Bergamo and Cinque Terre: Italian Tuna Salad

A recent trip to Italy this past summer was in a word, delicious. It is quite impossible to order something you wouldn’t enjoy there, and then dream of the next time you will be eating it again! I was fortunate enough to have visited a small town in Northern Italy called Bergamo, which was green, luscious, and full of bicyclists and tourists in the summer. Perched on a hill and surrounded by medieval stone walls, the Citta Alta or “high city” made for breathtaking views at night and a peaceful breeze that would rejuvenate following the lunch hour. It was common to see teenagers sleeping on the benches after lunch! The steep cobblestone pathways, street markets, and the history of this quaint old city was the epitome of Italy to me. You can see some photos below to experience a little piece of Bergamo and see how charming it really is. 

Fortunately, (however I could describe the whole trip as “fortunately!”) I was able to visit the seaside town of Cinque Terre by train one weekend. Bustling with Italian families and tourists bathing in the hot sun, it was certainly the place to be in the summer. After swimming in the Mediterranean Sea, and working up an appetite, my friend and I found the best fitting meal for lunch to be seafood and a salad. And we we’re never disappointed.  But, you know the Italians have a way of making things so simple and tasting perfect, needing nothing more. They don’t even pour the dressing on your salad for you, the very best olive oil and balsamic vinegar are placed on the table for you to dress the salad yourself. The simplicity of these Italian salads make the recipes easy to learn, and I wanted to share one of my favorites with you here. Simple and fresh, it only takes a few minutes to prepare, and catches the eye with a burst of colors. You can make this salad year around, and use cherry tomatoes instead of Roma tomatoes if summer has past. I encourage you to try a taste of Italy and explore the scenic photos below to let them take you away.

Italian Tuna Salad

Ingredients (2 servings)

  • 3 cups washed mixed greens
  • 1/3 cup shredded carrot (about 1 carrot)
  • 1 large tomato, sliced, or 1/4 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 6 small balls fresh mozzarella (often labeled bocconcini or ciliegine) or 2 oz. sliced fresh mozzarella
  • 6 pitted and rinsed Kalamata olives
  • 4 oz. low-sodium tuna packed in water
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
Prepare and measure out all your ingredients. Then, assemble the salad by placing the salad greens in the serving dish first. Nestle the shredded carrot to one side, then do the same with the tomatoes, mozzarella, and Kalamata olives. Place the tuna on top. Serve the salad as you prepared it, with the extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar on the side in measured cups. Dress the salad just before eating and top with freshly cracked pepper. Divide the salad in equal portions for another guest, or dress only half the salad, saving the undressed salad rest for later. 

to-die-for-swordfish with tomato sauce, olives, garlic, rosemary

hills of Cinque Terre

the beauty of imperfection and age
Cinque terre at sunset. Ready for aperitivo anyone?


Medieval town walls

salad with mozzarella and bresaola (beef)

making pesto with potatoes and green beans.
Traditional Ligurian pesto

Bergamo speciality, Casoncelli. meat filled ravioli

a dream of foccacia with potatoes, rosemary, pesto, mozzarella

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