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Stanley Tucci: Searching For Italy

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I didn’t know about the rooftop visit.

But they didn’t show the piazza below for whatever reason.  This blog shows a photo.

https://wild-about-travel.com/must-do-milan-walking-wonderful-duomo-rooftop/

 

That private bar is going to have to change the password though they opened it up to cameras so maybe they want more customers.

I wouldn’t go out of my way to seek out the dishes they showed in this episode.  I tried wienerschnitzel, don’t need to try it again.  Maybe if I found myself in Milan ...

Or maybe try it in Lake Como or Lake Garda.  Stanley spent time with his friend in Como but then they got a gorgeous shot of Bellagio from the air.  That was the prettiest shot in the episode.

 

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I'm surprised they didn't show the Italian version, Milanese chicken. Ina has had it in Italy and provides a great recipe. 

 

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I actually sought out a place that did a chicken schnitzel in Vienna because I wanted to avoid veal.

Was very thin and dry.

Maybe that that thicker veal cutlet, bathed in butter would be more juicy as Stanley said.

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The most appealing meal in this episode was the family meal at the designers' home. That food looked delicious.
So, anyone know where we can buy Bitto Cheese in the U.S.? I sure would like to try some of that!

Only two episodes left for this season. 😢

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Restaurants and links for Milano:

Ratanà: Chef Cesare Battisti is known for creating innovative dishes as well as being a master of the classics. With Tucci, he served up Italian food history alongside veal cutlets and risotto, the luxuriously creamy rice dish made with saffron.

Mag Cafe: Rain or shine, an aperitivo in Milan is a must. With social media star Tess Masazza as his guide, Tucci raised a glass to the Milanese mainstay of the post-work drink.

Tencitt: Under the expert guidance of Morris Maramaldi, one of Milan's most in-demand mixologists, Tucci was introduced to a Milanese spin on the martini, with saffron for a twist.

The Bitto Center: In the Orobic Alps, Tucci met cheese maker Paolo Ciapparelli, who's devoted his life to preserving the process behind Bitto Storico Ribelle. The 2,000-year-old type of cheese is made from the milk of alpine herds, and Tucci found it so inspiring his next stop was to head into the kitchen to make pizzoccheri, a noodle made from buckwheat.

Osteria del Treno: After a visit to Lake Como, Tucci and wife Felicity Blunt ventured back to Milan to take in a meal at this restaurant, which Tucci describes as embodying "the history and spirit of Milan like almost nowhere else."

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Next Sunday I'm going to have a baguette, some salami, and a glass of Prosecco while watching this show (otherwise I'll go crazy!)

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I had some lovely lake trout and risotto with smoke mozzarella at Il Cavatappi (the corkscrew) in Varenna on Lake Como a few years back.  Wonderful little place (Iike 8 tables) with a slightly eccentric chef.  The waitress (a) didn't rush us and (b) talked us out of ordering what she considered to be too many dishes!  

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51 minutes ago, DoctorAtomic said:

Does his wife accompany him? Seems kind of jerk move if not. 

His wife showed up in Naples for one location, but not in the other episodes so far until Milan.

She does have a job in London, and I suspect the filming is not all fun and games and can get tedious. I’d guess if she really wanted to tag along, she could. Of course maybe she is there, just not on camera.

I’d be curious to find a recipe for that buckwheat noodle, cabbage and cheese dish.

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49 minutes ago, DoctorAtomic said:

Does his wife accompany him? Seems kind of jerk move if not. 

She's shown up twice--in that restaurant on the Amalfi Coast (spaghetti & zucchini + the big  storm), and last night, their visit to that big restaurant where people sang at the end of the meal.  So I bet she's traveling along with him, enjoying the wonders of Italy. 

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3 hours ago, Inquisitionist said:

I had some lovely lake trout and risotto with smoke mozzarella at Il Cavatappi (the corkscrew) in Varenna on Lake Como a few years back.  Wonderful little place (Iike 8 tables) with a slightly eccentric chef.  The waitress (a) didn't rush us and (b) talked us out of ordering what she considered to be too many dishes!  

Ooh, place looks good, going to bookmark it.

