Golden Focaccia Genovese

When travelling to Liguria, in addition to the beautiful sea and warm sunshine, visitors will surely take notice of a ubiquitous treat enjoyed by locals as breakfast, an appetizer, or a snack throughout the day: focaccia. Though many varieties exist in Italy, the most traditional and delicious iteration of focaccia has its home in Liguria. Focaccia genovese, a golden flatbread with a fluffy center and a crisp crust, is considered to be the simplest variety of focaccia, but also the richest. Authentic focaccia genovese is one to two centimeters thick, is only seasoned with coarse salt and a generous amount of extra-virgin olive oil, and is covered with characteristic holes that serve as pockets to trap the delicious oil.

The historical origins of focaccia are quite ancient. The Phoenicians, Carthaginians, and Greeks all used barley, rye, or millet flour to bake flatbreads over flames similar to the modern process of baking focaccia. The word focaccia itself derives from the Latin word focus, which means “hearth” and “fireplace”. In ancient Rome, focaccia was considered to be such a rich delicacy that is was often offered as a gift to the gods. During the Renaissance, focaccia was enjoyed with wine and other treats as part of wedding celebrations. Legend has it that since these celebrations occurred in church, focaccia eventually became a popular treat during funerals too. This tradition was quickly put to an end by a local bishop as it was deemed too joyous for such somber occasions. In addition, the portable, delicious flatbread was typically considered the food of travelers and fishermen up until modern times.

Though several regions in Italy produce their own variations of focaccia, the Liguria region is considered to be the traditional home of this tasty bread. Here, focaccia is accompanied by coffee for a typical Genoese breakfast or by a small glass of wine for a midmorning snack. In addition to the focaccia from Genoa, the cheese-filled focaccia di Recco is quite popular as well. This simple focaccia composed of very thin unleavened crust filled with fresh stracchino cheese that melts as the focaccia bakes in a wood oven. This type of focaccia is such a local delicacy that it was granted IGP status by the European Union, meaning that authentic focaccia di Recco can only be made in the town of Recco.
Traditionally, focaccia made in northern Italy was usually brushed with lard or butter during the baking process, while focaccia made in Liguria and in southern Italy was, and continues to be, brushed with extra-virgin olive oil. The exact date of the origin of focaccia genovese is not known, but the oldest historical document that mentions this delicious Ligurian flatbread dates back to the year 1229. Focaccia di Recco, on the other hand, dates back to the 12th century and it is believed that its origin coincided with the Crusades.

Two additional varieties of focaccia are also quite popular in other parts of Italy. The first originates from the province of Bari and can be enjoyed throughout the Puglia region. This variety, focaccia barese, is quite unique for two reasons: boiled potatoes are added to the dough to make the focaccia even softer and it is topped with fresh cherry tomatoes. The second type is found in the province of Messina on the island of Sicily. Known as focaccia messinese, this variety has a thick, soft base that is topped with endive, diced tomatoes, anchovies, and cheese (usually tuma, though mozzarella can also be used). Other types of focaccia found in Italy are topped with a variety of other ingredients including rosemary, sage, onions, olives, salumi, cheeses, and other herbs and vegetables.

Though focaccia genovese may be considered simple compared the other varieties listed above, it is the high-quality ingredients and expert preparation that render focaccia genovese so incomparably delicious. Authentic focaccia genovese can only be made with finely ground type 00 flour, extra-virgin olive oil, and coarse salt. The key to focaccia’s unique taste rests in the baking process, which occurs in a wood-oven and brings all of the exquisite ingredients together. Truly, the best slice of focaccia is the one that has just been pulled out of the oven—nothing quite compares.

So the next time you find yourself in Liguria, be sure to enjoy some authentic focaccia genovese made with extra-virgin olive oil. We hope your slice is fresh out of the oven and perfectly golden!

A High-rise Forest in the Center of Milan

Busy cities are often referred to as “urban jungles”, but one of Milan’s modern high-rises gives a whole new meaning to this popular idiom thanks to some uncommon landscaping. In 2014, Italian architect Stefano Boeri unveiled his latest design in Milan’s rising Porta Nuova district; a skyscraper called Bosco Verticale. In English, Bosco Verticale means Vertical Forest, which is an appropriate name considering the construction is composed of two towers that between them incorporate more than 1,000 varieties of plants, shrubs, and trees. The buildings were born out of an ambitious and environmentally noble idea: creating sustainable living spaces that not only foster the natural environment of the city, but regenerate it.

