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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

Museo Cappella Sansevero’s Veiled Christ

15 Mar

Some art is amazing, and then some is simply extraordinary. Such is the case with the  Veiled Christ sculpture in the Museo Cappella Sansevero in Napoli.

Between 1740-1770, the 7th prince of Sansevero, Raymond di Sagro, created the historic chapel that exists today.  He called on renowned artists around the world to build his family’s mausoleum, and at the same time, reflect his personality as a patron of the arts, inventor, publisher, man of letters, alchemist, and Grand Master of the Freemasons in the Kingdom of Naples.

The following description is taken from literature about Museo Cappella Sansevero:

Veiled Christ’s production was originally assigned to sculptor Antonio Coradini, however,  he died a short time later. The assignment thus passed to Giuseppe Sanmartino, who was charged with producing “a marble statue sculpted with the greatest realism, representing Our Lord Jesus Christ in death, covered by a transparent shroud carved from the same block of stone as the statue.” 

Sanmartino produced a work with the dead Christ laid on a couch, covered by a veil which adheres perfectly to his form. The mastery of the Neapolitan sculptor lies in his successful depiction of the suffering that Christ had undergone during the crucifixion through the veil, under which signs of his pain can be seen on his face and body.

At the sculpture’s feet, the artist also carved the instruments of his torture: the crown of thorns, pliers, and some shackles. 

Years ago as a student in Italy, I was able to get close to Michelangelo’s Pietà and David, and even photograph them. Such is not the case today in both Rome and Firenze. Yet in this “small” and private chapel, although photos are not permitted, one can get very close to the sculpture and marvel at its intricacies.

There are other incredible sculptures and paintings in the chapel, but mostly I found it hard to move from the Veiled Christ, a sculpture I had not even known existed. How did he do this? I kept wondering. How?

For me, this sculpture ranks right up there with both the Pietà and David. Exquisite, incredible, straordinaria!

Creative Commons

Creative Commons

Click on any of the photos to enlarge for more detail. Also, for additional information on this museum and treasures, click museosansevero.it

Ciao,
Judy

 

Make No Small Things

14 Mar

Being from Chicago, I am very familiar with the words of Daniel Burnham:

Make no little plans; they have no magic
to stir men’s blood and probably themselves will not be realized.

As I wander around Napoli, I wonder who said,

Make no small things, and make them colorful.
They will need to stir men’s sense of wonder and last forever.

Whether referring to churches, piazzas, statues, buildings, harbors, fortresses, castles, etc., there is nothing small about Napoli. Here are just a few examples.

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Ciao,
Judy

Colorful, Grand Napoli

10 Mar

When we arrived last night, there were already two calls waiting for us at our hotel. Neapolitan hospitality.

Giovanni, the proprietor of Giovanni’s Hostel where Benita stayed two years ago, invited us for dinner. Being too tired, we opted to wait until today to meet him. Before we left our hotel, these were the morning’s colorful views from our balcony.

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©Blogginginitaly.com

It’s clear in the moments after we met Giovanni why he’s rated the #1 hostel in Napoli. His love and knowledge of this historic city, as well as his devotion to his guests, was evident immediately. “No one should leave Napoli without savoring fresh mozzarella,” he said, and so we joined him and two of his departing guests on his large deck for deliciously fresh, just made mozzarella.

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©Blogginginitaly.com

Just after those guests left, Tomas from Argentina arrived. Since Giovanni was going to give his “desk tour” of Napoli to Tomas, he invited us to join. As we might have guessed, it was incredible in interest and detail. He walked us through many of the “must do” sights and activities,  pulling various books, maps, charts, etc. from desk drawers and shelves. Here’s a copy of the color coded map we left with.

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©Blogginginitaly.com

After our tour planning, Giovanni decided it was time for lunch, so he pulled some of his homemade Genovese sauce from the freezer, (slow cooked onions and beef), and made pasta Genovese for us. Smiles all around!

