Julie Adams (a fashion photographer) and Emma Scott (a writer and designer) have a shared love of Italy. And so together they bring to you beautiful, heartfelt, inspiring and often unexpected stories from people all around the world, and their 'affair with Italy'.
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Thank you to Lavazza for the Amodo Mio ELM5250 coffee machine to give away to one of our lovely readers. All you need to do to be in the running to win is post up on Instagram a photo of your 'best Italian coffee moment', include the hashtag #bestItaliancoffeemoment and the address @anaffairwithitaly
Can't wait to see all your wonderful photos.
Winner will be announced on 17.2.2014.
|Jan 2012||Annie||Melbourne, Aus|
|Feb 2012||Mel||Sydney, Aus|
|Mar 2012||Abigail||London, UK|
|Apr 2012||Michael||Dhaka, Bangladesh|
|May 2012||Suzi||Melbourne, Aus|
|June 2012||Christel||Tweed Heads, Aus|
|July 2012||Linda||Chicago, USA|
|Aug 2012||Amanda||Melbourne, Aus|
|Sept 2012||Paddy||Melbourne, Aus|
|Oct 2012||Mary||Ipswich, Aus|
|Nov 2012||Shelley||Preston, UK|
Pop Up Dining
Join An Affair with Italy and some of the best chefs from around the world for a unique dining experience – superb food and wine, all set in one-off secret locations.
Latest dinner: On Friday evening February 22nd, An Affair with Italy guests arrived at the secret location - diamond and luxury jewellery house, Cerrone - to be greeted by Nick and Carmela Cerrone and their wonderful staff. Guests were invited to explore the stunning showroom and choose a piece of jewellery to wear for the evening. The excitement was contagious; the evening began with a brilliant energy.
To find out more about the dinner, the incredible meal served by Stefano Manfredi and to see photos of the night go to Manfredi Pop Up Dining Experience.
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About Carla Coulson
- I was born in Sydney and grew up in the NSW countryside.
- Had a mid life crisis at 35 and left my Sydney business and life to go searching for something that made my heart sing.
- Fell MADLY in love with Italy and photography and stayed in Florence to study photography.
- Moved into a big house in Florence with a wonderful women named Popi, learnt to cook and take photos at the same time.
- Fell MADLY in love with Francesco, a gorgeous Pugliese architect who I was introduced to through friends.
- Had my first photo story on Naples published in Marie Claire at the end of the year at photography school. Very excited!
- A couple of years later the gorgeous folk at Penguin published Italian Joy, a memoir of Italy, changing my life.
- Francesco (then boyfriend) came home with the news he wanted to move to France.
- Francesco and I have lived and worked in Paris since 2005. We were married in 2010.
- I talk about my love for photography on my blog Carla Loves Photography.
- 2013 Penguin published Naples a Way of Love, a collaboration with writer Lisa Clifford.
'I went home and said it's Friday night, I'll call all of my girlfriends and we will go out. I called everybody, no one answered the phone so I thought, 'oh well I'll go home and get Thai take away, like I had so many nights before'. When I picked up my dinner I discovered I had won, they gave me a Christmas present, 'winner of the year' because I had eaten more Thai take away than anyone else in Darlinghurst... I was absolutely mortified.'Carla
The Carla Coulson we know, a household name in the photography world, is adventurous, spirited and brave. She captures the soul of a place through her visual portrayal of the people and their environment. Truly talented, truly admired. So for me it is a shock to discover that Carla’s path has not always been a happy one, tortured by loneliness and self-doubt.
Growing up, Carla moved around a great deal. Her father was a bank manager with a country posting which meant a move every four years. As a child this was not a problem, however it had devastating repercussions as a teenager. In fact it had a huge impact on the next 20 years of her life.
Carla: “Well, when you are 16 you really depend on all your peers, so when you have that taken away you sort of lose your footing. I had moved that many times so as a teenager I wasn’t really interested in making a new group of friends. I just got lost. I was so hurt by the last move that I didn’t make any effort with people anymore. It wasn’t a nice period of my life, it was difficult.”Read More
Carla's Italian tips:
1. FOR A FIRST TIME TRAVELLER TO NAPLES - WHAT 5 THINGS WOULD YOU SUGGEST THEY DO?
A) The historical centre of Naples is so rich; this would be my first stop… Walk down the street known as 'Spaccanpaoli' that runs through the centre of Naples. Also stroll down Via Tribunale, Via San Biagio dei Librai and Via Benedetto Croce.
