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Insider Spotlight: Via Medina's Top 3 Tips for Italy

ViaMedina is a culinary project exploring ideas inside and out of the kitchen. We live in Tuscania, a small town about 80 miles north of Rome, and we spend time learning about the traditions in our town as well as the products and people that have built these traditions. We also do private culinary tours, courses and dinners for people in locations all over the area- we might go make cheese one day, pasta the next, and gelato to finish. And of course, there are a wealth of incredible recipes that we try out and share through our blog posts.

Top 3 Favorite Restaurants in Italy?

1) Il Terziere di Poggio, Tuscania: I might be biased on this one as I worked here, but if you’re looking for some truly authentic dishes cooked with heart, this is the place. It’s family run and every dish is a story that they’ll sit and talk with you about. Plus, they serve some great forgotten recipes that you won’t find anywhere else.

2. Hasekura, Rome: Sometimes, a girl has to get her sushi fix and this is one of the best places I’ve tasted anywhere in the world.
3. Delizie di Ale e Helga, Pitigliano: A tiny enoteca in the middle of a mythic town, they have the best tagliere of Chiannina beef and handmade pasta. Plus, they are an amazingly adorable couple!

Top 3 favorite foods in Italy?

1) Tomatoes: there is nothing like biting into a tomato in mid July, when it’s still warm from the sun, and the flavor just sings. Before I came to Italy I’m not sure if I had ever really tasted a tomato.
2) Bruschetta: when we were picking olives for the harvest, we all sat around and tested the olive oil for the first time on bruschetta with olive oil, salt, and a bit of garlic. There’s no better way to appreciate oil, and one could seriously live off of that alone.
3) Spaghetti aglio olio e pepperoncini: The simplest dishes are the best ones, and the blend of those three ingredients with a healthy portion of parsley is one of my absolute favorites.

Top 3 tips for new expats in Italy?

1. Don’t get disheartened by the bureaucracy, it’s as much a part of the fabric of society as mozzarella, and it will eventually be resolved. Plus, everyone has to go through it, so at least you’ll have something to talk to people about while you’re waiting on line at the post office!
2) Talk to everyone. So you can’t speak Italian, so what? People are generally quite patient and often appreciate the effort you make, and if you show interest in them they’re often very happy to help you out. Italy is a tight knit society, so coming as a foreigner alone is often a strange experience. Plus, people in Italy are used to tourists so if you want to actually be a part of the town in which you live, you’ve got to make those moves and show people you’re invested. Remember, you came here right? You didn’t come here to not have those experiences. So go for it.
3) Other expats can be really cool! Sure, you came here for that authentic experience and going it alone seems like the way to really immerse yourself. But you know what? Italy is like a game whose rules are constantly changing, and it helps to have someone else around to ask for advice, make connections for business or pleasure, and keep you sane. Because most of all, don’t quit when the romance dies and it starts to get hard; that’s when it starts to get really fun…

Top 3 tips for travellers in Italy?

1) Try every food you can, and don’t ask first what it is. Just because it sounds strange doesn’t mean its going to be strange. It might actually be delicious.
2) Go to a Sagra! Every town has an annual celebration of its local foodstuff, and it is one of the most wonderful insights a visitor can have into the area. Plus, you’ll eat heaps of delicious food for usually an obscenely low price.
3) Lunch is from 12:30-1 pm, and dinner is from 7:30- 11 pm (generally). Mealtime is sacrosanct and Italians don’t play around with that. Don’t go to a restaurant and ask to sit down at 6:30 pm because even though they will often let you do so, it’s almost always an inconvenience to the staff. Restaurants are often extensions of families, and their time before service is important to respect and remember.

Top 3 tips for what to pack for Italy?

1) An extra bag. You are going to buy things here, and you’re going to go shopping or to markets or something like that. Bring a bag that you can stash, and use it for carry on later. You never know when you might be foraging for wild asparagus, visiting a cheesemaker, or catching a great antiques market. Be ready for anything.
2) A flashlight. With so many ancient places, you’ll find that they’re often poorly to not lit at all. Plus, building interiors often have lights that you have to turn on when you enter which makes for a really bumbling entrance into your apartment or house rental after a few bottles of wine.
3) Teabags. Look, Italy is wonderful for many things, but tea is just not one of them. If you’re someone who likes a cuppa in the afternoon, pack a ziploc with some tea, and thank me later.

Top 3 favorite places in Italy

1. La Feniglia, Orbetello. Wild beaches bordered by pine forests. Highly instagrammable.
2) Terme di Bagnaccio, Viterbo. All of the thermal springs in the area are stunning, but this one’s got fresh bread and wine for sale and stays open until midnight. The healing powers of those thermal baths will fix just about anything.
3) Tuscania. Even after two years, I still find little corners and streets that I didn’t know before, and I’m still amazed. I never really planned to settle down in Italy but now that I’m here, it really feels like home.

Top 3 neighborhoods in Italy

1) Quartiere Spagnolo, Naples. There’s just no place like it. Yes, do be sure to keep tabs on your pockets, but soak it in and enjoy the noise of neighbors telling each other about their day through their shared walls.
2) Ghetto Ebraico, Pitigliano. The entire city is stunning, but the winding alleys of the old Jewish Ghetto are the most fascinating parts of Pitigliano.
3) San Pelligrino, Viterbo. A great place for a walk and some really nice bars and restaurants. Bonus, during the Santa Rosa festival in September you get to watch a massive statue being carted by volunteers through those impossible medieval streets. From the comfort of the bar, of course…

For more tips on Italy from Ginger, watch for upcoming posts on the Italy blog and follow her blog, ViaMedina.

Interested in sharing your top tips? Contact erin {at} insidersabroad {dot} com!

Published April 7th, 2016 by Ginger Medina-Rios
Posted to Inside Secrets to Italy

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