Archive | My Blog about Italy RSS feed for this section

Happy Birthday to Me!

22 May

Once upon a time, 69 years ago to be exact, this little girl came into the world. With that smile on her face, and a twinkle in her eyes, she was ready for adventure.

©blogginginitaly.com

20 years later, her parents gave her the opportunity of a lifetime – to spend her junior year abroad at Loyola Chicago John Felice Rome Center. As a Christmas gift, her Mother mailed her a scrapbook of her life, including the photo and words above.

That little girl became this young woman who experienced a year of unforgettable memories, experiences, and friendships.

Roma 1971-72 ©blogginginitaly.com

And during that year, her love for Italy was planted deep within her heart (though obviously not the fear of driving a motorized bike through Roma)!

Roma 1971-72  ©blogginginitaly.com

Before the school year ended, she even celebrated her 21st birthday in Rome, something that in the early 70’s would seem more like a dream than reality. How lucky I am that she is me.

5/22/1972 21st Birthday ©blogginginitaly.com

I never could have imagined then that celebrating my birthday in Italy would become a wonderful tradition. I have Len to thank for that. And although today we are dearly missing our Cortona life, our incredible friendships keep us strongly connected.

So my birthday gift to me is seeing the many familiar faces here. Till we return, thanks for the love, thanks for the friendship, and thanks for these memories.

Birthday 2011 ©blogginginitaly.com

2012 ©blogginginitaly.com

2012 ©blogginginitaly.com

2012©blogginginitaly.com

2012 ©blogginginitaly.com

2012 ©blogginginitaly.com

2012 ©blogginginitaly.com

2013 ©blogginginitaly.com

2014 ©blogginginitaly.com

2014 ©blogginginitaly.com

2014 ©blogginginitaly.com

2014 ©blogginginitaly.com

2014 ©blogginginitaly.com

2015 ©blogginginitaly.com

2015 ©blogginginitaly.com

2015 ©blogginginitaly.com

2015 ©blogginginitaly.com

2015 blogginginitaly.com

2015 ©blogginginitaly.com

2015 ©blogginginitaly.com

2015 ©blogginginitaly.com

2015 ©blogginginitaly.com

2015 ©blogginginitaly.com

2015 ©blogginginitaly.com

2015 ©blogginginitaly.com

2015 ©blogginginitaly.com

2015 ©blogginginitaly.com

2015 ©blogginginitaly.com

Ciambra Monreale 2016 ©blogginginitaly.com

2016 ©blogginginitaly.com

2016 ©blogginginitaly.com

What were we laughing about???
(Clearly something off-color!)

2016 ©blogginginitaly.com

2017 ©blogginginitaly.com

2017 ©blogginginitaly.com

2017 ©blogginginitaly.com

2017 ©blogginginitaly.com

While all of these photos are not birthday or anniversary celebrations, on one birthday eve, these musicians delighted me with a spontaneous performance in Piazza Repubblica.

2017©blogginginitaly.com

2017 ©blogginginitaly.com

2017 ©blogginginitaly.com

2017 ©blogginginitaly.com

2017 ©blogginginitaly.com

2017 ©blogginginitaly.com

2017 ©blogginginitaly.com

2017 ©blogginginitaly.com

2017 ©blogginginitaly.com

2017 ©blogginginitaly.com

Our 30th Anniversary 2017 ©blogginginitaly.com

2018 ©blogginginitaly.com

2018 ©blogginginitaly.com

2018 ©blogginginitaly.com

Taormina 2018 ©blogginginitaly.com

2018 ©blogginginitaly.com

2019 ©blogginginitaly.com

2019 ©blogginginitaly.com

2019 ©blogginginitaly.com

2019 ©blogginginitaly.com

2019 ©blogginginitaly.com

2019 ©blogginginitaly.com

2019 ©blogginginitaly.com

2019 ©blogginginitaly.com

2019 ©blogginginitaly.com

Packing up for the season. 2019 ©blogginginitaly.com

Anniversary#32  2019 ©blogginginitaly.com

Anniversary#32 2019 ©blogginginitaly.com

Our last night Cortona, 2019. Who knew???  2019 ©blogginginitaly.com

We are living in the most unusual of circumstances, yet we are very fortunate. We are all well, and those in our extended family who have jobs are working harder than ever.

