Over the years, my husband and I have travelled to various countries and have done various touristy and adventurous things. Travelling to various places has taught us to appreciate the local food, traditions and customs. Recently, I just looked back at the various adventures we have done and I stumbled upon the photos from our Italy trip. I love this trip for various reasons: food, natural beauty, wine, history and more.
Italy had always been on our bucket-list. While planning this trip in 2015, my husband and I listed all the normal touristy places like Rome, Venice, Florence, Capri etc. Then, my cousin recommended “Cinque Terre”, which is close to Florence. This place wasn’t on our agenda and wasn’t popular among Indian tourists. We did a lot of research and checked out various photos of this beautiful seaside locale, and finally decided to add this to our itinerary.
We took an early morning train from Florence to La Spezia (the closest big city, and one of the major ports of western Italy), and from there it was a short hop to Cinque Terre (which roughly translates to ‘five villages’) comprising of Monterosso; Vernazza; Cornigilia; Manarola and Riomaggiore. We took a local-train from La Spezia to the last village –
Monterosso and decided to do the toughest and most scenic hike from there to Vernazza. It took us almost 2.5 hours to reach Vernazza, which is the jewel of Cinque Terre. In the entire hike we climbed many mountain steps and walked across flat foot-trails that had breathtaking views of the sea and its vegetation. The entire trail was wrapped around the mountains – and along the sea on the other side. This gave us breathtaking views through the entire hike.
Just as we started tiring, and the sun was reaching its peak, the trail started to go down and we got our first glimpse of Vernazza – the popping colours and small houses were really wonderful (as was the anticipation of some good food!). As we reached the town, we were famished and immediately started scouting for
a good place to eat. We finally decided to sit at ‘Baia Saracena’ – a restaurant, which overlooked the blue sea and had some lovely outdoor seating. Based on the suggestion of the waiter, we ordered the pesto bruschetta and Trofie al pesto, which is the local form of pasta in Cinque Terre. The waiter promised us that this short, oddly shaped pasta would be amazing and we were licking our lips in anticipation.
First at our table was the tomato & basil bruschetta – of which we didn’t have much anticipation since it was just an appetizer. But after just one bite – we were proven totally wrong! The cold & crisp tomatoes paired with the fresh basil pesto were just perfect on a hot and sunny day post the trek. The flavouring of garlic, salt, pepper and balsamic vinegar played tricks on our palate in the nicest possible way. The pasta quickly appeared and disappeared – but we were greedy for another round of the delicious bruschetta, which we devoured as soon as it was laid down on the table. There was only one bad part about the entire meal – and that was the bill at the end of it! 🙂
Here is my take on the classic tomato & basil bruschettas that tastes like heaven in your mouth. Best had on a hot day with cold tomatoes and your favourite pasta.
Tomato & Basil Bruschetta
Easy and simple
Servings: 4 – 6
For the Tomatoes
Tomatoes deseeded – 2-3 nos
Garlic – 1 -2 cloves (very finely minced) or garlic powder – 1tsp
Basil leaves – 7-8 nos. (rolled up & sliced into thin strips)
Balsamic vinegar – 2 tsp
Salt & pepper to taste
A bit of Parmesan
For the bread
French bread – 7-10 slices
Olive oil or butter to spread on the bread
Garlic – 1 clove
- Deseed the tomatoes & chop them into small pieces.
- Add garlic, basil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper & Parmesan.
- Mix well & store in the fridge until the bread is ready.
- Toast the bread & rub a garlic clove across the top of each slice.
- Spoon the tomato mixture onto the bread
- Top with a little basil & serve.