Stanley Tucci Savors the Flavors of Italy in New CNN Series ‘Searching for Italy’
Stanley Tucci Savors the Flavors of Italy in New CNN Series 'Searching for Italy' - Tuscan Delights: Tucci Tours Florence and Beyond
Tuscany conjures images of rolling hills, cypress trees, and delicious food and wine. This famed region of central Italy has captivated visitors for centuries with its pastoral landscapes, Renaissance architecture, and rustic charm. As Tucci discovers in the CNN series, Florence serves as the gateway into this enchanting world.
The city brims with iconic sights from the Duomo to the Uffizi Gallery, but food takes center stage as Tucci indulges in bistecca alla fiorentina, a hearty T-bone steak seared on the grill. He meets a butcher who sources the prized meat from the Chianina cows raised in the Val di Chiana valley. This specialty reflects the surrounding countryside that supplies many ingredients showcased in Tuscan cuisine.
Venturing beyond the city, Tucci travels to the Chianti region, synonymous with its namesake wine. Against a backdrop of vineyards and olive groves, he learns about sangiovese grapes directly from a local winemaker carrying on generations of tradition. A tasting of Chianti Classico offers flavors of cherry, herbs, and oak — the terroir of the land encapsulated in a glass.
No trip to Tuscany would be complete without a stop in medieval San Gimignano, fittingly called the "Town of Fine Towers." Tucci discovers white truffles, foraged in the nearby woods and shaved over handmade pici pasta. He calls it "simple food, but extraordinary because of the quality of the ingredients." This celebration of seasonal, local produce shapes the Tuscan culinary identity.
Throughout the journey, Tucci immerses himself in the slow-paced lifestyle, stopping to enjoy a fiasco of chianti at a roadside restaurant and learning to hand-roll pici dough from an Italian nonna. He remarks, "Food always tastes better when you can see the land where it originated." This connection between the landscape and cuisine reflects the passion at the heart of Tuscan cooking.
What else is in this post?
- Stanley Tucci Savors the Flavors of Italy in New CNN Series 'Searching for Italy' - Tuscan Delights: Tucci Tours Florence and Beyond
- Stanley Tucci Savors the Flavors of Italy in New CNN Series 'Searching for Italy' - Amalfi Coast Meets Hollywood Glamour
- Stanley Tucci Savors the Flavors of Italy in New CNN Series 'Searching for Italy' - Pasta Perfection: Mastering the Art of Fresh Pasta in Emilia-Romagna
- Stanley Tucci Savors the Flavors of Italy in New CNN Series 'Searching for Italy' - Island Life: Stanley's Adventures in Sicily
- Stanley Tucci Savors the Flavors of Italy in New CNN Series 'Searching for Italy' - Roman Holiday: Exploring the Eternal City's Culinary Treasures
- Stanley Tucci Savors the Flavors of Italy in New CNN Series 'Searching for Italy' - Mouthwatering Milan: Fashion and Food in Italy's Business Hub
- Stanley Tucci Savors the Flavors of Italy in New CNN Series 'Searching for Italy' - Naples: Pizza, Mozzarella and Mount Vesuvius
- Stanley Tucci Savors the Flavors of Italy in New CNN Series 'Searching for Italy' - An Italian Homecoming: Stanley's Family Roots
Stanley Tucci Savors the Flavors of Italy in New CNN Series 'Searching for Italy' - Amalfi Coast Meets Hollywood Glamour
The stunning Amalfi Coast has long captivated travelers with its picturesque seaside villages, dramatic cliffs, and azure waters. Yet this sliver of southern Italy also holds a special place in Hollywood lore. As Tucci discovers, generations of film stars, directors, and writers have been drawn to the Amalfi Coast’s romantic charms.
Tucci begins his journey in Positano, the coast’s most photographed village. Along steep, winding streets, pastel-hued buildings seem to cascade down the hillside to the sea below. It’s no wonder Positano has served as the backdrop for films like Only You and Under the Tuscan Sun. Yet the village’s Golden Age allure dates back to the 1950s and 60s, when celebrities like Sophia Loren came here to soak up la dolce vita.
