The Shallots of Rome

The shallot (Allium ascalonicum) was once considered sacred. Said to have been discovered by Marcus Aurelius in ancient Cannan (now Palestine) in the second century AD, shallots were widely grown in Greek and Roman gardens. Italian cooks today use shallots to create a strong but subtle flavor reminiscent of both onions and garlic.  I know …

Italy Beyond the Beltway – Trails of Transhumance

There are many ways to see and savor Italy. To experience the noble vineyards, pilgrim paths, iconic art and architecture and like the proverbial onion or tip of the iceberg you need to dig deeper and peel away the layers of “show and tell” travel to discover Italy beyond the beltway. Travelers can follow itineraries …

Gauging the Maturity of the Blossoms

In the heart of the Casentino valley of eastern Tuscany, a valley famous for being the birthplace of Michelangelo, the countryside is covered with a thick forest of pine, cypress and chestnuts and the bottom of the valley is full of wild herbs and flowers. Italians are known to scout the countryside carefully observing the plants, …