B) The beautiful Monastero and Chiostro di Santa Chiara is an oasis in the middle of Naples.
C) I adore 'Cristo Vellato' (veiled Christ) in the Cappella di San Severo.
D) Visit the 'Quartiere Spagnoli’, the Spanish Quarter, and the morning market along Via Pignasecca.
2. DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE AREA OF NAPLES THAT YOU ALWAYS REVISIT?
I love the Quartiere Spagnoli, I love all the little corner markets, the narrow streets, and the buzz that is daily life here. The markets along Via Pignasecca is probably my favourite Italian market.
3. DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE RESTAURANT IN NAPLES?
I adore the guys and the food at La Taverna del Buongustaio (near the Pignasecca market). Great friendly service, local cuisine and lots of locals. Oh and you must try pizza as Naples is its home… Sorbillo is great as is Pizzeria Da Michele (they only make 2 kinds but the pizza base tastes like nothing else I have ever tried).
4. ARE THERE SOME PARTICULAR DELICACIES THAT PEOPLE MUST TRY IN NAPLES? WHERE WOULD YOU INDULGE?
It's impossible to not start the day in Naples without a coffee and a sfogliatella (a pastry filled with ricotta, cinnamon and orange rind). It's a toss up between that and the riccia e frolla!
Try breakfast at Scarturchio Patisserie and Café. Attanasio, located near the train station, is an institution for sfogliatella where they are made all day and served straight out of the oven.
5. NAPLES BEING RENOWNED FOR CREATIVITY AND CRAFTSMANSHIP, CAN YOU SUGGESTA GREAT SHOPPING EXPERIENCE?
Naples is renowned for it's fine crafted menswear so your husband or boyfriend is going to love shopping here! Via Filangeri was voted one of the most elegant streets in Italy and is a wonderful contrast to the chaos of the historical centre.
6. CAN YOU SUGGEST ANY GREAT PLACES TO STAY?
I love staying in the apartments at Napoli Suites. They are located in a restored palace just off Piazza Gesu Nuovo in the heart of Naples. Wonderful.
7. IF YOU WERE TO ESCAPE NAPLES FOR A ROMANTIC FEW DAYS WITH YOUR HUSBAND, WHERE WOULD BE YOUR IDEAL PLACE TO GO?
I gave my heart over to the Amalfi Coast years ago so it's hard to visit Naples without scooting over to Positano. I adore renting a little boat and sailing between the beaches from Positano to Vietri… Heaven! I have always stayed at the budget Pensione Maria Luisa (I like it's honesty) and asked for the 'camera con vista" rooms with a view, that way you can sit on your balcony and see all the way down the coast. It might also be fun to stay at the glamorous Le Sireneuse for a change.
'Working in a family business can sometimes be problematic because heads and hearts from one person to the next are really different. I'm so emotional and I'm always tending to say the truth, even if it is not so nice, so I guess I can be a bit embarrassing for the family. Sometimes it would have been rather nice for me to shut up. Now at age 53, I try not to say exactly everything I want to say, unless I think it's useful. I have learned to be a little more diplomatic.'
Wanda Jelmini, niece to matriarch of the Missoni brand – Rosita Missoni, sits before me elegantly dressed in an oyster silver silk shirt, expertly matching cotton pants and an iconically patterned blue/purple-paletted Missoni vest. She is regal, yet warm. She is the type of person that expresses herself with her whole body; her eyes, her hands and the way she moves. Her sun-kissed curls highlight an enormous pair of golden earrings in the shape of a lock and key. They are fascinating. She is fascinating.
For the next hour or so Wanda shares with me a little of her world - a world of privilege, a world of glamour, a world of incredible creative talent - the world of the Missoni family.Read More
Wanda's Italian tips:
1. WHAT IS THE MOST ROMANTIC THING TO DO IN MILAN?
Firstly, I must say that in order to have a romantic experience it is necessary to have a lover!!! And then, the most romantic thing would be to do the 'aperitivo' experience in the Piazza del Duomo, I would say at the rooftop restaurant in La Rinascente. Afterwards, go to La Scala the original building for a ballet (not opera) and a late dinner close-by at Il Marchesino.
