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The Little Jerusalem & Jerusalem

Updated: Apr 6, 2020

Last year, without knowing the relation between the two towns, we had trips scheduled to both of them.

First, it was Pitigliano, in September and then Israel, with a focus on Jerusalem in November.

Our connection to Jewish culture has been rather developed - we have Jewish friends and we know things about their culture, especially from the Bible and from religious stories. We've had a few Jewish customers and serving kosher food to them was something we actually enjoyed. However, Jewish culture seen from Europe is a little different from that in Israel.

Our trip to Pitigliano was connected to a photography project we had - a styled shoot in Ansedonia, featuring a beautiful couple on a theme of Etruscan civilization.

post-card bought in Ansedonia

We drove from Ansedonia to Pitigliano admiring the landscape, the vineyards, and the nice vita Bella! The view from the top of the hill before reaching the town was breathtaking - almost unreal. The town carved in stone was so amazing that we stopped and took photos to remember that feeling of being small.

How amazing is this city?

A little more on Pitigliano you can read in our homage for Edda Servi Machlin, an amazing woman born here.

We reached Pitigliano rather early in the morning, and since nothing was open, we started strolling around the city. We found this amazing store with a door-theme - all the doors in Pitigliano set in stone. We bought a couple of them, like the one below.

We also entered a beautiful and innovative art store - with lots of photographs of faces and deep black portraits. After some research, we read the artist, Maurizo Dusio is in the search for timelessness, with an aesthetic that borrows elements from the Etruscan Civilization, "absolute places, of evocative depth" - as the artist describes them. The figures that appear on the artist's canvases are incomplete women, who support the weight of fetuses, unborn children, bitter burdens of existence not raised, not women, not mothers, but silhouettes wrapped in ancient shrouds, witnesses of a mortal existence. By covering their eyes, they do not lose their identity, instead, they receive depth from it".

Although not kosher options, we sampled lots of wild boar salumi tipici, and some local cheese. We bought a package to take back in Ansedonia and turn it into a delicious traditional dinner.

A few #espressos later, finally it was #lunchtime. Not all restaurants were open though. We chose to eat at Ceccottino. The food was very good. We ordered:

- as a starter - a platter with mixed local #cheese and #sauces - we particularly loved (!!!) the spicy pear jam. We tried to recreate it at home, but we were not successful.

- #Tagliatella con #bottarga (bottarga - cured roe from mullet or tuna that's used throughout the Mediterranean region, also known as Mediterranean caviar. The roe sacs are salted, massaged to eliminate air pockets, pressed and formed and then sun-dried for several weeks. Te resulting dry block is grated, ground or sliced and used as a seasoning on pasta and other dishes)

- #Pappardelle al ragu di #cinghiale (Pasta with wild boar ragu)

- Zuppa pitiglianese con #ricotta e #spinaci (Soup made of spinach and ricotta)

- Cinghiale all Cacciatora (= Italian for hunter. Translated in the menu as wild boar in #tomato sauce and black #olives)

We chose the house red #wine.

It was a delicious lunch, that made us love Pitigliano!

Although all the food we ate was mostly not kosher, we felt the culture of the Little Jerusalem - carved in stone, with an impressive synagogue guarding the city and that entrepreneurial spirit. Please read our piece on Edda Servi Machlin to learn a bit more about its history and the relationship with the Jewish community.

Then, in November we went on a pilgrimage to Israel, and in particular to Jerusalem.

We landed in Tel Aviv, very early in the morning. The religious part of this journey will be covered in a separate piece since it has to be fully developed, and not mixed with food, drinks, and museums.

We were accommodated in Bethlehem, Palestine. The hotel was presumably 4stars, however, I would not have given it not even 2stars. But since our purpose was not regular tourism, we were fine with everything.

So the meals served at the hotel were mediocre, to say the least. The vegetables were nice though and we definitely discovered our taste for good, ripe, succulent persimmon. We found out that in Israel there is a certain type of this fruit - Sharon Fruit, named after the Sharon plain in Israel (the central section of the Coastal Plain of Israel) - a sweet round persimmon, has no core, is seedless and particularly sweet, and can be eaten whole. As all persimmons, they contain a good amount of vitamin A and some vitamin C.

They were truly delicious

We were accommodated in #Palestine to be rather close to all our objectives - churches etc. It was hard to be there - you could see early in the morning, Palestinians waiting to be taken to work in Israel since they were not allowed to cross the border by themselves. It is a rather poor and dirty country, though the landscape is beautiful. At least beautiful for a European, because those drylands cannot be fertile.

The traffic was also hectic, waiting in line for hours, especially when we were returning from the churches.

Coming back to food, the sweets in Israel were amazing! The sesame, the halva, the dried fruits, the pastry, the #honey, and all the jams.

We were visiting a lot and did not have too much time to go from restaurant to restaurant, but we did not have to, actually. The street food was really good. The #falafels were all over the cities (falafel = a Middle Eastern specialty consisting of small, deep-fried croquettes or balls made of highly spiced, ground chickpeas).

Falafel - street food cart in Jerusalem

Last day in Tel Aviv we chose a nice #restaurant by the sea - where we picked a number of nice appetizers.

- Bean spread with onion and hot pepper

- #Cauliflower with tahini

(thick paste made of ground sesame seed.

- Seafood mix

- #Hummus (thick Middle Eastern sauce made from mashed chickpeas, seasoned with lemon juice, garlic and olive oil or sesame oil)

Food and religion aside, our favorite town was Haifa - beautiful landscaping, nice vibes, and amazing people!

Not very much to tell about food and traditional tourism, because we will return with all the feelings and emotions from our pilgrimage in Israel a future piece. It was our main purpose, and it was worth every second! Until then, you can enjoy some more photos from all over Israel and Palestine below:

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