Frankie explores the historic cities of Bologna, Genoa and Rome while he stuffs his face — Italian style.
- My name's Frankie Solenza. I'm an Italian cook, a storyteller, and a musician. My love for Italy goes deep, and I've always dreamed of flying solo to this beautiful country. I feel so Italian. This is probably one of the most beautiful things I've ever driven in my life. I can't wait to live the bella vita. We're on the Italian Riviera. It's absolutely beautiful. This is Portofino, one of the most beautiful ports in Italy, and we're heading to Genova, which is one of the most important ports of Italy. Dolce & Gabbana's house. You can see the very big city of Genoa right there, but we're gonna take a quick detour to the small coast town of Camoli first because they've got the best focaccia bread. This is focaccia normale. When I travel, one of the most important things for me to experience is the local cuisine, and today's trip to Genoa is no different. Here at this ocean-side focacceria, I'm gonna see how one of my favorite breads is made to absolute perfection. Wow, nice. So the Italians have a thing called the denomination of protected origin, and it's a guideline. So he puts this stamp on it because it's been made in the way that the food governing body says is the right way.
- Of course, yes, I would like to try. This cheese is so good. Now that I've eaten some of the best focaccia bread in the world, it's time to head over to the main event, beautiful Genoa. My goodness, is this beautiful. And there's all these giant, giant buildings because all the important families apparently lived here and their castles, the ones that like invented the banks and had control of the big shipping companies back in the day. Let's go for a walk. What do you say. I wanted to come to Genoa first on my trip to Italy because it's so overlooked. I wanna be able to discover all the nooks and crannies this historically rich city has to offer. So I was just told that these little side streets here, they're called caruggi. Never go to a place that has a menu in English, if English is not the native language of that country, because that means they're catering to tourists. And if they're catering to tourists, then they're ripping you off. And I'm headed to my very first cafe here in Genoa to test out that theory. We're gonna go try farinata, which I've never had in my life before because it only exists here in Genoa and this is the best place. Que perfumo fantastico. What's this?
- Chickpea flour.
- With water and salt.
- Water and salt.
- She says she wants to give me another fabulous typical dish from Genova. And they are...
- [Frankie] Fried anchovies. Me too. She's happy that I like them. So, the farinata, almost ready? Let's see it. It's fantastic. Wow. Honestly, it tastes like cheese. What do you say we do a little exploring? I gotta say, I just like getting lost. I mean, if you get lost, you will discover stuff that makes you feel really really good. This is my kind of a parking lot. Yeah. Scooter, scooter, scooter paradise. Gotta be one of the most interesting shops I've ever seen. It's coffee time. Molto buono. So here we are at Antica Sciamadda. That means the old flame. They have the best fried baccala in all of Genoa. It's like fish and chips, without the chips. And everybody loves fish and chips. I'm Frank Oh, I'm in the kitchen. They let me in. Water, flour, salt, and yeast, and that's the batter. Fresh food out of the fryer. Can't be beat.
- [Chef] Bon appetito.
- Thank you, thank you. So hot. Very good. Fish and chips, he just said. Do you see that? At Antica Sciamadda, they also make a sweet version of the farinata. Let's check it out. Ah, so he's blowing the impurities off the top, which happen from the natural fermentation. That's cool. Milk, sugar, pignoli nuts, raisins, water, and chestnut, that's it? Similar to the farinata, soft on the bottom, kind of crunchy on the top. Wow. That is amazing. Now it's time to try the mother dish of Genoa, which is of course pesto al Genovese. And this chef here invited me to see how it's really made. Pesto originated from Genoa, and I'm excited to see how Alesandro makes one of my favorite foods the way it should be made. Okay, so we gotta clean the basil first. Okay so you mix that first, just oil, garlic, salt, and pignoli nuts. Beautiful.
- Parmigiano-Reggiano. And the peccorino sardo.
