New tip: I ran into a lot of people who don't make pesto with garlic. They like a gentler version with less bite, and some people have trouble digesting garlic. So they skip it and just use basil, good parmesan, a little pecorino, pine nuts and olive oil.
3. Open your wine differently. You know that metal wrapper around the top of a wine bottle, called the capsule? Wine nuts know the secret to getting the capsule off (besides risking your finger by using a little knife) is to simply pull it off: If you just grasp it tightly and turn it, you can usually get it to twist right off. (Two warnings: I can never get that to work on Australian wines, and if you're going to chill a white wine, pull the capsule off before you put it in the refrigerator. Cold contracts and makes the capsule tighter.)
New tip: If you want to let your wine breath before you serve it, pull off the capsule, pull out the cork and then slide the capsule back over the open bottle. The little vent holes in the top of the capsule will act as a screen to keep any gnats or bugs out of your wine while it sits out. OK, it's not life-changing, but if you want that Tuscan-villa lunch vibe, it's a cute trick.
4. Not all gelato is great gelato. OK, this is only helpful if you're going to Italy yourself. But if you do, skip those gelato bars with the big swirls piled up higher than a beehive hair-do. That's tourist gelato, aimed to catch your eye. To get those big swirls, they often pile fresh gelato on top, but they dig down into the center to scoop your serving, where it may be freezer-burned and a little old.
New tip: Look for gelato bars that keep it in metal canisters with the lid on, or in smaller tubs that they pull out and replace with fresh batches. That's more likely to be the good stuff. (And if you're keeping score, my gelato samples included persimmon, torrone, buontalenti, honey and cinnamon, sour cherry, sweet cream, pistachio de Bronte and, yes, blue cheese and walnut. Which was spectacular, by the way.)