Well, California officially extended the shelter in place through the end of April, and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said to likely plan for at least the end of May, so dreaming of travel is all we can do for now. We also can’t go out on exciting dates, so A and I have been trying to do a weekly travel-themed date night. This week, we “journeyed” to Italy, a country she loves and I would love to get to know better.
Below are the activities we chose to include for our experience, but you can customize this in any way you want. Be more – or less – educational or active or kitchen-adventurous. And then please share with us what you chose to do!
Italy-Themed Date Night
Eat: Spaghetti Pesto and Crostata Ricotta e Visciole
This was also going to be our biggest activity, as A knows how to make fresh pasta (and actually does so regularly), and I’ve been wanting to try it. However, finding flour has been impossible recently, and pasta sans flour isn’t really a thing. So boxed pasta it was, with my homemade arugula-walnut pesto and some blistered cherry tomatoes.
Pasta, wine, the iPad set up for a documentary… this is date night heaven!
A once again stole the show with her dessert. Apparently back in the day, Jews were not allowed to sell dairy products to non-Jews in Italy due to a Papal edict. So this crostata of sour cherries got around that by hiding the ricotta under a lattice top and mixing cherries in with. It was phenomenal!
I might not be the world’s expert in dating. You don’t get to be divorced and in a fairly new relationship at 39 by being good at this. But cooking together, or even cooking separately but at the same time, is such an incredible experience for me that I can only tell other couples to try it. If things come out well, you get to smile and gloat together. If not, laughing together at kitchen mistakes is also good for the soul and the heart. Don’t you agree?
Learn: Italian Unification
A short documentary with dinner seems to be something we both enjoy. Perhaps it goes well with the wine. In this case, we chose a short animated history of Italian unification. It was entertaining, informative, and led to some nice conversation about the formation of modern-day Europe.
Experience: The Sistine Chapel
I spent a frantic day in Rome back in 2009, mostly at the Vatican. I was lucky enough to go into the iconic Sistine Chapel, but perhaps due to being younger, or the crowds, or any other number of reasons, I didn’t come away with an appreciation for it matching that of most people I know. That changed last night when we paired the Vatican Museum’s virtual tour of the chapel with this guide to each of the depictions both on the ceiling and the walls. Unpopular opinion: I like the walls better, no offense to Michelangelo.
Wow. Just wow.
I was very excited that Florence’s Uffizi had an online exhibit on Dante in art. However, it was very dry and assumed a level of art history knowledge that I don’t possess. So instead, we went down a bit of a google wormhole and read about the life of Dante Alighieri (did you know he was a pharmacist?), author of The Divine Comedy and father of modern Italian. We then read the opening several stanzas of Inferno, the first book of his masterpiece, in English of course.
It was so nice to “travel” to Italy on this date, learning new things and experiencing some of the most relevant cultural people and places the country offers. I hope this inspires you to create your own travel themed date night!
Note: if you enjoyed this, I am archiving all of our quarantine travel date nights here.
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2 thoughts on “Quarantine Travel Date Night: Italy”
loved italian theme night! can u post the recipes for the pesto sauce and the dessert? we want to give it a try. thanks and thanks for keeping us entertained! monica and don
Here is the dessert: https://www.sugarlovespices.com/crostata-ricotta-e-marmellata-di-visciole/
Sadly, I almost never use a recipe when I cook, so I can tell you I blended arugula with olive oil, added walnuts that I roasted for a few minutes, then blended all that with Parmesan cheese, garlic, salt, and pepper until I liked the way it tasted