Bosco Verticale’s two towers are of differing heights with the tallest measuring 360 feet and the shortest measuring 260 feet. Staggered balconies extend from every side of the towers to suspend 780 trees and 14,000 plants over the city. Each of the 113 living spaces in the complex includes a private garden with vegetation that not only serves to absorb carbon dioxide, but also to protect the space from dust particles, direct sunlight, harsh winds, and acoustic pollution. In addition, the views from the apartments are spectacular, providing panoramas of Milan, the outskirts of the city, and even the momentous Alps in the distance.

The location of the towers in the Porta Nuova district, near the center of Milan, is not a coincidence. The project aims not only to regenerate the Porta Nuova district, but to shift the planning of Milan’s city center towards a greener future. To aid in this vision, the parking areas for Bosco Verticale have been constructed underground in favor of a pedestrian and cycling area above them that spans 40 acres and features additional vegetation and public spaces. The location of the towers near normal skyscrapers also helps to aesthetically revolutionize the city’s skyline. Not only do the trees and plants of Bosco Verticale stand out amongst the city’s sea of grey, but their visual impact is dynamic; as the seasons change, so too will the buildings since the vegetation will adopt the distinct colors of each season.

Bosco Verticale won the International High-rise Award in 2014, an honor that recognizes the world’s most innovative and sustainable high-rises, which is granted every two years by the city of Frankfurt in conjunction with the German Architecture Museum. The Bosco Verticale design aims to be a new standard for sustainable buildings not only in Italy but throughout the world. Recently, Stefano Boeri announced that another tower in the style of Bosco Verticale, but with cedar trees, will be constructed in Lausanne, Switzerland. Currently, there are no plans to implement the design in other parts of Italy, but Parma, Siena, and Bolzano (considered to be three of Italy’s greenest cities) could be perfect candidates for the expansion of this architectural and environmental innovation.

Tuscany Fall Wine Tours

Widely considered one of the world’s most cherished travel destinations, Tuscany offers a wealth of unique activities and experiences sure to please any first-time or repeat visitor. Located in central Italy, Tuscany’s claim to fame is its rich history, prided traditions, artistic influences, stunning landscape views, and of course its delectable cuisine and unparalleled winemaking. This quintessentially Italian locale is home to some of the most widely renowned wine production destinations in the world.

When planning an escape to Italy in the Autumn months, no Tuscan adventure will be complete without taking a tour of one of Tuscany’s traditional vineyards. The colors of the landscape, the mild climate, and the abundance of freshly harvested foods make tours of Tuscany in the fall an experience not to be missed! From the world famous Chianti region to the home of Brunello wine in Montalcino, any wine lover will delight in experiencing a true Italian wine tour on a brisk Fall day.

Harvest Time

The magic of Autumn in Tuscany is centered around the abundant harvest of products that help to shape the identity of Tuscan cuisine. From porcini and mushrooms to olives and truffles, September through November means Fall flavors have arrived! During September, the month that begins grape harvesting in the region, wineries both large and small are in full swing, giving visitors a unique and exciting look at exactly how fine Italian wine is made. For the wine enthusiast, grape harvesting can be one of the most unique experiences one can have. The gorgeous colors of Fall provide the perfect backdrop for a stunning, vino-filled getaway!

Grape Celebrations

The local harvest events celebrate both current life and new adventures, as the growers of fine grapes in the region begin to harvest thriving fruit to then turn into new wines. The Tuscan region boasts plenty of events and celebrations centered on vendemmia, an Italian word which means the picking of grapes during the Fall season. During this exciting time of year, winegrowers gather in Tuscany’s quaint villages and town squares to show off their highest quality wines. Touring the Tuscan regions during vendemmia guarantees a traditional, immersive experience for all wine connoisseurs.

Immersive Experience

When the weather cools and the fall breezes begin to sweep through the vineyards of Tuscany, the Summertime tourist crowds dwindle, allowing Autumn visitors a more intimate wine tour experience. A visit to a Tuscan winery promises more than a quick taste. As with the winemaking process itself, when it comes to soaking up the winery experience, the slower the better. Tour the cellars, walk the vineyards, and maybe even take part in the harvesting process!

Fall Foods

As the seasons change in Tuscany, the local cuisine reflects the flavors of vegetables, game, and wines that reflect the autumnal palate of Italy. On fall wine tours in Tuscany, many wineries offer local meats, warm baked bread, freshly pressed olive oils from the season’s most recent harvest, and nutty aged cheeses, all paired perfectly with wines that bring out the flavor of each dish. Should one choose to have dinner nearby, expect hearty stews made of local meat, wholesome risottos, squash and pumpkin soups as well as earthy bites made with the season’s freshest mushrooms and truffles.

