Well all of a sudden Tim got a job at a school in Italy and is heading off in two weeks for the start of term! I will be sorting out things with my day job, packing up house and hopefully be following not too far behind.
I don’t think it has totally sunk in yet. Tim and I have been dreaming of moving to Italy since we visited for a month three years ago. It seems like it was much further back in history. At the time we set a deadline of seven years to move over so I am pretty dang impressed that it has taken us only three. And by us I totally mean Tim because it is him who landed a job.
We are heading to Trieste and what I know about it so far is that it is about as un-Italian as you can get (only having become part of Italy after World War I) but is situated for easy travel to Croatia, Slovenia and Northern Italy. They also like coffee, a lot. I’m glad I have started practicing my coffee drinking. And there is an antiques market every month!
This will be pretty much the same around here for the next few weeks but I hope you will stick around as I venture off to Italy and share my adventures there. Hopefully I will be able to share some interesting places to visit and will continue to blog about London places when I come to town.
For those who have commented on social media and email in such a wonderfully supportive way, thank you. You know you have a special group of friends when they are all so happy for you, even though they will miss you (and we will miss them). But it is certainly not good-bye. A change in plans means that we are shifting the wedding a few months and are planning on having it in London. Plus, I’m hoping to be able to visit my Mum and friends on a regular-ish basis.
If you’ve been to Trieste, are an expat in Italy, have advice on relocating it will be taken in most gratefully.
On one of our days while in Venice we ‘day tripped’ to the islands of Murano and Burano. We decided to go very early for some photo opportunities. Unfortunately arriving on Murano first at a rather early hour (with kids heading off to school – on a Saturday!?) meant that not much was going on. It did allow for some photos of buildings but I didn’t really ‘get’ it. It seemed like every shop only had some glass to sell.
We then headed to Burano with half of the island of Murano it seemed. We decided to get off the first stop (of two) for the island which I am really glad we did. In fact the whole route we took around the island meant that we went around ‘quieter’ streets (although there were still ‘sufficient’ tourists around) before hitting the ‘tourist traps’. I would highly recommend this because it just meant that it felt more like a place where people live (and do a lot of washing of sheets). The map above shows the route we took.
Burano is pretty dang amazing. The houses are all really colourful and it is like a bit of a fairytale. The amazing spring like weather wasn’t too bad either (the video I made was mostly shot on Burano).
Note about the map: it doesn’t include all the roads, those are just the main ones we went down.
I like to think of myself as a bit of a gelato expert. I have no idea how to make the lovely stuff (although I have dreams of having a gelateria in Italy one day) but i have tasted an awful lot of it from a large number of establishments (particularly in Italy). I feel it is my duty to try as many gelaterias as possible when on holiday in order to find some of the best. It is always the first thing I research when I head to my favourite country.
Before we move onto the best gelato in Venice, it is important to note that gelato is not ice-cream. This is a really useful infographic, but basically gelato uses less butter fat (so is better for you!), has less air and is served at a higher temperature than ice-cream. This means that it melts quicker once in your mouth and the flavour is released faster giving you an instant flavour punch plus is a lot creamier.
Okay, to the places we tried. I can’t guarantee, of course, that I had the best gelato in Venice but I can certainly recommend a few places. I made a map! I have numbered them in the order that we tried them, although I have realised that I have know left one off (it was more ice-cream than gelato so avoid the red lettered gelateria in the corner on St Stefano Palazzo). (Yup that is dedication, 4 nights – 6 gelato tastings!).
Alaska Gelateria was one of the internet suggestions I found. On the first day in Venice we ended up walking for a very long time and after finding a place for lunch I realised we weren’t far from this place. Unfortunately it was a bit disappointing. The flavours were interesting enough but I would say that it was a little too much ice-cream and didn’t have the smooth and creamy texture that a gelato should have.