Personally, we have connected with many people we have not seen in years. Strange circumstances do offer some unique opportunities.

And that takes me back to my year in Roma. Just this week, many of us gathered for a zoom call. Familiar names and faces of Campers, as we had named ourselves, from our magical year in Rome. There were people on the call I hadn’t seen in 47 years, but the time we spent together in Italy binds us forever.

2020©blogginginitaly.com

I’m forever grateful for all that Italy has given to Len and me. We’ve had incredible opportunities to discover our ancestral roots, explore Italy and Italian life with family and friends, and make new and lasting friendships. That little girl has had many reasons to keep smiling throughout her life.

©blogginginitlay.com

There’s so many ways to celebrate, and as you can see, this year I spent many happy hours going through years of photos.  Each one represents a special memory – hence my birthday gift to me. (Apologies for the quantity and for anyone I am missing.)

So,
Happy Birthday to me,
Tanti Auguri a me, 

2020©blogginginitaly.com

and a grateful toast to each of you
for making me smile.

2020 ©blogginginitaly.com

Ciao,
Judy

 

 

Happy Mother’s Day 2020! Buona Festa della Mamma!

10 May

This post is a repeat of my annual sentiments with a few added photos. In this time of Covid-19,  since most new photos consist of Zoom Squares, and hugs are virtual, it’s especially fun seeing these former gatherings! 

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, who are missed everyday.

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

My parents wedding 1947 ©blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

(L-R visiting Paris) Aunt Marilyn, Mom, Aunt Florence ©blogginginitaly.com

Aunt Marion ©blogginginitlay.com

It is also a day to celebrate
my incredible sisters, nieces and cousins, (pictured and not),
who are not only amazing Mothers,

but also determined women who incorporate
the traditions learned from our ancestors as they create new ones.

Sisters ©blogginginitlay.com

Celebrating our parents 50th at Trevi Fountain, 1997 ©blogginginitlay.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

To all of them, 
and to the dear friends/wonderful Mothers
I have met throughout my life’s journey,
I wish you all a beautiful day filled with love,
virtual family hugs
and relaxation.

And to my daughter, Benita, 

©blogginginitaly.com

and my mother, Benita, 

©blogginginitlay.com

my forever gratitude for making Mother’s Day so special for me. 

Happy Mother’s Day!
Buona Festa della Mamma!

Ciao,
Judy

Easter Processions in Italy

12 Apr

While Covid-19 has disrupted lives around the world, it is particularly difficult for many during this religious time of year, including Italians, who have had to forego centuries of Easter traditions. From small villages to large cities, processions featuring lifelike (and extremely heavy) “ floats” depicting scenes from the Passion are carried out by the locals.

Each year, the city of Cortona sponsors the Procession of Good Friday, beginning at 9 PM from the Church of Santo Spirito. It winds its way up, around and through the steep streets of the town and ends in Piazza Repubblica, with ceremonial prayers. These photos are from the 2017 procession.

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

The Misteri di Trapani (Mysteries of Trapani) is a day-long Passion procession featuring twenty floats of lifelike sculptures of individual scenes of the events of the Passion. The Misteri are amongst the oldest continuously running religious events in Europe, having been played every Good Friday since before the Easter of 1612, and running for 16-24+ continuous hours. They are the longest religious festival in Italy.

The small balcony from our room at the Badia Nuova hotel offered a perfect view of the 2016 procession.

©blogginginitlay.com

In the days before the procession, people were busy attending to final touches of the platforms.

©blogginginitlay.com

©blogginginitlay.com

If you study the configuration of the men’s arms, you can begin to imagine the weight of the platforms.

