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Weather Wonders

27 Feb

Chicago or Cortona? 

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These days, pretty hard to tell just by the weather.

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If you’ve seen international news lately, you’ve most likely heard of the BEAST, a Siberian weather front impacting much of Europe. Icy roads mean closed schools and often some businesses, especially in steep hill towns like Cortona. 

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©blogginginitaly.com

This is happening at the same time Chicago is experiencing a few 50° sunny days.

My Chicago street:

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My Cortona street, 

Pre-salting…

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Post-salting…

(But, of course, nothing stops the garbage ladies, nothing!)

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Now the freeze does carry some good news…the lingering cold and ice should hopefully kill the spread of the dreadful mosca (flea) which invaded the olives two years ago and decimated the harvest for many.

With this is mind, let it freeze, let it freeze, let it freeze… just not for too long!

And soon enough, Cortona will be welcoming all the lovely signs of spring once again.

©blogginginitaly.com (late March, 2017)

With thanks to my Cortona friends for the snow photos…

Ciao,
Judy 

 

 

 

Snow Day Trip to the Zoo

12 Feb

Over the last 9 days, depending on one’s location, Chicagoans have received over 18 inches of snow. So what exactly does that look like on our deck?

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And at Lincoln Park Zoo?

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Surprisingly, not too many people decided to venture out.

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But we did find some hearty souls enjoying the afternoon.

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And scores and scores of icicles.

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As we reached home, the sun began to erase the clouds,

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and paint the sky a beautiful blue,

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reminding us once again, in the words of  “Hal” Borland,

No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn.

Lucky for us on both counts!

Ciao,
Judy

Riccardo Trattoria

8 Feb

Last night, Len, Benita and I shared an early Valentine’s Dinner at our favorite Riccardo Trattoria and took advantage of Chicago’s Restaurant Week special pricing. For just $33/person, we each selected three dishes from the ANTIPASTI, PASTA E RISOTTI, CARNE E PESCE, and DOLCI menus, and then shared them family style.

We have been patrons of Riccardos since it opened in early 2006, even before it had been granted its liquor license. We saw the sign on the door and were delighted that an authentic Italian restaurant was opening just blocks from home. And it has not disappointed – ever – probably because owner/chef Riccardo Michi began his career and ignited his passion at a young age in Milan in the family business and continues his passion today.

So what did we feast on?

For starters:

 

Followed by:

 

And finally dessert:

 

Delicious, fun, and lucky for us, a little trip to Italy just a few blocks from home. 

Buon Appetito and an early wish for a Happy Valentine’s Day!

Ciao,
Judy

 

 

 

Andrea Bocelli in Chicago

7 Dec

Last night, Andrea Bocelli performed in Chicago,

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and last night, I witnessed the best “concert” I have ever seen. I put the word “concert” in quotes as I am actually unaware of a word that captures the breadth of the performances.

 Andrea Bocelli returns to the U.S. for seven concerts only of repertoire from his Grammy-nominated album Cinema, special selections from his groundbreaking release Romanza, and a selection of beloved arias, love songs, and crossover hits. The concerts will be led by Maestro Eugene Kohn and will also feature soprano Larisa Martinez and Broadway sensation and Chicago native, Heather Headley. Our own Lyric Opera Orchestra and Chorus will join him for his concert at Chicago’s United Center. (2017 © Lyric Opera of Chicago)

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Maestro Eugene Kohn conducting Chicago Lyric Orchestra and Chorus

Our daughter Benita had surprised us with these tickets for our anniversary. In 1999, we took her to see Luciano Pavarotti in Austin, and now she was taking us to see Andrea Bocelli in Chicago. How fortunate we are to have seen both!

Each artist was exceptional  – captivating the audience with finely-tuned skills. Although there were thousands in attendance, one could hear a pin drop. Stupendous was the word that kept coming to mind.

In addition to the incredible pitch-perfect performances, the large multi-dimensional projection screens behind the chorus provided a visual extravaganza. The audience was transported, as if we were at times sitting inside a grand European cathedral; attending an opera at La Scala in Milan; walking through falling snow at the Eiffel Tower; strolling ancient streets of an Italian town; enjoying a gondola ride through canals in Venice; or taking in any number of breathtaking vistas.