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©Blogginginitaly.com

During lunch, we talked a lot about Napoli and the fact that so many only know it as a train station they use to pass through to other parts of southern Italy. Unfortunate indeed, as there is truly so much art, history and culture here. Giovanni showed this CNN clip he recently found, and I pass it along to you. It really gives a wonderful view of Napoli, a city well worth a visit.

As for my other call at the hotel, you’ll have to wait a day or two to learn about it. In the meantime, suffice it to say that we are delighted we are finally experiencing Napoli, its history, culture, food, treasures and people.

Grazie mille, Giovanni, for your friendship, food and hospitality!

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

Ciao,

Judy and Leonardo

Destination Napoli

7 Mar

The saying goes:

If you go to Naples for a day, you’ll hate it. If you go for a week, you’ll love it. And if you go for a year, you’ll never want to leave. 

This thought has rattled around in my brain for some time now. And since my maternal grandparents were born in this part of Italy, I really want to love it.

We’ve been to Napoli in the past, or perhaps more accurately, through Napoli, but never spending enough time to bond with this city. Here we are in 2007, enjoying the best pizza ever. In fact, it was this restaurant that inspired Len to begin his pizza making.

Pizza In Napoli, 2007 ©Blogginginitaly.com

Pizza In Napoli, 2007 ©Blogginginitaly.com

Today, as in the past, any number of trip review sites are filled with images and stories of the narrow streets, dirty alleys, and attempted purse snatchings. Our loving Tuscan friends caution us to stai attento!, be careful. But what makes me smile are the stories from travelers who stayed longer than one night and took the time to absorb the culture and befriend the people. They gush about their love of Napoli.

Two  years ago, when our daughter Benita visited Napoli as a student, she wrote:

Typically, when you tell someone you’re going to Naples, you either get a frightened look or a frank “be safe.” Usually, it’s both. I would soon learn that these people, many of whom have never even been to Naples, could not have been more misguided about this Italian city. (Rome is Always A Good Idea)

With great anticipation, we depart tomorrow. Stay tuned as our Italian adventure continues!

Ciao,
Judy

Cantina de’ Corvi, Spoleto

9 Oct

During our visit to Spoleto, our hotel clerk recommended the Cantina de’ Corvi, a wonderful place to eat.

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We went for lunch and liked it so much, we returned for dinner. Can’t have too much of a good thing!

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Meet Ciro and Marianna – the owners of this new restaurant.

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©Blogginginitaly.com

Marianna is the chef, and quite a skilled one at that. Turns out they are from Naples, the native home of most of my ancestors. Marianna’s love of cooking recipes passed down from her grandmother, as well as Ciro’s appreciation of her home cooking, led them to open the restaurant in early 2015.

For lunch, we started with stuffed peppers and eggplant. Delicious.

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©Blogginginitaly.com

Then we each had pasta pomodoro. Why is it that fresh tomatoes at home never quite taste like these in Italy?

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©Blogginginitaly.com

We kidded a lot with Ciro, he asking us to correct his English and we asking the same of him of our Italian. Ciro, ricordi: “Is there something else you would like?”

Their menu boasts of food from the land and sea, so in addition to pasta, they have quite a selection of beef and seafood.

Our conversation turned to baccala, that awful looking salted fish I see at the market.

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Wiki

I made a face and Len told Ciro that as kids, they would all feign illness when his grandmother announced baccala was for dinner.

Ciro said he had felt the same, and for years, his wife asked him to try her baccala. When he finally did, they put it on the menu. Ciro convinced Len to try it for dinner – no obligation if he didn’t like it. I was still skeptical.

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Well, as you might guess, it was delicious. Even I tasted it and agreed.

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My dinner was spaghetti con vongole, one of my favorite dishes in Italy.

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Both dishes, as is the case with great recipes from Napoli, include those incredible tomatoes.

For dessert, we shared a slice of ricotta and pear cake – light and not too sweet.

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We’ll definitely return to Spoleto, not only for its history and beauty, but also to spend more time with our new friends, Ciro and Marianna. If you go, please tell them Giuditta sent you. And by the way, I gave Don Matteo their card, so you might just bump into him as well!