2. OTHER THAN MISSONI OF COURSE, WHAT'S YOUR FAVOURITE BOUTIQUE FOR SHOPPING IN MILAN?
3. IS THERE AN UP AND COMING MILANESE DESIGNER WHO WE SHOULD ALL BE WATCHING?
Cannot really say of any designers but some artists/artisans... Gennaro Avallone you cannot miss, he works with metal, Daniele Papuli another one to go and see, working with paper crafts, and my great friend Lacopo Foggini, working with plastics.
4. WHEN YOU HAVE VISITORS COMING TO MILAN, WHAT HOTEL DO YOU RECOMMEND THEY STAY AT?
My suggestion for a spectacular experience is to leave Milan altogether and go up to the lakes: Grand Hotel Et Des Iles Borromee on lake Maggiore, Villa Crespi on lake d'Orta or then Villa d'Este on lake Como. Otherwise in Milan there is The Grey.
5. FOR A TRUE MILANESE EXPERIENCE, WHERE WOULD YOU RECOMMEND TO DINE?
Trattoria Della Pesa, nothing more Milanese than that! It's very old but always impeccable food!
Traditional Milanese cuisine worth a try:
• risotto alla Milanese with ossobuco and risotto al salto
• caseula con polenta
• orecchio di elefante cotoletta alla Milanese
• a sweet/dessert is the wonderful Zabaione... Mamma Mia!!!! Just delicious.
6. MILAN IS KNOWN AS THE DESIGN MECCA OF EUROPE, WHAT IS ONE DESIGN EVENT ON THE CALENDAR THAT YOU REALLY SHOULDN'T MISS?
Salone del Mobile!!! (Milan Furniture Fair). Milan takes on a different life and flair in these 8 days - sparkling with design, art, architecture and culture everywhere in town, day, evening and night. Anyone can enjoy, not only professionals or trade visitors.
'''I'm very fussy about what products I use and I love mixing things together. I'll buy a perfume and mix it with another. I'll combine two different nail polish colours to create the perfect hue and I'll buy a handbag and change the handle. I like to do everything custom.'''
As the door opens I am greeted by a petite, stylish woman in dark glasses. “What do you think of the black lace over stripes? I really do think it works, I am obsessed with combining lace and stripes.” From the moment I meet Linda Rodin it’s obvious to me that she is a genius at reinterpretation. She is the twist. She finds combinations and angles that, quite frankly, most of us would never think could work. As I glance around her eclectic apartment the evidence is everywhere – her wardrobe that doubles as a fold away work desk, the rose pillows on her bed that have been dyed the perfect shade of blue and her clothes that hang strategically to work like a piece of art.
“I’m very fussy about what products I use and I love mixing things together. I’ll buy a perfume and mix it with another. I’ll combine two different nail polish colours to create the perfect hue and I’ll buy a handbag and change the handle. I like to do everything custom.”
About Ori Kafri
- I was born in Florence 36 years ago, but my family is originally from Israel.
- I lived in New York for a year, and soon after returning to Florence, I got my masters in Hospitality Management.
- In 2003, I opened my first hotel in Florence, J.K.Place; J. K. are my father’s initials.
- I met my wife almost four years ago and we got married last year in Montevideo, Uruguay. We now have a six-month-old son, Jay Jacob.
- In 2005, I also started a publishing\editorial business and now we have 3 magazines; Firenze, Capri and Venice city\social magazines.
- In 2007, we opened J.K.Place in Capri and a few months ago we opened J.K.Place in Rome.
- We love Florence and enjoy every single day here in Tuscany. Our dream is to one day open a hotel in California.
'I love travelling and meeting interesting people. When you go to a restaurant it's not just about the food; it's about the chef; it's about the maitre d'; it's about the people that you interact with. To have all these incredible experiences you need to do a lot of travelling, or... you open a hotel.'About Ori
When you spend so much time travelling; staying at different hotels; eating at different restaurants and meeting different people, with the distance of time, it often becomes hard to differentiate one experience from another. That’s not to say that many of these experiences haven’t been incredible. Last year however, when in Florence, Julie and I were lucky enough to meet an avant garde hotelier; a creative thinker, by the name of Ori Kafri. With somewhat of a cult following, Ori’s unique approach to hoteliering has resonated with millions of people around the world, including us. Ori Kafri is the founder of J.K.Place, a boutique hotel network that is shaking up the hospitality industry.Read More
Ori's Italian tips:
1. CAN YOU SUGGEST SOME CONTEMPORARY FLORENTINE ART GALLERIES THAT PEOPLE SHOULD VISIT?
2. WHERE IS YOUR FAVOURITE PLACE IN FLORENCE FOR A ROMANTIC DINNER?
3. IF GUESTS ARE LOOKING FOR 'ONE OFF' EXPERIENCES THAT THE GUIDEBOOKS DON'T OFFER – CAN YOU SUGGEST A CONCIERGE STYLE SERVICE THAT MAY BE ABLE TO ASSIST?