©blogginginitlay.com

©blogginginitlay.com

©blogginginitlay.com

©blogginginitlay.com

Here are two short videos I took that represents the tone and mood of the procession. The swaying is part of the pageantry, and the clapper you hear is what is used to stop and start the movement of the platforms, which happens about every 30 to 50 feet.

Hoping that next year, these traditions resume as expected, along with so many others around the world. In the meantime,

Buona Pasqua, Happy Easter,

Stay Safe, and Be Well!

Ciao,
Judy

Original 2016 post with videos is linked below

https://blogginginitaly.com/2016/03/27/misteri-trapani/

 

Cortona: Familiar Faces and Places

6 Apr

Clearly, we love our time in Cortona. The ancient town is beautiful and historic, however, it is the wonderful local people and the incredible friendships we have made that keep us, and so many others, returning year after year.

Here are several photos, in no particular order, and taken over the years, of some of the locals or their establishments. My  apologies to those for whom I don’t have photos.


©blogginginitaly.com

As mentioned, these are just a few of the hard working people and places that keep Cortona functioning. There are countless others, so many more I now realize I need to photograph.

Like millions of people around the world today, their hopes, dreams and livelihoods are on hold. Hopefully in the not SO distant future, their doors, and ours, will be open once again.

Ciao,
Judy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blogging ABOUT Italy: Cortona

30 Mar

In 2011, blogginginitaly.com was born. Never could I have imagined then just how significant a two letter preposition in the middle of the title would become. The word, of course, is “in”, and denotes all of the posts and nearly 20,000 photos I have taken while documenting our adventures while in Italy.

Spring poppies ©Blogginginitaly.com

Today, March 30, 2020, we were to board our flight for our 14th extended Italian adventure. And although we are disconnected physically, we are in constant contact with our Italian friends. I’m actually texting some as I write! We also read Italian news and monitor the ups and downs as if we were there.

©Blogginginitaly.com

So, although I can’t write while in Italy, I can still write about Italy. Perhaps more importantly, I can share photos from our many adventures to remind us all, at such a difficult time throughout the world, to stay connected and hold on to our dreams, whatever they may be.

This first post (of what I plan to be many) is dedicated to our Italian home, the town of Cortona. Because we have been fortunate to experience Cortona in all seasons, I have many pictures of Cortona that are virtually people free. I hope you enjoy the views. You can also click on any photo to enlarge.

©Blogginginitaly.com

Cortona – ©Blogginginitaly.com

Parterre Cortona ©Blogginginitaly.com

Via Santucci view ©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

Rooftops Cortona ©Blogginginitaly.com

Chiesa di San Francesco, Cortona, ©Blogginginitaly.com

War Memorial ©Blogginginitaly.com

Parterre Cortona ©Blogginginitaly.com

Santa Margherita ©Blogginginitaly.com

Santa Maria Novella ©Blogginginitaly.com

Municipio Cortona ©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

Le Celle ©Blogginginitaly.com

As the sun casts a warm welcome on this beautiful ancient town, it will once again, hopefully soon. At that time, we, like so many others, will return for our next adventure.

July, 2011, Trip #1 to Cortona ©blogginginitaly.com

Till then, more posts to follow.

Ciao,
Judy

 

Thinking Local and Afar

18 Mar

If you happen to be like us, people of a certain age, you have probably been getting calls from your “not of a certain age” adult children/relatives. The “How are you?” conversation quickly turns to your current activities, or the limits they are “suggesting”: Order online, cancel unnecessary appointments, call for whatever you need, avoid social interactions, hunker down, etc., etc. Hardly before you can answer, the suggestions become quasi mandates, followed by a plea for rationality. You’re hooked, but you also know you are loved.

One suggestion, however, from our daughter who is an editor in the food industry, is not a restriction but a great suggestion: Don’t forget to Order Out! She loves her neighborhood and worries about the restaurants that might not survive, so she’s making it a habit of ordering out a few times a week. And she reminds us to do the same.