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Andrea Bocelli was born with poor eyesight and became completely blind at the age of 12, following a soccer accident. Yet nothing was going to stop his great passion for music, developed as a young child. Today, his musical accomplishments include fifteen solo albums, of both pop and classical music, three greatest hits albums, and nine complete operas, selling over 80 million records worldwide. In addition, over the years, he has performed in many charity benefits, and in 2011, the Andrea Bocelli Foundation was launched, focusing on medical research and fighting poverty.

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About two months ago, Len and I were in Portofino, a now very famous, picturesque and tourist-filled Italian fishing village where Bocelli performed under the stars in 2013. We had seen the performance on PBS, and as we lunched along the water, we talked about how fun it would be to attend a Bocelli concert.  Little did we know that just a few weeks later, Benita would surprise us with tickets. And since our concert was in December, we were happy to be inside where it was warm.

Kudos to the sound team at the United Center, a space more often used for sports enthusiasts than tenors and sopranos. Even with a packed house, acoustics were perfect.  And if you are a Bocelli fan, check his website as the tour has a few more east coast US dates this year and then returns next year to the west coast.

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We are so very grateful to Benita, not only for the tickets but that we were able to see this magnificent performance together.

Bravo, Andrea, Bravissimo! Thank you for coming to Chicago!

Ciao,
Judy

 

Buona Festa di San Giuseppe! Happy St. Joseph’s Day!

19 Mar

Today is the feast of St. Joseph, patron saint of the family, and it is a feast day celebrated by Italians everywhere.  It is also Father’s Day in Italy.

Most of the rest of this post comes from a previous one, but the thoughts and sentiments are the same.

Growing up in a neighborhood filled with many Irish and Italian families, I was always happy that the Italians also had their day in March to celebrate.

Joseph the Carpenter, 1642, Louvre, by Georges de La Tour

Joseph the Carpenter, 1642, Louvre, by Georges de La Tour

Of course, not quite as loud or rowdy as St. Patrick’s Day, we nonetheless celebrated the feast of St. Joseph with a food fest. And while the Irish had their green beer and accessories, the Italians, often sporting something red, had their zeppole, a cream filled fried pastry that originated in Napoli.

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

According to my fellow blogger, MariaGiovanna, (Sharing My Italy) the “Zeppole di SanGiuseppe” originated in Naples, Italy, “where the first recipe was put on paper, in 1837, by the famous Neapolitan gastronome Ippolito Cavalcanti, Duke of Buonvicino.”

Fortunately, you don’t have to be in Italy to enjoy a zeppole. In Chicago, they can be found in authentic Italian bakeries such as Ferrara Bakery on Taylor Street. Light, airy and filled with cream, it is fun to see the smiles they generate on those wiping the cream from their lips.

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

At this time of year, Ferrara’s and Italian bakeries everywhere are busy filling and selling hundreds of dozens of the cream filled gems.

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©Blogginginitaly.com

So, to those looking to get beyond the grey days of winter, here’s an idea – participate in a St. Joseph’s Day custom by sharing some food with the needy and with some friends, and, of course, be sure to bring some zeppole!

And a very Happy Father’s Day to our Italian friends.

Ciao,
Judy

Show Me Some Green

14 Mar

March 14 is still winter in Chicago, but Mother Nature has spoiled us. We haven’t had any significant snowfall since mid December. Not that we haven’t had some very cold days, but coupled with sunny and warm days, our boots have dried and been pushed to the back of the closet. Many spring flowers have poked through the winter ground and spring buds have begun to grace the trees.

Until now. Here’s how the morning greeted us.

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Why are some of us a bit disappointed?

It’s spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you’ve got it, you want — oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so! ~Mark Twain, Tom Sawyer, Detective

Exactly. So here’s some green to enjoy while awaiting the actual arrival of spring.

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Cortona©Blogginginitaly.com

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And if that doesn’t quite do it, try this.