4. WHEN IN CAPRI, WHAT RESTAURANT DO YOU ALWAYS RETURN TO?
I always return to Aurora.
5. HOW WOULD YOU SPEND THE PERFECT DAY IN CAPRI?
Take a boat and stop at Fontelina for a swim and lunch, then a drink at Il Riccio to enjoy the sunset… return to J.K. to get ready to go to Aurora for dinner and Anema & Core to dance on the tables after midnight.
6. ARE THERE ANY FAMOUS PRODUCTS MADE IN CAPRI THAT GUESTS TO YOUR HOTEL LOVE TREATING THEMSELVES TO?
7. WHAT ARE THE MOST PERFECT PLACES TO STAY IN FLORENCE, CAPRI AND ROME?
Here's to a brilliant 2014 filled with many more Italian adventures.
love Jools & Em xx
An Affair with Italy would like to wish all our wonderful readers a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. We look forward to sharing many more inspiring Italian experiences with you in 2014.
Love Jools & Em
About Rosa Malignaggi
- I was born and raised on the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria.
- My parents both migrated to Australia from a village in Sicily called Calatafimi.
- I cherish a few pots and pans that were my Nonna’s which my mother gave to me. Every time I use them I imagine my Nonna’s steady hand guiding me in my kitchen!
- I miss walking through my father’s beautiful vegetable garden with him.
- I met my husband outside Central Station records in what used to be Melbourne’s City Square. We were both shopping!
- My children Sophie, Francesca and Marcella are my best food critics. They are constantly hungry and always thinking about the next meal for the day! They also help me with my cooking demonstrations. I just love this!
- My mother’s first question when my children and I visit her is “Avete mangiato tutti?” – Have you all eaten?
- Come to Sicily with me, my family are waiting to meet and feed you!
'The Sicilian tour is very emotional for me, I talk a lot about my family... and drink a toast to my Mum and Dad - the greatest love story I have ever known. A love story that taught me how to appreciate food, culture, my heritage and above all how to truly love.'About Rosa
At age 16, Rosa, who grew up with very loving but very strict parents, was allowed to go out into town with her cousins, for the very first time. To this day Rosa hadn’t been allowed to go on sleepovers with friends or even on school camp, so this was a monumental day for her. And the one day her parents let her out of their sight, is the day that Rosa fell madly in love with Michael Malignaggi - her now husband of 21 years.
Rosa: “Michael was with the group of people that my cousins were meeting, and there was one moment when we were all together and I stepped out to cross the road. I didn’t see the car, but Michael did and he pulled me away to safety. He saved my life.”
It was as if Rosa and Michael were destined to be together. With both of their families from Sicily, they had an unspoken connection through heritage that transcended their Australian-based lives. And well... he did save her life, like some sort of hero from a romance novel.Read More
Rosa's Italian tips:
1. IF YOU WERE TAKING YOUR FAMILY FOR A HOLIDAY IN SICILY, WHERE WOULD YOU STAY?
I’m particularly fond of its history, sapphire blue waters and tranquility. The village is very small so prepare to stand out as you make your way along a cobblestoned path that leads you to “Hotel Torre Bennistra”. Here Pina or Fabrizio will escort you to your mountain or Tyrrhenian Sea view rooms!
2. BEING A LOVER OF GREAT FOOD, IS THERE A SPECIFIC RESTAURANT/TRATTORIA YOU ARE ALWAYS DESPERATE TO RETURN TO WHEN YOU ARE BACK IN SICILY?
Porta Pantalica translates (‘The door to Pantalica”) is a small humble trattoria style restaurant, which I can honestly say produces some of the best examples of traditional Sicilian cuisine.