So we started last night. Our two usual “go to dine-in” restaurants in the neighborhood are Casati’s and Riccardos, both Italian and both delicious. Last night we ordered from Casati’s. Stefano, the owner, personally thanked us when we called in our order. We learned that in Illinois (and some other states), restaurants can deliver alcohol via in-house delivery, third-party delivery, drive-through, and curbside pick-up. As Stefano said, “For many, ordering wine will be much cheaper than seeing a divorce lawyer!” Touché! And so we will continue to support them and others in the neighborhood during our social distancing.

As for Italy, we should have been landing in la bella Italia next week, reconnecting, hugging, eating, drinking, walking, enjoying our second home, and sharing our adventures. Instead, our hearts are with the people, the country, and especially our friends with whom we are in regular contact. And like the sunflowers, we will be back, we will be back.

©blogginginitaly.com

Let’s hope the Italians are right when they say, Andrà tutto bene! Everything will be ok

Ciao,
Judy

 

 

 

A Very Merry Christmas – Buon Natale!

25 Dec

Wishing you and yours a very 

Merry Christmas/Buon Natale

                       🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄

and our beautiful daughter

a most Happy Birthday! 

Ciao, Judy 

 

 

 

It’s a Wrap!

28 Oct

After our wonderful and relaxing trip to Liguria, we returned to Cortona for the hustle and bustle of our last few weeks.

Whether pool side or terrace sunsets, pizza parties, breakfasts, lunches, dinners, olive picking, day trips, wine tastings – there’s never a shortage of things to do or willing friends with whom to have fun. (Apologies to those for whom I don’t have photos.)

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

Similar to the completion of filming a scene, I can’t help but think of the phrase: “It’s a wrap, folks!”

©blogginginitaly.com

Since it’s also the week of our anniversary, there were some fun surprises.

A whimsical print Len bought me from Ivan at Il Pozzo Galleria…

as well as a surprise and delightful anniversary celebration. (Intentional misspelling of Len’s name. Long story.)

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

Our final night, as is customary, we headed to Tuscher Caffe knowing we would bump into friends, and so we did.

©blogginginitaly.com

Four other couples were also leaving the next morning so it was a bit of a challenge getting any group photos.

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

After a bit, those of us remaining were hungry, so we called Alessandro at Il Cacciatore and he welcomed us with open arms as usual.

©blogginginitaly.com

And then it was time for some final goodbye hugs, after just a few more laughs.

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

Saturday morning, we had one last cappuccino before departing. This coffee mug planter was on our table.

©blogginginitaly.com

With Cortona in the background, we headed to the town of Fiumicino, where we walked the pier by day and enjoyed the always incredible sun setting the night before flying home.

©blogginginitaly.com

So many ask me, “Which do you prefer more, Chicago or Cortona?” For me, the ending of each journey is the beginning of the next. I love them both.

And so, it is a wrap, our 13 trip to our second home.  Till we meet again…Abbracci and Arrivederci!

Ciao,
Judy

 

 

 

Liguria

17 Oct

The Italian Riviera, or Italy’s Liguria region, is a crescent-shaped strip of Mediterranean coastline straddling between the south of France and Tuscany.

Map from The Guardian

Unlike many who prefer the Cinque Terre, we headed west from Genoa to the less crowded villages along the Ligurian Sea. During the 19th century, these coastal towns were heavily populated by the British seeking moderate winter months. Today, the Brits seemed to have moved elsewhere, and the beautiful towns are less crowded, less hectic and more relaxing than many seaside “touristy” towns.

That said, these towns are not the easiest to reach. The average trip from Cortona includes three to four trains, and seven to eight hours. To shorten our departure, we spent the first night in Firenze, and then took an early morning train the next day.

Having an afternoon and evening in Firenze was lovely. We first headed over to Piazza Republicca, a place that holds happy memories for us. In 1997, we celebrated my parents 50th anniversary here. (Their room was the one with the beautiful balcony.)

