Archive | Italian Hospitality RSS feed for this section

Still Saying “I Do!”

30 Oct

Wednesday was the last night in Cortona of our 9th stay, and also happened to be our 30th anniversary. 

We began the day with a wonderful walk through the parterre, bathed in sunshine and enjoying the magnificent October weather and views.

IMG_1131

©blogginginitaly.com

IMG_0788

©blogginginitaly.com

We ended the evening, surrounded by friends, at our favorite Tuscher Caffè.

We had told Massimo and Daniela we wanted to host a Brindisi D’Anniversario, or Anniversary Toast, with simple finger food…but of course, they always do so much more than expected. 

We arrived a bit early to find Dani and Edoardo making the final touches on the buffet…

IMG_0819

©blogginginitaly.com

and Massimo ready to open the Prosecco.

IMG_0806

©blogginginitaly.com

The food was not only delicious, but so creative! 

As we waited for our guests, Len rehearsed his toast. When all had assembled, we took our first group photo. Well done, Francesco!

IMG_0863

©blogginginitaly.com

After more toasts and eating, Len asked for attention. He began by apologizing for his Italian, but was quickly reassured by the group that his effort was well appreciated. Toasting our friends in his best Italian, he thanked them for their sincere friendship and for making us truly feel that Cortona is our second home.

And then he turned to me, with these words, also in Italian… “You are the butter on my bread and the fire in my heart.” Melted.

While the food was being cleared, we made some attempts at gender photos…

And then we were doubly surprised by the dessert…

IMG_0878

©blogginginitaly.com

First, that it was a gift from dear friends from Toronto, Carrol and Larry, and second, that all this time I thought I was married to LEN! (Technology can be great as we were able to FaceTime them in Toronto while cutting the cake!)

Such a wonderful evening, full of laughter, smiles, stories, and most of all dear friends. 

30 years ago, 

IMG_6875

©blogginginitaly.com

And today…

As I reflect on the the past 30 years, what comes to mind most is how blessed we have been and how thankful we are for our loving family, our dear friends, and our ongoing adventures. 

Hoping to get just one more group photo before we departed, we stopped a person walking by outside and asked him to take a photo. It was quickly evident this was not something he was used to doing… with his finger half over the lens and quite shaky!

IMG_1103

©blogginginitaly.com

But alas, with pure luck, he took this. A little finger shadow top left, but all in all, a great memory of a wonderful evening!

IMG_1028

©blogginginitaly.com

Many thanks to Daniela and Massimo for their hard work…we so love having parties at Tuscher. And our heartfelt love and thanks to family and friends, whether with us at Tuscher or from far away, for the wonderful anniversary wishes. I hope they all do come true and that we have many more years to celebrate.

And yes, after 30 years, I am still saying “I Do!”

Ciao,
Judy

The 2017 Olive Harvest

23 Oct

Every year, around mid to late October, many Cortonese hope to begin harvesting their olives. I use the word hope because Mother Nature plays a huge role in the success of the harvest. While 2015 was a bountiful year, the complete opposite was true for 2016 due to the dreaded mosca (fly).  And this year, the 2017 harvest was severely limited by the drought…hence,  small quantity but good quality olives depending on the location of one’s olive grove.

Nonetheless, October begins the eagerly anticipated time “olio nuovo” (new oil) signs begin to appear in restaurants and stores. And it is also a time when locals invite friends to celebrate their production. Lucky for us, friends invited us to dinner last night, but didn’t tell us they had already been to the frantoio (mill) to begin processing their olives.

As soon as we entered the cantina, we knew we were in for a treat. The bright green color and the light peppery taste of freshly pressed olive oil is unlike that of any other oil.

 

IMG_0727

©blogginginitaly.com

Lapo and Paola like to call this a peasant dinner – simple and fresh food picked from the garden or locally sourced, all designed to highlight the taste of the new oil.

IMG_0728

©blogginginitaly.com

New oil is traditionally first tasted as a bruschetta  – toasted bread rubbed with fresh garlic and topped with the oil. We each made our own. Delicious.

IMG_0729

©blogginginitaly.com

We also added the oil to a dash of salt in tiny bowls – a wonderful dip for fresh vegetables from the garden.

IMG_0730

©blogginginitaly.com

Next came what Len calls an Italian version of hummus, this one made from ceci (chickpeas), drizzled with the oil and topped with a sprig of rosemary. Can’t wait to try this myself.

