afternoon pick me up. Standing at a bar and having your morning espresso or cappuccino is a quintessential part of Italian culture.

The common Italian greeting ‘prendiamo un caffe’ (lets grab a coffee) is now being undermined by the rising price of coffee both in Italy and internationally. In Milano, you can pay up to € 1.50 for an espresso. On our travels with our groups we have noticed even in our regular coffee bars there has been a considerable increase in prices where you can pay up to € 1 for a coffee. This may seem trivial as compared to what we pay in Australia or in other parts of the world, however, these price hikes are having a considerable impact on the coffee drinking behaviour of everyday Italians. Many have reduced their visits to the local bar for a coffee which has in turn affected coffee sales.

No matter what the costs, Vita Italian Tours will always take our travellers to enjoy the simple pleasures of 'un espresso e una pasta’ (coffee and a sweet).

Read Article ▶ Mediterranean diet adds ‘2-3 years’ to life

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

 Rome  22 December - The Mediterranean diet, which is recognised by UNESCO's World Heritage listing, can add two to three years to your life, according to new Swedish research.

The Sahlgrenska Academy has monitored the diet of thousands of 70-year-olds in the province of Gothenburg for 40 years.

According to the results published in the magazine, Age, the researchers found that the Mediterranean diet adds a potential 20% to the lifespan of the elderly.(ANSA)

 

 



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