- Ooh. So, some sheep's milk cheese. Gorgeous emulsion, you can see that the oil is not separating from anything else in there. This man is a professional. That's so good, Alesandro. Very creamy. With my first solo trip under my belt, I've gotta say, it's been more than I ever imagined. Meeting all of these incredible Genovese chefs and eating their authentic, local cuisines, this is what I live for. I can't wait to see what's in store for Bologna. The pesto is so, so good that I need to just turn off the camera and go eat it. That's what's happening next. Grazie mille. Grazie, grazie, grazie. I've just arrived in Bologna, and I'm super excited because I've never been here before. How can any self-respecting Italophile not visit the land of tall towers, mortadella, Ducati, and lambourghini? It's a must. I convinced them to let me get a Vespa from like 1961. Beautiful Bologna. I couldn't be more Italian right now if I wanted to. This is the life. Or as the Italians say, questa è la vita. I'm in love. What could be more romantic than riding an old Vespa through the streets of Italy? Nothing. The brisk wind against my skin, the gorgeous architecture, the-- wait, where the hell am I? I'm a little bit lost. Not gonna lie. Alright, it's time to look at the map. A completely wrong direction. She said I'm not allowed to ride in here because of the pollution. So we're gonna have to dump this thing, even though it's beautiful. It's like a skateboard. It's a really old skateboard. So it turns out that Bologna is the city of bicycles. You're not allowed to ride the old scooters in the center because of pollution concerns. So it's basically a city for walking and for bicycles, which is super romantic. When I think of Italy, I think of romance. Check this out. So cool. Although the bumpiest road I've ever ridden a bicycle on, also the most beautiful. This is gorgeous. You know the bike is good, but sometimes, by foot is even better. There's so much more to explore here, but one must never forget to stop and eat. Apparently, this is the place for mortadella. Let's check it out. Buongiorno. Mortadella. It turns out that they call the mortadella bologna also. So it's not just an American thing. Grazie mille, grazie mille. They kind of forced me to order all this other stuff also. Prosciutto di parma, mozzarella di bufala, culatello di parma, parmigiano-reggiano, mortadella, chichali. Mortadella being eaten in the traditional way, of course. It's a revelation. I love you, Bologna. So it turns out that Bologna is the city of towers because there used to be over 100 towers, and all the rich families would build the towers to show their wealth. A lot of them have burned or collapsed, but there are still a whole bunch of them standing. And they're like eight or nine hundred years old. It's crazy. I'm getting a tour from Matteo Giovinardi. He's the property owner of the most amazing bed and breakfast I've ever heard of. So what do you say we check out this centuries-old tower? Oh okay, this is my room over here apparently, and it's the living room of the tower. Oh man, this is crazy. Probably the oldest building I've ever been in. It's from year 1100. So all of these towers were built by the very rich people to show their wealth and their power. And during wars, they would go up top and dump hot oil, boiling water, arrows, canons, all terrible things. We have to go up, he says. This was a prison. All of the prisoners would make little drawings on the wall while they were here. Maybe counting the months or the days or the years. And some prisoner was writing a poem. Incredible. Really incredible. Probably the oldest building I've ever been in. Even in the year 1774, they were drawing dicks on the wall. Another two floors. Here we go. Wow. Beautiful. Is that vertigo? He's asking me if I suffer from vertigo. Nah, there's no way. Yes, I suffer from vertigo. It's been a hell of a day here in Bologna. I gotta tell you, I'm pretty tired. Biking, climbing stairs, Vespa-ing, and what better way to end a day in Bologna than with ragu bolognese. That's what we're gonna do right now.
- Ciao I was hoping I'm in the temple of lasagna and ragu. We only have the bolognese, right. And tell me what's wrong. Only pork and beef. Milk? Nutmeg? Absolutely not. Eight hours? Eight hours of cooking. Anna Maria is the quintessential Nona, and she marches to the beat of her own drums. The diners in her restaurant are more like family, and they come to taste a piece of the past, rather than a new culinary trend. Do you eat it every day? Yes. Every day. Every day. So funny. She eats it every day. And then she points to her belly. Are you gonna twirl it for me? That pasta, it's magical, she says. And you know what? She's right, cause she took the words right out of my mouth. What you put into the dish is just as important as what you don't put into the dish. Grazie mille. The best I've ever had. So, so good. This is the real Bologna. You know, honest ingredients, certain things kept out. Why? Because it's so good. It's so good without it. You don't need to cloud it up. You just need a few great ingredients treated well. And that's what Anna Maria just taught me. I'm headed to Rome, my final destination in this whirlwind solo trip. And I've decided the best way to see the eternal city is in eternal style. So here I am in Rome, and I wanna fit in with the Romans, and the way to do that is with "una bella macchina." Let's go. Alright, let's drive around a little bit. What do you say. Yay. I've never been so pleased with 11 