IMG_0732

©blogginginitaly.com

The dish that followed was a type of bread soup, pappa al pomodoro, topped with a drizzle of oil. Simple, delicious and perfect for an autumn evening. 

IMG_0733

©blogginginitaly.com

Now this is Italy, remember, so you know there is more to follow, and what followed was rosemary roasted chicken and potatoes, with a splash of oil of course!

IMG_0743

©blogginginitaly.com

Now not all olives are turned into oil, as was the case with these tasty herb and orange marinated olives, served as a side dish.

IMG_0744

©blogginginitaly.com

For dessert, we were treated to Paola’s delicious torta della nonna, (grandmother’s cake), a traditional Tuscan dessert with a light custard. (I forgot to ask if she added a drop of the new oil to it!) Not being much of a baker, I bought the others at a local pasticceria. 

IMG_0746

©blogginginitaly.com

So that’s how we celebrate the olive harvest in Cortona, enjoying what Mother Nature provides, combined with the hard work of locals who pick by hand. 

From this…

IMG_0747

©blogginginitaly.com

to this. Doesn’t get much better.

IMG_0729

©blogginginitaly.com

Our thanks to Lapo and Paola for an always entertaining and delicious evening together. Complimenti to the cook and grazie for your friendship!

IMG_0734

©blogginginitaly.com

Ciao,
Judy

In Love with Liguria

27 Sep

(hopefully reprinted with full photo views)

Liguria, a four-province region in northwest Italy, lies on the Ligurian sea.

400px-Map_of_region_of_Liguria,_Italy,_with_provinces-en.svg

Wikipedia

It is bordered by France to the west, Piedmont to the north, and Emilia-Romana and Tuscany to the east.

Due to its breathtaking coastline, Liguria is also known as the Italian Riveria, as this narrow strip of land lies between the Mediterranean, the Alps and the Apennine mountains.

IMG_9887

©blogginginitaly.com

While parts of Liguria have familiar names – Cinque Terre, Portofino, and Sanremo, others are much less known.

Liguria is the original source of pesto, and it is easy to understand when driving through some of the towns. Basil is grown in an abundance throughout the year.

Trenette is a traditional form of regional pasta served with pesto alla genovese, which can also include potatoes and green beans boiled in the same water.

IMG_0048

©blogginginitaly.com

We had never been to Liguria before last week, and now it is one of our favorite places. Town after town graces the Mediterranean, yet each has its own identity. We visited several with friends, one of whom calls Liguria home.

After a literal 2-hour complete shut down of the autostrada near Arezzo, and a 5+ hour drive, we were happy to finally arrive in Loano. My first sight of the sea, albeit cloudy, brought a smile to my face.

Then off to join Daniela’s family who welcomed us with warm hugs and hot soup.

IMG_9833

©blogginginitaly.com

The next day, we walked along the sea and took in the views from Loano and Verezzi. The photos tell the story best.

IMG_9875

©blogginginitaly.com

IMG_9878

©blogginginitaly.com

IMG_9882

©blogginginitaly.com

After a beautiful morning of sightseeing, we enjoyed a Tuscan lunch, complete with chianina beef, sausage, and Sangiovese brought from Cortona. And yes, there was even a large collection of pet turtles to entertain us!

Now, one would think this lunch would suffice for the day, but hey, this is Italy, so later that evening, we headed out for seafood, a major staple of Ligurian cuisine, as well as Lumassina, a local white wine.

After dinner, we visited a dear friend’s shop to purchase some fresh pesto.

Wednesday was Monaco/Monte Carlo day, about 60 miles from Loano. I had visited both when I was a student in Rome, and while the sights remain beautiful, today the tourists and cars are dense.

On the way back to Italy, we stopped for what turned out to be a rather “rude” lunch in Menton, along the French border, so we were happy to join Italian cousins for dinner later that night.

IMG_0045

©blogginginitaly.com

Thursday was my very favorite day. We headed to Alassio, a neighboring Ligurian town, for a most relaxed morning of boating and swimming.

IMG_0148

©blogginginitaly.com

Up next, a moto ride for me around the harbor before a delicious seafood lunch.

Afterward, we strolled through colorful Alassio and learned some of its history.

