Tag Archives: Italian Culture

La Pasqua: Easter Eye Candy [a foto blog]

Prefer to read this post in English? Skip to the text in  green.

Così come guardare le vetrine non incide sui nostri budget, concedersi la bellezza di queste bellissime vetrine italiane decorate con esposizioni elaborate di dolci pasquali non ci metteranno dei centimetri alle vite… Meno male!

Just as window-shopping doesn’t put a dent in our budgets, indulging in the beauty of these beautiful Italian shop windows bedecked in elaborate displays of sweet treats for Easter won’t add inches to our waists… Thank goodness!

Per augurarvi una buona Pasqua, ecco alcune immagini scattate a Firenze di bellissime vetrine colme di dolci di ogni tipo per celebrare questa festa.

To wish you a happy Easter, here are some images captured in Florence of beautiful shop windows brimming with sweets of all kinds to celebrate this holiday.


easter shop windows italy

Coniglietti di ogni misura, in peluche e al cioccolato. / Bunnies in every size, as stuffed animals and in chocolate.

easter shop windows italy

Un’elegante vetrina rivestita in bianco sfoggia dei dolci più sofisticati tipo il torrone e la colomba. / An elegant window dressed in white shows off more sophisticated sweets such as nougat (front, L and R) and la colomba, a dove-shaped Easter cake (front center).

Un’esplosione di tutti i simboli primaverili e pasquali: agnelli, galline, anatroccoli e cestini pieni di uova colorate per tentare i giovanissimi ed anche i giovani di spirito. / An explosion of all the symbols of springtime and Easter: lambs, hens, ducklings and baskets full of colored eggs to tempt the very young and also the young at heart.

 Buona Pasqua! / Happy Easter!


Qual è il tuo dolce pasquale preferito?

What’s your favorite Easter candy or dessert?

Posted in Italian Food, Italian Holidays, Italian Vocabulary | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

“Blackbird Days”: Italy’s Distant Cousin to Groundhog Day

Does groundhog see his shadow?

Christmas holidays have come and gone, and by the end of January, many of us have had it with cold, gray, rainy or snowy weather. How much more of this and how much longer ’til spring? If you’re in the U.S., you might check in to find out whether the groundhog saw his shadow. In Italy, there’s a similar spring-predicting folklore, and it centers on the humble blackbird, who according to legend, started out white…


Prefer to read this post in English? Skip to the text in  green.

“Blackbird days”

I giorni della merla sono il 29, 30, e 31 di gennaio. Secondo la leggenda, se questi giorni sono freddi la primavera sarà bella, e se sono caldi la primavera arriverà tardi.  Questo è forse la cosa più vicina nel folclore italiano all’osservanza di Groundhog Day (2 febbraio) negli Stati Uniti, secondo la quale, se la marmotta (the groundhog) vede la sua ombra, l’inverno durerà altre sei settimane. Se invece non vede l’ombra la primavera è in arrivo.

January 29-30-31

“Blackbird days” are the 29th, 30th and 31st of January.  According to legend, if these days are cold, spring will be beautiful, and if they are warm, spring will arrive late.  This is perhaps the closest thing in Italian folklore to the observance of Groundhog Day (February 2nd) in the United States, according to which, if the groundhog sees its shadow, winter will last another six weeks.  If instead it doesn’t see its shadow, spring is on the way.

Merla, blackbird, was once white

La leggenda dei giorni della merla ha le sue radici nei tempi romani quando nel calendario il mese di gennaio ancora conteneva solo 28 giorni.  Secondo la storia, una merla, con uno splendido candido piumaggio, veniva regolarmente strapazzata da gennaio, mese freddo e ombroso, che si divertiva ad aspettare che lei uscisse dal nido in cerca di cibo, per gettare sulla terra freddo e gelo.