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g187837-d1508478-Reviews-Il_Cavatappi-Varenna_Lake_Como_Lombardy.html#photos;aggregationId=101&albumid=101&filter=7&ff=465396599

 

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1 hour ago, annzeepark914 said:

She's shown up twice--in that restaurant on the Amalfi Coast (spaghetti & zucchini + the big  storm), and last night, their visit to that big restaurant where people sang at the end of the meal.  So I bet she's traveling along with him, enjoying the wonders of Italy. 

She actually joined him at Lake Como, then they went down to Milan together.  I think I heard Stanley say that he and Felicity met at Lake Como?

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Here's an interesting FYI: Tucci gave fellow student, Irving Rhames his distinctive nickname, Ving. 

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5 hours ago, Inquisitionist said:

She actually joined him at Lake Como, then they went down to Milan together.  I think I heard Stanley say that he and Felicity met at Lake Como?

I missed that but it seems right. They apparently met at her sister Emily’s wedding to John Krasinski, and the wedding was at George Clooney’s house on Lake Como.

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2 hours ago, Rickster said:

I missed that but it seems right. They apparently met at her sister Emily’s wedding to John Krasinski, and the wedding was at George Clooney’s house on Lake Como.

Ha -- I wondered if George Clooney (most famous part-time resident of Bellagio) had something to do with it!

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On 3/8/2021 at 12:26 AM, aghst said:

I actually sought out a place that did a chicken schnitzel in Vienna because I wanted to avoid veal.

Was very thin and dry.

It's supposed to be thin (it gets "hammered" before or is supposed to) but chicken is a drier meat than veal (or pork) because it doesn't have as much fat.

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I got one of those “you might be interested in” links on Amazon today, and it was to one of Stanley’s cookbooks! I clicked on the link to find out he has two cookbooks, and they’re both sold out.

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6 minutes ago, annzeepark914 said:

I'm so *done* with buying new cookbooks, but...hmmm...Tucci has a cookbook or two?

One was published about a year ago with Felicity as co-author, the other is at least several years older when he was living in NY full time. The newer one does not seem to be entirely Italian.

I can’t deal with any more cookbooks either.

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Milan - the roof of the cathedral looked fantastic. 

I can't say I'm huge fan of cooking with so much butter or even veal. 

I liked the differences in Northern cooking, but Milan seemed like work to enjoy. I mean, a bar with a password? Ok. There was a lack of just open air. 

Edited by DoctorAtomic
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Well that was just a private bar.  Stanley said happy hour was invented in Milan?  So a big bar scene, with the apertivos.  So not surprising they'd have speakeasy bars or private bars.

I'd be willing to try some of those dishes but in other places than Milan.  However my recollection of other places in Lombardy were that pasta was just as popular as in other provinces.

 

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I liked the Sunday dinner with the fashion family. The first half of the show was lacking the community that I liked. 

I really liked when he cooked for the crew and the townspeople. Same thing, community. 

I can take or leave a private pop up bar over a 3 dollar Peroni outside at the piazza. 

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49 minutes ago, DoctorAtomic said:

mean, a bar with a password? Ok.

That’s not that unusual in several cities in the US, especially a few years ago. Hell one bar near my house used to have a “secret” bar with an additional password inside a bar that you needed to have a password to get into. Damn now I am craving their strawberry, pepper and gin cocktail! 

Edited by biakbiak
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I'm not sure that's much of an argument for a show on Italian history, culture, and food though. He went with some social media person. Eh. 

I mean, you want to go to the secret bar or that big place at the end? 

I liked Felicity coming on the show again. 

Edited by DoctorAtomic

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The was an Italian club I used to go as a guest (a member had to invite you) like the osteria at the end where you get a set meal; salad, pasta, entree, wine, but they kept bringing it out of you wanted more for $20. Big tables, loud, there was a raffle, and ice cream sandwiches or hoodsies at the end.

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29 minutes ago, DoctorAtomic said:

I mean, you want to go to the secret bar or that big place at the end? 

Why not both? Also, the show isn’t just about history it’s about the present as well so I don’t see why both don’t have their merits.

