Art & Culture

Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy

Salvatore de Riso, ambassador of the territory’s taste, guided Stanley Tucci in the first stop on the Amalfi Coast of his acclaimed CNN documentary to discover the local food and wine delicacies. He shared with us his emotion in showing his land to one of the greatest American actors.

By Anna Volpicelli

No American could have better illustrated the essence of the Italian spirit of Stanley Tucci. Born in New York of Calabrian parents, the famous actor, 59, winner of 2 Golden Globes, has always proudly expressed his Italian roots. He pointed out how he ate Calabrian specialties during his childhood while his friends ate hamburgers and hot dogs. He deepened his love for the Italian culinary tradition in his years spent in Tuscany. Today all this learned heritage is well told in the docuseries produced and transmitted by CNN Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy (visible until 21 March). Six episodes from Milan to Sicily retrace the main stages of the country’s gastronomic history. “I think that in America there are many confusing ideas about what Italian is, and one of the reasons why I wanted to do this show is precisely to dispel some of the false myths about what Italy is,” told the actor to CNN.

In search of a new authenticity

The first Tucci episode was shoot in Naples and Amalfi Coast. “Last September, I received a phone call from CNN. They told me about the project and asked me to guide Stanley Tucci to discover the Amalfi Coast,” says Salvatore De Riso, award-winning pastry chef and owner of Sal De Riso in Minori. According to a study led by Nielsen Fast National Data, an American company specializing in audience measurement on TV, radio, and newspapers, the episode recorded in Campania brought together 1,516 million viewers. Among them, there were many young adults between 18 and 34 years old. The prestigious American travel magazine Travel Weekly at the end of 2019, in its article “Italy for a New Generation,” highlighted how Millennials are increasingly interested in Italian destinations for their authenticity and the range of offered experiences outside the mass tourist routes. And this is the purpose of Stanley Tucci’s incessant wanderings, wherewith discretion, charisma, and irony. He touches elegantly the Italian traditions and the culinary habits offering various viewers a new look not only on the whole country but also on how to live in Italian prosperous and flourishing cities.

The famous Delizia al Limone by Salvatore De Riso

The encounter with scurzette coffee

“The episode was completely filmed in Minori where I led him on a gastronomic journey,” De Riso tells us. The itinerary began with a long walk along the lemons’ path to discover one of the Amalfi Coast’s excellence. A journey that ended with the tasting of scurzette coffee in which the pastry chef from Minori offers the actor an espresso with lemon zest. “This is one of the typical customs of our region, and I wanted him to try this experience too – says De Riso – Stanley is a brilliant man and speaks Italian very well. We had a lot of fun together “. And you can feel it by watching the scene while the two, now friends, exchange reflections and jokes surrounded by expanses of lemon groves.

From the table to the sea

The itinerary of taste then made its way to the Sal De Riso pastry shop in Minori, where the chef and the actor had lunch together. “I made him pizza and my eggplant parmigiana. And then I made him taste la Delizia al Limone and the ricotta and pear cake. He asked me”. Followed by a crew of 15 people, at sunset Stanley Tucci’s experience on the Amalfi Coast ended with a toast on the Minori dock with a glass of limoncello Terra di Limoni.

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