At the hilltop Le Sirenuse hotel, a retro-chic oasis favored by the likes of Steinbeck and Picasso, Tucci leafs through the guest book brimming with famous names. He raises a toast with the distinguished owner, whose family has presided over Le Sirenuse for four generations. This enduring retreat embodies the timeless glamour that still imbues Positano today.
Heading west, Tucci takes the sinuous coastal road to Ravello. Perched high above the sea, this village has cast its spell over creative souls from Wagner to Gore Vidal. Most famously, Greta Garbo came here to escape the Hollywood spotlight in the 1950s. At the Hotel Caruso, Tucci steps inside her signature Belvedere Suite, remarking, “You can imagine her gazing out at this fabulous view.”
He continues along the coast to the jet-set haven of Capri, calling it “the ultimate glamour destination.” In the 1960s, Capri attracted “La Dolce Vita” stars like Anita Ekberg and Jackie Kennedy, who strolled the Piazzetta paparazzi in tow. Tucci retraces their steps amid the luxury boutiques before heading to Da Paolino. At this beloved restaurant, lemon trees frame the outdoor tables that have hosted the likes of Sophia Loren.
Stanley Tucci Savors the Flavors of Italy in New CNN Series 'Searching for Italy' - Pasta Perfection: Mastering the Art of Fresh Pasta in Emilia-Romagna
The rolling hills of Emilia-Romagna reverberate with a singular passion - for pasta. This northern Italian region claims bragging rights as the birthplace of fettuccine, tagliatelle, tortellini, and lasagna. While dried, boxed pasta offers convenience, nothing compares to the taste and texture of pasta handmade that same day. As Tucci discovers, Emilia-Romagna sets the gold standard for fresh pasta perfection.
In the village of Bologna, Tucci stops by a pasta laboratorio where generations of women have honed their pasta-making talents. Watching the proprietress deftly roll out delicate sheets of tagliatelle, Tucci remarks, “It’s an artform.” The simplicity of the ingredients - just flour, eggs, and a pinch of salt - allows the skill of the pastaio to shine. A sprinkle of semola flour provides the ideal texture for the pasta to grip the rich, meaty ragu bolognese served at this Emilian trattoria.
Venturing to Modena, Tucci finds a city obsessed with tortellini, stuffed with a filling of pork, prosciutto, and parmigiano. At the Antica Moka café, the tortellini melt in your mouth with soothing broth. Tucci watches closely as the pasta chef demonstrates how to fold the little rings just so. When a local tells him, “Tortellini is our identity,” Tucci replies, “I believe it.”
In the countryside, at a farmhouse agriturismo, Tucci gets hands-on experience preparing piadina, the signature flatbread of Romagna. After kneading the dough, he deftly stretches and cooks it on a griddle. Topped with squacquerone cheese and arugula, the hot piadina makes a satisfying lunch.
But Emilia-Romagna’s crowning glory is lasagna, layered with the region’s princely Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. At Zivieri, a family-run culinary mecca, Tucci watches a nonna prepare the lasagna oozing with béchamel sauce. When he takes his first bite, the look on Tucci’s face speaks volumes - eyes closed, utterly blissful. “This is what lasagna’s supposed to be,” he raves.
Stanley Tucci Savors the Flavors of Italy in New CNN Series 'Searching for Italy' - Island Life: Stanley's Adventures in Sicily
Sicily stands apart from the rest of Italy, an island unto itself with a fierce pride in its identity. This rugged land echoes with traces of its diverse cultural influences—from ancient Greeks to Spanish royalty—yet Sicilian customs have remained steadfast over the centuries. As Tucci discovers, Sicily's larger-than-life character is reflected in the effusive personalities of its people and the bold flavors of its cuisine.
Tucci's journey begins in Palermo, a chaotic yet charismatic port city that reveals Sicily's crossroads of civilizations. He wanders the cacophonous markets packed with fresh seafood and colorful fruits and vegetables. Vendors hawk local delicacies like chickpea panelle and potato crocchè, served in sesame bread for a classic Palermo street food snack. But Tucci finds that Sicilian cuisine truly comes alive in people's homes, where food and family are inextricably linked.
At the home of the Di Peri family, Tucci joins the women bustling in the kitchen, where cooking is an act of devotion. They prepare traditional pastas like anelletti al forno and hand-formed busiate smothered in sardines. The flavors are unapologetically bold. "If it doesn't taste right, we add something else!" one of the women declares. Tucci toasts to the boisterous spirit that infuses Sicilian cooking and culture.
