Countries, Culture, Europe, Food, Food & Wine

A boy named Tiramisu

They’re the kind of fingers I like.

Ladyfingers, dipped in coffee, layered with a whipped mixture of eggs, sugar and mascarpone cheese, flavoured with cocoa,

And something to keep my mind off my own broken fingertips and nails.

Our friends at Travel Weekly and The Italian Tourist Board have been regaling us with the charms and i cibi of Il Bel Paese all week.

And yesterday the Veneto region laid out everybody’s favourite dinner party dessert for us.

On Zoom (because we didn’t have smellavision).

Tiramisu it transpires has been with us for rather less time than I had thought.

Being served up for the first time at the end of the Sixties.

By chef Roberto Linguanotto at Le Beccherie in Treviso on Christmas Eve.

Whose Tiramisu is it anyway?

And I wasn’t going to be the one to raise with the good people of the Veneto region that our Zoom hosts for the previous day Friuli Venezia Giulia had a claim.

From the Vetturino restaurant in Pieris from 1938.

Anyhoos, as they never say in Northern Italy, tiramisu is celebrated all the world over.

And it’s not just between the regions that it gets competitive with some believing it goes back way further than that to Siena in honour of Grand Duke Cosimo III.

The World Cup

And there is even a Tiramisu World Cup.

The winner of which is uno Fabio Peyla.

Fabio generously treated us all to his creation on our meeting.

Unfortunately though we could not reach into the screen and taste.

Prosecco, another Veneto favourite was.

Just the ‘pick me up’ as Tiramisu means in Italiano for someone who has just broken his fingertips.

You want to make your own, then my go-to baking site is BBC Good Food. Who am I kidding she’s in the kitchen!

Venice is, of course, the jewel of the Veneto region but in truth it is just the most glittering in a crown that is embedded with other gems I’ve found such as Padova.

While Treviso, Verona and Venice’s piccolo fratello Choggia should all be explored.




Countries, Culture, Europe

The Joyce of Trieste

Dublin’s most famous son (move aside Bono) famously chronicled a day in the life of an everyman in the fair city.

But he, of course, fell out with its burghers and went into exile in mainland Europe, falling in love with Trieste.

Where he is still remembered with affection as much as in his home city.

Mediterranean Man: Joyce in Trieste

So much so that they erected a statue to the Great Man there too while for a step by step guide of Joyce’s Trieste check out this site.

And dander over to the Joyce Museum in the famous old town to get up close and personal.

Of course the best place to channel your inner Joyce at the Cafe Stella Polare.

Joyce’s bolthole

Be sure you take your pen and pad for your Ulysses (or write it on your iPad).

While you should also check out the titular Caffe James Joyce.

So what is it about Trieste and coffee?

Well, it was only the gateway from the East Indies and the Middle East to the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Say again.

Well, Trieste was a Habsburg port back for centuries before the empire broke up after the First World War.

Which means Naval Captain Von Trapp’s town was actually an Italian and that was key to him getting out of Nazi Austria.

Which you know already from my Austrian travels but here’s a reminder.

Anyhoos Trieste is the jewel of the Friulia Venezia Giulia whose joys I have been enjoying, from mountain to woods to sea in the Virtual Italian Zoom Week.

I’ll be bringing you more in tomorrow’s Hungry and Thursday and all your favourite features.


America, Countries, Culture, Europe, Ireland, UK

Holiday Snaps – Forte forte and Italy

Me and Sir Rocco Forte are taking on the world.

Bit by bit.

The international hotelier shared his thoughts on Italy, Covid and how we should get tourism back in track.

He reported that the holiday experience is seemless in Sardinia at his Forte Village Resort where the health and safety measures are not invasive.

And but for the staff wearing masks and the regulations we are all getting used to follow you wouldn’t know things were any different.

Sir Rocco has been lobbying government throughout the crisis.

Put it on a pedestal

And the news of airport testing, at £80 with the results within an hour, being introduced at Heathrow for flights to Hong Kong that opens up an opportunity for Italy.

Before I flew to Bergamo last week I had to get a home test from a pharmacy, pay £150, courier it £10) and await the test’s return 24 hours later.

All within a 72-hour window before departure which Italy requires.

I asked Sir Rocco if he had lobbied the Scottish Government too.

My cup of ciocolatta: Bergamo

‘The First Minister is determined to make it more draconic than the rest of the UK,’ he told me.

‘I’m not very confident she would listen. It would fall on deaf ears.’

Perche? I can vouch that Italy, the entry point for the virus, is coping better than us with it now.

Forza Italia and Scotland and the UK, I mean Mamma Mia!

Balearic amigo

And word comes to us too of how our friends in the Balearic and Canary Islands are being proactive and inventive too in trying to get us back to their shores.

It is something of a bug bear of mine that a special case was not made for the Spanish islands.

But that was then.

The Spanish Government has put forward this protocol and it is worth reading.

