Food & Diet International Italy Travel

The Heart of Italy: My Personal Food Journey

June 7, 2019

Just 6 years have passed since the first time I ever set foot on Italian soil and fell in love with this country. My life has changed so much since then, and in almost every memory that has shaped my time here, in some way there is food.

I spent the first months of my incredible journey towards food appreciation in the heart and soul of Italy- Tuscany. Little did I know that I was living in the midst of culinary genius, la creme della creme of all cuisines. Looking back I realize I didn’t even know the name of most of the things that I was eating at that point. But it didn’t ( & doesn’t) matter, it was all part of the journey.

Tuscany- the word itself stirs up imagery of rolling hills, deep bordeaux colored wines, hand rolled pasta, and the savory smell of a grilled Florentine steak.

San Gimignano, Tuscany

Even as I sit in my Milanese flat, drinking wine from Puglia– thinking of Tuscany brings about a nostalgia to my senses and most definitely to my palette and I yearn to go back. There is something magic and timeless about Florence and the rolling hills that surround it.

Even Dante Alighieri was in love with this city. They say that Dante used to sit at a stone looking up at the immensity of the green and pink hued marble Duomo for hours at a time. Did he rue about the beauty of this place? Did he feel what I felt as he sat in the shadow of Brunelleschi’s masterpiece? I’m convinced he did. This very place– at the Sasso di Dante (Dante’s stone), which now is home to a famous Florentine restaurant is the exact spot where I was lucky enough to meet the love of my life. I met my now husband, at this restaurant surrounded by good food. I’ll never forget that I had pici pasta with ragu sauce on my plate and chianti in my glass at the exact moment I saw him for the first time at the adjoining table.

This city will forever stir up an incredible mix of emotions in my heart and soul. And as this incredible journey continues, I grasp the immensity of how this city changed my entire life’s direction. In so many ways Italy has helped me to grow up and to look at things in life with a different perspective.

Many times, people ask me if I am happy here, living in Italy. I always answer yes. But it’s so much more complex than that. I will never truly feel 100% American again, and I will never become an Italian. I am divided between two worlds and just hope to take in and hold onto the best of both.

Seaside in Livorno, Tuscany

And from Italy- I’ll take the food. I remember my first official date with my husband, when I visited him in Milan. We went to eat at a really nice seafood restaurant and I had to ask his help in removing the head of my shrimp: I wasn’t psychologically ready for that! And I will never forget when I tasted fresh just made mozzarella- still warm and gooey inside.

It’s kind of like a wine pairing except that it’s my memories that were paired with the perfect food (& let’s be honest probably wine too). Each dish has a memory attached that will always remind me of where I was at that point in time. And although, I now know the names of the dishes I eat and am capable of beheading my own shrimp, the wonder I feel towards food only continues. It has spurred a love for cooking and creating and an adoration for sharing food with others.

And I’ll always have Florence to thank when I think back on where the path began.

The Duomo in Florence

“Florence is like a diamond that I keep looking at from different angles to find more of her to love.”

Author: Ali @ Sustainable Psyche

My name is Ali. I am an American living in Italy. I am passionate about delicious food that is also ethical, healthy and sustainable. I love pasta and pizza, traveling, horseback riding and exploring the vibrant city of Milan that I call home.


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