Archive | April, 2013

Festa della Liberazione

30 Apr

Before we close the month of April, I want to take a moment to highlight a special Italian celebration…the Festa della Liberazione.  Each year on April 25th, the day is dedicated to celebrating Italy’s liberation from Nazi occupation. According to an article in Italy Magazine“The day marks the liberation of the country by Allied troops in World War II and is celebrated throughout the peninsula with parades, concerts, demonstrations, speeches, and more.”

In the States we have the Blue Angels and Thunderbirds. In Italy, they have Frecce Tricolori, or the Three Color Arrows.


Rivolto (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For more on the celebration, and to see the Frecce Tricolori in action, click on the article by Carol King, Le Frecce Tricolori, the flamboyant aerobatic antics of Italy.

And if you happen to be in Italy this summer, or even in November, you might be lucky enough to see Le Frecce in action.

According to Carol, “This year, the Frecce Tricolori take to the skies to perform displays in Italy and abroad, starting on 5 May at the Falconara Air Show in Ancona…The Frecce Tricolori will round off the year on 4 November in Rome to celebrate the Giornata Unità Nazionale e delle Forze Armate (National Unification and Armed Forces Day). The day marks the anniversary of the unification of Trentino-Alto Adige and Friuli-Venezia Giulia with Italy, as well as the end of World War I.”

Italiano: Frecce Tricolori all'Air Show di Fal...

Italiano: Frecce Tricolori all’Air Show di Falconara Marittima, Ancona, Italy. (Wikipedia)

A cause for celebration indeed! Buona Festa!



Chianti and the Fiasco

20 Apr

In the May/June issue of La Cucina Italiana,, there is an interesting article on the last page entitled what a fiasco. The fiasco the article refers to is not a disaster or a problem. Instead, it tells the history of the straw clad Chianti basket, the fiasco.

Vin Chianti

Chianti Bottles

Of course, we all remember the bottle…a not too long neck that flowed into a rounded bottle nestled in a straw basket. When empty, the bottle served as a wonderful candleholder. Back in the day, I would vary the candle color to add a rainbow effect to the mountain of drippings that hugged the bottle’s curves. While I have none left, I did find this on a site called The Cottage and it looks just like mine did after burning a few candles.

As the La Cucina article correctly reminds us, “No first date was complete with out a Chianti bottle candleholder on the table, and no image of the bottle was as iconic as the spaghetti scene in The Lady and The Tramp.”

Disney Lady and the Tramp

Disney Lady and the Tramp

But back to the history…Long before commercial trucking was available, bottles of wine were carried on horse drawn carts, up and down hills and through winding roads. Not surprisingly, the bottles could rub against each other and break, especially when a single cart could carry more than 3000 kilos of wine. In order to protect them, the Chianti bottles were wrapped in straw.


Wine delivery, Florence, Italy, Circa 1920 (La Cucina Italiana article)

This great photo shows Chianti fiaschi arriving in Florence  via horse drawn carriage,  a few workers, and no broken bottles. So  next time you pour Chianti from regular wine bottles, and some very good ones at that, raise a glass to the simple ingenuity of times gone by, and remember, a fiasco can be a good thing!




7 Apr

With the calendar reading April, I am filled with anticipation. As I look out the window, or take walks, my eyes are surrounded with the signs of spring…plants pushing aside their winter hibernation as they eagerly seek sunshine; trees coming to life and showing off their annual budding ritual.



In addition to spring, I am also anticipating our return to Cortona. According to local friend Patricia, spring is also in the air.

“April 3rd was a fine day.  It wasn’t very warm but the sun was shining and it felt like spring.  This made everybody particularly happy because of an Italian proverb:

Terzo Aprilante, quaranta dì durante, 

or as some say,

Terzo aquilante, quaranta dì durante.

That means that if it rains on April 3rd, it will rain for 40 days!  After all the rain we have had, nobody could bear the thought of that, so the sunny day was a great relief!”

Sure hope the proverb holds true!

So, on this sunny Sunday, a few other things I look forward to in Cortona:

Getting back to piazza life –




Taking in the incredible vistas –


 Marveling at the architecture –




Strolling the local markets –



Enjoying simply delicious food –

IMG_4722 IMG_4572

Sharing some incredible vino –


Being immersed in “Italian class” every day –


And after walking for miles, sometimes just hanging out with Len in Piazza Gharibaldi, watching tourists come and go, and feeling, if only for a short time, that we belong to this little piece of heaven – 





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