Well, I just got back from Italy after spending a little over 2 weeks there. The weather was awesome, the girls beautiful and the food (hold your breath!!!) terrible. To be fair to Italy, I was holed up in a lovely island called Ischia where the local people are exposed only to sea food and aubergine. When I signed up for the summer school in Italy, the registration form had a section for our food preferences and on it was listed the following: halal, vegetarian and etc...
We were really happy that the school was taking so much care about our dietary requirements. Once we landed there, we realised that vegetarian food in Italy normally includes sea food and that co-incidentally is halal as well. So much for our expectations. One thing I must admit though. The desserts and the wine kept flowing and we more than made up for what was missing in the main course.
On the island, we couldn't notice a single ethnic cuisine restaurant. Every second shop was a restaurant and they were all Italian. Ischia is a very small island and I was really surprised to note the number of restaurants on offer and that they were always full. We checked out a few restaurants and tried the local Italian food and I must say that they were a tad disappointing compared to what you get in Italian restaurants in UK or elsewhere.
One of the highlights was checking out the pizza place in Naples. The rumour is that, it was THE place where pizza was probably introduced. I wont bet on it though but that's what I heard and again, they serve only two kinds of pizzas. Margarita with tomatoes or Garlic with tomatoes. No vegetable toppings or anything else but it was good. Kinda enjoyed it. While in Ischia, we had a daily schedule of classes starting at 9 AM and running till 7 PM. We had a 2 hour lunch break where I took the opportunity to swim almost every day and then head for lunch thus making sure that I can accommodate the extra slice of cake and the glass of wine. I also managed to squeeze in a couple of massage sessions (Thai and shiatsu) and trust me, it did feel really good.
The weather was slightly on the warmer side and it gave us more excuse to dash off to the pool whenever we got a chance and also keep ourselves hydrated (wine or water doesn't matter). The summer school organised a couple of tours for sightseeing the island and both of them included a session in the beach for a dip and it was terrific. The water was warm and ideal for swimming. After the summer school, we had a spare day and we checked out this amazing ruined city called Pompeii. It was a 30 minute ride by train from Naples and we spent close to 5 hours at the site. It was fascinating to hear about how a gigantic volcanic eruption wiped out nearly almost everyone living there and how the city has remained uninhabited since then.
One things I haven't mentioned so far is Gelato, which means Ice cream in Italian. I have heard so much about Italian ice creams but man, they are truly delicious. I made it a point to have an ice cream every day. I started worrying about piling on pounds but the swimming sessions in the pool and at the beach took care of it. I can say with confidence that I haven't had so many desserts in a year as I did in 2 weeks in Italy.
All in all, food or no food, Italy rocks and it was an awesome trip..
You can check the pictures from the trip here and here