Ca d’Oro had a very modern and sleek interior (which I quite like). The flavours were a bit safer but it was much of an improvement on the first try. I went for my favourite combination of pistachio and chocolate. I would have preferred a more intense chocolate but it was definitely good.
We had gelato from Majer after an hour plus walk to try and find the Museum of Fabric and Costume, which we then discovered was closed until May and then went to the Natural History Museum instead. Sitting in the nearest palazzo eating gelato was the perfect remedy for my sore feet. I have a feeling it might be a chain (although I didn’t see any other gelaterias with the name I had spotted some deli type stores with the same name) but it was still pretty good. Again only a small selection was available but it was delicious.
Grom is a chain that we have tried before in Bologna. On our last day as we passed one on our way to number 5, concern that number 5 would be as disappointing as number 1 made me suggest a ‘sure thing’ for our last day. There was a good queue outside and their flavours include some standards as well as some more adventurous ones.
As it happened we then passed Gelateria il Doge which had a massive queue of Italians outside. I had to try it. I ended up getting their ‘Crema il Doge’ (or something close to that) which was a cream flavour with chocolate saucy bits and orange peel. I love traditional Italian flavours that might not be so well known to the foreigner and really enjoyed this.
I didn’t get to to trying all the suggestions on the internet (partly because I couldn’t seem to find them before but there seem more that came up in my searches now), but tried a few places. So when you head to Italy and you don’t have any suggestions of where to go here are some tips for spotting the good gelaterias from the tourist traps:
Because gelato is served warmer than ice-cream it melts faster. Those shops with mile high towers of frozen dessert are unlikely to have the creamy texture of gelato because they would just melt. Unless there is a massive queue (preferably of Italians) avoid it.
Look at the colour of the gelato. If you spot bright blue bubblegum carry on walking. A good marker is always the pistachio. It should have a subtle light green colour (as shown below).
When put in a cup/cone it should have a softer consistency than ice-cream. This doesn’t form perfect little ice-cream balls but is more pliable and has a more rustic look.
Look for some unique flavours. Why would you want to go to Italy and have plain chocolate when you can have cioccolata noir with little chocolate nibs for an intense chocolate hit.
Ask an Italian eating gelato!
I hope you find this useful if setting off for Venice (or Italy generally) and would love any suggestions if you have been. You never know when I’ll head back.
I got a little Satoralist while in Venice. Man those Venetians sure know how to dress. And the older generation where particularly swish. Even the tourists had their style on. I suggest when travelling to Venice you pack your your fancy shoes. Sadly Tim went for comfort, but it seemed the street performer did too.
I am not sure what happened to the “healthy” Italian diet. These ‘plain’ cornettos (that’s Italian for croissant) where sprinkled very liberally with sugar. Our hotel cornetto options were either filled with sugary jam or chocolate spread. Admittedly, they might just think the tourists like a liberal helping of carbs while they are all secretly eating fruit somewhere.
This rather large doughnut looking item above is a buranello – a traditional biscuit from the island of Burano. Of course I went for the chocolate covered one. Lots of gelato was also had (I’ll share my recommended places next week).
Anyway, for a good chunk of a year now I have been eating horrendously (and the holiday in Venice was just the sugar on top). It is not unknown for me to polish off a packet of biscuits. And I have got into terrible habits of not cooking enough from scratch, treating myself for a long day at work and a rather pavlovian reaction to a visit to Marks and Spencers and getting one of their bakery chocolate biscuits.
Last year I gave up sugar for a month in a bid to reset my eating habits. It worked really well until I went on a two month holiday (after which I never recovered). My willpower with food is incredibly weak but I have a theory that willpower is like a muscle and the more you exercise it the stronger you get. So despite having a WHOLE SHELF OF SUGAR in the house I gave up sugar as from Monday. I am still eating fruit but no fruit juice or dried fruit and will be trying my utmost to avoid high sugar foods along with all the normal junk. It sounds hard but I didn’t struggle too much last time so hopefully it will be the same this time.