January casts bitter cold & snow

The legend of  “blackbird days” has its roots in Roman times when the calendar month of January still only contained 28 days.  According to the story, a blackbird, with her splendid, snow white plumage was usually thrown about by January, a cold and overcast month, who amused himself by waiting for her to leave her nest in search of food, and then casting bitter cold and frost onto the Earth.

Merla sings to mock January

Stanca delle continue persecuzioni, la merla un anno decise di fare provviste sufficienti per un mese, e si rinchiuse nella sua tana, al riparo, per tutto il mese di gennaio, che allora aveva solo ventotto giorni. L’ultimo giorno del mese, la merla, pensando di aver ingannato il cattivo gennaio, uscì dal nascondiglio e si mise a cantare per sbeffeggiarlo.

Tired of the ongoing harassment, one year the blackbird decided to gather enough provisions for a month and closed herself in her burrow, taking refuge for the entire month of January, which at the time had only 28 days.  The last day of the month, thinking to have outsmarted the wicked January, she left her hideaway and started singing to mock him.

January gets mad and borrows days from February

Gennaio se ne risentì così tanto che chiese in prestito tre giorni a febbraio (che allora aveva ancora 31 giorni) e si scatenò con bufere di neve, vento, gelo, e pioggia. La merla si rifugiò  in un camino e lì restò al riparo per tre giorni. Quando la merla uscì, era sì salva, ma il suo bel piumaggio si era annerito a causa del fumo e del fuliggine, e malgrado cercava di ripulirsi non ci riusciva.

Merla seeks refuge in a chimney

January took such great offense that he asked February (which then still had 31 days) for a loan of three days, and he went crazy with snow storms, wind, ice, and rain.  The blackbird took refuge in a chimney and there she stayed sheltered for three days.  When the blackbird came out, she was indeed safe, but her beautiful plumage had blackened from the smoke and soot, and despite her efforts to clean herself up, she wasn’t able.

Since then Merla’s feathers have been black

Il potente gennaio si godette la scena e poi disse con il suo vocione: “Che questo serva da lezione a voi e a tutti gli animali: non si scherza con le stagioni, con il freddo o con il clima. Non ci si può prendere gioco della Natura. Da oggi in poi io (gennaio) avrò 31 giorni e gli ultimi tre giorni saranno i più freddi dell’anno. Per ricordare a tutti questa storia, i merli porteranno per sempre queste piume nere”.

Blackbird Days proverb

Powerful January was amused by the scene, and then he said in his thundering voice, “ Let this serve as a lesson to you and to all the animals:  You don’t joke with the seasons, with the cold or with the climate.  You cannot mock Nature.  From today forward, I (January) will have 31 days, and the last three will be the coldest of the year.  To remind everyone of this story, the blackbirds will forever more bear black feathers.


Well, here where I live, the last three days of January were not very cold, so, I guess that means spring is still long way off… *sigh*. How about the weather where you are? Heard of the “Blackbird days” story before? What’s your take on animal and weather folklore?

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Auguri alle donne! | International Women’s Day

festa donna 8 marzoMarch 8th is International Women’s Day. This day is observed widely in many countries around the world. Oddly though, it is not observed in the United States. In fact, the first time I’d heard of it was shortly after I’d moved to Italy.

In italia la Festa della Donna si festeggia l’8 di marzo. | In Italy, Women’s day is celebrated on March 8th.

festa donna mazze mimose

Mazze di mimose | Bouquets of mimosa flowers

Gli uomini regalano i fiori, solitamente le mimose, alle colleghe di lavoro e a tutte le altre donne importanti nelle loro vite… mamme, sorelle, fidanzate, ragazze, ecc. | Men give flowers, usually mimosas, to their female colleagues and to all the other important women in their lives… moms, sisters, fiances, girlfriends, etc.

Contrary to popular belief, the mimosa is not just a popular cocktail made from succo d’arancia (orange juice) and champagne, though I suspect this drink was inspired by the true mimosa.

mimosa.drink

La mimosa piu` famosa — the most famous mimosa: Mimosa Cocktails

The mimosa is the fragrant and fluffy yellow pom-pom-like flower of the acacia tree.  California is full of these trees this time of year, as is Italy, which is why this flower is so common on this day.  I love the smell of these flowers — their fragrance zooms me straight back to wonderful memories.

