Sunday, August 30, 2009

Tuscan Bread Salad (a.k.a. Panzanella)

It's summer, and mighty hot, so there's not much motivation to turn on the stove. On the other hand, the produce these days is quite good, so here's a nice no-cook meal for these hot days.
  • 150g (stale) Italian bread
  • 400g tomatoes
  • 1 small red, 1 small green bell pepper
  • 1 bunch green onions
  • 1 bunch each Italian parsley and basil
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2-3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • salt, pepper
  • 5 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. capers
Cut the dry bread into cubes, combine with diced tomatoes and bell peppers, as well as thinly sliced green onions. Wash and chop the herbs and add to the bread along with the garlic, minced. Add salt and pepper to vinegar, then stir in the olive oil. Add to bread along with the capers. Let stand for about an hour, it doesn't hurt for it to stand longer. A light red wine goes well with this dish.


To escape the constant, unrelenting heat in Florence in August, we went to Scotland for nearly two weeks around Assumption Day, which is when half Italy packs up and leaves for the beach or for colder climates. In all our travels, we had never met that many Italians, so I thought that they just didn't travel much. However, it seems that they do travel, just all during August: in Scotland, we saw almost as many Italians as Germans, and that's saying something!
In any case, we started out in Glasgow, where we visited Alecia and her husband, and then rented a car to drive around the countryside, camping in our tent as we went. Via Stirling Castle and Doune Castle, which was thankfully free of taunting Frenchmen, we headed for Loch Lomond, Inveraray Castle and Oban, before reaching Glencoe. Nearby, we went to the Glenfinnan Highland Games, before heading up to the Isle of Skye, where we spent a very stormy night. At this point of the trip, the weather was quite rainy and stormy, so some of the attractions, such as the Old Man of Storr, were shrouded in fog. Coming back from Skye, we crossed Scotland's highest road to get to Applecross, and drove along the coast some from there before crossing over to the east. Here, we were in castle country, so we took in Dunrobin, Urquhart, Cawdor, Fyvie, Craigievar, Fraser, Dunnottar, and Glamis. In this area, Kristen had found the locations of several Pictish stones online, so we also hunted those out. Going back south, we stopped by St. Andrews, where we had a classy lunch in the clubhouse with Andreas, a friend of mine from college, and then drove to Dunfermline, where we stayed the night with Maureen and Martin. Finally, we spent a day in Edinburgh, where we naturally visited the castle and the excellent Museum of Scotland.
While we cooked most of the time when camping, we did try the local food, such as haggis, fish and chips, or chicken tikka masala, most of which we liked, but some of which (the deep-fried pizza) was a bit too much. We also made it to two whisky distilleries, of which we have conflicting opinions (Ben: mmmmhhhh, Kristen: ugh). Some pictures of our trip can be seen below, or by clicking on the slideshow for the larger versions.

Saturday, August 29, 2009


Almost no one in Italy has screens on their windows. There are plenty of mosquitoes, and air conditioning is not nearly as common as in the US, so you have to open your windows. I can't explain it.

Friday, August 28, 2009

You won't believe it

... but my permesso di soggiorno, the one I received today, expires today. That's right, it's not a mistake. I asked. They said I have to apply for a new one now.

I was assured that the new system, which apparently was put in place since I applied for mine last year, is much faster. (haha)

(This is a continuation of the post about my first visit to the questura.)

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Not much

There haven't been many posts recently, because there hasn't been that much going on. It is the hot, sunny season here (the summer, like winter, has very stable weather).

I said before that Italians like to talk. I have also noticed that this seems to be the cause of and solution to some of their problems. Things are generally inefficient, but people often don't seem bothered by it, because they're distracted by talking to each other. I don't think there's any way to make anything happen more quickly, so talking seems to be the key to not getting angry at having to wait forever for something that shouldn't take very long.

Two more foods to add to my list:
- percoca, a type of peach
- scarola. I think it's called escarole in English, but it has a disc shape.