Learning while in Italy

Staten Island: As many of you may know, I went to Bari, Italy this past month to experience their authentic

cultures, traditions and cuisines — the latter being my favorite.

My wife, Stephanie, served as my videographer throughout the voyage and definitely did a better job than I ever could have done alone.

During our week stay — and with the help of Pizzeria Giove owner Giorgio Giove — we mingled with local

business owners, dined with townspeople and even milked a cow for fresh milk.

All in all, it was an eye-opening experience and one I’ll never forget — and think I should share some of my takeaways with you guys. So take a look at the 10 things I learned during my trip in Italy.

  1. It’s CALAMARI, not GALAMOD: Apparently, we don’t pronounce any of our Italian foods the proper way

on Staten Island.

  1. Sunday sauce is simple: I usually leave the Sunday sauce up to my wife or momma because it seems like a lot of work. And, generally, I am a pretty lazy human being.

But after watching Giove’s mother, Anna, make her simple sauce — the authentic Italian way — I think I might be able to handle it.

  1. Pizza from Italy is God-like: Dough, sauce, cheese, basil… That’s it. The Margherita pizza, invented in

Italy, is to die for. We took one bite and rated it — everyone knows the rules.

  1. Only the freshest ingredients: There’s never a frozen beef disc. Never refrigerated fruit in the veggie drawer. And no pasta is coming out of a box from a shelf.

Everything my wife and I ate in Italy was F-R-E-S-H.: During the trip, I made sure to post food pics every day on our dedicated food page, Where Staten Island Eats & Drinks on Facebook and @wherestatenislandeats on Instagram.

  1. Gelato > ice cream: Gelato is creamier, smoother and so much richer than a lot of standard ice cream you’ll find on our borough.

But, it melts too fast. I had to drink it off of my hand most of the time.

  1. They have the meats: I was told from several local butchers that whether it’s prosciutto, salami or capocollo, you can only find the highest quality in Italy. One of the most expensive cuts of “Prosciutto di Parma” was hanging in a butcher’s window — but not for long. The second I walked in, the owner sliced up the pig’s leg and I was at a loss for words.
  1. Traffic moves way faster: On Staten Island, traffic is typically at a standstill. But not in Italy. There’s not many red lights or stop signs; instead, you’ll find a bunch of yields and roundabouts. And even though it feels like cars are in a constant state of motion, you feel oddly relaxed. But everyone drives a hatchback, so, yeah…

I’ll take our cars.

  1. Mozzarella madness: Giove’s cousins own and operate a farm and cheese factory. They milk the cows, separate the milk and boil the cheese curd. This may have been the most amazing experience I’ve had while in Italy.
  1. Did we mention the spaghetti? : Hand-rolled pasta is the only way to eat it in Bari. Whether you choose a pomodorino (fresh tomatoes) or a Bolognese (meat) sauce, you’ll be hard pressed to find better pasta on this planet. I mean, I haven’t really tried it anywhere else. I’m just using hyperbole.