Edited by biakbiak
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I don't think that a bar with a password is a less authentic part of the culture because it's still there which makes it part of the culture, even if it's a part of the culture that not everyone is into. And as mentioned above, there are lots of bars in other cities with passwords (the one I went to was styled after a speakeasy and was beautiful inside).

And is a bar with a password worse than the private clubs where you have to be invited and pay an exorbitant membership fee and show your special key at the door? At least a bar with a password is more egalitarian. Often on travel shows, the hosts are given access to places that are difficult or near impossible for the public to go to (is the duomo roof accessible to anyone who just walks in?). Like sure, I'd love to be able to eat at a Michelin starred restaurant that is so popular it has a lottery for reservations, but a tv show can just stroll in and film and eat everything on the menu. To me, that's less accessible in the real world than a bar with a password.

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10 hours ago, aghst said:

I'd be willing to try some of those dishes but in other places than Milan.  However my recollection of other places in Lombardy were that pasta was just as popular as in other provinces.

I think Milan gets a bad rap.  My husband and I spent four days there in 2009 (after 2 days in Varenna on Lake Como) and found plenty to see, do and eat.  We had the most beautiful cappuccino and pastries at the Galleria opposite the Duomo.  And yes, pasta is eaten pretty much everywhere in Italy.  Tucci's just trying to highlight differences about where dishes originated. We saw ravioli being consumed at the communal restaurant at the end, but it had some local ingredients, like chestnuts, I think. 

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I've been seeing those beautiful promos of Tucci's next show: Tuscany! But I'll be prepared this time as I'll have my baguette, thin-sliced hard salami, and Prosecco on hand. 

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27 minutes ago, annzeepark914 said:

I've been seeing those beautiful promos of Tucci's next show: Tuscany! But I'll be prepared this time as I'll have my baguette, thin-sliced hard salami, and Prosecco on hand. 

Make some bruschetta!

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S1.E5: Tuscany

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Stanley explores his former home of Tuscany; he participates in a wine bar crawl, celebrates the importance of the lowly loaf and samples dishes which use stale bread as the key ingredient.

Original air date: 3/14/21

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"The lowly loaf" -- I remember an agriturismo guide telling us the bread is deliberately "tasteless" so that it doesn't interfere with the olive oil it sops up.  😁

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The little wine window in the wall?  Didn't we see that wall window in an earlier episode--maybe in Rome?  Tonight, Tucci said this window couldn't be seen outside of Tuscany.  I'm confused.  Well...it was an interesting episode.  I think the best part was Tucci and his parents together in Tuscany, reminiscing about their year living there back in 1972.  I liked seeing him cooking with his mom, dining with his parents. I miss that experience with my parents.  Enjoy it while you can!  The countryside and the city all have a glow (I've heard that has something to do with the fabulous artworks there). So, next week is Sicily?  That should be interesting.

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Loved the historical bits about the wine window, the Medicis sometimes giving roast beef to the peasants, how Tuscan bread doesn’t have salt because the Florentines didn’t want to pay the Pisans for the salt, how the tomato came to Florence and all of Italy because Cosimo di Medici married a Spanish princess who introduced him to all the goods which came from the Americas.  Also Jews in Southern Europe brought the tomato through Livorno.

The last one is astounding because you can’t imagine Italian or any Mediterranean cuisine without tomatoes.  For me, they’ve made the best use of the tomato.   Can’t think of any memorable dish using the tomato in any North or South American dish — maybe something in Creole or Cajun cuisine?

Never been to Livorno or that place where they had the festival with the crostini and the gander.  They wouldn’t be the first Tuscan destinations which come to mind, though the Tuscan coast is suppose to be worth seeing.  I think Siena was a bigger rival of Florence than Pisa.  They’d also say their cuisine is distinct from Florentine cuisine.

Maybe they can go to Siena or other Tuscan towns in season 2.

 

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I had raw fish at a Filipino family reunion in the 90s and I did enjoy it, so that's awesome to know. My sister and brother were very hesitant when that was there, so I decided to eat it and I don't regret it. Hell, Spanish food could be quite something, too. I think my mom is a better cook and I am always thankful for her cooking. She is definitely a wiz at that. Never had raw meat, but my dad is a big fan of raw meat...medium rare or whatever. Chicken livers and liver & onions. Blech......whatever, dad. Can't argue what our parents grew up on. So I have to remember how they lived in the 50s and 60s because the cooking like dad lived on was considered immigrant poor food. Hell, I remembered my late grandmother eating tongue sandwiches. 