3. FOR YOU, WHAT ARE THE 5 MUST SEES IN SICILY?
a) Ortigia – By day, just simply follow your nose as the aromas of tomatoes, basil and garlic will lead you to a mysterious picturesque alley or crumbling balcony where an adventure is certain to unfold. By night sit on the steps of the church of Saint Giorgio in Piazza Del Duomo and watch the elegantly dressed locals weaving their way through the children as they play soccer against the church walls.
b) Calatafimi – My parents Pina and Diego Mirabella were born here. Apart from the sentimental attachment to this beautiful part of the world, Calatafimi is full of history and home to the Doric Greek Temple of Segesta. There is a site on a small hill just above the village called “Pianto Romano”. It is here that Giuseppe Garibaldi and his army of 1000 red shirts defeated the Bourbons and unified the north and south of Italy.
c) Hyblaean Mountain Range – Situated in the south east region of Sicily. Here you will find “Il Giardino di Pantalica”, another agriturismo. It exists at the base of the world heritage listed Anapo Valley and is surrounded by an orange grove and sheer cliffs consisting of white limestone rocks. This is paradise on earth.
d) Food markets of Palermo – my favourite is Capo Market where you will be greeted with an array of sights and sounds depicting the madness, music, love and surprises that Palermo has to offer.
e) Modica – This village is in the province of Ragusa. On the recent Rosa’s Table culinary tour we visited “Dolceria Bonajuto” which is a chocolate shop renowned for its method of making chocolate using the cold pressed method brought to Sicily by the Spaniards in the 1500’s.
4. IF YOU WERE TO TAKE A ROMANTIC BREAK WITH YOUR HUSBAND IN SICILY DO YOU HAVE A DREAM HOTEL YOU'D LOVE TO STAY AT?
Baglio di Pianetto is a vineyard in the hills of Santa Cristina Gela, 650 meters above sea level in the province of Palermo. It is owned and run by the family of Count Paolo Marzotto. His granddaughter the Countess Ginevra Notarbartolo is one of the most inspirational women I have ever met. She works tirelessly to promote the local food and wine industry. Ricotta cheese, honey and stone baked breads are typical food ingredients for this area. Combine these with the wines from Baglio di Pianetto and Chef Angelo’s culinary skills and you are sure to have a truly magical feast. Each room is different and beautifully decorated with antique furniture personally selected by Ginevra’s late grandmother.
5. IS THERE A PARTICULAR FESTIVAL IN SICILY THAT YOU LOVE?
The Feast of Saint Sebastian in my father in law’s village of Ferla (Province of Siracusa) is a feast for all your senses. This occurs on July 20th and is a celebration of the life of their patron Saint. Prepare to be amazed. It truly is a spectacle of colour, sound and a deep faith and respect for not only their religious beliefs but for each other. Families unite to laugh, cry, reminisce and of course eat and drink! Saluti!
6. YOUR 'ROSA'S TABLE' CULINARY TOURS OF SICILY LOOK INCREDIBLE – WHAT DO YOU THINK MAKES THEM UNIQUE?
My face lights up every day on this tour, and it’s not because of the places we visit or people we meet, it’s more about the reaction of the participants I am fortunate enough to take with me on this journey. “Every day is a highlight”, they say and by the end of the day their smiles and sense of gratitude is the greatest gift they could possibly give back to me. They meet an array of people from all walks of life. They talk to them, share their life stories, share meals with them. They learn about their hardships, but rejoice and toast them for their triumphs.
The tour primarily focuses on the culinary aspects of Sicilian culture through its people and their food stories and traditions. At the beginning of the tour, I always advise my tour participants to slowly introduce themselves to this wondrous island so that it can reveal itself to them! Somehow, among the sublime landscapes, hills, valleys and abandoned buildings, eggplants, capers, tomatoes, basil and swordfish it just happens!
7. CAN YOU SUGGEST ANY SHOPS IN SICILY WHERE YOU CAN TREAT YOURSELF TO SOME SICILIAN CRAFTSMANSHIP?
The village of Caltagirone in the Provence of Catania is a must see for all lovers of ceramic art. There is a wonderful staircase adorned with beautifully hand painted ceramic tiles leading up to the church of Santa Maria del Monte.
8. KNOWING HOW GOOD SICILIAN DOLCE IS... DO YOU HAVE AN ALL TIME FAVOURITE PASTICCERIA?
Yes, most definitely the Bar Pasticceria in Scopello. You are made to feel like family and the selection of pastries, gelati and biscotti are endless. Try a slice of torta with marmelata, pinoli e pistachio.