The taskforce suggests a test pre-departure, funded by the visitor, and a test prior to their returning to their home country. At no cost to them.

If visitors are requested to self-isolate while they are away accommodation would be provided.

Me and my pals Lizzie and Mathew In Tenerife

If any additional medical costs is required this would be covered.

Today the accumulated infection rate in the Canaries was 35.29 per 100,000 are (based on the last 14 days).

In the UK it is 329.2 per 100,000.

Drink up and Kissimmee quick

The Margaritaville cocktail king

And after all that I was ready for Happy Hour with some of my favourite people in the Travel world, Experience Kissimmee.

They sent me a hamper with Margarita glass, can… and Covid accessories, branded mask and gel.

And a very helpful Floridian cocktail king from Margaritaville showed us how to make them.

And the king cocktail drinker himself

I’ll share all their news as soon as… Happy Hour extended into Happy Evening.

And, of course, you know how I love Florida and Disney World, Universal Orlando, Busch Gardens and the cities, Miami and Fort Lauderdale.


Adventure, Countries, Culture, Europe, Food, Food & Wine

Bergamo – time to say goodbye

Time to say goodbye, Paesi che non ho mai, veduto e vissuto con te, Adesso si, il vivro, con te partiro, su navi per mari che, io lo so, no, no, non esistono piu, it’s time to say goodbye. – Andrea Boccelli

Una ciocolatta di caldo densa at Balzer in Bergamo

Ciao Bergamo e grazie mille. Molamia, miei amici, stay strong my friends.

It’s time to say goodbye, although on my terms and not Signore Johnson’s.

I have made it my mission to come to Bergamo since the start of the outbreak to find out why the pandemic came here first.

What it was like for the Bergamoschi to live through.

And something a little stronger

And how they are living today and how they see tomorrow.

Peace to Bergamo

The overriding feeling I have found is one of peace (except for the raucous ragazzi e ragazze outside my window at midnight although this is how the young should be.)

I spend my last afternoon reading the stories on the picture boards in the piazza they are using as a testing centre.

And, of course, nothing tells a story quite like a picture, or a photograph.

Mars, Venus and love in Accademia Carrera

I wish mia moglie, the long insufferable (sorry, suffering) Mrs M was here to put her award-winning photo skills to work.

A work of art

I have come too from the Academia Carrera where I have been enjoying Titian, Canaletto and trying out Lotto (no, not the lottery, but the artist.

I have just enough time to treat myself to my Italian guilt pleasure, una ciocolatta di calda densa, a hot chocolate that wants to be a dessert.

Una fotographia di Bergamo in Covid

At a Bergamo institution Balzer cafe. Near my 4* Hotel Excelsior San Marco.

And here’s to beer

And then a Grumge IPA at Gate 11 in the airport.

I plan to have molti.

I am going back to a madhouse. And Britain is not much better.

Adventure, Countries, Culture, Europe, Flying, Food, Food & Wine, Ireland, UK

Bergamo – alta e bassa

What’s Italian for phew’ I’ve been walked off my piedi today in Bergamo Citt’alta e Citta Bassa (City High and City Low).

And phew too… Johnson, Schnapps and Co. are too late to quarantine me on my return. I was always flying back tomorrow evening anyway, so Sunday is troppo tardi, idioti!

David and Goliath: The Basilica

That’s if I don’t decide to quarantine myself anyway with the Bergamoschi (the people that is, not the local sheepdogs who share their name. Although…!)

La Prima Citta

Bergamo, as we all know by now, is where Covid-19 entered Europe.

To the greater glory of God

But they have taken the worst it can offer and are coming out the other side, and will prevail.

Or as they say here ‘Molamia’ (stay strong).


The Bergamoschi have done just that since Covid visited in March and shut the town off from the rest of Lombardy, Italy, and the world for four months.

To the greater glory of beer: With Matteo

But not from each other… or not in the ways that matter.

Matteo, my tour guide volunteered to help out the old and infirm.

Restaurateur Niccolo the same with his original ice cream and food.

Stay strong: The Bergamo credo

And model citizen Emmanuele, who lives in a palazzo on the hill too, as a volunteer.

All are heroes… and all Bergamoschi are an example to us all

La Storia

Perhaps it is in the blood. It is certainly in their history.

I am standing in the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore in Ciitt’alta.

The Bergamo bear: With Matteo and Atalanta Bear

Where the Bergamoschi built a new church after they were delivered from the plague in the 12th century.

And filled it with frescoes, magnificent paintings and special picture boards of other scenes where humanity prevailed over adversity.

Noah anyone?

Pasta Basta

Ma mi scusi. I have just eaten my own weight in food and drunk today, a small lago di vino and must now repair to my bed in the Hotel Excelsior San Marco.

I scream for ice cream: With Niccolo

A Domani.

And if you want to slip on the Italian Boot to follow in my footsteps, here’s my Via Francigena, into Rome

While as the Veneto region is just over the horizon to the east, here’s the City of Frescoes Padova.