Colorful Views

With longer days and a comfortable temperature, Autumn is the perfect time to travel to Tuscany to experience hands-on tours of winemaking. Colors fill the Tuscany landscape as nature prepares to shed its harvest in preparation for Winter.

As the sun sets on a gorgeous Autumn day in Tuscany, the gentle rays of light bask the vineyards, setting the stage for an unforgettable, post-card-worthy moment of bliss. With a glass of vino in hand, wine enthusiasts will never forget the Fall colors and flavors of the Tuscan countryside.

The Gulf of Poets In Liguria Is The Perfect Italian Vacation Destination

Visit The Gulf Of Poets in Liguria, Italy With Trips2ItalyLiguria is a region filled with charming seaside towns and while Cinque Terre may be at the top of everyone’s vacation list, there is much more to be discovered in the Italian Riviera. Take the Gulf of La Spezia for instance, located just south of the famous five villages. Nicknamed the Gulf of Poets, it’s easy to understand how this stretch of coast has been adored by literary icons for centuries. Though it is also filled with colorful fishing villages poised on cliffs like its famous neighbors, this area’s tranquil atmosphere sets it apart. Continue reading “The Gulf of Poets In Liguria Is The Perfect Italian Vacation Destination”

What Is The History Of The Anatomical Theater of Padova, Italy?

Padua_Anathomical_theather_blgPadova’s anatomical theater was the world’s first permanent structure built to promote the study of anatomy through dissections. It is located in the center of Padova inside of Palazzo del Bo, which houses the headquarters of the University of Padova. Conceived by famed surgeon Girolamo Fabrizi d’Acquapendente in 1594, the purpose of this anatomical theater was to allow medical students to witness human and animal dissections in real-time. Continue reading “What Is The History Of The Anatomical Theater of Padova, Italy?”

Discover The Rich History Of The Valadier Temple In Marche, Italy

Marche_Valadier_Temple_Rossetti_picture_blgIn Italy, the more you explore the more you realize that in every corner you can find a piece of art, a secret, or some joy for the eyes. In the Marche region, The Temple of Valadier is one of those places lost among the Apennines and sheltered inside a karst cave. This place mixes a spiritual and ascetic setting with a sense of discovery and adventure. Continue reading “Discover The Rich History Of The Valadier Temple In Marche, Italy”

The Tropea Onions Have Many Different Uses & Benefits

Calabria_Tropea_Red_onions_blgYou’re right, onions make you cry and in many cases can leave you with bad breath, but they are one of the most important vegetables in the Mediterranean diet. In Italy, there are many different types of onions for example, from Suasa, in the Marche region, or Breme, in the Lombardy region. Besides them, the red onions of Tropea, in the Calabria region, stand out all over the world for their sweetness and authentic flavor. Every respectable cook should have at least a couple of Tropea onions in his own kitchen. Continue reading “The Tropea Onions Have Many Different Uses & Benefits”

Palio di Siena: The History Of The Contrade Flags & Colors

Tuscany_Siena_palio_horses_blgWe already wrote an article about the Palio di Siena (check the link to have a brief overview of it) but this event is such a big cultural moment not only in Tuscany, but in the whole country of Italy. Intertwined with the horse race, which is the peak of the celebrations, there are so many stories, events, legends, and curiosities which are worth narrating. In this article, I am going to write about the different districts (the so called Contrade) of the city which are involved in the Palio, describing in particular their history, colors, and flags. Continue reading “Palio di Siena: The History Of The Contrade Flags & Colors”

The Legend Of The Pazientina Cake, A Delicacy Of Padua, Veneto

Padua_Pazzientina_Cake_blgPadua, in Veneto, is a very important city of Italy. It can be easily compared with all the big three (Rome, Venice, Florence) because its culture, its historical heritage and its city center are all extremely fascinating. Many illustrious personalities like Dante, Galileo and Petrarch have left their trails in this city. Padua is renowned for the Cappella of Scrovegni, the Basilica of St. Anthony of Padua and many other majestic buildings like Il Palazzo della Ragione (The Palace of Reason). Continue reading “The Legend Of The Pazientina Cake, A Delicacy Of Padua, Veneto”

About The St. Bernard Dog Breed & Their Life In The Mountains

Aosta_Valley_San_Bernardo_Mt_Cervino_blgMost of us love pets. They give us emotions, a lot of happiness throughout the day, and they make our return home sweeter every time. Dogs are considered dependable, and reliable. With a peaceful attitude and enormous proportions, the St. Bernard breed is the best example of these qualities. These dogs are known for helping people face difficult mountain paths and saving lives in the most extreme conditions. Continue reading “About The St. Bernard Dog Breed & Their Life In The Mountains”