Below are a few Women’s Day auguri (greetings) to share with someone special:

  1. Questa mimosa è bella come te che splendi e profumi nel giorno della tua festa.” | This mimosa is as beautiful as you that shine and are fragrant on your special day.
  2. Auguri a tutte le donne del mondo ed in particolare alla mia che è la più bella che ci sia!” | Good wishes to all the women of the world and in particular to mine who is the most beautiful there is!
  3. La donna è la colonna portante del mondo, senza te tutto crollerebbe e la nostra famiglia andrebbe in rovina… Grazie donna, grazie mamma.” | The woman is the main supporting column of the world, without you everything would collapse and our family would go into ruin… Thank you woman, thank you mom.

women dressed in yellowWomen’s Day is a celebration of all that is wonderful about women, and it is a day to pause and reflect on the accomplishments and importance of the role of women in our world. It’s also a moment to consider improvements and changes needed to better the quality of women ‘s lives in general, and especially of women and girls whose rights and life conditions are extremely compromised or perilous.

Remember to give an extra hug or shout out to the women who matter in your life today. And remember also the women whose lives are not what they could be. We’ve come a long way baby, ma c’è ne ancora di strada da fare! (there’s still a ways to go!)

Have you heard of Women’s Day before?  Do you celebrate it?  Which mimosa do you prefer, the flower or the cocktail?  😉  Love your comments!

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Love, Italian Style | Amore all’italiana

saying i love you in italian“Ti amo” or “Ti voglio bene”?

That is the question for italophiles this upcoming day of San Valentino.  The answer, it turns out, depends on the object of your affections.

“Ti amo” (I love you) is reserved for romantic loves, while “Ti voglio bene” (I want/wish you well) is used to say I love you to everyone: family, friends, and lovers. Per non fare brutta figura (to not make a faux pas) watch the video below!

After the video, check out the round-up of Italian love phrases to help you sweep your adorato (adored one) off their feet! Plus a link to send free online Italian Valentine’s Day cards.

Video:  Saying “I love you” in Italian

More instructional videos >>

Be your own Don Giovanni with these romantic phrases!

  1. Buon San Valentino (Happy Valentine’s Day)
  2. Ti amo. (I love you. Used only for romantic love.)
  3. Ti adoro. (I adore you.)
  4. Amore mio (My love, my beloved)
  5. Tesoro mio (My treasure)
  6. Ti voglio bene. (I love/care about you. Used for all types of relationships: family, friends, lovers.)
  7. I tuoi occhi brillano come le stelle. (Your eyes shine like stars.)
  8. Sei bella come una rosa. (You are as beautiful as a rose.)
  9. Per sempre (Forever)
  10. Per sempre tua,o (Forever yours)
  11. Sono pazza,o di te. (I’m crazy for you.)
  12. Anima mia (My soul)
  13. Sei incredibile. (You’re incredible.)
  14. Sei bellissima,o. (You’re very beautiful.)
  15. Sei un dono. (You are a gift.)
  16. Sei stupenda,o. (You’re fantastic.)

Send a free online Italian Valentine’s card to someone special at www.kisseo.it.

heart in cappuccino coffeeA tutti i miei lettori un buon San Valentino! Siete stupendi! (To all of my readers, a happy Valentine’s Day! You’re fantastic!)

Got a favorite Italian  love phrase or anecdote? Ever wished someone Happy Valentine’s in italiano? Sei un tipo romantico? (Are you the romantic type?) Leave a comment below!

Posted in Expressions, Italian Customs, Italian Holidays, italian idiomatic expressions, Italian idioms, learn italian, Sayings | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Auguri alle donne! | International Women’s Day

festa donna 8 marzoMarch 8th is International Women’s Day. This day is observed widely in many countries around the world. Oddly though, it is not observed in the United States. In fact, the first time I’d heard of it was shortly after I’d moved to Italy.