Venturing west across the island, Tucci arrives in the rugged, mountainous heartland dominated by the active volcano of Mount Etna. Local Chef Roberto Toro takes Tucci to select ingredients from the volcanic soil, revered for its fertility—from pistachios to heirloom tomatoes. Later, they cook together at Toro's agriturismo, where Tucci learns to shape mouthwatering, meat-filled arancini and hand-cut pasta alla Norma.
Stanley Tucci Savors the Flavors of Italy in New CNN Series 'Searching for Italy' - Roman Holiday: Exploring the Eternal City's Culinary Treasures
Rome is a food-lover’s paradise. From bustling outdoor markets to cozy trattorias, this ancient city celebrates fresh, seasonal cuisine rooted in tradition. After conquering Florence, the Amalfi Coast, and Sicily, Tucci saves the culinary crown jewel for last in his Searching for Italy journey - Rome.
The Eternal City brims with iconic sights, but food provides Rome’s lifeblood. For centuries, the city’s unique identity has been shaped by what locals grow, cook, and eat. As Tucci discovers, Roman food culture remains deeply connected to the surrounding Lazio region and its abundance of local produce.
Tucci begins his Roman holiday at the raucous Campo de’ Fiori market, watching vendors artfully arrange pyramids of tomatoes, peppers, and other vegetables. He remarks, “The pride they have in their produce is unbelievable. They handle it like works of art.” This daily market offers a slice of authentic local life, with restaurants lining the square to transform the fresh ingredients into crunchy pizzas, tender saltimbocca, and other Roman staples.
Venturing to the Testaccio neighborhood, Tucci uncovers a boisterous enclave with its own distinct culinary identity. He joins locals at an old-school trattoria specializing in offal-based dishes that reflect Testaccio’s working-class roots and the adjacent former slaughterhouse. Tucci tucks into tender lamb’s intestines with gusto, washing it down with crisp Frascati wine.
No Roman feast would be complete without pizza, and Tucci makes a pilgrimage to Pizzarium, a beloved local institution. Watching dough masters stretch and top the pizzas with fresh mozzarella and zucchini blossoms, Tucci is amazed that just two ingredients - flour and water - can create such magic. The pizzas baked in a wood-fired oven emerge with a perfect, crackly crust.
Tucci also discovers that Rome holds a sweet secret - gelato. At Fatamorgana, experimental flavors like chocolate basil and crema di zenzero reflect an artisanal approach. The intense, complex tastes transport Tucci with each silky bite. But during a stop at Giolitti, Rome’s oldest gelateria, Tucci opts for the classic vanilla and declares it sublime in its simplicity.
Stanley Tucci Savors the Flavors of Italy in New CNN Series 'Searching for Italy' - Mouthwatering Milan: Fashion and Food in Italy's Business Hub
Milan often gets overlooked by travelers eager to hit the tourist highlights of Rome, Florence and Venice. But Italy’s economic capital has so much more to offer than fashion runways and business suits. Milan provides a tantalizing taste of northern Italian cuisine in a cosmopolitan setting.
As Tucci discovers, Milan remarkably balances fast-paced city style with a dedication to tradition when it comes to food. At the ornate Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, the beating heart of Milan’s shopping district, locals and tourists alike flock to Zucca for aperitivo. This classic bar has served up drinks and snacks like zippy salted cod crostini since 1953. For Tucci, sipping an Negroni Sbagliato amid the Galleria’s glamour provides a perfect introduction to Milan’s culinary delights.
Venturing to the Navigli neighborhood, Tucci soaks up a completely different vibe along the historic canals. He stops at a traditional tavola calda for a plate of silky risotto alla milanese, saffron giving it a gorgeous golden hue. This iconic local dish reflects the region’s rice fields south of the city. Meanwhile, cotoletta alla milanese veal cutlets offer a delicious dose of carb-loaded comfort food.
No Milanese meal would be complete without dessert. At Marchesi, Tucci steps inside the pasticceria run by Chef Gualtiero Marchesi, a pioneer of modern Italian cuisine. As classic opera plays in the background, he watches pastry chefs pipe dreamy, domed maritozzi cream puffs and craft intricate chocolate pralines. Tucci takes his time savoring every layer of an ode to the iconic panettone cake.