As usual, a musician was playing, and this time he was an extremely talented classical and jazz violinist.

©blogginginitaly.com

We stopped for prosecco at Caffè Paszkowski, one of our favorite places in the piazza, and a good place from which to hear the musician.

©Caffè Paszkowski Website

©blogginginitaly.com

I have always believed that the best way to experience a town is to spend the night, and our stay in Firenze confirmed that once again. Take for example the Florence Cathedral, formally the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore. Begun in 1296 in the Gothic style, it was structurally completed by 1436, with the dome designed by Filippo Brunelleschi. In the evening, minus the large crowds, you can actually see the buildings from bottom to top.

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

The next morning, after only two trains and 4.5 hours, we reached our destination.

©blogginginitaly.com

Two years ago, we were introduced to Liguria by friends Daniela and Massimo. This time, on our own, we chose Alassio as our base to celebrate our October anniversary. We were on vacation and the view from our balcony didn’t disappoint.

©blogginginitaly.com

Alassio is a town on the western coast of Liguria, approximately 80 kilometres or 50 miles from the French border. It is known for its natural beauty and scenic views along the sea, and for good reason. The sandy beaches go on forever,

©blogginginitaly.com

and walking and bike riding are easy along manicured stone paths that reach from town to town.

©blogginginitaly.com

The town centre, or Budello, just off the beachfront, is filled with bars, shops, cafès and restaurants.

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

Len quickly made a friend during our first lunch at the beach,

©blogginginitaly.com

who persistently pecked at Len’s leg when the peanuts were gone!

©blogginginitaly.com

The second day, we walked to the next town, Laigueglia, enjoying the sea breezes and taking in the colorful sights.

©blogginginitaly.com

When we passed this villa high on a hill, I couldn’t help but wonder –when was it built, who had lived there, what had happened to them, why did they desert her?

Scenes like this, and the mesmerizing sounds of the sea, could surely be a writer’s inspiration.

©blogginginitaly.com

Before heading back to Alassio, we considered walking the 50 miles to France, ok, just kidding, but  local buses and trains do run between the towns and the border.

Speaking of writers, in the early 1950’s, Ernest Hemingway was a frequent visitor to Alassio, then an international jet-set location. One of Hemingway’s favorite spots was the famous Caffè Roma.  These photos are from their menu.

And this is the caffè today.

©blogginginitaly.com

As the story goes, Mario Berrino, one of the founders of the caffè, loved to show customers all the famous autographs and dedications he had collected over the years. As Hemingway was signing the guest book, Berrino shared with him his idea. He wanted to put each signature on a ceramic tile and create a colorful wall for all to enjoy. Hemingway was in total agreement. To avoid  bureaucratic obstacles, Berrino and a few friends put up the first three tiles, including Hemingway’s, early one morning. After no one complained, they added a few more. Apparently, the mayor liked the idea and turned a blind eye. Today, there are about 550 tiles that make up the Muretto di Alassio.

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

In Alassio, there are plenty of restaurants to choose from, offering a variety of dishes including pizza, pasta and seafood. And some even have music. Daniela suggested we head to Mezzaluna, one of her favorites, and we soon learned why. These guys had the house rockin’

©blogginginitaly.com

while the patrons enjoyed local dishes.

©blogginginitaly.com

We were fortunate to have perfect fall weather, warm sunny days and cool clear night. Sunsets were filled with painted skies

©blogginginitaly.com

followed by radiant moon glow.

©blogginginitaly.com

And when darkness set in, the pier and the paths were always well lit.

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

Not to be outdone, however, was the constantly changing view from our balcony, this one before sunrise. With the temperate weather, we were able to leave our terrace doors open and fall asleep to the repetitive sound of the waves lapping against the shore.

©blogginginitaly.com

A few hours later, the sun was glistening on the sea. It was time for our next walk.