'Starring Uma Thurman'
Campari has just released their stunning 2014 calendar featuring actress Uma Thurman.
You can't purchase these calendars, they are a limited edited. An Affair with Italy, however, has two calendars to give away to our lucky readers. Click to read more.
About Mia Freedman
- Lived in Florence with three girlfriends for a year after leaving school.
- Began my career doing work experience at Cleo age 19.
- Became editor of Cosmopolitan at 24 and got pregnant three months later.
- Championed the cause of positive body image at Cosmo during the 7 years I was there.
- In 2007 left magazines when I had my second child and launched Mamamia.com.au - a website that covers 'everything women are talking about today'.
- Launched parenting site ivillage.com.au in 2012 to cover what mums are talking about today.
- Together, the sites reach 1.7m women each month and are industry leaders in engaging women online.
- I'm a regular guest on Today and The Project.
- Am married to Jason Lavigne who is also my partner in business and Mamamia's CEO.
- We have three kids aged 16,7 and 5.
- Our dog comes to work with us most days.
Mia Freedman - journalist, author, blogger, media consultant and founder of Australia's leading women's website Mamamia.com.au
'For me it's about not setting that bar too high and being very honest with myself with what I am capable of. When you have to put up this pretence that you've got your shit together, that's really hard. With the juggle, the balls aren't made of glass, they bounce all the time. I've always got 20 balls bouncing around on the floor!'About Mia
Mia Freedman is a huge inspiration to me. She is a smart, stylish, hard-working career woman, highly connected to communicating with the modern woman through her incredibly successful online magazine Mamamia, and yet still manages to find time to include a family with three children. Me, a self-confessed workaholic, who currently co-runs An Affair with Italy, plus the director of a Sydney-based design agency, recently married, has the prospect of children around the corner. I absolutely want the little pitter-patter of tiny feet running through my home but at the same time, the thought of giving up or even compromising my career is devastating for me. I want it all. But can I actually have it all? Most mothers I talk to say ‘no’. I’m told that when you have kids your career will take a U turn. And that’s just life. So, more than anything in the world, I want to know how Mia does it. How does she balance career and family?Read More
Mia's Italian tips:
1. IF YOU AND YOUR HUSBAND WERE TO TAKE OFF FOR A CHILD FREE HOLIDAY IN ITALY, WHERE WOULD YOU GO?
We did this about 10 years ago. We went to Positano and the Almalfi Coast. We spent a few nights in Capri but I much preferred Positano. It has more soul. (For rentals on the Amalfi coast try www.villeinitalia.com)
2. IF YOU WERE TO RENT AN APARTMENT IN FLORENCE FOR A FEW MONTHS AND LIVE THE FLORENTINE LIFE, WHICH PART OF FLORENCE WOULD YOU CHOOSE?
Well I've lived on both sides of the Arno and also in the suburbs. My 'hood' was near the Uffizi so I'd probably be most comfortable there just because I know where the supermarket is! (www.onestepcloser.net is a great family business that can arrange apartment rentals)
3. HOW WOULD YOU SPEND THE PERFECT DAY IN FLORENCE?
Just walking. I'm embarassed to say that I lived almost next door to the Uffizi and I never went inside! I was only 19 and my friends and I were so busy trying to be locals and snubbing everything touristy, we really missed out on seeing so much of the city! I'd probably spend the day visiting the Uffizi, seeing David and just visiting all my old haunts.
4. IF YOU HAD A FEW DAYS IN THE TUSCAN COUNTRYSIDE, WHERE WOULD YOU MAKE YOUR BASE?
Last time we were there we rented a place near Greve with my parents and had such a lovely time - I'd never stayed in the Tuscan countryside before. And my husband and I also spent a great week with the kids in a house in Orvieto which we got to know pretty well.
5. ARE THERE ANY ITALIAN PRODUCTS THAT YOU WOULD LOVE TO SQUEEZE IN YOUR SUITCASE?
Oh my god I wish I could squeeze in Bombolone! Those incredible warm pastries with jam or custard inside. When I lived in Florence, my boyfriend and I would always go home via a bakery and have them freshly baked at 4am.
About Alessandro Pavoni
- Born and Raised in Gardone Val Trompia, near Brescia, Lombardy, Italy. My parents and my brother are still there of course. We try to see each other every year or so, either here or there.
- I started studying cooking when I was 14.
