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Medieval Market Cortona

4 Jun

June arrived in Cortona and brought along not only warm sunny weather but also the first of several annual summer festivals. Last weekend was the Medieval Market filled with games, costumes, food, shops and entertainment. Here’a a sampling…

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And of course, great sunsets,

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and great friends!

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Ciao,
Judy

 

Familiar Footing

30 Mar

Why did we fall in love with Cortona? So very many reasons, but suffice it to say we did –  this being our eighth stay. And although so much is familiar, this ancient Etruscan town never ceases to amaze.

The incredible views…

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Local food sourcing… (10 huge fresh artichokes for under $4.50!)

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Tiny cars that seem to suck in their sides as they traverse the hills and uneven narrow streets – (my Fiat 500).

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And of course, the delicious food.

AD Braceria ©Blogginginitaly.com

AD Braceria ©Blogginginitaly.com

Tuscher Caffe ©Blogginginitaly.com

First day of 2017 outside seating at Tuscher Caffe ©Blogginginitaly.com

The weather has been perfect – blue sky sunny days, cool nights, and signs of Spring’s magnificent return in the colors popping up everywhere.

And while all of the above is wonderful, nothing quite compares to the sincere smiles and heartfelt “ben tornato” (welcome back) long embraces we’ve received from our local friends.

I guess the answer to my opening question is simple: they are truly the reason we fell in love with Cortona and why we happily return.

For now, time to give in to jet lag, but much more to come.

Ciao,
Judy

 

 

Christmas Greetings from Cortona

12 Dec

What is Christmas like in Cortona? Christmas in Cortona makes me feel as if I am still there. Such fun seeing so many friends who live and work in Cortona and make it such a special place. Thanks, AF Travel, for putting this together.

Christmas In Cortona, Tuscany ©AF TRAVEL

Click here and enjoy: Christmas in Cortona

Ciao,

Judy

Italy: It’s So About the Food

17 Sep

A sampling of what we’ve eaten in the past few weeks, some out and some at home:

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And let’s not forget the sun-dried fichi (figs)!

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Wish you could taste them all.

Ciao,

Judy

Italian Tradition – Home Cooking

26 Feb

One of the very best things to enjoy in Italy is the food. But what makes it so special? In a word, local. Italians pride themselves on eating and cooking what is locally available, and in many cases, home grown. That means that menus not only change with the seasons, they are also based on long standing regional traditions passed on from one generation to the next, and, of course, dictated by the terroir or environment.

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When I first began traveling to Italy, I always wished that I would be invited into the home of a local. I wanted to experience the lady of the house cooking for her family, to learn from her and then eat what was prepared. It’s hard to walk the narrow streets of small towns and villages and not get caught up in the delicious smells and banter bellowing from the windows at lunch and dinner.

Luckily for us, we now have native Italian friends who invite us into their homes and give us this opportunity.

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But as we travel to other parts of Italy, is there a way to have similar experiences?

Meet Le Cesarine, a group of  “landlords chosen through a careful selection by Home Food in order to preserve and promote the heritage of wisdom, tradition and culture hidden in the thousands of recipes of our regional cuisine.” According to their website,

Home Food has built a network of “Cesarine” all over the peninsula in order to offer the possibility to find in many places in Italy a cosy table, rich of food prepared and maintained for the members only. For the reason that the “Cesarine” do not manage a restaurant in their houses, but invite you to their tables as a guest of the family who shares the passion for the tradition, the land and its tastes, values, which constitute the mission of Home Food.

Home Foods, founded in 2004, is a collaborative effort among several groups in Italy whose goal is to “spread the culture of traditional food interwoven with the culture of the typical products and the particular area.”

If you think about it, Italy has thousands of informally trained household cooks who, without recipes, create incredible meals from starter through dessert. Home Food has tapped into this resource and created a network of cesarine – grandmothers, mothers, aunts and daughters, who are knowledgeable of their local area, passionate about cooking, and willing to share their traditions as they host events in their homes.

Through Home Food, registered members have the opportunity to learn traditional culinary methods, eat traditional meals, and truly experience regional Italian culture in the home of a cesarine.

