Where do you live?
My home is in Rome, Italy – one of the most ancient, romantic and enchanting cities in the world. I try to capture the essence of my city in photos, you can see some of them on Instagram and Roma Every Day.
Where are you from in America?
I was born in Bennington, Vermont and my first home was a lovely colonial house on Monument Avenue that belonged to my father's family. But my parents were actually living in Los Angeles at the time, so we soon returned to California, shortly after I was born. I moved to Roma – my mother's hometown – when I was 3 years old, and have lived in Italy ever since.
Who is Lola?
Lola is my nickname, I've had it since I was a small child. I began blogging as Lola. Later, I decided to change signatures to my real name, Eleonora, in order to connect the blog with my professional writing, TV show hosting and culinary travel services. I've written about my name duality in the post Whatever Lola Wants
How did you come up with the name Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino?
This is the name of a very popular Italian dish (Roman, actually) and a favorite of mine. A quick-fix meal solution made with a few simple ingredients that are commonly part of the average Italian pantry. Besides the pasta of choice (usually spaghetti), there's garlic (aglio), olive oil (olio) and spicy red chili pepper (peperoncino). When simmered together in a wide-bottomed pan, they create a sinfully palatable mixture. It also constitutes the base for a majority of Italian recipes for pasta sauces, sautéed seafood, side dishes, etc.
I chose Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino as my masthead hoping to convey the versatility, generosity and a hint of spice that are so typical of the Italian culture and lifestyle.
If you'd like to make this dish, I've posted the recipe here: Spaghetti Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino
What is the idea behind the blog Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino?
I wanted to share my love for food and the wonderful fresh ingredients that make the Italian cookery art what it is. I hope to contribute an insider's view on authentic Italian culinary traditions, and illustrate the history, trivia and lore that often colors Italy's regional cuisine.
With the recipes and tips I share on this blog, I want to make a connection with other food-lovers. I'd like Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino to be an informal kitchen where folks stop in for a bite, meet and discuss everything in the unhurried, relaxed and food-forward atmosphere of an Italian home.
How do you manage to keep 5 blogs, contribute to other online magazines, guide foodie adventures, speak and teach, film food shows and run a household?
I have worked as an independent film industry professional for 15 years. My job title was "script supervisor in charge of continuity" contributing my craft to quite a number of feature films and TV series. This job entailed being "an octopus", that is, working at multiple tasks, simultaneously.
I am now the proud, single mother of a young Roman rascal. Time has – needless to say – become my most valuable asset! The need to spend more quality time raising my growing
So now I work wherever I can plug in my laptop, writing stories, essays and features for a number of food and travel magazines and keep a regular column on The American | In Italia. I have been hired by publishers to write, edit and update travel guides, travel magazines and lifestyle manuals.
I update Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino regularly and keep three other blogs, Roma Every Day + Rome City Guide for Kids + Forchettine. I contribute my writing to my co-founded company blog Casa Mia | Italy Food & Wine and am a regular contributer for the Italian and English Gambero Rosso magazine.
I host my television show "ABCheese" on Italy's major food network, Gambero Rosso.
I also nurse a newfound love for photography, and collect new and vintage cameras.
I lead food and wine-oriented tours, and teach cooking classes, thanks to which travelers come away with an appreciation for and understanding of the rich culinary tradition of Rome.
I am editing my second manuscript, while I wait for the book deal on the first one to happen.
How do I do all this? Honestly, I don't know.
I must have superpowers.
What camera do you use for your food and landscape photography?
I always carry a compact digital, point-and-shoot Sony DSC T-90 all purpose, thin camera that fits in my pocket. It has lots of nice features and functions, like a Zeiss lens; a "Gourmet Capture" mode for when I'm dining out and need to grab images in restaurants; full HD video; gyro sensors for stabilization; high resolution, and overall great performance.
My other compact camera for travel and lifestyle capture is a Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS10 It has a versatile Leica lens that ranges from ultra wide-angle to long zoom, which is great for landscape and detail photography. It features a built-in sensor that can record full-HD videos; it can shoot in 3D photo mode; and has an intuitive touch screen which allows control of zoom, auto focus, shutter, and playback.
For more professional shooting, or when I have to get really serious about my food stills, I use a "vintage" Canon EOS Rebel Xti/400D reliable digital single lens reflex (SLR), and overall great camera with lots of useful features. Perfect for those wide open, shallow depth-of-field buttery images of mouthwatering food. I love the Rebel's compact size and reduced weight, which makes it easier to carry along at markets, wine tastings, or while skipping on cobblestones with my little boy.
My mother gave me her pristine 1970s Rolleiflex medium format twin lens reflex (TLR) camera, and I am hunting for film to start shooting with it!