In the early 1950s, Alassio was a capital of international highlife along the Riveria. The owner of Caffè Roma came up with the idea to create a wall with the autographs he had collected of famous people that came to the bar, including Ernest Hemingway. Hence, the Muretto di Alassio was born and now boasts about 550 tiles.

After our walk, we drove to the top of the cliff to visit Santa Croce Church and take in the marvelous views of the sea and Isola Gallinara.

Now just in case you’re concerned we might not be able to handle this lifestyle, we found our motto early on…

IMG_0030

©blogginginitaly.com

Our last night was a “typical small Italian family” gathering for pizza. 

IMG_0206

©blogginginitaly.com

It was hard to leave this beautiful part of Italy, but we know we’ll return. To ease our “sorrow”, we stopped in Portofino for lunch on the way home. 

IMG_0234

IMG_0235

Len and I began planning our trip to Liguria a year ago. It ended up being so much more than we had ever expected – the natural beauty, the sea, the people, the food, the colors, and most of all, the incredible hospitality shown to us. 

And now since it is Wednesday, I can finally say:

Buon Compleanno, Dani. Tantissimi Auguri cara amica!

IMG_0073

Grazie per una vacanza che ricorderemo sempre!
Thank you for a holiday we will always remember!

IMG_9897

Ciao,
Judy

 

 

 

Cortona: Expect the Unexpected

31 Aug

Teatro Signorelli, built in 1854, is an imposing and beautiful theatre gracing the upper part of Piazza Signorelli. Over the years, it has been home to many cultural and theatrical events. Today, in addition to these events, one can see a movie or attend a conference.

IMG_6429

©blogginginitaly.com

The Teatro’s grand portico also serves several functions, from a place for coffee, lunch or dinner to hosting a wedding reception. Last night it was host to us, a large gathering of friends coming together for dinner. And while the group size was a bit larger than normal last night, these gatherings are a familiar and wonderful way of life in Cortona.

IMG_9518

©blogginginitaly.com

IMG_9515

©blogginginitaly.com

IMG_9516

©blogginginitaly.com

IMG_9520

©blogginginitaly.com

And while we expected the evening would invariably be fun, little did we know there would be a DJ in  the piazza. As we sat for dinner, the DJ began with some Italian classical music, including Andrea Bocelli singing Nessus Dorma.

Screen Shot 2017-08-31 at 7.01.42 PM

©blogginginitaly.com

After our first course, however, the tempo changed to disco and we were out of our seats dancing to such classics as I Will Survive, sung by Gloria Gaynor. 

After our second course, many in our group formed a human chain and invaded the piazza below to join others near the DJ.

Even the canines were enjoying the entertainment.

IMG_9546

©blogginginitaly.com

My favorite moment of the evening was our rendition of Village People’s Y.M.C.A. Every local Italian I know is familiar with the arm moves – Y-M-C-A– and we didn’t miss a beat. Unfortunately, I was too involved myself to get a photo – che pecato!

I did, however, manage to get a great group photo. 

IMG_9524

©blogginginitaly.com

Thanks to our “organizers” and Caffe del Teatro Signorelli for such a fun and memorable evening filled with good friends, good food, and some unexpected and much appreciated good music!

Ciao,
Judy

 

Reconnecting

23 Aug

Ever since we arrived in Cortona, lyrics of Andrew Lloyd Webber keep playing in my head:

Yes, everything’s as if we never said goodbye

When people ask how long we are on vacation, we reply that Cortona is truly our second home.

I know my way around here
The cardboard trees, the painted scenes, the sound here
Yes a world to rediscover
But I’m not in any hurry  (I know my way around here)

But first our trip.

IMG_9302

©blogginginitaly.com

We departed Chicago on a new 777-200 at 5 p.m. The pilot said we’d make great time – less than 9 hours non-stop. But around two hours into the flight, he advised us that a light was on, our plane was unable to fly across the ocean, and we’d be landing in NY to change planes. It was 5 hours before we took off again. If there was any good news, it was that we were upgraded and actually slept a few hours before landing in Rome. 

IMG_9306

©blogginginitaly.com

Three hours later we were home in Cortona.

Although the tourists change, the wonderful sights, sounds, and smells remain familiar and constant. And best of all, so do the people. We are quickly immersed in this wonderful town, greeted with genuine smiles, warm embraces and greetings of ben tornato  – welcome back!

