Fave dei Morti: A Sweet Treat for A Bittersweet Holiday

Americans may have their candy corn and color-themed Reese’s Pieces, but Italy has a seasonal sweet much more tempting come the end of October.

fave-dei-morti-italy-cr-rebecca-winke(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

Pasticcerie throughout central Italy begin turning out fave dei morti (sometimes called ossa dei morti)--beans (or bones) of the dead--a few weeks before All Souls’ Day on November 2nd. These soft almond cookies, sometimes laced with cinnamon, citrus, or rum, are covered in granulated sugar and baked into an oval bean (or slightly longer bone) shape until just barely golden.

Bologna: The Stopover Worth a Stay

Though Bologna is perfectly positioned as a stopover between Florence and Venice, this bustling university town—the largest in Emilia Romagna—can easily be considered a destination itself.

Street view in Bologna(Photo by Kosala Bandara via Flickr)

Famous for its excellent cuisine, home to the world’s oldest university (and with a history shaped by the millenia-long conflict between the secular academic world and the religious Catholic one), and with an elegant city center offering excellent shopping and sightseeing, take time to spend an overnight here before moving on either north or south.

Italian Tailoring: A Custom Experience

Italy is known for its sense of style, and while it is the contemporary fashion and design that grabs headlines, even the most cutting-edge runway styles are firmly rooted in this country’s decidedly less flashy but equally revered tradition of quality tailoring.

(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

Though there are certain cities especially known for their bespoke clothing (Naples, for example) and shoes (Florence, for example), almost all major Italian towns have at least one historic workshop (sartoria for tailors and calzolaio for shoemakers) where exacting skill and precision combined with an unerring eye are passed down through the generations of a single family.

Italy's Cool Cats

They bask in the sun, alone or in pairs, draped languidly at the base of tinkling fountains in public piazzas, across picturesquely-crumbling ancient ruins, on doorsteps and windowsills of sleepy villages.

They watch you with half-closed eyes, daring you to stare back. If you show any interest, they either startle with their avid attention or offend with their contemptuous indifference. They are casually sleek, mysteriously attractive, offhandedly photogenic, and quietly ubiquitous.

kitten-motorino-italy-cr-brian-dore(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

No, we’re not talking about Italian men. We’re talking about Italian cats. Read More...

Hunting Truffles in Italy

Of all the pleasures unique to Italy in the fall—the soft, golden light, the balmy days and crisp nights, the relative post-summer calm of many of the cities and towns—perhaps the most memorable comes in the form of the deceptively humble yet truly divine truffle.

black-truffles-patrico-umbria-italy-cr-brian-dore(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

One of the world’s most expensive delicacies, truffles can be found all year round depending upon their type and terrain, but the most abundant season is the late autumn when the wood-covered slopes of the central Italian Apennines of Umbria and Tuscany and the Alps in northern Piedmont become treasure troves for local foragers and their faithful trained assistants.