In italia la Festa della Donna si festeggia l’8 di marzo. | In Italy, Women’s day is celebrated on March 8th.

festa donna mazze mimose

Mazze di mimose | Bouquets of mimosa flowers

Gli uomini regalano i fiori, solitamente le mimose, alle colleghe di lavoro e a tutte le altre donne importanti nelle loro vite… mamme, sorelle, fidanzate, ragazze, ecc. | Men give flowers, usually mimosas, to their female colleagues and to all the other important women in their lives… moms, sisters, fiances, girlfriends, etc.

Contrary to popular belief, the mimosa is not just a popular cocktail made from succo d’arancia (orange juice) and champagne, though I suspect this drink was inspired by the true mimosa.

mimosa.drink

La mimosa piu` famosa — the most famous mimosa: Mimosa Cocktails

The mimosa is the fragrant and fluffy yellow pom-pom-like flower of the acacia tree.  California is full of these trees this time of year, as is Italy, which is why this flower is so common on this day.  I love the smell of these flowers — their fragrance zooms me straight back to wonderful memories.

Below are a few Women’s Day auguri (greetings) to share with someone special:

  1. Questa mimosa è bella come te che splendi e profumi nel giorno della tua festa.” | This mimosa is as beautiful as you that shine and are fragrant on your special day.
  2. Auguri a tutte le donne del mondo ed in particolare alla mia che è la più bella che ci sia!” | Good wishes to all the women of the world and in particular to mine who is the most beautiful there is!
  3. La donna è la colonna portante del mondo, senza te tutto crollerebbe e la nostra famiglia andrebbe in rovina… Grazie donna, grazie mamma.” | The woman is the main supporting column of the world, without you everything would collapse and our family would go into ruin… Thank you woman, thank you mom.

women dressed in yellowWomen’s Day is a celebration of all that is wonderful about women, and it is a day to pause and reflect on the accomplishments and importance of the role of women in our world. It’s also a moment to consider improvements and changes needed to better the quality of women ‘s lives in general, and especially of women and girls whose rights and life conditions are extremely compromised or perilous.

Remember to give an extra hug or shout out to the women who matter in your life today. And remember also the women whose lives are not what they could be. We’ve come a long way baby, ma c’è ne ancora di strada da fare! (there’s still a ways to go!)

Have you heard of Women’s Day before?  Do you celebrate it?  Which mimosa do you prefer, the flower or the cocktail?  😉  Love your comments!

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I giorni della merla / Days of the Blackbird, Groundhog’s Italian Cousin

[NB: This post is in Italian interspersed with the English translation.]

merla, giorni della3I giorni della merla sono il 29, 30, e 31 di gennaio. Secondo la leggenda, se questi giorni sono freddi la primavera sara` bella, e se sono caldi la primavera arrivera`tardi.  Questo e` forse la cosa piu` vicina nel folclore italiano all’osservanza di Groundhog Day  (2 febbraio) negli Stati Uniti, secondo la quale, se la marmotta (the groundhog) vede la sua ombra, l’inverno durera` altre sei settimane. Se invece non vede l’ombra la primavera e` in arrivo.

merla, giorni dellaThe days of the blackbird are the 29th, 30th and 31st of January.  According to the legend, if these days are cold, spring will be nice/ beautiful, and if they are warm, spring will arrive late.  This is perhaps the closest thing in Italian folklore to the observance of Groundhog Day (February 2nd) in the United States, according to which, if the groundhog sees its shadow, winter will last another six weeks.  If instead it doesn’t see its shadow, spring is on the way.

groundhogLa leggenda dei giorni della merla ha le sue radici nei tempi romani quando nel calendario il mese di gennaio ancora conteneva solo 28 giorni.  Secondo la storia, una merla, con uno splendido candido piumaggio, era regolarmente strapazzata da gennaio, mese freddo e ombroso, che si divertiva ad aspettare che lei uscisse dal nido in cerca di cibo, per gettare sulla terra freddo e gelo.