- When I came to Australia on holidays (aged 28) I didn't speak a word of English, and when I met Anna (now my wife) she didn't speak Italian! We fell in love anyway and I moved here permanently in 2003, and I received my citizenship a couple of years ago. We were married in both Australia and Italy.
- I love all sorts of sports, and have usually been into extreme sports, rock-climbing, ice climbing, snowboarding, surfing... but now I'm learning golf!
- I'm an ambassador for Heart Research Australia. Their work has saved my life twice.
'I always ride bikes... I love the feeling of freedom. The problem is that if you give me a bike that does 250km/hr I will do 250. I decided I needed to save myself and get a Harley, with a Harley you don't need to go fast; you already look cool.'
Alessandro Pavoni, executive chef and owner of Ormeggio restaurant at The Spit, Mosman on Sydney’s lower North Shore, is an enormous guy with the personality to match. With a shaven head and foreboding stance, dressed entirely in black motorbike gear, he looks more like a bouncer you might find in one of Kings Cross’s infamous nightclubs than one of Australia’s most revered chefs. But I soon discover, as I sit down to chat with Alessandro, that beyond the tough exterior the man is a pussycat (well mostly!).Read More
Alessandro's Italian tips:
1. IF YOU WERE HEADING BACK TO ITALY, WITH THE SOLE TASK OF RELAXING, WHERE WOULD YOU HEAD TO?
Pezzoro. Pezzoro is where my mamma grew up and we still have our house there in this tiny little mountain village. If everyone is home, there are 60 people who live in the village. It is 1000m above sea level - you rest, you hike, you drink coffee or grappa with the locals, you play bocce, you listen to the silence. Summer or winter, it's fantastic. It's where I feel I'm home in Italy.
2. DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE RESTAURANT IN ITALY?
In Alba in Italy I have had the most incredible dining experiences at a Michelin-starred restaurant called Piazza Duomo. The menu ranges over more than 40 dishes of absolutely incredible cuisine. The chef, Enrico Crippa, is a genius and I’d highly recommend the restaurant to everyone next time they’re in the north of Italy.
For something more rustic, I go to a couple of places regularly when I'm home:
• La Tana (Moderno, Lake Garda) - for the freshwater fish and cuisine of Lake Garda.
• Dosso Alto (Passo Maniva, the mountain pass which joins Val Trompia, Val Sabia and Val Camonica, my 3 valleys) - for classic Lombardian mountain cuisine. Be hungry.
• Al Frate (Brescia) - for a classic Brescian trattoria.
3. WHAT PART OF ITALY REALLY INSPIRES YOU AND YOUR COOKING?
For me the answer has to be Lombardy as this is my region. Each region in Italy has its own cuisine, and you can go sometimes only 20km and the food and recipes will completely change! I'm currently writing a cookbook on Lombardian cuisine and it has been so interesting. Lombardy is so inspiring for me due to its varied climates and geography. You have got the heavy and robust, meat-focused cuisine of the mountains, the almost Mediterranean lightness and seafood of the lakes and the interesting and varied dishes of the plains; all offering something completely different.
My best dishes: Spiedo Bresciano with Storo polenta, cotechino, gallina ripiena...
4. CAN YOU SUGGEST A FABULOUS COOKING SCHOOL OR COOKING TOUR TO DO?
Yes! I host Gourmet Tours to Italy with Accoutrement, in Sydney, Mosman. They are always really fun. I've done one with Stefano Manfredi in Franciacorta/Brescia, and two with Giovanni Pilu in Sardinia and Lake Como. They're really focused on 'behind-the-scenes' type foodie experiences.
The Sydney Seafood School is a wonderful cooking school here in Sydney. They are so organised and professional, and do different types of classes.
5. IF SOMEONE WANTED TO RENT SOMEWHERE AND EXPERIENCE THE 'ITALIAN WAY OF LIFE' WHERE WOULD YOU SUGGEST?
Anywhere in the country that is full of Italians... not full of people chasing the Tuscan dream!
6. FOR THOSE READERS OUT THERE WHO DREAM OF RIDING A MOTORBIKE THROUGH ITALY, CAN YOU SUGGEST THE PERFECT ROUTE?
The lakes regions for sure (Garda, Como, Iseo). The scenery is incredible; the roads vary from tiny little village roads to autostradas to tunnels and galleries through the mountains. And there is always somewhere breathtaking to stop for gelato!