La Dolce Vita!Part II: Experiencing the sweet life of Italia (Italy)

Part I was published in Rochester Women magazine September/October 2018 issue.

WE MADE SOME DAY TRIPS WHEN WE STAYED AT THE AGRITOURISMO FARM WITH OUR HOSTS, SYLVIA AND MICHELANGELO. We visited Loro Ciuffenna, an old town with fewer tourists than the main Tuscany towns, which was a blessing. The architecture and landscape were mesmerizing.  

Hair flying in the wind with the top down on a cute little convertible red Fiat 500 was the way to travel. Except for a few moments of terror with my friend at the wheel, we took the backroads and enjoyed the beautiful sights. Going through grittier parts of Italy, we passed several factories for designers like Prada, and got lost a few times. It was worth it to end up in the spa town of Saturnia and soak in the Cascate del Mulino hot springs.



We skipped visiting Florence and headed toward Pisa instead, because I needed to take the obligatory “holding up the Leaning Tower of Pisa” picture. In the Piazza dei Miracoli (Square of Miracles) in Pisa, there is much more than a leaning tower. It holds the Caposanto Monumentale cemetery and the very impressive Pisa Cathedral which is a medieval Roman Catholic cathedral whose renowned acoustics are demonstrated by amateur singers daily. It made me wonder what life was really like in medieval times. 

Our dinner that evening consisted of fried zucchini blossoms stuffed with goat cheese and served with spicy aioli, followed by calamaretti pasta with duck ragu and citrus foam. Yes, it tasted amazing.

Cinque Terre is a string of centuries-old seaside villages on the rugged Italian Riviera coastline. In each of the five towns—Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso—colorful houses and vineyards cling to steep terraces. Harbors are filled with fishing boats and trattorias, restaurants serve simple food and seafood specialties along with the Liguria region’s famous pesto sauce. After a long day of driving, we had a bland pizza for dinner, but we made do with a marvelous Chianti.

The next morning, we hiked some of the Sentiero Azzurro cliffside hiking trails to Madonna di Montenero church. These trails link the villages and offer sweeping sea vistas. We rewarded ourselves that night with a dinner of gnocchi with bacon and truffle sauce, a fine pinot noir and excellent bruschetta with fresh tomatoes and basil. 

At this point in the trip it was time to do some laundry so, as any experienced traveler would do, I washed some clothes in the sink and hung them out to dry, like most people in Italy do. 

A dinner of mussels at one restaurant, then homemade pasta with scampi in a tomato and cream sauce at another, along with fine wine and good conversation is what makes my heart soar when I am in Italy.

Dawn Sanborn is a professional photographer, art teacher and world traveler. She believes as the Italians do: Wine, cheese and pasta are an important part of meals and food isn’t just nourishment, it is life. La dolce vita!