Travel & Culture

Italy the country of saints, poets, seaman and asparagus

It is said that Italy is a complicated country to travel within. You know that you will arrive to your destination but you don’t know how or when, and above all, what you will discover during your journey.

A friend of mine wanted to meet me for a coffee in the small village where he comes from, about 20km away from my city, Turin. I searched google maps and it seemed easy enough to reach. So I got ready, went to the bus station and after 50 minutes I was there. But my friend, on the contrary was not. He sent me an email the evening before, saying that he couldn’t make it but unfortunately, I didn’t check my mails that night.

So there I was, in a small village with no bus for the next 2 hours and some people next to me talking in a local dialect. The weather was good and the sun was shining: the only solution was to go for a walk and there I found out that Santena (it’s the village name) is a beautiful small place in a valley with a huge park and a villa, where a very important politician , Camillo Benso count of Cavour used to stay for the summer. All around Santena you can see the Alps, still covered with snow. But above all Santena is famous for its asparagus. It’s a very unique product because of the place and the way it is cultivated, with an extremely delicate taste.

I decided to find those famous asparagus and learn more about them. So I went back to the people who were talking in their local dialect and asked them where I could find some asparagus. They aswered in a very strange, forced Italian: “at the alimentari, on the main square”. The alimentari are one of the most important shops in Italy - they are small, almost everywhere and sell basic everyday products (such as pasta, vegetables and buscuits!)

I went inside, saw immediately the asparagus standing proudly amongst all the other vegetables and decided to buy two bunches. Before me at the counter there was an elderly, surley  local woman so I decided to ask her some information about these famous asparagus. The most important question was of course how to prepare them.

The lady looked at me as if I would come from the moon: “How to prepare them?!? What a question - as a salad of course!”

“As a salad? And how exaclty? “ (this question made me looked as a really wierd person in her eyes)

“Simply cut the asparagus and cook them in salty water - until just tender.Then add mashed boiled eggs, gently mix together and season with oil, salt and pepper.” (everything said as it would be the most obvious thing in the world that everybody knows).

I thanked her, went back to the bus station, proud of my discovery and realised how lucky I was that my friend didn’t come. First thing I did when I arrived at home was to make this wonderful asparagus salad from Santena!

Here is the result - please enjoy!:

Italy the country of saints, poets, seaman and asparagus

Salad story by



Amateur cook

Food, culture and travel. These are my passions. If you mix them together, you can get very interesting stories. Above all as vegetarian, you can't imagine how many funny moments I've had in... Read more

Want to stay up-to-date? Subscribe to our newsletter!