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This was my favorite episode since the first one where they explored the history of pizza and visited Ischia and the Amalfi coast.  I really loved seeing his family and learning more about the Medici family.  It would be interesting to see Stanley Tucci visit more countries; he has the same love of travel and respect for people that Anthony Bourdain had but of course he does have his acting career to continue and I'm guessing this series is a labor of love because he wants to share Italy with Americans.  

Edited by kitkat343
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2 hours ago, annzeepark914 said:

The little wine window in the wall?  Didn't we see that wall window in an earlier episode--maybe in Rome?  Tonight, Tucci said this window couldn't be seen outside of Tuscany.  I'm confused. 

I think it was in a preview or teaser.

It's too bad that they only spent one episode on Tuscany. There's so much more to Tuscany that Florence and the area around it and it feels like they could have easily done three episodes on it.

I thought it was funny that he's still traumatized from the bread. I can relate though. We vacationed in Italy the year I turned 10 and one thing that I still remember is the absolutely delicious looking bread (think freshly baked French baguette in France) and the lack of taste/salt. It wasn't as traumatizing for me but it was something I so wasn't used to and it obviously stayed with me.

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1 hour ago, kitkat343 said:

This was my favorite episode since the first one where they explored the history of pizza and visited Ischia and the Amalfi coast.  I really loved seeing his family and learning more about the Medici family.  It would be interesting to see Stanley Tucci visit more countries; he has the same love of travel and respect for people that Anthony Bourdain had but of course he does have his acting career to continue and I'm guessing this series is a labor of love because he wants to share Italy with Americans.  

The way he joked about how if the show was successful, he might move his parents to England, maybe he's counting on the show more than his acting career at this stage.

He's got to come up with better remarks and reactions to the food though.  Mix it up a bit.  Could swear he said "it melts in your mouth" more than once this season.

 

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31 minutes ago, CheshireCat said:

It's too bad that they only spent one episode on Tuscany. There's so much more to Tuscany that Florence and the area around it and it feels like they could have easily done three episodes on it.

There has been so much coverage of Tuscany in general I think it’s more just a shame that they didn’t explore it more in this one episode than devote 3 episodes to it when there are other regions that are much less known. 

Edited by biakbiak
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Locations/links for Tuscany:

Mercato di Sant'Ambrogio: Chef and restaurateur Fabio Picchi brought Tucci to "the liveliest market in Florence" to gather ingredients for bistecca alla Fiorentina.

C. Bio: Back at Picchi's deli, the chef used olive branches and plenty of salt to create Tuscany's signature dish.

Babae: Accompanied by professor and guide Elisabetta Digiugno, Tucci embarked on a (brief) old-school bar crawl, starting with this bistro that offers wine through its Renaissance-era "wine window." The tiny openings, called "buchette del vino," "don't exist anywhere outside of Tuscany -- another example of Renaissance genius," Tucci explained.

Osteria Belle Donne: To cap off their wine window tour, Tucci and Digiugno enjoyed the local dessert wine, Vin Santo, with almond biscotti.

Mercato Centrale: Historian Leonardo Romanelli brought Tucci to Florence's central market to show him the ingredients of what Italians call "cucina povera," or poor food, starting with the economical staple beans.

Osteria Cinghiale Bianco: One of Tucci's favorite restaurants in Florence, this place specializes in dishes like ribollita, pappa al pomodoro and panzanella. "Their recipes are so heavenly," Tucci says, "I'm sure it's where old bread would choose to come and die."

Nugolo: After tasting a sophisticated foam version of panzanella, Tucci was introduced to this restaurant reimagining Tuscany's rural food in the heart of the city.

Torteria da Gagarin: In Livorno, Tucci joined Picchi at this local institution that serves up a renowned pancake made from chickpea flour.

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12 hours ago, aghst said:

Maybe they can go to Siena or other Tuscan towns in season 2.

