Saturday, March 15, 2008

Food & Fake Gucci

This morning we both woke up tired and decided to abandon our plans of a skiing trip to Abetone and went to the 'Taste Food Festival' at Stazione Leopolda. On the way we stopped at Palazzo Strozzi which is a museum near the Uffici. We didn't go there for the exhibits but rather for their chocolate torte that I had sampled the day before at the museum cafe. I asked my husband to take a picture of me with the big statue in front of the museum and as I did a loud peircing noise sounded and it took me a few moments to realise I was setting an alarm off. An Italian security man ran out from seemingly nowhere and said something to us in Italian which I'm quite sure translated to 'bloody tourists.'

Anyway, the chocolate torte was again delicious but was a mistake as the taste festival had so much glorious food to sample. For 8 Euro's each, we didn't expect much. But inside was a beautifully upper class exhibition with at least 40 vendors proudly showing their various produce from all around Italy. From olive oils to breads to balsamic vinegars, we could barely walk home. We ate unbeleivingly tender prosciutto off the bone, truffle chocolates that are probably served in heaven and cheese that defy an explanation. There were very little tourists there and it was probably for this reason that we were a hit with all the stall holders - well they were probably laughing at our broken Italian and the fact that everything we tried we tagged with 'bellisimo'. You just do not get this kind of produce in Australia let alone Karratha!

In the evening, we felt like some healthy Japanese food. The hotel gave us a recommendation and off we set to a place near the Uffici. When we arrived the restaurant was completely empty but they wouldn't accommodate us as we did not have a booking. By this time, all I could think of was tempura and miso soup but alas it was not to be. We are booked in for tomorrow night but I am still wondering why an empty and expensive restaurant would not serve two (very hungry and miso craving) paying customers in low tourist season! A lot of things in Italy are simply 'impossible' and can not be done. I guess this is one of those times.

Our evening gelati ritual ended up in watching the fake handbag sellers and their 'games' with the carabinieri (police). We wonder whether the police are actually interested in really catching these men that sell fake Gucci, LV and Prada. At first I felt sorry for the sellers as I contemplated on what would lead someone to want to spend their days fleeing from police and conning unsuspecting tourists into buying a 'real' Prada for a quarter of the price. But then I spoke to a local Florentine man and he explained that it makes the Italians really upset and mad as they have to work for their money and pay taxes whereas these sellers are usually here illegally and pay no taxes and still use the Italian public services - I hadn't thought of it that way. I also hadn't thought of the thousands of euro's a year that Gucci pays for leasing a shopfront just to see their brand being destroyed in the street.

Back at home, I turned on CNN and watched a documentary about women in Iraq and the terrible struggles they face daily. It made me realise that we are all in this world together but we are all in such different circumstances. I'm ending the night thanking God for our blessings and for us having the privilege of being in Italy - a country that not only has a wonderful food festivals but allows freedom of speech and a safe caring environment for women to express them selves and live without fear.


Simone said...

wow, it all sounds so romantic.... i cannot wait to be there and go food tasting with you guys... bring on the food fairs.

Stefany said...

Hi Mon - so so glad you've started a blog back up, I love reading about your adventures (especially those pertaining to food hehe).

Anonymous said...

Great to see you back in the Blogging space, have missed you since you soon, Rhonda

erin said...

Hi Monika! So I'm caught up on your blog now :) It was so nice meeting you today. We will get together again for sure. Have a wonderful time this weekend!
- Erin

Gines said...

Mon,I can't believe how glamourous u look in all photos,just like a model from a Milan runway!!After we spoke tonight I realised after 6 mths u have been away eating all those desserts and wonderful cuisine u haven't put on 1 gram from the look of you. U and Jay look like local Italians in all your pics. The tracey family would love to b over there with you as I know the boys would love to experience the snow!!spk soon xx