It’s hot. Really, really hot. It’s time to fare il cambio di stagione nell’armadio – the seasonal updating of the closet with summer clothes. It’s also time to do the same with the refrigerator, making space for farmer’s market vegetables and easy, summertime staples. Of all the seasons, summer is our favorite from a culinary perspective – there is so much variety and flavor and simplicity.
But before we talk food, let’s go back to clothes. We’ve finished planning our July trip back home. We’ll spend a few days in Rome with Stefano’s family, celebrating the birthdays of our young nephews Flavio and Davide, and visiting some of our favorite spots in the city. We’ll probably take a day trip down to the costiera amalfitana and stop at our favorite restaurant there. Then, we will throw our kids and Stefano’s madre, Maria, in the car with us and head nord for a tour of northern Italy’s wine regions.
Finalizing our itinerary and booking our hotels got us thinking about what to pack. It’s hot in many Italian cities in summertime, even in the northern regions where we will be. We want clothes that are cool and practical, but fashionable, and that won’t make us look like American tourists.
Here’s a quick guide for those of you with similar ambitions:
Women, wear lightweight dresses, skirts, and capris. Opt for short-sleeved or sleeveless blouses or tops. Dressier t-shirts are okay. Keep in mind that low necklines are common, but if you hope to enter a church, keep you shoulders covered or have something to throw over them. Wear comfortable but feminine sandals or ballet flats. Heels do not fare well on cobblestone streets; if you really need some height, opt for wedges. If your hair is long, have something to pull it up and off of your neck.
Men, choose lightweight jeans or cotton trousers. Linen pants are common. Knee-length and sailor length pants have been fashionable, too. On top, wear a light weight cotton button-down or knit top. Men often wear sandals outside of the office in summertime, or lightweight casual shoes.
Children can get by with pretty much anything. Keep it lightweight, consider a hat to cover their heads, and be mindful of the scorching sun.
Other tips: Wear lightweight, natural fibers. By lightweight, we really mean lightweight – if you live in a cold climate like we do, your summer clothes may still be too heavy. Leave your rugged hiking sandals and your rubber Crocs at home – Italians opt for more fashionable, yet still comfortable, footwear. Shorts aren’t usually worn by adults, although some stylish shorts are becoming more common with young people. Avoid baseball hats if you are over 12 years old. Finally, get used to being warm and a little sweaty, plan your outings after sundown when many cities come alive, and don’t put your feet in the fountains to cool down!
Okay, back to food. Linguine al sugo di tonno reminds us of a summertime pasta, even though it can, and is, made all year round. Perhaps it’s the tuna, which makes us think of the sea. It is a quick and easy, tangy and delicious pasta. You can use pretty much any pasta shape, although Stefano’s father, Andrea, always insisted that it be made with linguine. Be sure to find good tuna packed in olive oil, never in water, and splurge on a can of San Marzano tomatoes.
1 large can (28 oz., approx. 800g) whole tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
2 cans (5 oz, or 75g, per can) tuna in olive oil
1 Tablespoon capers
1 quarter of a medium onion
2 Tablespoons olive oil
Dash of dry white wine
Salt to taste
One pack (16 oz. or 500 g) of linguine
Cut the onion into large pieces and sauté in olive oil for 5 minutes, or until translucent. Drain the excess olive oil from the tuna, and add it, along with the capers, to the onions. Allow the mixture to cook for a few additional minutes. Add the tomatoes, passing them through a food mill first so that they are smooth. Pour a dash of wine into the sauce, and allow to cook for about 30 minutes, adding salt to taste.
Place a large pot of water to boil over high heat. When the water boils, add a handful of salt to it and then the pasta. Cook to al dente according the time on the package. Drain the pasta, and return it to the pot it cooked it. Add the sauce to the pasta, and stir over low heat until it is well mixed. Serve and enjoy immediately.