Belfast Telegraph

Giro d'Italia: Have yourself a truly great day out!

By Claire Williamson

Our reporter on how to make sure you're not a Chianti short of an Italian picnic.

Are you prepared for your great Giro d'Italia day out? Northern Ireland has been embracing all things Italian as one of the world's most famous cycling events arrives. During the three-day extravaganza there are many ways for you to say Benvenuto to the Giro.

Italians are proud of their food so as you watch some of the world's most renowned cyclists whizz by, make sure you aren't doing it on an empty stomach.

If you are planning on taking a picnic with you, season it with a little Italian flavour. And it doesn't have to cost a fortune as most Italian-themed treats are available in local supermarkets.

Emanuel 'Manu' Puccia (33), a manager at his uncle's restaurant Speranza on Shaftesbury Square in Belfast, has given the Belfast Telegraph an outline of what you need to make sure you aren't left a few brushcettas short of a Italian picnic.

Mr Puccia says it depends what sort of picnic you are having but there are some staples that should be in your basket.

"Wine and more wine," laughed Mr Puccia.

"Red wine of course, red wine with meat a nice glass of Chianti or nero d'avola."

An Italian meal would be nothing without a pasta dish, so make sure you have packed a pasta bake.

And a selection of bruschetta toasted Italian bread drenched in olive oil and served typically with garlic or tomatoes.

Pick up a few different Italian cheeses from your local supermarket .

An Italian cheeseboard might include a gorgonzola, a semi-soft taleggio, pecorino sardo (hard sheep's cheese) and a caprini tartufo (truffle-infused goats' cheese).

And of course you require some meat.

Salami, parma ham and prosciutto are easily sourced and make the perfect accompaniment to your picnic.

Mr Puccia said: "And of course, bread – we go no-where without the bread and olives."

The list of delicious Italian-inspired breads are endless. Choose from mixed olive rolls, classic ciabatta and focaccia buns, and many more.

You can also try an Italian BBQ which just requires packing some more meat such as sausage lamb, pork chops and adding potatoes.

He added: "They should embrace the Italian way this week and make it Italian."

Keep an eye on road closures to make sure you get to the optimum viewing spots.

It can be a long day waiting and watching the races, so plan accordingly for the day and pack chairs and picnic blankets and cushions.

While you may get caught up with the Giro fever and are planning to look like an Italian glamour goddess at the roadside – just remember the unpredictable Northern Irish weather.

Dress accordingly and ensure you are comfortable for the whole day.

And if you remember one thing only, it has to be this – wear something pink!

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