5 Italian Desserts You Must Try

by Alex Schnee
( February 26th, 2015 )

Italian Desserts


I’m usually not a sweets person (I prefer a large plate of pasta to the accompanying torta), but lately I have been in sweets mode. It must be the month of February in general and the holiday or Carnival. I’ve been thinking about which Italian desserts are my favorite and which I would recommend to the first time visitor to Italy. Here’s what I came up with:


Gelato


This might be the king of Italian desserts, and it might be the easiest to get too. Most Italian cities have a gelato shop or two around every corner, and they have almost a religious zeal about which shop is the best throughout the city and who has the best recipes. To each their own, but honestly, I have never had a bad scoop of ice cream in Italy.


Frittelle


You will only find this dessert available around the time of Carnevale in February (so you might still be able to snag one or two). They’re usually a ball of fried dough mixed with some sort of fruit. Depending on the region, you can have multiple different kinds. While mostly made for children, there’s no reason you can grab some and take it down the street where the baker doesn’t have to see you eat it. It would be a shame not to grab because it’s only available around this time of year.


Tiramisu


Probably my favorite of all the Italian sweets, this one is hard to beat after a large meal. Whipped cream and light ladyfingers drenched in liquor makes this treat one that should probably be consumed in a restaurant because it is so technical. Recipes for this wonder usually are passed down from family member to family member. For the most authentic taste, duck into a trattoria for the full dining experience.


Panna Cotta


A kind of think pudding usually accompanied with a kind of fruit and made with honey and egg whites, it’s almost gelatin-like in texture. You can find some in the grocery stores throughout Italy, but like tiramisu, the best you are going to find is at a hole-in-the-wall restaurant where it’s made fresh and according to a special recipe. It literally means cooked cream.


Limoncello


To finish off a giant meal, Tuscans won’t let you leave without a little bit of digestivo, or a digestive drink. Limoncello is one of the sweetest, and again, it’s an art to make. Many will tout their stores, but don’t go for any that isn’t bright yellow. That means that they used the most lemons possible to create the best flavor. It’s a delicious way to end an evening.


Do you have a favorite Italian dessert? How about a dessert from another locale?


Image courtesy of Derek Key.

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Dealing with Homesickness: It Happens

by Alex Schnee
( February 24th, 2015 )

Homesick Travel Tricks


I’ve recently been having a bout of homesickness. I’ve been in Italy almost exactly three months, and that’s definitely the point when I start to begin missing certain aspects about home. I’m greatly missing American food at this point, and it would be amazing if I could actually be content with my wifi situation (I’m very much not).


Choosing to live abroad is not an easy decision—nor is it one that should be taken lightly. It requires a lot from you not only as a traveler, but also just being willing to keep an open mind to new experiences and accepting that things won’t always go your way all the time. It’s also a big decision. you’re leaving behind all the comforts that you have established in your own culture and the people you love. I recently Skyped with some of my best friends from home the other day, and I was amazed how much I really just wanted to see them in person (before the wifi cut out).


So what do you do when you hit the dreaded bout of homesickness? Best advice I have? Power through.


You won’t always be in the same place forever, and even though you might rather be anywhere else but there, you might find that you miss certain aspects of your surrogate home when you return. Even though I’m feeling antsy, and I am ready to pack up and move to a new location, I am trying to make the most of my remaining time here. Mostly by enjoying the food, but you know, whatever gets you through the day.


My mother recently shipped me a care package to Italy all the way from Montana. It’s amazing how those little things can mean the world to you when you have been away from the people you care about for some time. Even just being able to partake in some Swedish Fish was a way for me to feel more connected to the people back home I know and love.


No one said living in another culture was an easy thing to do. It’s an entirely different experience than traveling a few days or weeks and returning home. But your experiences living abroad are also those that can never be taken away from you. They’re yours to keep. Remembering that homesickness eventually passes is a good way to make it through so you can start on your next adventure.

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Traveling Europe: Best Method to the Madness

by Alex Schnee
( February 20th, 2015 )

Train Europe Travel


I’ve had some friends recently ask me what the best way to get around Europe is—they want to see a lot of it, and with only a limited amount of time and resources, it can be hard to make a choice. Here are some things I’ve found by traveling throughout Europe over the past few years.


Check out Ryanair.


They have the mostly fair reputation of being one of the worst airlines in the world, but on a two-hour flight, the last thing you really care about is comfort. Getting from point A to point B, this might be your best option. They have some incredibly cheap options when you want to head to some of the major cities in Europe, and they often have deals that are more than reasonable for the Generation Y traveler.


Go by bus.


I personally love taking the bus. Though it takes a lot more time, the new buses around Europe offer wifi, refreshments, entertainment, and the opportunity to relax and enjoy the countryside. You might have to factor a bit more time into your schedule, but it’s a lot less stressful than trying to coordinate your flight and it gives you a chance to see what the rest of the country looks like—if only from the road.


Rent a car.


Some friends have asked me whether renting a car is a good option in Europe, and most the time I would give the advice not to. You have to usually be 24 to rent a car in Europe, to be able to provide all documents, and if by chance you get into an accident, it can cost you a ridiculous amount of money since making repairs is usually more expensive than in the States.


Go all out with a Eurorail Pass.


If you have the time, going by Eurorail can end up saving you some money and traveling by train is definitely one of the most enjoyable ways to go. Usually the most stressful part about traveling this way is making sure you get on the train on time and make the right transfers, but that’s a lot easier now that you can book online and there are applications available for you to track where you are.


What is your favorite way to travel around Europe? Any bus/train/airlines that you like best?


Image courtesy of Simon Pielow.

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