With deference to Mr Weber, I’d like to modify a few of his words in parens:

The lively (whispered)  conversations in overcrowded piazzas (hallways)
The atmosphere as thrilling here as always
Feel the early morning happiness (madness)
Feel the magic in the making
Why everything’s as if we never said goodbye

It took just two nights to be back in a familiar Italian setting – a large dinner with some friends.

IMG_9322

©blogginginitaly.com

IMG_9318

©blogginginitaly.com

And while most things remain the same, the weather has taken a toll. From a 0° freeze last April to scorching summer heat with no rain, all vegetation has been severely affected.

When we left in June, our views of the hills were lush and a deep verdant green.

IMG_8413

©blogginginitaly.com

IMG_8411

©blogginginitaly.com

Today, sadly, they are scorched.

IMG_9386

©blogginginitaly.com

IMG_9389

©blogginginitaly.com

How much this will affect the grapes is not clear, but the olive oil harvest will definitely suffer. Many people we know will not be picking olives this year.

But neither rain nor sun will deter the Cortonese, who pack much into the summer months.

Cortona on the Move International Photography Festival is in full swing, occupying 8 historic buildings, some rarely open, as well as a photo exhibit in the parterre (park). More on these as we visit the exhibits. 

IMG_9406

The Cortonantiquaria, a national antiques exhibition market, is in the lovely 18th century Palazzo Vagnotti.

Various food festivals, called sagra, are held weekends through the summer. The Porcini Sagra was last weekend in Cortona’s parterre.

So much more to come, but for me, Cortona is always about the people, both local and international friends, who make this wonderful town home. 

IMG_9336

©blogginginitaly.com

With gratitude to Andrew Lloyd Weber for helping me share what’s in my heart:

Yes, everything’s as if we never said goodbye

Ciao,
Judy

Do You Really Know FCO?

25 Jun

Looking back over the years, since my junior year of college in Rome, I’ve probably landed or taken off from FCO more than 40 times. The formal name of Rome’s largest airport is the Leonardo da Vinci International Airport, but to many, the Rome Fiumicino Airport is simply known as FCO, short for Fiumicino.

Like most travelers, the less time spent at an airport the better, so at the end of each Cortona stay, we would leave in the wee hours of the morning to catch a late morning flight home. But last year, when the traffic stress got to be too much, we joined the ranks of those spending the night before departure near FCO.

Not wanting to stay at the airport, we did some research and much to our surprise, we discovered that Fiumicino is much more than an airport. Fiumicino is a town/comune in Metropolitan Rome, with a population over 77,000. And based on its location, the northern side of the mouth of the Tiber river, it’s also an important source of fresh fish for Rome.  Best of all for us, it offers travelers a place to walk, relax, and eat well prior to an international flight.

A stroll along the Tiber is filled with colorful fishing boats,

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

fishing nets,

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

fishermen,

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

fisher “birds”,

©Blogginginitaly.com

and fishing apparatus of every kind.

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

The long walk, adjacent to the river, is also filled with a variety of shops, tabacchi, restaurants, bars, gelato shops, etc.

©Blogginginitaly.com

This June was our third stay in Fiumicino, and our custom is to take a long walk to the end of the pier and enjoy the incredible sunset before stopping for dinner.

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

Wanting to eat light, we discovered this gem last year – Uniti nel Gusto (United in Taste).

©Blogginginitaly.com

This year, upon returning, we got to know the owners who, by the way, are not nearly as stern as the photo suggests. Trust me, it’s an Italian thing.

©Blogginginitaly.com

We chose a wonderful array of appetizers to go with the best bread we have ever had in Italy –

©Blogginginitaly.com

really, the BEST!

©Blogginginitaly.com

On the way back to the hotel, I mentioned to Len that it would be interesting to spend a day here, seeing the fishing boats head out to sea and return with their hauls. Besides, we had so many questions about it all.

The next morning, we awoke to emails telling us our flight was delayed, then rebooked, then ultimately cancelled. Hmm. I guess we get that day in Fiumicino after all.

After a long walk including other parts of town, we put aside some slight concerns we had about eating fish before a flight and headed to the end of the “pier” to Al Molo Bastianelle for lunch. Our waiter assured us that the fish had just arrived, so why not try?

We began with insalata di mare, a freshly made seafood salad,

©Blogginginitaly.com

followed by sautéed sole and roasted potatoes.

Both the setting and the food turned out to be great choices!

©Blogginginitaly.com

After lunch, the boats began to return.

