Nothing could have prepared me for the amount of food I've eaten in Italy. The past three days have consisted of bread, pasta and pizza, with some gelato and coffee breaks. The scenery is beautiful and the town is fantastic, but I feel like food is such a big part of Italian culture that I should talk about it first.
I'm staying with my friend from school and her family, so they know all of the best places to eat in Udine (in northeast Italy). On my first day we took a drive through the countryside to eat at Al Cardinale Ristorante & Pizzeria. I don't speak any Italian (other than a few phrases I just learned, such as "I'm sorry, I don't speak Italian" and "Where are we going?") so my friend's uncle just ordered me some pasta. The chef made me a dish that wasn't even on the menu: pasta with red sauce, bacon and onions. It was simple, but I couldn't stop myself from eating the whole plate, followed by sorbetto (a lemony, creamy alcoholic drink). They say Americans have big portion sizes, and we do, but Italians aren't too far behind. I've been stuffed after every meal.
The pizza everywhere is delicious: thin, crispy crust and just the right ratio of cheese and sauce. The gelato doesn't disappoint either. So far, I've tried strawberry and Nutella flavors from two different gelaterias. It's smooth, creamy and lighter than ice cream: the perfect snack while sitting in the square people-watching.
The area itself looks like it could be the scene of a movie. In the countryside and on the mountains, all of the houses are quaint terracotta-roofed villas with gardens or vineyards. In the towns, the apartments and houses are painted cheery colors with bright shutters and have flowerboxes hanging out of the windows. The scenery and the city complement each other so well; I don't think I've ever seen a more beautiful place.
Arrivederci, and thanks for reading!