I've also recently fallen in love with mobile photography through iPhone apps, which allow lots of fun editing, beautifying filters and quick sharing options. Check out my mobile photography on Flickr, Instagram, Tumblr and EyeEm. Fun storytelling photo apps I also use are Steller and Momentage.
In the kitchen, where does the inspiration come from?
The stalls in the open-air market. The colorful gifts of Mother Nature are the best inspiration! I learned to cook from my mother who still hardly ever plans menus. When I was growing up, she and I would stroll to il mercato and buy whatever intrigued us. The recipes would come later.
Could you share some Rome dining ideas?
Of course! It's what I do for a living! Please search for food dining tips filtering by cuisine, food and location on my "Where to eat in Rome" page.
Can you lend any Rome accommodation tips?
I get asked this question very, very often.
Here are a some nice and affordable boutique hotels and B+Bs in Rome, and the area where they are located:
Lancelot - Colosseum
Antica Locanda - Monti
Hotel Grifo - Monti
Hotel Apollo - Monti
Duca D'Alba - Colosseum/Monti
The Beehive - Monti/Termini
Caesar House B+B - Forum
Sole al Biscione - Campo de' Fiori
Modigliani - Spanish Steps
Arco del Lauro - Trastevere
Hotel Santa Maria - Trastevere
Hotel Portoghesi - Pantheon
Episcopo Lipinski - Via Margutta
Mimosa - Pantheon
These are more upscale hotels:
Hotel Piranesi - Piazza del Popolo
Hotel Donna Camilla Savelli - Trastevere
FortySeven - Forum/Bocca della Verità
Hotel Locarno - Piazza del Popolo
Residenza di Ripetta - Piazza del Popolo
Hotel Residenza in Farnese - Piazza Navona
Aldrovandi - Villa Borghese
Parco dei Principi - Villa Borghese/Parioli
Inn at the Roman Forum - Monti
Villa Laetitia Guesthouse - Piazza del Popolo/Prati
Casa Howard Guesthouse - Spanish Steps
Otherwise you can consider the idea of staying in a holiday rental, like The Suite in Rome a privately owned flat in Trastevere, or a wonderful guesthouse like Casa Cau near the Trevi Fountain, or Portrait Suites a guesthouse run by the Ferragamo family.
I'm a huge fan of Airbnb, but you can also peruse these reliable websites for upscale villa travel:
Rental In Rome
Rome Downtown Rentals
Vacation Rental By Owner
Rental in Rome
Can you suggest any good cooking schools in Italy?
Yes, I can. I get asked this question so often that I should start a cooking school myself.
- If you're traveling to TUSCANY, please contact the adorable Giulia, whom you probably know as the prolific author of Juls' Kitchen. She is a very talented cook based near Siena, and will share her passionate knowledge of Tuscan cuisine.
Another option is spending an afternoon with a trusted cook who holds cooking classes and market jaunts in Florence. Send an email requesting cooking class info at firstname.lastname@example.org with your travel dates and number of participants.
- Visiting PUGLIA (or, Apulia) the "heel" of the boot? This region is treasured by food-lovers for its stellar olive oil, wonderful local produce, crudo (raw seafood), crusty bread from Altamura and Matera, foodgasmic burrata, orecchiette with broccoli raab, Aglianico and Primitivo wine... the list goes on and on. Beautiful places to see include Alberobello, Bari, Otranto, Atrani, Casteldelmonte, the Tremiti Islands, Salento... Read about them in this post. Awesome cooking schools in Puglia, are: Stile Mediterraneo - Yltour Congressi - Masseria Torre Coccaro
- CAMPANIA is a spectacular region, located north of Puglia. It is often associated with its negatives (crime, trash, poverty) and folks sometimes overlook the importance of this region's immense culture and beauty, the breathtaking landscapes, the warmth and poetry of the locals, and the food! Think Naples, the Amalfi Coast, Pompeii, the isle of Capri, Positano and the Greek Temples of Paestum.
Here, besides falling in love with a fascinating aspect of Italy few are familiar with, you can also gather incredibly fine culinary knowledge. For cooking lessons in Naples, Send an email requesting cooking class info at email@example.com specifying your travel dates and number of participants. In Positano (jewel town of the Amalfi Coast where I spent the summers of my childhood) it is mandatory you take a day cooking class at the Hotel Buca di Bacco. I know the owners, they are like family. Ask to join charming and talented Chef Andrea Ruggiero's classes held in his kitchen, and prepare for ecstasy.
- If you're traveling to the blessed island of SICILY, and want to attend a cooking experience, enroll in a private cooking class hosted by trusted local cooks in their homes. Send an email requesting cooking class info at firstname.lastname@example.org with your travel dates and number of participants, and I'll make it happen!
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