Italy, Day 4 – Genoa to Milan, with Vegan Tendencies ;)
Europe is coming to a close here in just a few short days but we’re making the most of it and have decided to explore a few other parts of Italy before heading back to the States. After morning writing/blogging we jumped in the car and headed to Genoa on our way to Milan!
First, I think it’s worth noting that driving here is not too much different than in the US. Traffic rules and such are similar, which makes it nice. Also, Genoa might seem like a random stop (who has heard of Genoa, anyway) but when I was looking at the VeganFest flyer this morning – attempting to decode Italian – I noticed that one of the Chefs giving a talk at the Fest opened a vegan restaurant in Genoa a few years ago. Turns out, Genoa is exactly between our starting and stopping points, on our way to Milan. So, we stopped in the middle!
Holy. Smokes. Genoa is freakin’ gorgeous!!!!!! The drive into this little city was so incredibly stunning. I wish we had a chance to pull off of the highway to get pics but I will say that it’s nothing like I’ve ever seen before. Beautifully colored buildings clustered within mountain sides, surrounded by green and white mountain tops. We drove through tunnel after tunnel, with stretches of greenery and clouds in between. So, so, so beautiful.
If you’re ever in the area the drive alone is worth taking a trip to Genoa. Head in from the south east direction to get what’s sure to be some of the most breathtaking scenery you’ll ever see. I tried to Google Image some pics for you but couldn’t find anything that properly represented the beauty we witnessed. You’ll just have to see it in person for yourself! :)
Soooo we arrived, found parking, and walked up this cutie street to a little place called Cibi E Libri, a vegan restaurant and book store.
I’m going to be honest. Ready? This place…it kinda sketched me out a little. It’s super cute and well decorated but when we arrived during business hours the door was locked and the employee was sitting in the window, looking out at the street. After some head scratching he opened the door. I asked if they were open and he said yes.
We walked in and again, very cute inside, but it was pretty empty both in terms of food (5) and customers (0). The person working said that’s all they had for food, and pointed to a display case that held five looked-like-they-had-been-sitting-out-overnight half-empty tubs of mixed veggies. We each got a plate that had one scoop of each thing: some cabbage stuff, some risotto stuff, some white beans and rice stuff, some tofu scramble stuff, and some puréed tomato/sweet fruit stuff. We also each had an apple cinnamon muffin thing too. Everything was warmed up in a microwave before being served to us.
We were so very hungry (no breakfast and a long drive) that we just shoveled it in. It was okay. Yeah.
We were the only customers and after we left the person working promptly turned off the lights and locked the door behind us. I’m still not really sure what to make of it. Haha. But that’s okay. Chalk it up to another unique experience! :)
Honestly, the best part about seeking out this restaurant was the driving into and out of Genoa. The view on the way out was just as breathtaking but also different. I managed a quick photo of the green, cloud covered mountain tops and the few homes embedded within. Wow. It’s hard to look away and so sad that this photo does NOT do the view justice.
About an hour and a half later we arrived in Milan! Holy fancy pants, Batman!!! The buildings are almost as pristine as the people! On our way to dinner we crossed Seneca Street – same street my grandparent’s house is on (in NY though). I had to snap a pic because my grandfather is Italian and would love it!!!! This one’s for you, Pop! xo
After getting turned around a few times we found Mens@Sana. Unfortunately this is not a place to purchase any mens, but it is exactly where you want to be for some tasty vegan noms. ;)
The woman working here was super nice and although verbal communication was a little tough she did her best to describe what the food was and to learn about our trip. She looked up translations for words and even drew little pictures of fruits and veggies to help us understand what we were eating. So sweet! :)
We selected items from a variety of all-vegan food stuffs in a display case. I had risotto, carrots, seitan, and a crab cake-like thing (first photo below). Chris had curry vermicelli, zucchini, tofu, and “trano” bread.
The seitan was my favorite of all these items. It kind of looks like a blob of nothingness, but amid the creamy sauce is a chunk of seitan that is super tender. And the lemon flavor of the sauce made the seitan itself seem more like a mock fish dish than anything else. Paired with the crab cake-like biscuit, this was one delicious meal.
For dessert we had a slice of “azuki” cake and a slice of a pear, nut, raisin, rice flour cake.
New tee from ChiaraLaScura – “Eat Different.” Love it!! :)
I was super duper craving something a bit more sweet (aka sugary) before bed, so while I worked on editing pictures from earlier in the day Chris popped out for a bit and returned with some vegan gelato from a nearby shop called Ronchi. Most definitely the best jet-black, vegan gelato I’ve ever had! :)
As I wrap up this post we’re gearing up for day 5 in Italy and our first full day in Milan. I’m looking forward to seeing the sights and having lunch with Clod, another new friend who has been following along. I’ll let you know how it goes! :) xo
PS – Why does my brain default to Spanish when I’m attempting any other language? Wait, those few years of high school Spanish that didn’t’ stick actually stuck? Who knew?! Onward, amigo!