Where is it?


Why do you go there?

I love exploring different parts of Italy: Venice, Florence, the Amalfi Coast, Rome and Cinque Terre. I haven’t been to Sicily yet and I am dying to go there.

I base my vacations around where I am going to eat. The sightseeing, architecture, art and culture is what I do between meals. What I have learned is to not overplan because you must leave room for serendipity and that chance finding.

How did you discover it?

On my very first trip overseas I got a courier flight with DHL. This was 1983 and I was 23 years old. I heard about a job where you could get a free plane ticket by taking their packages as your excess bag-gage.

You would get all the luggage tags and then hand those to the DHL person who was waiting for you when you landed. They didn’t pay you, but you had two weeks which, in my case, was in Europe. Then you would return to New York doing the same job.

I jumped at this because I had very little money. I had maybe $200-$300 to last me the two weeks. I stayed in pensions and hostels. It was magical.

What’s your favourite memory?

My first stop on that trip was Paris and then I took an overnight train to Italy. In the third-class compartment was a young couple Dania and Dario. They had been in Paris and were returning home. We stayed up all night talking and drinking.

Dania spoke very little English and Dario spoke no English. We had a wonderful time, and they drew pictures in my journal of places I should see when I got to Florence.

They gave me their address and phone number so, of course, the very next day I walked over to the family bakery to say hello. [Dania’s] father treated me like a war hero. He said, “America! John Wayne!” He was excited and started feeding me.

Then his friends from down the street came. There was a lady from a restaurant with a bowl of pasta and a man who made sausages. I was 23 years old and being treated like a king. To this day, I am still friends with Dania and Dario – a 40-year friendship.

Who do you take?

My family. We go as often as we can.

What do you leave behind?

Hopefully, friendships. It can be a restaurant owner or a shopkeeper that you strike up a conversation with, or somebody you meet sitting next to you while eating. It is funny how many friends I have made that way.

Sum it up in three words.

Beauty. Deliciousness. Love.

What other travel spots are on your wish list?

India, Greece, Turkey, a safari, parts of the UK, Shanghai and New Zealand.

Phil Rosenthal is the creator of the hit TV show Everybody Loves Raymond. He presents the food and travel documentary series Somebody Feed Phil, available to watch on Netflix. Somebody Feed Phil The Book is out now (Simon & Schuster, £25)