 

merla biancaThe legend of the days of the blackbird has its roots in Roman times when in the calendar the month of January still only contained 28 days.  According to the story, a blackbird, with her splendid, snow white plumage mistreated/overwrought by January, a cold and overcast month, who amused himself by waiting for her to leave her nest in search of food, and then casting bitter cold and frost onto the Earth.

sbeffeffiareStanca delle continue persecuzioni, la merla un anno decise di fare provviste sufficienti per un mese, e si rinchiuse nella sua tana, al riparo, per tutto il mese di gennaio, che allora aveva solo ventotto giorni. L’ultimo giorno del mese, la merla, pensando di aver ingannato il cattivo gennaio, uscì dal nascondiglio e si mise a cantare per sbeffeggiarlo.

Tired of the ongoing harassment, one year the blackbird decided to gather enough provisions for a month and closed herself in her nest-lair, taking refuge for the entire month of January, which at the time had only 28 days.  The last day of the month, thinking to have outsmarted the wicked January, she left her hideaway and started singing to mock him.

gennaio tira freddoGennaio se ne risentì così tanto che chiese in prestito tre giorni a febbraio (che allora aveva ancora 31 giorni) e si scatenò con bufere di neve, vento, gelo, e pioggia. La merla si rifugiò  in un camino e lì restò al riparo per tre giorni. Quando la merla uscì, era sì salva, ma il suo bel piumaggio si era annerito a causa del fumo e del fuliggine, e malgrado cercava di ripulirsi non ci riusciva.

January took such great offence that he asked February (which then still had 31 days) for a loan of three days, and he let rip with snow storms, wind, ice, and rain.  The blackbird merla in caminotook shelter in a chimney and there she stayed sheltered for three days.  When the blackbird came out, she was indeed safe, but her beautiful plumage had blackened from the smoke and soot, and despite her efforts to clean herself up, she wasn’t able.

Il potente gennaio si godette la scena e poi disse con il suo vocione: “Che questo serva da lezione a voi e a tutti gli animali: non si scherza con le stagioni, con il freddo o con il clima. Non ci si può prendere gioco della Natura. Da oggi in poi io (gennaio) avrò 31 giorni e gli ultimi tre giorni saranno i più freddi dell’anno. Per ricordare a tutti questa storia, i merli porteranno per sempre queste merla8piume nere”.

Powerful January was amused by the scene, and then he said in his thundering voice “ Let this serve as a lesson to you and to all the animals:  You don’t joke with the seasons, with the cold or with the climate.  You cannot make fun of/trifle with Nature.  From today forward, I (January) will have 31 days, and the last three will be the coldest of the year.  To remind everyone of this story, the merli (blackbirds) will forever more wear/bear these black feathers.

Auguri a tutti per dei giorni della merla caldi ed una primavera anticipata!  |  Best wishes to all for warm days of the blackbird and an early spring!

Have you heard of i giorni della merla before?  Know any  fables or other lore involving weather and animals?  Your comments always welcome!

Posted in Italian Proverbs, Italian Vocabulary, learn italian | Tagged , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

La Befana viene stanotte! | Befana Comes Tonite!

befana cartoon, on broomBabbo Natale (Santa Claus) didn’t check everything off your list? Not to worry. You get a second chance tonite.
Kid’s all over Italy are getting ready to hang up their stockings for la Befana to fill this eve of Epiphany, January 6, the day of when the wise men are said to have arrived in Bethlehem.

Just like Babbo Natale, la Befana flies through the air (in place of a sleigh with reindeer, befana dollthe Befana flies a broomstick – both pretty incredible, really) from house to house where there are bambini, entering by way of il camino (the chimney) and leaving treats for i bambini che sono stati buoni (the kids who have been good) and coal for i bambini cattivi (the naughty children). No mention is made of whether she has a list that she checks twice, but I digress . . .

