I have a confession to make. I have managed to find myself in a difficult predicament – I have an unhealthy obsession with gelato in Italy.
The record currently stands at eleven scoops in a single day, held by Marc Grayson in Venice. But I myself have hoed down a plethora of different flavours, from straciatella to lemon meringue and from Kit Kat to Nutella. A bit of advice I’ve been given which works a treat with regards to finding the best gelato: check out the banana flavour, even if you’re not going to pick it. If it’s yellow, walk away. It needs to be white or an off-grey, the colour of a legitimate banana.
Gelato gave us a dual benefit in Italy: not only was it insanely yummy, it basically kept us going. Italian hostels are mainly on the crappy side if they exist at all, so we generally stay at campsites in self-contained cabins, a fair hike from the city centre. Only problem was, we found ourselves in Italy in the middle of Easter, so we were forced into the more humble digs in canvas tents, in an unseasonably cool Italian spring.
Needless to say, I wasn’t quite in my element and I’m pretty sure I was permanently giving ‘Mansfield Jaw’. Dragon Lady even came out a couple of times, particularly in Siena when we were dropped at the edge of the town without a clue as to where we were or where the town was at all. It was made even all the more tolerable with the added bonus of an alcohol ban, in force since Prague.
Thankfully the cities, when we finally made our way in to them, would make it all worth it. A small group of us spent a day in Venice which bordered on perfection, I was chosen to go on a guided tour of the catacombs in Rome which were fascinating, my small dose of Cinque Terre has made me seriously consider hiking the whole thing (yes, you read right) and, you’ll be glad to hear, I made my peace with Florence.
In 2007, my most disappointing cities were Salzburg and Florence. Over-hyped and over-touristed, I proclaimed. I still proclaim that for Salzburg but Florence won me over. My Easter Sunday lunch contained seafood risotto, crumbed zucchini stuffed with meat, cream tart and a few sneaky glasses of vino blanco. All overlooking the gorgeous Ponte Vecchio, and for less than twenty Aussie dollars.
Moral of the story? As long as the food’s good, there’s a good chance of winning me over.