Sometimes you just have to say, “Prego,” and go for it.
Between switching jobs, moving, and studying for the bar, Caitlin and I were having a whirlwind summer. Which is why, perhaps, it was only fitting that we decided to book a trip to Italy and Croatia with only two weeks to plan for it. But sure enough, a day after the bar exam, and three days after my belongings and I arrived in Cincinnati, we were on a plane headed to Florence.
As I said, sometimes you just have to say, “Prego.”
We arrived in Rome Friday morning, and scrambled to find our connecting flight to Florence. We made the connection, though our bags — all too eager to see the sights — would not make it until the following day.
Once in Florence, we set out to take in the ever-growing list of Roman museums. There was also the matter of the Duomo and the Ponte Vecchio. On our third day in Florence, with the sun setting, and our feet aching, we looked at our watches, and decided that thirty minutes was enough time to walk back to our hotel, grab our luggage, hail a cab, and find our train. And sure enough it was — though there would not be a moment to spare.
On the way into Cortona, we passed sunflower field after sunflower field, which was only fitting, given the ongoing Tuscan Sun festival. After a night in Cortona, we decided to rent bikes, and ride from our hotel to the nearby lake town of Castiglione del Lago. Unfortunately, our bike ride was less Under the Tuscan Sun, and more The French Connection.
To top it off, on the way back, the loose gravel punctured my rear tire, just outside Camuccia. I hobbled along for a few minutes, until we reached the nearest supermarket. Once there, we used our best Itanglish to convey that we needed a taxi to take us back to the bike rental store, and then to our hotel.
But if you’ve ever been to Europe, you know that their cars are less Supersize -Me, and more Mini-Me. The same is true of their taxis. When our taxi arrived, he looked us, he looked at our bikes, and pronounced the situation “Impossibile!” Fortunately, our taxi driver graciously called another taxi driver — who didn’t drive a taxi as much as he drove a giant van with the words “Coliseum Tours” blazoned on the side.
As we shoved the bikes into the rear seating area, it seemed a “Prego” moment for him, as much as for us.
Later that night, we found a relaxing restaurant overlooking the main square. As we scanned the menu, we quickly settled on a sample of the house crostini. A moment later, the waiter placed the plate between us. We looked up, and told him, “Prego!”
In honor of our Tuscan adventures, I made this crostini.
PREP TIME: 10 minutes
COOK TIME: 25 minutes
YIELD: Serves 4
WHAT TO GRAB:
2 eggplants, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
6 Roma tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 garlic clove
Fresh basil, julienned
HOW YOU DO IT:
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss the diced eggplant with the oil, salt, and pepper. Mix well. Roast the eggplant for 20-25 minutes, turning half-way through.
2. Cut the baguette at a sharp angle, to maximize the surface area of each slice. Toast the slices, until just brown. Rub the toasts with the raw garlic, then top with the eggplant, tomatoes, parmesan cheese, and basil. Serve!