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Freccia Rossa TrainA host of Italian politicians and businessmen became on Saturday the first passengers of the newly launched high-speed Milan-Bologna line dubbed Frecciarossa (red arrow). The inaugural crowd (which consisted, as would be expected, almost entirely of middle-aged men in suits) talked cheerfully to journalists and didn't even try to contain their excitement. "The country's longest subway line" was just one hyperbole coined during that amicable chatter.

One can easily understand the reasons for their enthusiasm. After 99 months of work and almost 7 billion euros of investments, the high-speed Milan-Bologna line is operational and they are probably going to be its most loyal customers. The new line promises to radically improve travel times between Italy's industrial centers..

Read the rest of: "Milan to Bologna in One Hour with High-Speed Train
Pasta Bolognese, Old School
Posted by Krioq in Bologna on 05/Sep/2008
La Vecchia Scuola (1)Don't know about you, but I've always thought Italy was a bit of a scam as far as food is concerned, in a roundabout sort of way. You go there, you eat, you get exited - ecstatic even, you scribble the names of your new favorite dishes on any and every scrap of paper, you bring the scraps home, you go to your local Italian restaurant, order and then.. you realize it's really not the same. At all.

While I can't offer a real solution to this, I might be able to point you to somebody who can, at least when it comes to pasta dishes and Cucina bolognese in general. This is not one person but rather a group of individuals who run a small tourist-friendly cooking school called "La Vecchia Scuola Bolognese" (Bologna's Old School)...

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Ristorante La Giostra
Posted by Alban in Florence + Places on 17/Apr/2008
La Giostra (table)La Giostra is a fine restaurant in Florence where the flavors (and quantities) of yesterday coexist in peaceful harmony with the culinary and trends of tomorrow.

Just for its atmosphere, somehow combining old-school cordiality with a good-hearted laidback attitude, eating at La Giostra would be a worthwhile experience. The restaurant's history also makes it unusual, as does the fact that it is run by members of the Hapsburgs - a royal Austrian family. And then there's food..

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Mercato di Sant'Ambrogio
Posted by Ree in Florence + Places on 13/Mar/2008
Sant'Ambrogio: TeaserPerhaps because it's more out of the way, smaller, and slightly less spectacular than the Mercato Centrale, the Mercato di Sant'Ambrogio is frequented mostly by genuine Florentines and their wannabe compatriots.

However, since it's only a 15-20 minute walk from the Duomo, it can't really be considered off-the-beaten track, and certainly such a convenient yet relatively uncrowded market deserves a gastronomic visit...

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Lunch at Trattoria da Rocco
Posted by Ree in Florence on 25/Feb/2008
Trattoria Da Rocco (teaser)The Trattoria da Rocco, inside the Mercato Sant' Ambrogio is one of the rare places in Florence where you will still hear more Italian than English at mealtime. Everyone eats lunch here, from the occasional bewildered tourist to businessmen to construction workers. It's open for lunch, from about 11 to whenever they run out of food.

The market itself is wonderful and deserves a review of its own, so suffice it to say that the trattoria is the same size as the regular stalls in the market but it's the one that looks more like a greenhouse. Don't be concerned if you can't find the door, there isn't any. Simply open one of the windows/walls and slide into a booth and prepare for a cheap, simple, and simply good meal...

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Testa di Maiale (small)Pig's head, anyone? I might have had it and so have you, in all likelihood. It's just a way to make salami or any other kind of sausage. Usually, to make a salami, you take an intestine, fill it with ground up pig parts and there you have it. In this case, however, you'll start with an emptied head (eyes and mouth sewn shut, all by hand) and get it filled with the ground stuff from the rest of the body.

This particular beauty was spotted at a grocery shop (La Standa, via Pietrapiana, 42, near Piazza Cesare Beccaria). And there's more good stuff in that neighborhood (read on)...

Read the rest of: "Testa di Maiale and Other Florentine Treats
Florence MarketIn Canada and the US, going to the market is an event for special occasions, an outing, a break from the supermarket – in other words, an exception. In Italy (and I imagine most other places in the world that filter life less) the market is still special, but for different reasons. Fresh food and eating well are integral to daily life; it is a given that gastronomy begins at the stalls. Granted, the market is a few steps removed from the watering and harvesting, feeding and slaughtering that produces even the average dish, but it is still a better point of departure for truly understanding cuisine than the supermarket.

The flavours for this venture are those of Florence, Italy – that famous Tuscan cooking! If you can go armed with some knowledge or at least a culinary guidebook, you'll be able to spot some of the most savoury and intriguing ingredients, which will aid you in your menu choices later on...

Read the rest of: "Gastronomy Through the Backdoor: The Markets of Florence
Cinque Terre
Posted by Alban in Italy on 21/Nov/2007
Cinque TerreCinque Terre is situated in the Ligurian coast and without exaggeration, it's one of the most beautiful places I've seen in Italy. What's more, people are nice, the food is good and the scenery is fantastic...

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