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As the proverb says…No matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow.

Ciao,
Judy

Basking in the Glow

5 Feb

When the calendar says February, the temperature reads 38°, and the sky is blue, Chicagoans are quick to take advantage.

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©Blogginginitaly.com

Being that it is Super Bowl weekend, I thought I’d join the sunshine strollers, interview some residents, and see how they feel about the big game. Needless to say, our team wasn’t even in the running, so I was curious if there was great interest out there.

I headed to Lincoln Park Zoo, a free 35-acre zoo founded in 1868, one of the oldest zoos in North America. First I spotted some lions.

Who are you pulling for today? No comment.

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Do you even plan to watch the game? 

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So I headed to the macaque, thinking he may be a bit more cooperative, but he really only wanted to sun bathe. (And not to worry, that’s his natural face color, not actually a sunburn!)

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How about the rhino? Maybe he had an opinion…

but he only wanted to pose. Such great posture, by the way.

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Perhaps the flamingos? Surely they must be chatting about the game, but no such luck.

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And the ducks? They were having too much fun sliding on the frozen pond to think about the game.

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I walked over to the Farm in the Zoo, but the cows couldn’t be bothered either… too busy enjoying the blue sky and sunny day.

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Even Grant has no plans to get off his horse and sit in front of a TV.

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As we continued walking, a happy thought came to me…

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Who needs football when we are still basking in the glow of last summer? Chicago CUBS, 2016 World Champs. Endless blue sky and sunshine, 108 years in the making. Still basking in the glow…

for a long time to come.

Ciao,
Judy

ps…Len is making pizza and I do plan to watch the game, even if mostly for the commercials!

CUBS and Family

8 Nov

By now, of course, you have seen all photos and videos – after 108 years, the CHICAGO CUBS won the World Series. Pinch me – it’s not a dream.

We watched games 6 and 7 last Tuesday and Wednesday,  from front row (ok, TV) seats. On Friday, we actually joined the 5 million celebration on Michigan Avenue.

But there was one more thing we needed to do.

Besides this incredible come from behind story, there have been so many stories of loved ones who never saw the CUBS win the big one. Social media and the news are filled with feel good stories – how loving the CUBS is a family tradition handed down from one generation to the next. I get it because it’s true for me too.  But how best to bring loved ones into this jubilation?

After the win, Wrigley Field provided the answer… people began writing the names of loved ones on the storied walls.

On Sunday, Len, Benita and I walked to Wrigley Field. Even the sky was CUBBIE blue.

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©Blogginginitaly.com

So many people were out taking in the sunshine and feeling the afterglow of this victory, including us.

As we neared the ballpark, we were greeted with this wonderful sight. Chills.

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A bit of history: The ballpark first opened in 1914 as Weeghman Park for Charles Weeghman’s Chicago Whales of the Federal League, which folded after the 1915 baseball season. The Cubs played their first home game at the park in on April 20, 1916, defeating the Cincinnati Reds with a score of 7–6 in 11 innings.

Seemed like a good photo op.

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Then we worked our way to the wall – we were on a mission. In my pocket was a favorite photo of my parents…a bit faded, but so like them, out enjoying life and having fun.

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We searched for the right spot, and thanks to Benita’s long arm and a nearby chair, my parents became part of the celebration – Benita and Bill, Nana and Papa, part of Wrigley forever. Perfect!

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©Blogginginitaly.com

And talk about location! If you look carefully, you can see their names between two hearts right below the bottom red tiles.

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©Blogginginitaly.com

We grew up watching the CUBS. Win or lose, they were part of our lives and our conversations. And in my Mom’s later years, when she couldn’t be as active as she’d like, she relished watching each and every game. Tears of happiness came easily for her when they won, and “not to worry – someday” if they didn’t. Of course, we had lots of somedays, until now.

Go, Cubs, Go!” is a song written by Steve Goodman in 1984 and sung by fans after each win. I’d often call my Mom after a win to sing it with her on the phone. I can see her smiling now.

Congratulations to our CHICAGO CUBS. Mission accomplished – in so many wonderful ways!