 

He has 14 more regions to visit in subsequent seasons!

10 hours ago, aghst said:

He's got to come up with better remarks and reactions to the food though.  Mix it up a bit.  Could swear he said "it melts in your mouth" more than once this season.

Yes, that's getting a bit repetitive!

BTW, one of the best places we ate in Florence  in 2001 was a cafeteria!  We had come back from a daylong bus trip to San Gimignano and an agriturismo farm outside of San Donato and wanted a light dinner.  We followed what appeared to be a group of Italian-speaking university students down a side street and up some stairs to a cafeteria where none of the servers spoke English -- that's always a good sign!  We liked the food so much, that we went back there another evening.  Always venture off the main streets.  😉

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In the intro he talks about the 20 different regions of Italy, so I assume the plan was to visit each one if the show was renewed.  I believe it has been picked up for a second season. (Sorry, I see that this has already been discussed)

Was there a disclaimer last night about the episode being filmed prior to the pandemic?  There was for the Milan episode, and I did not see any evidence of masks last night.

I am enjoying this a lot.  My husband was born in Italy so he has a lot of insight.  

The one thing I have noticed is the lack of garlic in a lot of the dishes.  Contrary to popular belief Italians do not add garlic to every recipe.  That is something that has evolved with Italian-American cooking.  This is an issue in my house as my husband is allergic to garlic (and onions).  Having said that there will be more garlic in the Sicilian dishes next week.

As far as Stanley getting Italian citizenship- they have tightened up the requirements a lot in recent years.  My husband was able to get it for our 3 children in the late 90's, but my nephew, whose father is Italian born, tried last year and ran into a brick wall.  I assume Stanley's parents were born in the US.  Going back a couple of generations would make it more difficult.

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12 minutes ago, Inquisitionist said:

He has 14 more regions to visit in subsequent seasons!

Yes, that's getting a bit repetitive!

BTW, one of the best places we ate in Florence  in 2001 was a cafeteria!  We had come back from a daylong bus trip to San Gimignano and an agriturismo farm outside of San Donato and wanted a light dinner.  We followed what appeared to be a group of Italian-speaking university students down a side street and up some stairs to a cafeteria where none of the servers spoke English -- that's always a good sign!  We liked the food so much, that we went back there another evening.  Always venture off the main streets.  😉

He also says almost every episode that he can't make this dish taste as good when he makes it.

My memory is walking around the the San Lorenzo area and it was much later than I thought and being very hungry.  So I went for one of these offers, which was a primo and a secondo for 9 Euros, a plate of spaghetti and a small filet of manzo, eating on a table on the sidewalk.

It was so good or maybe a function of how hungry I was.

11 minutes ago, 3 is enough said:

Was there a disclaimer last night about the episode being filmed prior to the pandemic?  There was for the Milan episode, and I did not see any evidence of masks last night.

Yes there was a disclaimer.

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14 minutes ago, 3 is enough said:

In the intro he talks about the 20 different regions of Italy, so I assume the plan was to visit each one if the show was renewed.  I believe it has been picked up for a second season.

Was there a disclaimer last night about the episode being filmed prior to the pandemic?  There was for the Milan episode, and I did not see any evidence of masks last night.

I am enjoying this a lot.  My husband was born in Italy so he has a lot of insight.  

The one thing I have noticed is the lack of garlic in a lot of the dishes.  Contrary to popular belief Italians do not add garlic to every recipe.  That is something that has evolved with Italian-American cooking.  This is an issue in my house as my husband is allergic to garlic (and onions).  Having said that there will be more garlic in the Sicilian dishes next week.

Yes, the same message about pre-pandemic filming appear at the top of the episode.  And that's true about garlic.  I use it a lot more than my Trentino relatives do.

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12 minutes ago, 3 is enough said:

In the intro he talks about the 20 different regions of Italy, so I assume the plan was to visit each one if the show was renewed.  I believe it has been picked up for a second season.

Was there a disclaimer last night about the episode being filmed prior to the pandemic?  There was for the Milan episode, and I did not see any evidence of masks last night.

There was a disclaimer at the beginning.

The timing and number of shows in a second season at this point will be dependent on Italy’s covid recovery. Maybe they can film later this year.