Beyond the city center, Tucci heads to Da Giacomo for a true taste of traditional Milanese flavors. He joins local families in thecrowded dining room, plates of risotto and ossobuco flying out from the kitchen. Here, time seems to move a little slower - kids playfully duel with olives and a tipped glass of wine gets swiftly replaced. Tucci praises the tender veal shank and creamy saffron risotto, calling it “the best meal I’ve had so far.”
At a quaint neighborhood bakery, Tucci wakes up early to see traditional panettone come to life, from stretching and braiding the dough to gently placing candied fruit inside. Biting into a warm slice, he proclaims, “It’s like Christmas morning!” This behind-the-scenes experience captures how Milanese cooks proudly maintain beloved food traditions.
Stanley Tucci Savors the Flavors of Italy in New CNN Series 'Searching for Italy' - Naples: Pizza, Mozzarella and Mount Vesuvius
Naples holds a storied place in Italian culinary lore. This chaotic, passionate city is the spiritual home of pizza and mozzarella - two icons of global cuisine. As Tucci discovers, both reflect the local terroir and traditions that define Naples' identity.
Pizza originated as street food for the city's working poor. But thanks to a few simple, high-quality ingredients, it has achieved worldwide fame. Tucci joins the crowds at Naples' most beloved pizzeria, Da Michele, calling it "the Mecca of pizza." Since 1870, generations of pizzaolos here have faithfully turned out blistering hot, thin-crust pies topped with San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil or anchovies. As his margherita emerges from the wood-fired oven, puffed and charred just so, Tucci remarks "Look at that gorgeous pizza." One bite of its smoky, chewy perfection leaves him speechless.
While Naples boasts hundreds of pizzerias, few make their own mozzarella, a delicate process requiring deft hands. At Latteria Sorrentina, Tucci marvels at water buffalo milk spun into malleable curds, then hand-shaped into moist, shiny balls. He samples this exceptionally creamy mozzarella sliced onto a panino, calling it "ridiculously fresh." The flavor reflects the abundant grazing pastures of the Campania region and generations of artisanal technique.
Stanley Tucci Savors the Flavors of Italy in New CNN Series 'Searching for Italy' - An Italian Homecoming: Stanley's Family Roots
For Stanley Tucci, exploring Italy's regional cuisines also offers a deeply personal journey to connect with his roots. Tucci's mother was born in Calabria, and he fondly recalls growing up in an Italian-American family in Westchester, New York. In the final episode of Searching for Italy, Tucci heads south to discover his ancestral homeland and sample the flavors of traditional Calabrian cooking.
Calabria, located in the toe of Italy’s boot, has been called “the first Italy” where Greek and Arabic influences shaped the local cuisine. Food here is fresh, spicy, and draws heavily from the surrounding land and sea. As Tucci travels along the stunning coastline to seaside villages like Tropea and Scilla, he describes feeling “a sense of homecoming.” The connections to his family origins move him in unexpected ways.
In the historic city of Reggio Calabria, Tucci stops at a bustling salumeria that transports him back to his childhood. Watching the workers craft sopressata and 'nduja sausages by hand, Tucci is amazed by the pride they take in these time-honored techniques. He samples some spicy 'nduja on a piece of crusty bread, closing his eyes as the flavors waft him into sensorial memories. “My mother would have loved this,” he says wistfully.
Venturing inland to his family’s ancestral village, Tucci sits down with relatives to share memories and home-cooked Calabrian specialties. His cousin Vincenzo movingly recounts how Tucci’s grandfather left for America in the early 1900s, never to return but forever tied to his birthplace. Over plates of rice balls and eggplant parmigiana, Tucci trades stories about relatives they have in common. “Even though we’ve never met before, we feel like family,” he reflects.
Food remains central to keeping Calabrian cultural traditions alive, even for those Calabrians who have emigrated abroad like Tucci’s ancestors. He attends the Festival of the Madonna, where the town shares a communal feast after the religious processions. Everyone shows up to partake in the capretto goat skewers, pasta fagioli bean soup, and wine flowing freely. Tucci calls it “the perfect encapsulation of what Calabrian life is all about.”