Dreaming in Italy

Hard not to think it’s all just a dream. But my eyes are wide open. And so is my heart. Spending 10 days in Italy last month changed the course of my life. And at the same time has kept it right on track. I can say that about a lot of choices and events in my life. Coming to Israel 3 years ago certainly sent me on a course. One that I walk happily along into the future. And that future now includes a year studying in Italy and the engagement to my ever romantic love, Shay. A trip to Italy, 15 years in the front of my mind, will forever be one of the happiest 10 days of my life. Greater than a fairytale. Much like the moment we met, his timing was just right. Setting out that morning I had my future on my mind. We drove to the UNISG campus in the Piemonte region to check out their 12 month Master in Food Culture and Communication program. If I hadn’t seen the campus in person I may not have believed it was real. Even now I can hardly believe I will call it home for a year starting in September. Getting to study and experience what I love in a country I have dreamed of knowing. Leaving the small town of Pollenzo where the school is located we continued on with a drive to Genoa on the Ligurian coast. A train ride later we arrived in the Italian Riviera’s collection of 5 cliff-side jeweled cities, the Cinque Terre. We, or should I really say, Shay, dragged our bags up some of the steepest paths and down the most treacherous stairs we’ve seen. But it was all worth it when we got a glimpse of the view we would get to call ours for the next 3 days. While I made reservations for dinner Shay settled in and brought chairs outside to enjoy the sunset over a bottle of wine. Perched on the balcony of our room, sparkling sea behind him and our future reflected in his eyes, Shay proposed to me.

Just after Shay popped the question -  I said YES of course!

Just after Shay popped the question – I said YES of course!

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View of Manarola from the marina.

Growing up with hot-blooded Italian mama, Italy’s food and beauty has always been close to my heart. They go hand in hand in Italy. Just 10 yards from the flat we were staying in Manarola is La Trattoria dal Billy. It continually came up across my research for the trip and we were not disappointed. So impressed that we actually dined there twice. With the option of a stunning sea and mountain view it was the perfect spot for celebrating.  They are famous for their mixed antipasto di mare, a 12 course procession of seasonal and regionally prepared seafood appetizers. We opted for a whole oven roasted sea bass (picked fresh at our table), grilled vegetables and spaghetti with tomato sauce. Simple yet outstanding. With the care and consideration they give to exceptionally fresh ingredients you can’t go wrong. Placing 3 complimentary bottles of Italian liquor on the table at the end of the meal doesn’t hurt either.

Doesn't get any fresher.

Doesn’t get any fresher.

Smoked swordfish carpaccio with olive oil lemon and sea salt to start.

Smoked swordfish carpaccio with olive oil lemon and sea salt to start.

Chili oil, just the right hit of spice.

Chili oil, just the right hit of spice.

Beautifully filleted fish perfectly roasted.

Beautifully filleted fish perfectly roasted.

Side of potatoes, tomatoes, and olives roasted alongside the fish.

Side of potatoes, tomatoes, and olives roasted alongside the fish.

Simple spaghetti and tomato sauce, nothing boring about it!

Simple spaghetti and tomato sauce, nothing boring about it!

Refreshing limoncello at the end of the meal, lovely touch.

Refreshing limoncello at the end of the meal, lovely touch.