Yes, I Would Move To Italy Just For The Food

Yes, I Would Move To Italy Just For The Food

Life is too short to drink cheap wine and eat crappy food!

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If someone asked me to move to Italy right now, with an opportunity to continue my education, I would pack my bags without hesitation and jump on the next plane. I'm lucky enough to know Italy and my father's hometown intimately, having visited there every August since I was a baby.

My Father is from the region Chieti, Abruzzo in a small town called Casacanditella. What's so unique about Italy is that every region is very different from each other, each has its own dialect, mannerisms, traditions, and of course, food.

Abruzzo is in central Italy on the East coast. The region has both beautiful mountains and the coastline, within a thirty-minute drive you could descend from the top of the valley to the beach. Along with the luxury of having both the mountains and the sea, comes a wide variety of food selections.

Arrosticini is an Abruzzese staple that can be found at every party; it's like what chicken wings are to Americans. Baby lamb meat is skewered on wooden sticks, seasoned with some salt and herbs, and cooked on the grill. There are even arrosticini cookers that rotate meat skewers for you! It has a distinct and lovely smell that makes your mouth water.

The Abruzzese coastline is also known as 'Costa dei Trabocchi,' or Coast of Trabocchi, named for the many trabocchi that line the coastline. A traboccho is an ancient fishing machine that is on stilts, often found at the end of a pier or a makeshift bridge. They are no longer used for fishing and many have been converted to restaurants.


Silvia Cavalieri

With the tradition of the trabocchi comes along a culture of serving freshly caught fish. The standards for taste are set high, something that can be found throughout Italy, and restaurants serve fish in various ways. The most popular (and my favorite) is when the fish is cooked in with pasta.

Below is handmade ravioli with a type of shrimp inside and served in a blush sauce.


Silvia Cavalieri

Below is a dish called 'La Chitarrina del Mare.' The pasta is an Abruzzese specialty, made with a 'Chitarra,' a tool that looks like a small guitar that creates the stringy pasta. This particular dish is a favorite of my family's; every year we look forward to going to the same restaurant on the beach, Mare Stella, to indulge on this dish that is chittarina mixed in with mussels and a type of shrimp, complete with a fresh and flavorful tomato sauce base.


Silvia Cavalieri


Now for dessert, this pastry has a fun, kind of offensive, story to its name and appearance. It's called 'Sise delle Monache,' which literally translate to . . . breasts of the nuns. Despite its strange name, the spongy pastry is filled with an egg-based custard and icing sugar and fills the streets of the Guardiagrele with a lovely sugary scent. This pastry has even been written about by the Italian poet Gabriele D'Annunzio. You can read more about this pastry here.


Silvia Cavalieri

There are a lot more foods and traditions that are distinctly Abruzzese, some that I have yet to try myself. Abruzzo is different than other places like Rome and Florence.

Because Abruzzo is not particularly a tourist region, it has managed to contain an authentic culture that is rooted in tradition. The dialect is spoken on a daily basis, everyone is very friendly and talkative with each other, work is not a priority (but enjoying life and taking it day by day is), spending time with family, drinking wine and coffee of the highest quality, and taking a passegiata, or stroll, at night when the weather permits are all important aspects of the culture. So, you tell me, why wouldn't I want to live there?

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I Visited The "Shameless" Houses And Here's Why You Shouldn't

Glamorizing a less-than-ideal way to live.
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After five hours of driving, hearing the GPS say "Turn right onto South Homan Avenue" was a blessing. My eyes peeled to the side of the road, viciously looking for what I have been driving so long for, when finally, I see it: the house from Shameless.

Shameless is a hit TV show produced by Showtime. It takes place in modern-day Southside, Chicago. The plot, while straying at times, largely revolves around the Gallagher family and their continual struggle with (extreme) poverty. While a majority of the show is filmed offsite in a studio in Los Angeles, many outside scenes are filmed in Southside and the houses of the Gallagher's and side-characters are very much based on real houses.

We walked down the street, stopped in front of the two houses, took pictures and admired seeing the house in real life. It was a surreal experience and I felt out-of-place like I didn't belong there. As we prepared to leave (and see other spots from the show), a man came strolling down on his bicycle and asked how we were doing.

"Great! How are you?"

It fell silent as the man stopped in front of the Gallagher house, opened the gate, parked his bike and entered his home. We left a donation on his front porch, got back to the car and took off.

As we took the drive to downtown Chicago, something didn't sit right with me. While it was exciting to have this experience, I began to feel a sense of guilt or wrongdoing. After discussing it with my friends, I came to a sudden realization: No one should visit the "Gallagher" house.

The plot largely revolves the Gallagher family and their continual struggle with (extreme) poverty. It represents what Southside is like for so many residents. While TV shows always dramatize reality, I realized coming to this house was an exploitation of their conditions. It's entertaining to see Frank's shenanigans on TV, the emotional roller coasters characters endure and the outlandish things they have to do to survive. I didn't come here to help better their conditions, immerse myself in what their reality is or even for the donation I left: I came here for my entertainment.

Southside, Chicago is notoriously dangerous. The thefts, murders and other crimes committed on the show are not a far-fetched fantasy for many of the residents, it's a brutal reality. It's a scary way to live. Besides the Milkovich home, all the houses typically seen by tourists are occupied by homeowners. It's not a corporation or a small museum -- it's their actual property. I don't know how many visitors these homes get per day, week, month or year. Still, these homeowners have to see frequent visitors at any hour of the day, interfering with their lives. In my view, coming to their homes and taking pictures of them is a silent way of glamorizing the cycle of poverty. It's a silent way of saying we find joy in their almost unlivable conditions.

The conceit of the show is not the issue. TV shows have a way of romanticizing very negative things all the time. The issue at hand is that several visitors are privileged enough to live in a higher quality of life.

I myself experienced the desire and excitement to see the houses. I came for the experience but left with a lesson. I understand that tourism will continue to the homes of these individuals and I am aware that my grievances may not be shared with everyone -- however, I think it's important to take a step back and think about if this were your life. Would you want hundreds, potentially thousands, of people coming to your house? Would you want people to find entertainment in your lifestyle, good and bad?

I understand the experience, excitement, and fun the trip can be. While I recommend skipping the houses altogether and just head downtown, it's most important to remember to be respectful to those very individuals whose lives have been affected so deeply by Shameless.

Cover Image Credit: itsfilmedthere.com

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