Even though I was only in Italy for 8 days, by the end of my trip it felt as though I had been there for a month. The area of Italy where I’m from is called la ciociaria. The name comes from the shoes, le ciocie, traditionally worn by sheep herders and farmers in the area – and not for anything, they look a lot like the flat form gladiator sandals that everyone’s been sporting this season. Just sayin’
You know, I used to be embarrassed about saying where I was from in Italy. The country is so divided and so racist (amongst it’s own people) that it even exists amongst immigrants here in Toronto, some of whom have never even been to Italy. Being from la ciociaria basically means you’re a farmer or from the country and everything that comes with that connotation; no class, no culture, no etiquette. I didn’t want people to think I was a cafone by default.
But you know what? The more I learn about my roots, the more I’m proud of them. First of all, ask any Italian or foodie, and they’ll tell you that the best food in Italy is in la ciociaria. I can attest to this. The fresh sheep’s ricotta, the home cured sausages, pancetta and salami, the asparagus, the figs, the olives, the wine!!!! It’s all made right there in the region and it will leave your tastebuds dancing into the night with pleasure.
Secondly, the area is just breathtakingly beautiful. The mountains are majestic and tranquil. We went to Terracina for the day last Thursday, a neighbouring beach town, and it was just so amazing. The most beautiful palazzi, a huge rock formation on top of which sits Il Tempio di Giove = The Temple of Jupiter Anxur, dating back to the first century BC. And if you go to the top of the mountain, you can see the most spectacular sunset overlooking Monte Circeo, to the North West.
Leaving all my family and the good wine was hard, but I feel lucky to be able to go back whenever my heart and bank account desire. Instead of clothes, I brought home two handmade wooden baskets for blankets, throws and magazines; two bottles of white wine, Pecorino and Falanghina; and last but not least, I bought the legendary 9090/3 Alessi caffettiera, designed by Richard Sapper and inducted into the Permanent Design Collection at the MOMA. It set me back 120 euros but my great aunt assured me I would have it for life (she’s had hers since the 60s and has never replaced the rubber washer). I love it.
Of course I brought home a few kilos of Parmigiano Reggiano, how could I not. But don’t worry, I declared it.