I learned of this organization through an article by Irene Levine in the Chicago Tribune, dated February 1, 2015. She and her husband had the opportunity to experience a cooking lesson in the home of a cesarine from Bologna. Although I have not yet participated, Irene’s story presented a way for travelers to experience the flavors and culinary traditions throughout Italy as guests in a local home. If your Italy TO DO list includes a mini cooking class, or eating in the home of a local, this might well be your opportunity.

Their calendar includes event dates, locations, recipes, a bit of history, and pricing. And if you partake, I’d love to hear your feedback.

Buon Appetito!

www.homefood.it/en

Ciao,

Judy

 

A Typical Thursday – Camucia Market and Tuscher Caffe

26 Jun

If it’s Thursday in Cortona, it’s market day in Camucia, the town at the bottom of the hill. As usual, we strolled for hours amongst the clothing, housewares, shoes, jewelry and food stalls.

Camucia Market - blogginginitaly.com

Camucia Market – blogginginitaly.com

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Camucia Market  – blogginginitaly.com

Camucia Market - blogginginitaly.com

Camucia Market – blogginginitaly.com

Camucia Market - blogginginitaly.com

Camucia Market – blogginginitaly.com

Camucia Market - blogginginitaly.com

Camucia Market – blogginginitaly.com

Camucia Market -  blogginginitaly.com

Camucia Market – blogginginitaly.com

Len and I returned to Cortona about 2 PM and had lunch at our very favorite Tuscher Caffe on Via Nazionale. We eat here almost everyday, and usually try to be a little heathy, but today we really splurged. We shared the special, a pasta prepared with light cream sauce of prosciutto, onions, and melon, (yes thinly sliced melon! as only the Italians know how), and it was not only beautiful but incredibly delicious.

Tuscher Cafe - blogginginitaly.com

Tuscher Caffe – blogginginitaly.com

We also shared our daily tomato salad – very healthy!

Tuscher Cafe -  blogginginitaly.com

Tuscher Caffe –
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Then for dessert, which we usually never have at lunch, Edoardo, the chef and our friend, convinced us to try his special tiramisu with fresh cherries. Well, it ranks among the best desserts I have ever had. No drenched cookies with liquor here. Instead, a light, smooth, lovely dessert with the fresh cherries – simply amazing.

Edoardo's Tiramisu Tuscher Cafe blogginginitaly.com

Edoardo’s Tiramisu
Tuscher Caffe
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Edoardo, Chef at Tuscher Cafe blogginginitaly.com

Edoardo, Chef at Tuscher Caffe
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Tonight we have been invited to a friend’s home, so Edoardo is making me his delicious apple torta to take to my hosts.

Edoardo's Mela (Apple) Torta -  blogginginitaly.com

Edoardo’s Mela (Apple) Torta –
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As for tomorrow’s agenda? Extended hiking, then more eating, of course.

I know, it’s a tough life. So glad it’s us that “has” to do it!

Ciao,

Judy

 

 

Gelato

26 Aug

Whether you’ve been to Italy many times, or hope to visit someday, eating gelato is no doubt on your list. As the summer heat intensifies, what better way to cool your palate and bring a smile to your face than with some delicious gelato.

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Gelato is Italy’s version of ice cream, yet tastes much better. Why? I wondered, and did a little research. Although I am much better at enjoying gelato than making it, here are three major differences I discovered:

  1. Gelato generally has less than 10% butterfat, compared to ice cream’s typical 18-25+ range. The lower butterfat causes the gelato to melt in your mouth faster and provides an immediate blast of flavor.
  2. Air is not added to gelato, giving gelato a higher density than most ice cream. This density results in gelato’s rich taste and very creamy texture.
  3. Although gelato is a frozen dessert, it can be served at a temperature 10°+ warmer than ice cream, adding to its creamier consistency.It's the picture of Italian ice-cream in a sho...

It seems as though you can find a gelateria, or ice cream store, in just about every town in Italy. Some have several, and the larger cities seem to have one on every corner. Cortona has several.

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Although gelato is almost always good, the taste and quality can vary. I tend to shy away from outdoor ones in direct sunlight. You can just tell.

Gelato is typically presented in stainless tubs in large cooled glass displays.

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Some newly designed modern displays are even becoming popular.

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Cup or cone? Large or mini? Whatever you prefer.

Gelato Cones (Florence)

Need free samples to decide? Assolutamente!

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As for flavors, think of the rainbow, or better yet, a large box of new crayons. Pink and yellow are not just added colors.