©Blogginginitaly.com

Fortunately, we stopped to talk to the one person who could easily answer our questions.

Massimo was born in Sicily, raised in Gloucester, MA, and now worked in Fiumicino on a large fishing boat. When I approached him with my best Italian, he turned and said with a Boston accent and his best smile, “Do you speak English?” …He had us at Hello.

©Blogginginitaly.com

Massimo explained that they prepare the boats each afternoon and head out to sea at 11:30 pm. They sweep, or drop the nets, usually three times, then return home the following day at 3:30 in the afternoon. When they return, they stop at the end of the pier to unload the day’s catch. The fish is weighed and immediately taken to auction. Len had some other fishing questions, including how often. “Five days a week.” Obviously, fishing is not a hobby here.

Before saying our goodbyes, Massimo said, “Follow the sign and you’ll find the auction.”

©Blogginginitaly.com

Follow we did and came across this serious and immaculate setting, which we were not allowed to enter. Seeing how clean it was made us feel even better about what we had just eaten.

©Blogginginitaly.com

On the right side behind the railing, the buyers are bidding as the auction takes place. If I understand correctly, there is even a doctor on site monitoring the quality. Fish auctioned here remains in Rome.

©Blogginginitaly.com

Massimo also explained that undersized fish cannot be sold at the auction, hence the vendors on the pier.

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

Satisfied that our questions were answered, we walked more, until the sun set once again.

©Blogginginitaly.com

Eventually, we ended the evening back with our new friends at Uniti Nel Gusto.

©Blogginginitaly.com

As it turned out, exploring Fiumicino was the perfect way to spend a flight delay. And now you know FCO – so very much more than an airport!

Ciao,
Judy

A Beautiful Birthday!

23 May

Many, many thanks to all for the thoughtful birthday wishes, calls, emails, FB posts, etc., I’ve received. Since the most common theme was “Hope you have a great day!”, I wanted to share my day with you.

Some dear friends treated me to a grand lunch at Fischio del Merlo (whistle of the Merlo bird) in Passignano, another new restaurant for me.

©Blogginginitaly.com

The setting, overlooking Lake Trasimeno, is so peaceful, especially on a Monday afternoon.

©Blogginginitaly.com

The idea to come here was Loreno’s, as the restaurant is owned and operated by his sister Lorena. She started with a pizzeria on the lake, then built this entire place over the last 20 years.

©Blogginginitaly.com

As Fischio del Merlo is so much more than a restaurant, a tour of the grounds was our first line of business.

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

There are so many places to eat, whether around the glistening pool;

©Blogginginitaly.com

under one of the sun drenched canopies filled with hand painted ceramic tables from Deruta;

©Blogginginitaly.com

inside one of the many inviting and interesting rooms;

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

or surrounded by a wonderful wine collection in the cantina.

©Blogginginitaly.com

The attention to detail is amazing as Lorena is a collector of many things, including antique cars and this vespa.

©Blogginginitaly.com

Len and I gave our best version of Roman Holiday…

©Roman Holiday

©Blogginginitaly.com

Then it was time for lunch. Our al fresco table was ready and so were we. And since the large weekend crowds were gone, Lorena could spend time with us.

©Blogginginitaly.com

We asked Lorena to choose the meal, and in traditional Italian style, the plates kept coming and coming, in between many toasts with delicious wines.

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

We asked to see the chef and gave him a hearty applause! Lorena hired him 20 years ago and taught him well…I know, he hardly even looks 20. And that’s Bruno in the back.

©Blogginginitaly.com

When I thought we couldn’t eat another thing, out came this delicious light white cake covered in chocolate, fresh raspberries, rose petals, mint, and a flower made from melon – served with one’s choice of digestivo.

©Blogginginitaly.com

Following a chorus of Tanti Auguri, it was time for me to make a wish, blow out the candle, and thank my wonderful hosts.

©Blogginginitaly.com

To Len, …”like birds of a feather we stick together… “(My Guy)

©Blogginginitaly.com

and to our dear friends and fellow orto planters, (L-R) Carlo, Bruna, Loreno, and Fernanda,

©Blogginginitaly.com

thank you so very much for a beautiful birthday filled with wonderful food, laughter and smiles, and best of all, your friendship.

Ai nostri cari amici e colleghi di orto, vi ringrazio molto per un bel compleanno pieno di cibo meraviglioso, risate e sorrisi, e, soprattutto, la vostra amicizia!