horsepower in my life. Before we drive through Rome, I want to show you a rare view that no other city in the world has to offer. This is the key to the city. You wanna see what this thing looks like? This is so, so cool in here. I'm gonna show you. We're gonna pull over for a second and you're gonna see what it looks like. I just have to find a parking spot. This thing's impossible to find a parking spot for, you know. We're in Italy, you can see Malta and then Vatican City right through this keyhole here. Well, you see two countries in a row. We're in a third one. We've got Italy, we've got Malta, and then you've got Vatican City. You know, people take the pictures on the state lines to New York-Connecticut, New York-Connecticut. What I just saw was Italy, Malta, Vatican City. Three in a row. I guess though it would be cool if you did that quadro of Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Nevada? Is that what it is? Although, those aren't different countries. C'mon. Let's get something to eat. Okay, now we're gonna have a trapizzino. It's a combination of a tramezzino, which is a little sandwich, and a pizza. We do tripa à la romana, that's a cow stomach. That's very Roman. All of these are salted right to the limit. Alright, let's try the chicken. Oh, man. Now we've got this suppli, it's like the Roman version of an arancino, sort of. It's so hot. Tutto bellisimo. Man, that was delicious. Onto the next. Oh man, talk about a suspension. My teeth are gonna fall out of my head, the vibrations are so strong. Oh, this is joy. This is joy. Man, forget Prozac, get yourself a little old Fiat. Alright, we're going to the fontanone, which to me sounds like a giant fountain. Woo hoo, what a view. Check it out, it's the fontanone, the big fountain. But what's even cooler is what's on the other side. Check this out. That would be Rome, right here. Oh man, all of Rome behind me in a Fiat 500. It doesn't get more romantic than this. I gotta tell you. Ciao mamma. The Colosseum is right in front of us. How cool. It's so beautiful. It's so much better looking than Madison Square Garden. Now let's get a cup of coffee, Roman style. This car also doubles as a table. I took a picture of some old men drinking two cappuccini on top of a years ago, and I've always wanted to mimic that shot. Everything that you could possibly want in one picture is right here. An old design that's still modeled after today, beautiful pop art design in the car, and a good coffee. There are no more things that I want. Zero more things. Rome stands apart from any other place in the world because their history never needs to be told, just seen. You're immersed in a timeline of emperors come and gone, wars won and lost, and yet, the city still thrives. Paving the way for modernization while still embracing its apid beginnings. Man, this is so, so cool. Look at this, we're just in this ancient area. Really beautiful. This is the Altare della Patria, and it's a monument built to the first king of Italy, but also for the unification of Italy. Absolutely beautiful. Let's go to the top, what do you think? One of the best parts of traveling to Rome in its off-season is that there are no tourists, so you can really feel the local pulse. Plus, the hotels are pretty cheap. I think it's the best way to see any major city in its true form. Therein lies the beauty of the off-season. So this is one of the most original temples from before Christ. Right away, the temperature drops just being surrounded by all of this marble and stone feels pretty epic. And inside, they've managed to build a perfect sphere, from what I understand. Feels holy, I gotta tell you. The Pope lives there. Pretty good real estate. You know, from the Knights of Malta keyhole, Vatican City did not look this impressive. Absolutely incredible. Here we are at the Trevi Fountain. It's probably the most famous place to completely unnecessarily dispose of money. I feel like my wishes are already coming true. I do actually have one more wish, and that's to eat some very traditional Roman pastas. Alright, Rome. What's it famous for? Cacio e pepe, carbonara, and we have Chef Leonardo. I'm good, I'm very well. Let's make pasta. Peccorino. Peccorino Romano. A little bit of pepper. Tonarelli is the typical Roman pasta to do it. It's a very simple, simple plate. It's just pasta water, pasta, cacio, pepper. Add a little secret. I love secrets. Nice. So the whole reason to start with the cold pasta is so that when you finally do hit it with the heat, it creates a homogenous cream. Look at that. It's becoming creamy already. Oh, nice twirl. Little bit more pepper. Put a little more peccorino. The moment of truth. So it's a plate from very poor cooking that tries to create a lot from cheese, but also from the fact that there's pepper, which completely eliminates hunger. Of course, this is not the only dish of Roman cooking. They have carbonara, they have amatriciana, they have gricia. And I think I'm gonna order all three right now. I'm gonna eat this now, in peace. You should probably eat your own plate also. Just pause and we'll all come back in a second. Well we've had a lot of delicious food here in Rome, and we've been able to see the city through rose-colored glasses in this vintage car. But you know what? Italy is still pretty simple. And that's what I love about it. It's just a great place. It's an innocent place, and it's an honest place. It's my favorite country. And I am certainly gonna miss you, Italy.
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