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You can often expect actual pieces of fruit in the frutta gelato such as peach, pineapple, mango, banana or apricot. Creme are the creamy gelatos such as chocolate, vanilla, hazelnut, caffé, and pistachio.

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What’s the most popular? Seems to be chocolate, although it comes in many varieties such as dark, extra dark, fudge, milk, etc. And the names seem to be as creative as the flavors. Learning them is like Intro to Italian I.

Gelato 2

Gelato 2 (Photo credit: minonda)

So, whatever your palate, there is always one flavor to please…in fact, probably several.  Thanks, Grandpa!

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And of course, don’t worry if it starts to drip a bit. Besides tasting great, gelato is always finger licking good!

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Gelato anyone?

Ciao,

Judy

Cortona: Back to Normal

2 Jun

Today, Sunday in Cortona, life back to normal, warm and sunny!

We hiked the hills

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The men returned to their benches

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The Saturday market was replaced by the Medieval Market: 

Breads

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SpicesIMG_0561

Beans

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Grilled local sausagesIMG_0594

Ciaccia (fried dough)…note the cell phone!

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Cheeses and local products

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And the workers!

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People have returned to the piazzas

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Life is good!

Tomorrow, weather permitting, we take to the road, not sure which direction, and perhaps no internet. Stay tuned!

Just now, as I am finishing this, black clouds have filled the skies and the winds are swirling. Nonetheless, a wonderful day! Good we have those leftovers…

Ciao,

Judy

A Simple Life

2 Jul

In Cortona, shopping for one’s daily needs is simple…no megastores, no supermarkets, and no chain stores. What does exist are merchants who tend to specialize, thus offer great quality at reasonable prices. Meat and poultry are generally purchased at the macelleria, or butcher shop, and there are a few in town. Fish and seafood is less easily available, but the fish monger comes to town once a week and fish is available at the Saturday market.         Bread can be purchased directly from the panettiere, or baker, as well as local venues he supplies early in the morning. His shop is directly behind our house, so just about every night we fall asleep to the scent of fresh bread baking in the ovens.

Fresh fruit and vegetables are available at a few locations…two stores and one pop-up market only open in the morning, spread out in an area that becomes a restaurant later in the day.

                            

Dry goods, canned goods, deli meats and cheeses, paper and cleaning products, frozen and dairy items, etc., can be found at one of the two markets in town: Molessini and the Mini-Market.

Pharmaceuticals, baby products, healthcare items, etc. are available at the local Pharmacia, and they are easily identifiable as they have a green cross in front.

The Tabacchi or tobacco shops sell newspapers, magazines, bus and train tickets, maps, gum, candy, and an assortment of tourist items and toys.

                                               

Bars, cafés, and enotecas offer everything from morning coffee and pastry to light lunch and dinner with full bar, and I mean full.  You can sit in or out.

   

The best part is that you buy only what you can carry as you walk everywhere. That of course means that everything you eat is fresh, and so delicious. Makes grocery shopping fun!

Not to be left out is the gelato. Ice cream is available at two gelaterias in town…a great way to stroll and end the evening.

How I am dreading “super” markets back home. Super is definitely not always better, just big, big, bigger! Is there a future for “Simplemarkets” in the US? Probably not, but a good reason to travel!

Ciao,

Judy

Saturday To Do List

26 May

1. Skip Italian Class: (note to my Italian teacher and classmates): Buongiorno a tutti! Mi dispiace io non sono con voi, ma devo ammettere, preferisco essere qui. Anche se non ho fatto i compiti della scorsa settimana, Giovanna sarebbe fiero di come ho praticare ogni giorno, per tutto il giorno. Ci vediamo in autunno. Ciao, Giuditta

2. Go to Market: Items for lunch for Trattoria Gingerella: let the pictures speak for themselves!

At the market

Roses from our garden

Roasted chicken, tomatoes and mozzarella, melon and prosciutto, antipasto and vino

3. Take random photos:

Benita and Sarah

Real mozarella!

Mike and the original Fiat 500

A 1910 wardrobe trunk

4. Dinner at Trattoria Toscana: http://www.trattoriatoscana.eu/

Goat cheese with balsamic

Gnocchi with leak and tomato

Tagliatelle con porcini

A wonderful day!

Ciao, Judy

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