And a final note, you can have a simple meal here as well, and if seafood isn’t your thing, no problem. The restaurant is located just off the Passignano est exit, or just a short drive after you pass through the town.

So, did I have a great day? INDEED I DID!   Will I be back? Indeed I will!

Ciao,
Judy

Happy Mother’s Day 2017 – Buona Festa della Mamma!

14 May

Although similar to a post I wrote last year, the sentiments are always worth repeating…

Mother’s Day is a special time to remember
how fortunate I am to be part of a long line of strong,
intelligent and loving Italian women.

Maude©Blogginginitaly.com

Paternal Grandmother Maude ©Blogginginitaly.com

Serafina©Blogginginitaly.com

Maternal Grandmother Serafina ©Blogginginitaly.com

 

Benita©Blogginginitaly.com

My Mother Benita (at my wedding) ©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

(L-R visiting Paris) Aunt Marilyn, Mom, Aunt Kiki ©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

Aunt Marion ©Blogginginitaly.com

It is also a day to celebrate
my incredible sisters, nieces and cousins, who are not only amazing Mothers,
but determined women who incorporate
the traditions learned from our ancestors as they create new ones.

To all of them,
and to the dear friends/wonderful Mothers
I have met throughout my life’s journeys…

I wish you all a beautiful day filled with love and relaxation.
Happy Mother’s Day – Buona Festa della Mamma!

©Blogginginitaly.com

Ciao,
Judy

Pasqua and Pasquetta

17 Apr

Yesterday throughout Italy, families and friends gathered after mass for warm hugs, long Easter lunches and lively conversation. Intermittent rain showers didn’t dampen any spirits, although we were happy we ate inside.

We joined some friends at their beautiful home just past Pergo, a short ride from Cortona. We’ve been before, but it is always a pleasure to return as the setting is incredible.

©Blogginginitaly.com

Len, of course, needed to check out the 1975 Fiat 500 parked in the drive.

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

The house, built in the late 1700’s, was originally a farm-house, but is now a beautifully restored/renovated home with guest house, covered pool, garage and incredible 360° views, (and it is on the market as grandchildren live too far away!)*

©Blogginginitaly.com

We began on the terrace with a Prosecco toast.

©Blogginginitaly.com

Then lunch was served in the dining room.

©Blogginginitaly.com

Unfortunately, I missed taking photos of the delicious chicken with gorgonzola lunch, but desserts included a traditional Easter colombo – a dove shaped cake…

©Blogginginitaly.com

as well as fresh strawberries and cream on sponge cake.

©Blogginginitaly.com

After a few attempts, we even managed to take a timed selfie.

©Blogginginitaly.com

Afterward, some of us took a leisurely stroll around the property, admiring the views…

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

while others retired to the terrace.

©Blogginginitaly.com

Many thanks to our gracious hosts, shown in a photo I took of them on our last visit.

©Blogginginitaly.com

Pasqua and Pasquetta, Easter and Easter Monday, two holidays in Italy, the first religious, the second not. Once again today, Cortona was packed with people. In fact, both yesterday and today, there were traffic jams.

But today, Pasquetta, is a day set aside for relaxation. All the solemnity and preparation of Easter are over, and it is a day to relax, except, of course, for restaurants and retail shops who serve the masses of people enjoying a day off.

Strolling is the norm, so strolling we did. The park was filled with people,

©Blogginginitaly.com

taking in the views.

©Blogginginitaly.com

Others were enjoying entertainment in the piazzas, including the Old Florence Dixie Band,

©Blogginginitaly.com

and just appreciating the beautiful day.

©Blogginginitaly.com

Between the park and the piazza, we found an empty park bench and literally put our feet up as we took in the view.

©Blogginginitaly.com

Late afternoon, we headed home for a brief riposo (rest) before meeting friends for dinner.

©Blogginginitaly.com

And that’s what one does in Cortona for Pasqua and Pasquetta, a perfectly lovely few days.

©Blogginginitaly.com

Ciao,
Judy

*Note: Many have asked me what the inside of an Italian house looks like. If interested, you can see more photos via the listing link below.

http://www.abodeitaly.com/property/68c/tuscany/casa-giordano-piazzano/arezzo/farmhouses-and-count/4-bedrooms

 

 

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.

©Blogginginitaly.com

©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

%d bloggers like this: