Chef Berman writes: So, some random samplings, observations and conjecture from the last few days in Italy...
> It never rains in Italy. Ever. Yet, remarkably, everything remains verdant and full of life. How is this so?
> The sun rises around 3am, so it feels, with a vengeful heart and malicious focus. It is extremely bright as we wake, as though the sun simply can't wait to start the day.
> Everybody in his or her life, should feast on a meal of seafood whilst sitting in the plaza of San Benedetto; today, the 'antipasti' was a heaping platter of tender, sweet mussels and these little clams that are no larger than a dime. The 'primi piatti' was twists and turns of spaghetti tossed with more of those little clams, shrimp and squid, sweetly swimming in olive oil and tomatoes. The 'segundo piatti' was a family sized platter of calamari, so sweet and lightly fried, I am sure I felt tears welling in the corners of my eyes. By the way, $15 for the whole deal.
> Living with people in close quarters, without air conditioning in the confines of a convent on the hills of a small, Italian town will reveal much.
> When you look up at night, the stars are countless and wish not to be counted - they twinkle to spread light and illuminate the bumpy walkways between the buildings. The absence of the city glow and daily hustle and bustle makes for a profoundly different perspective; Always a Tigger... never an Eeyore.
> Wine in Italy = cheap. Soda in Italy = more expensive than wine.
> Plan to do nothing between the hours of 1 and 5 in the afternoon, as everybody goes home for lunch ('pranzo'). Everybody.
> It is hot in July. Hot. Amazingly hot. Indescribably hot. Always sweating and relief is in the form of the breeze that breaks as a Vespa jets by at Mach 3!
> I love cappuccino... here. It is simply prepared, one size, no fuss, cheap and tastes amazing. Hello, anybody from Starbuck's listening?!
> Everybody in Italy smokes.
> The world exists without the internet and text messaging. Revelation!