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Ciao,

Judy

 

 

 

 

Cantanapoli

11 Sep

The town of Cortona sits in the center of the country, and the speciality, besides pici pasta, is chianina beef.

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When you look at a map, it is easy to understand why seafood is not a mainstay of many of the restaurants.  But there are a few exceptions, several with connections to Napoli.

Last night we had dinner at Cantanapoli with dear friends Fernanda and Carlo. This restaurant is located in Camucia at the base of Cortona. Although there are many pasta dishes on the menu, Carlo asked Mario, the owner, to create our menu – one of only seafood.

Not only was it delicious, it was so fresh you could almost taste the sea. I love this from their website:  the dishes on the menu may vary based on what the sea gives every day.

Our Primo:

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Our Secondo:

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In addition, they serve Neapolitan pizzas which are baked in a wood oven, using DOP buffalo mozzarella and cherry tomatoes from Vesuvius.

The company was great, the food delicious, and the evening a perfect way to celebrate Fernanda’s upcoming birthday. Buon Compleanno, Ferdanda!

Secondi:

Ciao,

Judy

Buona Festa di San Giuseppe!

19 Mar

March 19 is the feast of St. Joseph, patron saint of the family, and it is a feast day celebrated by Italians everywhere. 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!

Ciao,

Judy

“Italy the Extraordinary Commonplace”

25 Jan

We often read of the demise of Italy as a major producer and exporter, so the following video was made to counter some of these less than favorable descriptions.

Per Matteo Renzi, Prime Minister of Italy,

The video “Italy the extraordinary commonplace” is designed to show Italy beyond stereotypes, a major producer of technological goods and the second European exporter in mechanical engineering and automation. 

Since I love visiting Italy, I found this information to be great news. As for the format, well, leave it to the ever creative Italians. Thanks, Anna, for sharing.

Ciao,

Judy

Ristorante AD Braceria

20 Jul

There is a wonderful new restaurant in Cortona called Ristorante AD Braceria. The ancient setting was rebuilt several times over many years from four small homes with a street down the middle and the building is still owned by the original family. What was the old street now runs through the center of the restaurant.

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©Blogginginitaly.com

Today, there are many intimate settings for dining…(if only these walls could talk!)

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Business partners Anna and Tito opened this wonderful restaurant which specializes in meat and fish, the latter being a great addition to Cortona, more known for Chianina beef. I felt an instant connection with Anna, as she is from Naples and her husband Marco is from Nola, southern towns where my maternal grandparents were born.

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©Blogginginitaly.com

Braceria can be translated as a carvery, or a place where they slice the meet to order, whether it is prosciutto, veal, or a chianina beef steak.

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At AD, the fish is always fresh.

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We have dined here many times with local and visiting friends and have enjoyed a variety of dishes each time.

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Our meals have been delicious and beautifully presented, and we often let Anna decide our menu. Here’s a sampling:

Shrimp carpaccio with burrata:

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Breaded Clams:

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Seafood salad with five grains:

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Salmon marinated with citrus fruits:

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Octopus salad with mashed potatoes:

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Mixed grilled seafood:

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Len having fun:

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Handmade fresh pasta stuffed with sea bass, shrimp and tomatoes:

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Rigatoni with artichokes, bacon and pecorino:

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Grilled chicken (wait time 35 minutes and well worth the wait!)

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Grilled fillet with rosemary:

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Handcut veal with rosemary:

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Fresh green beans with balsamic:

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And my very favorite –

Paccheri with braceria ragu (veal and pork):

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This pasta is a traditional peasant dish from Naples, made from the various cuts of meat, and simmered for 12 hours with tomatoes and wine. Note: THIS IS THE BEST PASTA I HAVE EVER EATEN!

As one might expect, the desserts are incredible.

Hot and dark chocolate cake with gelato:

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Daily fresh fruit sorbet, (on left) …Typical dessert from Napoli on right:

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We are delighted with the addition of this restaurant in Cortona. Incredible food in an incredible setting – Perfetto!

Ciao,

Judy

 

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