Fred Plotkin has written many books about opera, classical music, food, wine and the art of Italy. He is an expert on Italy and is, in my opinion, living la dolce vita (the sweet life). He divides his time between homes in New york and Italy. Two of his books I am now reading are Italy for the Gourmet Traveler, and Recipes from Paradise: Life and Food on the Italian Riviera.
I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing Fred about Italy and this is the first post from that interview about the Ligurian Coast, also known to tourists as the Italian Riviera. It’s always so enjoyable for me to have conversations about Italy, and especially with someone who also loves it. First of all, as he says in his books, Liguria is his favorite region in all of Italy. The Ligurian Coast is known for its herbal cuisine. You can smell the herbs in the air and Ligurians place fruit and vegetables at the center of their eating priorities, which is one explanation why they are such a healthy people. Of course, the other reason is that by necessity, they walk up hills and steps all of their lives since the towns are built on hillsides overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. So, ladies, let’s get in shape so we’re ready to walk and enjoy the fragrances of the Mediterranean.
The first question I asked was, “Why would Italy be a good place to have a workshop?”
He said that In Italy, the senses click on–the sounds, smells and visuals are heightened. This place commands you to pay attention. Your awareness and thought processes rachet up. Music, flavor, fragrances, beautiful scenery, art, food, and people are all sources of pleasure, known in Italy as piacere.
I told Fred that the Retreat in Italy was a chance for each woman to focus on what they wanted to create in their lives, and just dissolve any beliefs that stood in the way of doing that. He encouraged each one of us to be open to the sensory experiences, incredible natural beauty, and to allow ourselves to feel everything.
Everything there has a meaning and occupies a place that is part of a larger whole. Making connections with the culture, lifestyle, philosophy, a people and their fascinating history is all expanding. He went on to say that the Italian Riviera has always attracted and inspired writers, musicians and poets to stay and create. To name just a few: DH Lawrence, Byron, Monet, Wagner, Hans Christian Anderson, Edith Wharton, and Elizabeth von Arnim.
One of the beautiful towns Fred recommends to visit is Portovenere (Port of Venus) south of the Cinque Terre (the five lands) that has always attracted women to its shores.
More from the interview in the next post.
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