What happens when you combine a passion for food with the desire to share your passion with complete strangers, trading stories and experiences with them across the dinner table?
This week we meet them, explore their Italian roots, and find out how they ended up in the Dutch capital, Amsterdam. Next week they’ll open up their kitchen door and offer a snapshot of what it’s like to eat with them.
Cecilia and Michele
We are from different parts of Italy but we met in Milan in 2005 at a Masters class about video production. We then started to live together and work in advertising and new media.
In 2008 we decided we wanted to experience something different and we started to look at the northern part of Europe. One weekend in Amsterdam convinced us: we quit our jobs, left our house in Milan, packed two big suitcases, and left.
Amsterdam welcomed us warmly and we immediately appreciated the Dutch way of living, so much that in 2011 we bought an apartment in Amsterdam’s lovely canal belt.
We work in communication and marketing, with a focus on digital media and how technology can support meaningful communication among people and brands.
Tell us about where in Italy you come from and how you like to spend your time when you go back to visit.
Cecilia: We come from 2 different parts of Italy. My home town is Genoa, called La Superba (the superb one) due to its glorious past and impressive landmarks. The city is literally squeezed between mountains and sea.
It is a difficult land and my ancestors had to find creative solutions for building houses and cultivating vegetables.
The coast is mainly made of rocks and I love the excitement of jumping off a rock into the water. I would not exchange it for any tropical sand beach!
Michele: I was born and raised in Isernia, a small village in the countryside between Rome and Naples. It is known to several experts because there is one interesting Palaeolithic site.
Isernia is surrounded by other small villages and during the summer it is wonderful going there and enjoying the life of the bars on the main square. If you are lucky you might find a nice sagra (food festival) or religious festival.
What are your top tips for someone visiting Genoa or Isernia?
Cecilia: Genoa has plenty of hidden treasures. The city centre is made of a multitude of little streets, called caruggi, where I like to get lost and discover something new every time. Via Garibaldi and its majestic palaces from the 500s are one of my favourite spots, together with the unique view of the city from Castelletto.
The sea coast on the east side of Genoa is not to be missed. I prefer Camogli or Sestri Levante to the famous Portofino, especially when tasting a slice of focaccia on the sea promenade in your bathing suit!
Michele: When I go home I always pay a visit to my grandmother’s village. It is called Conca Casale and it is a really small village in the mountains with only 200 people living there. Probably it is not the best place in the world but I am sure it is unique, especially during the winter when you can walk in the street and have the feeling that the village is empty, until you step in the bar and you are welcomed by everyone there!
The second place to visit is Pietrabbondante, an ancient theatre-temple complex completed in 95 AD from where you can enjoy a striking view.
Speaking of festivals you don’t want to miss, Il Diavolo di Tufara, a very old and traditional festival takes place in Tufara during the Carnival. All the village is dressed up and devils go around making lots of noise. Very impressive!