For a week, Alyssa Barrett ’18 and I were able to travel to Florence and Rome with the help of an Enrichment Travel Grant. In Italy, we compared the Mediterranean food and culture with that of the Scandinavian food and culture of Copenhagen, Denmark. Scandinavian Denmark can be characterized by its open-faced rye sandwiches, plentiful pickled herring, and other various meat-based dishes, whereas, Mediterranean Italy is a bounty of vine-ripened tomatoes, aged cheeses, and fresh bread.
We began our journey in the heart of Tuscan food and wine culture, Florence, Italy. We were delightfully surprised by the restaurant across the street from our Airbnb, Osteria Dell'Agnolo, a perfect example of traditional Tuscan fare. Besides the food, one of the highlights from our time in Florence was a wine tour of the Chianti region of Tuscany, famous for its rich, fruity, red wines. We toured two separate wineries, where we enjoyed pairings with various local cheeses and olive oils.
After our time in Florence, we took the train to Rome to sample a different region’s specialties and take in the history. We were fortunate enough to be staying right down the street from the Campo di Fiori, one of the prominent farmers’ markets in Rome. Everyday locals set up and break-down stands to sell various produce and meats from the surrounding area, and of course, we sampled daily. One of the highlights of our stay in Rome was a private walking food tour we went on with a local. Among the many shops and restaurants we visited, ZUM, a family run tiramisu shop; Buff, a small restaurant specializing in buffalo mozzarella; and Forno Marco Roscioli, a bakery and pizzeria, stand out as my top three sites we tasted.
I had some of the best food of my entire life on this trip, especially at Roscioli, a modern twist on traditional Italian, where I ordered the roast pheasant with vegetable salad and pineapple tartare. It was an incredible experience to sample the local foods and traditions in two of the prominent regions of Italy, and take those traditions back with me to my host family in Copenhagen. Arriving back in Copenhagen, I gained a new appreciation for both cultures unique flavors and traditions around food. Finally, on a more personal note, being a fairly picky eater prior to this trip, I was able to get outside my comfort zone and try some new foods such as fried zucchini blossoms, stuffed with ox-tail stew and a Roman favorite, carciofi alla giudia, a Jewish style artichoke. Thank you to St. Lawrence for approving this wonderful trip, and a special thank you to the donors who made this trip possible!