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©Blogginginitaly.com

Ciao,
Judy

2016 Chicago Open House – Case Bonita

14 Oct

Three years ago, I began an amazing adventure to learn more about my paternal grandfather, Alexander Capraro. As mentioned in my first post dated 10/2/13:

Through His Words: Reflections From and About My Grandfather

My grandfather was small in stature but large in accomplishment. He was the first Italian-American architect licensed in the state of Illinois and fortunately, a few of his buildings still stand for us to admire.

This weekend, the Chicago Architecture Foundation hosts its Open House Chicago.

200 COOL PLACES.
48 HOURS. GO.
IT’S FREE.
OCTOBER 15-16, 2016

I am so proud that for the 6th time, Casa Bonita, designed in 1928 by my grandfather Alex and his partner Morris, is included in the festival. Quite an accomplishment for a man who, at the age of four, emigrated to America in 1899 with his parents.

Casa Bonita is considered a Spanish-Renaissance Revival apartment building.

Casa Bonita ©Photo by Charlene Ferguson

Casa Bonita ©Photo by Charlene Ferguson

There are 66 units in the U-shaped white terra-cotta building that surround a beautiful garden. The attention to detail can be seen everywhere.

Casa Bonita ©Photo by MTMattucci

Casa Bonita ©Photo by MMattucci

Besides its incredible structure, Casa Bonita has amenities including a library, a billiards room, and a large indoor pool.

Casa Bonita ©Photo by MTMattucci

Casa Bonita ©Photo by MMattucci

 

When it was built, I have been told, there was even a driving range on the roof.

Casa Bonita ©Photo by MTMattucci

Casa Bonita ©Photo by MMattucci

Casa Bonita ©Photo by MTMattucci

Casa Bonita ©Photo by MMattucci

If you are in or near Chicago this weekend, this is a unique opportunity to visit incredible historic landmarks, including Casa Bonita – all for free. Residents will be available to answer questions, give tours, and share their passion about this very special Chicago treasure.

http://openhousechicago.org/sites/site/casa-bonita/

My thanks to Mary, Linda and Charlene for rapid assistance with photos.

For more on Alex’s story, see below. And one last thought – When I began writing about my grandfather, I used the phrase: Through his Words... Now I can say,  Through his Words and Works…

Ciao,
Judy – a very proud granddaughter

 

Opening of Original Post 10/2/13

Through His Words: Reflections From and About My Grandfather (10/2/13)

I am about to begin an incredible adventure with my paternal grandfather. We will venture to Europe, via ship, and spend a month together touring Italy. During our stay, we will visit his birthplace, Pietrabbondante, a town he left with his parents when he was four years old to emigrate to the United States.

To continue reading, please click below:

 

Happy 4th of July!

4 Jul

A wonderful weekend for some R & R…Relaxation and Reflection. We adapted quite easily to both as we spent a lovely weekend at my sister’s home in Bridgman, Michigan.

Walks on the  beach…

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©Blogginginitaly.com (Sister and husband)

Visits to local craft beer breweries and whiskey distilleries for tasting…

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©Blogginginitaly.com (The gang, with Len acting the part!)

cocktail hour on the deck…

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BBQs each night… ribs, sausage, chicken, mac-n-cheese, potatoes, veggies, brownies, etc. Sorry, I was too busy eating to get many photos!

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The weather was incredible… comfortable days and unusually cool nights. We thought about swimming…

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but opted instead for a fire at night.

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Besides all the fun and relaxation, Bridgman is a great place for reflection.

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©Blogginginitaly.com

Every night at sundown, TAPS is played at Weko Beach in honor of those who serve this great country of ours. This tradition began in 1991. Mrs. Joyce McCort heard TAPS played at the military graduations of her sons and thought it would be fitting to play TAPS at the close of each day at Weko Beach.

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©Blogginginitaly.com

This tradition continues each night, often with one player at the beach and a second player in the hills.

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©Blogginginitaly.com

A very moving way to end each night, and a reminder to reflect on how fortunate I am to call this incredible country home.

Happy 4th!

Judy

 

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