Our behind the scenes journey around the world continues today with episode 10. This episode takes place in Rome Italy as we film three separate lessons for our "Photographing The World" cityscape tutorial.
In this episode we shoot three of the most iconic scenes in Rome: the Vatican, the Roman Forum, and Castel Sant'Angelo. Our time in Rome seemed to be plagued by bad weather, bad luck, and bad food. It rained almost every day we were there, the famous Vatican lights never came on because they were being worked on, and most of the food that we had in Italy was awful.
Even though the lights on the Vatican never came on, Elia Locardi was able to capture a really beautiful image and dusk. It ended up being my favorite shot from Rome.
Warning: Food Rant Below
Now before you start attacking me for being a stupid American who can't appreciate quality Italian food, let me explain. I love Italian food. I like both Americanized Italian and the more simplified and elegant traditional Italian food. I appreciate fresh and flavorful ingredients that (some) food in Italy has. That being said, I have been to Italy twice for about five weeks now and I have had some of the worst food of any country I've ever visited.
I've been to the five most famous cities in Italy and the food makes me feel like I'm at an amusement park. Even though I'm in another restaurant in another part of town, the food is the exact same. It feels like every restaurant is owned by the same corporation but they changed the decor to make you feel like you were in a new venue. If you want food quickly inside these Italian cities you have basically two options: A single piece of meat and cheese on a rock hard piece of bread without any sort of condiments, or a stale slice of pizza. I've had decent pizza in Italy but nothing has ever been wildly better than what you can get in the states. I met up with a local Italian and he actually agreed with me and told me his favorite pizza in the world is from Pizza Hut.
If you have time to sit down for a meal, your options do open up a bit but for the most part revolve around pasta. Most of the pasta I got during both trips to Italy were honestly worse than canned Prego in the U.S.A. I do not believe this food is high quality Italian food. I think that the vast majority of these restaurants are funded by tourists who simply don't know any better. I compare it to getting "American food" in Times Square, N.Y.C. Your options in the area are the absolute worst: Applebees, Bubba Gump, and Olive Garden.
By the end of our trip I was absolutely sick of the same boring options for food but our final meal turned everything around. Elia and Naomi took us to Ristorante Pizzeria San Cosimato. It was by far the best food we had eaten during our entire trip and was potentially the best Italian food I have ever eaten. I know that more restaurants like this must exist all over Italy but they are so hard to find, especially in the areas that tourists tend to be.
So no, I don't hate Italian food, I love it when it's done well. Sadly, I've found that high quality Italian food in major cities is almost impossible to find for less than $50 per person. I know many of you will disagree with me. Most people think I'm crazy when I say that I didn't like the majority of food I had in Italy. I will point out that both Elia and Naomi are actually Italian and after filming this, they went back to Italy to teach a workshop and they both wrote me and said, "Lee, I think you're right, I'm so sick of eating the same bland meals over and over again."
If I can dish out the criticism I need to be able to take it as well so feel free to let me have it in the comments below.