Global pandemic got you glum? Travel plans postponed? “Non preoccupare” (known-pray-oak-you-PAR-ay) … don’t worry! OGGI Travel has the ticket you desperately need out of dulls-ville and into one of the most beautiful places on the planet—all from the comfort of your couch and beloved stretchy pants. Follow us as we weave tales of a magical land where the wine is cheaper than water and a huge bowl of pasta is just the first course. This is Italy! “Benvenuti” (ben-ven-OO-tee) … welcome!
It’s December in Italy! And nothing says “Hello, winter!” like yummy, warm roasted chestnuts and outdoor Christmas markets.
Chestnuts are fairly ubiquitous throughout Europe and Italy, in particular, is one of their top producers. It’s speculated that chestnuts were originally disseminated throughout the continent during the reigns of the Greek and Roman empires. They’re basically a carb, so during hard times people often have survived on meaty, nutritious chestnuts. Once the weather turns cold, you’ll find vendors serving roasted chestnuts as street food to passers-by—and they are heavenly. Sure, they’re served out of a steaming metal trash can, but don’t let that turn you off. Their aroma and flavor are incredible—smoky, savory, salty, earthy. Just don’t expect chestnuts to crunch in your mouth like peanuts, because they won’t. The consistency will be more like a chickpea or mashed potatoes. Roasted chestnuts are everything you could want on a chilly winter day as you’re running errands or window shopping out and about. They make a wonderful snack or side dish.
Outdoor Christmas markets are another must-do in Italy once winter arrives and many
piazze (pee-AHT-say) … town squares … are taken over by them. Feel transported back in time as you glide from one stand to the next, all bundled up and cozy. These markets are the perfect place to find your much-needed winter scarf for the cold season ahead and handle all of your Christmas shopping in one fell swoop (which usually also entails lots of brightly colored scarves for everyone on your Nice List). Christmas markets tend to have a strong Northern and Eastern European feel, with stands heavily showcasing cured and smoked sausages and other meats, children’s toys made of wood, glass tree ornaments, bubbling hot cocoa and steins of beer, salted pretzels, beautiful handmade quilts and handcrafted nesting dolls (you know, the ones with about 30 tiny dolls inside of them … kind of creepy, if you think about it). Christmas markets are a real treat! Don’t miss out if you explore Italy in December.
Obviously, the pandemic has halted travel to Italy right now, but you can still enjoy the iconic flavor of roasted chestnuts right in the comfort of your own kitchen. Check out this recipe from Epicurious.com or Google another you prefer. Don’t forget to pair with a delicious bottle of Italian Chianti to make it a success!
Ciao for now!
Travel Writer. Hodophile.