Travel

The Accidental Zucchini Pizza in Bracciano Italy

There are many reasons to pack your bags, to triple check that your daughter actually packed any underwear (she didn’t), to make sure the iPad is fully charged for the long flight (it’s not), to splurge on the plane tickets without a connecting flight, to travel to foreign places with your family while they are still sprouting, still in diapers, still loosing teeth and the toys you just bought for them as a special treat for three Euro fifty at the newsstand.

Family Travel Bucket List Destination Orvieto Italy

My youngest daughter turned 11 on Monday.

Her sleepover party is tonight.

We’re making design-your-own flatbread pizzas for her and the five friends she invited over.

I found doughier-than-I’d-usually-buy rectangular pizza crusts earlier this month at the grocery store and she loves ’em. I’m buying a few more of the 2-packs today for the party. The kid asked me to also pick up some more fresh broccoli and a zucchini (or yellow squash in a pinch) for a veggie white pizza.

Who is this person? And what has she done with my kid?

My 11-year-old is different now than she was just six weeks ago, when she was still young, still 10, still turning up her nose at the idea of putting that and that on that.

The butterfly effect of traveling together as a family is why she’s changed and is still changing in the best way possible. It’s why she wants zucchini and broccoli on her birthday party pizza.

I made a half & half zucchini and broccoli pizza for her, for lunch on her birthday this past Monday. For her party, she wants the veggies combined together. Who is this kid?

We spent too much time in Orvieto. If you’ve ever been, you’d know exactly why this isn’t a surprise.

Family Travel Bucket List Destination Orvieto Italy Duomo

The old Italian city perched up high on an Umbrian hill, with its 13th century duomo with its outlandish mosaic front and prison striped sides, is a real life fairy tale and leaving it is truly the hardest part. But shit man, we had other places to see, other crooked Italian streets to wander. But shit man look at what’s down that little alley? I think I see a pottery shop, yea I do. Let’s go. Let’s stay a little longer.

We pulled into Bracciano an hour later with maybe an hour to spare. Anything more and we’d risk missing the boat back in Citivtivicitivicitivviccitvitivica or whatever the port of Rome is called. Been there a few times, still can’t say it and certainly can’t spell it. We were there again with the Carnival Horizon this past April; we rented a car and took off in the opposite direction of the tour buses.

Family Travel Bucket List Destination Orvieto Italy Requisite Bicycle

I pulled into the first street spot I found upon arriving in Bracciano, a metered spot on the SP4, out front of a shoe store, a few feet in from the intersection where Via Umberto becomes Principe di Napoli, where a left will carry you up to the castello and to the duomo, a right into the beating heart of this small city on a warm mid-week late afternoon. We started left but it didn’t feel right. That’s a writerly way of saying we didn’t see any food, and we were all kinda starving. We switched course and headed into town.

Pizza In… yea with the three dots, with the ellipsis, is an unassuming shopfront, maybe 10 feet wide, with an awning that might have once been darling baby blue but is a weathered unspectacular grey now.

Travel Bucket List Destination Orvieto Italy pizza and newspaper FC Roma

It was the first restaurant in our path and we ducked in, mouths foaming.

There were at least a dozen varieties, squares cut from rectangles, laid flat on granite, beneath a glass wall, priced at 1, 1.50 or 2 Euro each, priced to over-order and we obliged. A couple of those with shredded potato, a few of these here [he points too eagerly], some of the sausage please, and a pair of zucchini (zucchine in Italian) because why not.

Travel Bucket List Destination Orvieto Italy Square Zucchini Pizza

She took a bite, the then 10-year-old, and then another mouthful and before we could try the zucchine pizza too, the first square had vanished quicker than the day we had shared in the sun. The kid ate a lot of veggies quickly — there was no reason to be upset even if I’d have liked a bite. Let’s get another. Let’s make ’em just like this at home. Yes and yes.

Tonight is her birthday party and she’ll make a rectangular pizza with no expectations of sharing, with cheese, garlic, broccoli and zucchini. All because we found that spot on that street in that city. All because we rented the car, squeezed in that hour, made the left and quickly turned around. All because we went into Pizza In…

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2 Comments

  1. Another writer once told me that one of the biggest keys to writing is recognizing where the stories are. This is a perfect example. Well done, Jeff.

  2. I agree! You actually make me feel I am traveling all those
    wonderful places while reading and enjoying your words and beautiful
    photos.

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