Stanley Tucci, left, and Fabio Picchi in “Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy” 2021. IMDb photo

Stanley is back. The author/actor/director is back in Italy in season 2 of his popular show. The fun begins just as I have begun my online “Speaking Italian.” It’s not exactly a coincidence, but it will help listening to Stanley as he chats with his Italian guests.

Stanley has been bouncing around Italy since he was a kid, and now he’s covering all of the fun spots we have all longed to visit in Italy this summer.

Oh, I’m reminded that there will be no summer in Italy for me or any central Mainers this year, courtesy of the many varieties of pandemic roadblocks to confront.

I know, I never had any real plans to dine in Tuscany, Milan, Sicily, Rome and Naples, or anywhere else on that fabulous “boot.”

So it’s a delight to join our favorite Italian America actor (“Julie & Julia,” “Devil Wears Prada”) as he hides us in his backpack and smuggles us into a short, (4 segments) but exciting season 2.

It’s still good to see Italy in the company of Tucci, as he takes us aboard a camera-heavy gondola to search Venice. This is where, after a few bites and slugs of vino, I wanted to go back to the hotel and take a nap.


I continue to enjoy the pasta meals in all the regions, the wines in all the cities, the strolls through the plazas, but the Venice Opening may not be your favorite.

It opens on a happy note. We’re treated to Cicchetti with its tapa parade of bacalao (codfish, not my favorite) Fegato (liver), moeche (soft shell crabs) sardines and hams and assorted cheeses, laid gently on tiny pieces of fried polenta. Yum.

Then we paddle across the canal to the 1,000-year-old Rialto fish market to pick up the octopus and squid, and learn to make the next dish. Brace yourself.

First, Stanley has to remove the ink sacks from the cuttlefish to stain the dish black. Black pasta? Yes, Stanley squeezes the black blood from the fish while we close our eyes.

We’re told you can get your own squid and do your own squeezing. Don’t let the kids watch.

But we do get my favorite calamari, Hugo d’anatra, duck rags with cinnamon orange, blessed with white wine and tossed with pappardelle pasta. Hungry yet?


My favorite? Golden Spaghetti, topped with an actual leaf of edible gold. Don’t sweat, Stanley always picks up the tab.

There’s more. We get to watch Stanley crunching down on something that looks like a large benign praying mantis, and we hear the crunch.

Later on, we join Stanley, shivering from the cold, as he follows the bearlike Igor Biacini, deep in the woods as he hunts for truffles, and we learn that a rare white truffle can sell for $105,344 at auction in Hong Kong, and maybe a little cheaper at Hannaford.

Don’t rush out, you won’t find them in the woods of Maine.

Sadly, there are only four segments of this Tucci delight viewed on CNN Sundays at 9 p.m. Enjoy.

J.P. Devine of Waterville is a former stage and screen actor.

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