I do wonder if each of the 20 regions is unique enough foodwise to warrant a separate show.

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26 minutes ago, Rickster said:

There was a disclaimer at the beginning.

The timing and number of shows in a second season at this point will be dependent on Italy’s covid recovery. Maybe they can film later this year.

I do wonder if each of the 20 regions is unique enough foodwise to warrant a separate show.

If the regions have nice scenery, some decent food & wine or, heck...Venice! It's got the canals and gondolas. Actually, to date I've only swooned over Naples & the Amalfi coast activities, foods, restaurants, etc. But I'm enjoying his conversations with all types of Italians, learning about their experiences in hard times (e.g., WWII), and I really love this show. 

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1 minute ago, annzeepark914 said:

or, heck... Venice! It's got the canals and gondolas. 

I have visited many parts of Italy (Turin, Milan, Lake Como, Venice, Tuscany, Rome, Naples, Sorrento, and lots of towns/villages in Trentino-Alto Adige...) and Venice is the only place where I've been disappointed in the food.  Yet, I would return for its mystique any time!

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The little wine window in the wall?  Didn't we see that wall window in an earlier episode--maybe in Rome?  

I was having deja vu! Then I remembered that they ran a preview of the show (maybe a few months ago? Time has no meaning.) with that exact scene. So teaser FTW.

Stanley also says OMG when he tastes a lot of the food. Been there. Done that. Don't blame him one bit. I make a face similar to his at those moments, too. Especially staying in a place where nonna cooks, at an agriturismo or small family-fun place with breakfast and dinner plans in Liguria. I recall having (for the first time) a walnut pesto on farfalle. The entire table wanted to bury our heads on the bowl.

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I don't mind Tucci being repetitive. I don't watch cooking shows, but the accessibility of this show is enjoyable. He's basically like any of us that enjoy cooking. He's not trained. I'd be saying the same things. I'm not going to be able to prepare and cook like a trained chef, but there's a lot here that looks doable if you like being in the kitchen. 

 

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17 minutes ago, annzeepark914 said:

If the regions have nice scenery, some decent food & wine or, heck...Venice! It's got the canals and gondolas. Actually, to date I've only swooned over Naples & the Amalfi coast activities, foods, restaurants, etc. But I'm enjoying his conversations with all types of Italians, learning about their experiences in hard times (e.g., WWII), and I really love this show. 

 

52 minutes ago, Rickster said:

The timing and number of shows in a second season at this point will be dependent on Italy’s covid recovery. Maybe they can film later this year.

I would hope that they probably planned out more than these 6 episodes.  They'd have to plan the logistics, like getting the crew over or hiring some local workers, getting clearances with the cities and venues, getting people lined up to appear on camera with Stanley, etc.

They can't wait until the last minute to see if the govt. okays loosening enough restrictions for them to film.  Currently restaurants are closed in the red zones I believe.   Previously I believe they had to close at 6 PM in some provinces.

But before restrictions could be lifted, they have to get licenses to film in public and many of the drone shots require licenses.  Average person isn't allowed to fly over Florence for instance but yesterday they showed some shots of the Duomo and the Florence "skyline" from the other side of the river, around probably Piazzale Michaelangelo, which is usually a popular, crowded venue because of the views.  But they few a little towards the city center, but not across the river, at least the shots they showed.

Maybe they planned to do more than one season but they green lighted the second season almost right after the first episode aired.  I think they had a good idea they were going to get a pretty good audience for the show.  Now you see it discussed in a lot of places, podcasts and such.

Hopefully they've been planning all these shoots.  But I just saw a headline, even though Italy is going into lockdown, the health minister expects this current wave to be over by late spring.

2 minutes ago, DoctorAtomic said:

I don't mind Tucci being repetitive. I don't watch cooking shows, but the accessibility of this show is enjoyable. He's basically like any of us that enjoy cooking. He's not trained. I'd be saying the same things. I'm not going to be able to prepare and cook like a trained chef, but there's a lot here that looks doable if you like being in the kitchen. 

 

I don't mind it too much either but you start to notice it after a couple of episodes.

Hey at least next season we can have a drinking game!

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