©blogginginitaly.com

With such beautiful scenery, it seemed to me a good idea to leave something personal behind, if only temporarily.

©blogginginitaly.com

And while my footprints have surely washed away, what will last forever are the great memories we have as we think about our time in Alassio.

©blogginginitaly.com

As I wrote when this blog began, 

Judy and Len
too young to be old 
and to old to be young
but just the right age to be 
traveling, exploring and sharing
our adventures.

May we continue to continue.

Happy Anniversary, Len, ti amo!

©blogginginitaly.com

Ciao,
Judy

 

 

 

.

 

 

 

 

Funghi Feast: *Mushrooms*

13 Oct

With warm days, cool nights, and the moon just right, Tuscan mushroom seekers are busy, and that includes Carlo, our resident fungaiolo (mushroom hunter/seeker). He heads to the mountain forests, filled with a variety of trees including chestnut, pine, oak and beech, and the ideal habitat for funghi. If you ask, however, just know that a dedicated fungaiolo never reveals where he/she searches.

©blogginginitaly.com

While he headed off to the forest, Fernanda surprised us with one of Len’s favorite dishes, spaghetti alle vongole. At the local pescheria, or fish market, one can easily find the sweet, tender and tasty veraci, or tiny baby clams in the shell, as well as slightly larger clams which she combined for a delicious dish.

©blogginginitaly.com

Carlo finally returned with a smile on his face that spelled success. He proudly displayed his bounty of mushrooms, including the prized Porcini, Gallinaccio (Chanterelle), Ovuli (orange color, egg-shaped), Mazza di Tamburo, (drum mallet or stick shape), and a few miscellaneous stragglers. Knowing where to go, and having an aged Panda, both help in the hunt.

©blogginginitaly.com

In Italy, Len and I have planted and harvested vegetables and picked fruit, tomatoes and olives, but we had never really cleaned mushrooms, not ones freshly picked from the forest. And what a learning experience it was. Fernanda was anxious to get started cleaning.

©blogginginitaly.com

We had, of course, the same question most would ask:

“How do you know if they are poisonous?”

And the answer, as you might guess, is experience. Carlo accompanied his dad beginning at age seven. Fernanda’s parents both scoured the forest since she was a child. And now they just know, a skill passed from generation to generation. They know the varieties, where to look, what to pick, what to leave behind, how to clean, what to cut off, how to store, how to serve, and so on. And thus we began to learn, under the watchful eye of Fernanda’s mom and instructions per Fernanda and Carlo.

©blogginginitaly.com

Using the end of a knife, the dirt is removed by a quick but not too firm scraping.

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

Many mushrooms are like sponges, so after the first cleaning, they are lightly rinsed, not soaked.

©blogginginitaly.com

And then on to others.

©blogginginitaly.com

Len and Carlo took the residue we had scraped off to the orto which will become compost for next year’s tomatoes. Remember, it’s Italy, and nothing is thrown out if possible.

©blogginginitaly.com

They even found a few more tomatoes on the vines.

©blogginginitaly.com

Then, Fernanda went to work, quickly and skillfully slicing the porcini for freezing.

©blogginginitaly.com

Her hands flew though the motions, and soon we had 14 packages of porcini ready to freeze for future pasta, risotto, and/or frying.

©blogginginitaly.com

Once the aromas began filling the house, we knew she had started cooking…

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

But the “pièce de ré·sis·tance” was the fresh porcini risotto. Move over farm to table, this was mountain to mouth! The smell, the taste, the WOW. The best I have ever had.

©blogginginitaly.com

Complimenti to Carlo, our favorite fungaiolo,

©blogginginitaly.com

and to Fernanda, our talented cook!

©blogginginitaly.com

Thanks for the lessons, the food, the fun and your friendship!

©blogginginitaly.com

No matter the season, we continue building memories, each and every wonderful day.

©blogginginitaly.com

Ciao,
Judy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

%d bloggers like this: