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‘Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy’ – A series by CNNTravel

Learn more about all the places Stanley Tucci visited in “Searching For Italy” for your next trip to Italy.

Bentrovati, studenti di ScuolaScuola! We know you all loved the series Searching for Italy, hosted by Stanley Tucci for CNNtravel. Waiting to actually be able to visit Italy again, let’s start planning your future trips with this article summarizing the actor’s experiences, as well as our own recommendations – not only of restaurants, but also agriturismi, wineries and outdoor markets:

“Like a modern Virgil in a heaven made of flavours, textures and aromas, during the first edition of the CNNtravel series Searching For Italy, Stanley Tucci guides us through six Italian regions encompassing the ingredients of the Italian taste.

Stanley Tucci, actor, writer and producer, is Italian-American on both sides, as he says, so he knows how to cook and about the world of food, wine and restaurants so well that he wrote a book, The Tucci Table: Cooking With Family and Friends (2014). But above all, Tucci knows Italy, loves it, and respects it. And loves Italians, too – the way we eat, drink and think – avoiding easy cliches and corny stereotypes.

As we wait for the second season of Searching for Italy, highly anticipated by our eager students and already in the making,  let’s get to know Italy through the secrets and the delights of the country’s regional cuisines.

Campania

Stanley Tucci - Searching For Italy at the Restaurant Lo Scoglio on Amalfi Coast.
Stanley Tucci at the Restaurant Lo Scoglio on Amalfi Coast. Photo courtesy by Ristorante Lo Scoglio.

The premiere episode was shot in Campania, where Tucci indulges in the sun of the Amalfi Coast, famous for its beauty and its lemons. Here, at ristorante Lo Scoglio, Tucci is enjoying one of his favourite pasta dishes spaghetti alla nerano: a traditional recipe calling for a few simple and delicious ingredients such as spaghetti, fried zucchini and provolone cheese.

Roma

The Eternal City is the second stop of the buongustaio actor.

Here, in the shadow of Coliseum, he visits many gastronomically famous areas: his exploration of Rome starts at the Pantheon, and passes on through the Jewish Quarter, continues to rione Trastevere, and then heads to the neighborhood of San Giovanni.

In Trastevere, he tries maritozzi (brioche-like buns filled with cream) for breakfast at Bar San Calisto – a coffee bar by day that also attracts a lively crowd at night, it’s more retro coffee shop than cocktail lounge and has long been one of Rome’s most popular bohemian hangouts. Prepare for a truly authentic experience: don’t expect any table service, head inside to pay at the cash register, take your receipt to the bar to redeem your drink, then grab a sit on the patio for some epic people-watching.

In San Giovanni, he relishes meat-based dishes at chef Sarah Cicolini’s Santo Palato. The young chef, who has worked in many international cities including Toronto, prepares a unique dish of Quinto Quarto (or offal) that is obviously to the liking of Tucci and his companion, culinary critic Katie Parla. Here in Toronto, Cicolini teamed up with Buca’s executive chef Rob Gentile in November 2019 to create a delicious brunch menu featuring classic dishes from both sides of the Atlantic.

Emilia Romagna

Heading north, Tucci explores the Emilia Romagna, home to tortellinicappellettiprosciutto and parmigiano. In this episode, a favorite of our more food-addicted students, he’s hosted by Chef Massimo Bottura and his wife at “Casa Maria Luigia”, their incredible hotel and restaurant outside Modena. Best known for his world renowned restaurant Osteria Francescana, Massimo Bottura’s elegant country estate offers 12 rooms plus the Michelin-star chef’s incredible ‘Francescana’ dining experience; here is a review of the new Italian Luxury Inn for those of you who would like a taste.

Stanley Tucci - Searching For Italy at Casa Maria Luigia, Modena, Italy.
Stanley Tucci with Massimo Bottura and his wife at their hotel-restaurant Casa Maria Luigia, in the outskirts of Modena, in Emilia Romagna. Photo courtesy by Manicardi Azienda Agricola.

Here, the actor and the chef enjoy wine, cheese and aceto balsamico before heading to new exciting culinary adventures in Bologna and Rimini.

Milano

As many tourists do, Tucci begins his visit to Milan at the famous Duomo where he talks to noted journalist and author Beppe Severgnini as they enjoy the most breathtaking views across Milan from the terrazza of “Italy’s largest church.” (we know what you are thinking – but technically – St. Peter is in Vatican City.)

His gastronomic tour starts at restaurant Ratanà where Chef Cesare Battisti adds a historical note to his demonstration of how to cook a perfect Risotto alla Milanese, revealing that the stained-glass windows in the Duomo are partially colored with saffron – the risotto dish’s main ingredient.

But on his trip to the nightlife capital of the country, Tucci could not miss an aperitivo at MagCafè – a staple of the post-work crowd – followed by a mixology class at Tencitt Club with the renowned bartender Morris Maramaldi (aka Morris Mau), who created a signature cocktail Martini Black Saffron for the occasion (full recipe here)

Toscana

Heading south again for the fifth episode, Tucci stops in Florence, a city beloved by the actor, who as a child spent a year there with his family. This episode focuses on the vivacious outdoor markets, Mercato di Sant’Ambrogio and Mercato Centrale, where you can find the ingredients of what Italians call “cucina povera,” or poor man’s food. If fresh bread is a part of almost every meal in Tuscany, what’s leftover never goes to waste. Stale bread is a key ingredient in a variety of hearty meals, including the light and tasty Panzanella, Ribolita and Pappa al Pomodoro soups.

Stanley Tucci - Searching For Italythe restaurant il Nugolo in Florence.
Stanley Tucci and the staff of the restaurant il Nugolo in Florence. Photo courtesy by Il Nugolo.

A reimagined version of this type of rural cuisine is offered at the restaurant Il Nugolo, at the heart of the city.

 

Sicilia

The first season of Searching for Italy has a glorious ending with a voyage to Sicily, known as “God’s Kitchen” for its bountiful soil and a culinary tradition that is a blend of many Mediterranean influences. Here, Tucci is hosted by winemaker Arianna Occhipinti at her vineyard in Vittoria, near Ragusa.  Arianna is an innovator in the Sicilian wine scene, traditionally known for its bold reds, creating more delicate vintages that pay tribute to these traditions while respecting biodiversity.

 

The details for Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy, Season 2, set to air in 2022, have yet to be disclosed. But hungry fans craving more food-centered travel (accompanied by history, culture and the music of the language) from a country that lives for food are certain to be delighted.

 

article by Caterina Micci

 

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