Picnic in the Italian Countryside

Between villages, we’d never heard of and aside a road, we couldn’t pronounce, this field of poppies became our breakfast table one morning, last summer, on a cross country trip.

With their soft wistfulness and crimson prominence, to me, poppies have a hypnotic allure, which pondering that thought may be biologically human given centuries of sedative use - to clarify though; I talk to their aesthetic rather than addictive nature.

Like crumpled tissue paper, too tender for touch, poppies have an uncommon tactility. They’re born of a wooly cocoon from under a crown, tousled by even a slight wind and on borrowed time after harvest. They are of course synonymous with the Tuscan landscape; and although by nature an invader, I doubt there’s anywhere else in the world where there ‘weeds’ are quite so endearing.

Not long after sunrise did we venture into the grass; collecting thistles along our hem and with every footstep taking in the predawn dew. Centre field, a small clearing had the makings of a garden room and so with crockery in hand, we set about composing our makeshift table.

Now don’t get to thinking this was total spontaneity, I had, in fact, carried our wooden picnic set across the English channel along with linens and cutlery; the ceramics though had joined our journey after one too many French vide-greniers.

As the sun rose quickly we sheltered in our floral enclosure; dividing what tabletop there was between our elbows and the edible assortment. The fare wasn’t fancy; rather a collection of finds from supermarket aisles and the occasional farmer.

To us, it didn’t matter; nor the cursory glance from a nearby neighbour as they drove away to their day.

We were happy in our moment.

When Eating from an Italian Supermarket

Heirloom tomatoes (every kind, every colour)

Yellow nectarine


Olives (castelvetrano and cerignola especially)

Fresh basil


Dried mint

Crostini (toasted bread)

Grissini (breadsticks)

Salsa di Noci (walnut sauce)