Where Babbo Natale is rotund, merry, white-bearded and dressed in red and white, la Befana is depicted as a smiling , grandmotherly-looking witch, wearing tattered clothing and covered in soot astride a broomstick.
So what do we know of la Befana’s origins? Well, it’s all pretty much lore; just like what we know of Santa from “Santa Claus is coming to Town”, etc., it’s pretty fantastical… and both seem like stories that pre-date Christian traditions.

befana + re magiThe most common story I encounter is that la Befana lived along the route the Magi took to the Natvity Scene. In this version, they stopped at her house seeking food and shelter, but she wasn’t feeling sociable and sent them away. Later, la Befana has a change of heart and sets out to find the Magi, and to accompany them to find the Christ Child. But by now, she’s too late to catch up, and she never finds the child. So, as the story goes, to this day, at this time of year, she still travels the world, leaving gifts for every child, lest they be il Gesu` Bambino (the Baby Jesus).befana festa poster7

 

What does the Befana bring to good children? That depends on the traditions (and budget) of the household where they live. Most just get little treats, candies and gizmos, similar to what St. Nick (from whom Santa Claus derives) puts in stockings of kids whose families observe St. Nicholas Day (Dec. 6), but some lucky kids get iPods and other such fancy loot!

 

befana di personaMost cities hold special events and parties dedicated to celebrating la festa dell’Epifania/la Befana (Epiphany holiday). People play bingo and cards, and gather outdoors in the piazze (squares) for festivities, including music, processions, live nativity scenes, open-air markets,  live appearances by la Befana, and more. You’ll find links to a few of these happenings below. befana parade

And while it’s mainly a celebration for the kiddies, you’ll find adults getting in on the action, too, dressing up and parading around as la Befana in carne e ossa (in the flesh).  The picture here looks like a sort of Befana bunny hop!

befana calze

Feeling festive? Perhaps you want to get into the act, too. This could be a great time to adopt a fun new tradition, with kids and family or friends and housemates. All you need is una calza (a sock or stocking) – any type, even a long sock will do – and some little treats!

Buona Befana!

Have you ever heard of or celebrated la Befana? Comments welcome!

Epiphany/Befana celebrations in Italy:  Roma-Milano-Napoli  |  OstiaBaby Befana Party

 

Posted in Italian Customs, Italian Holidays, Italian Vocabulary, learn italian | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Lentils for Luck – Recipe for a Prosperous New Year | Lenticchie per fortuna – Ricetta per un prospero anno

Note: This post is in Italian interspersed with the approximate English translation.

gold coinsSecondo l’usanza italiana, se ti vuoi assicurare di un nuovo anno fortunato, a Capodanno  devi mangiare le lenticchie. Piatte e tonde, assomigliano le monete, e per il fatto che aumentano in misura durante la cottura, simboleggiano soldi e crescita finanziaria. Di solito in Italia le lenticchie si preparano in forma di una gustosa zuppa che viene mangiata nel periodo di Capodanno.

According to Italian custom, if you want to be sure to have good luck in the new year, you must eat lentils on New Year’s Eve/Day.  Flat and round, they resemble coins, and due to the fact that they expand in size during cooking, they symbolize money and financial growth.  In Italy, lentils are usually prepared in the form of a tasty soup that is eaten during the New Year period.

Ecco la mia ricetta – e` deliziosa e abbastanza facile.  Buon appetito e prospero anno !

Here’s my recipe – it’s delicious and pretty easy.  Good eating and prosperous new year!

Zuppa di lenticchie | Lentil Soup

Persone: 4  |  Preparazione: 30 minuti  |  Cottura: circa 2 ore   |  Difficolta`: medio

Serves: 4  |  Preparation: 30 minutes  |  Cooking time: about 2 hours  |  Difficulty: medium

Ingredienti | Ingredients  [Italian | English]lenticchie-2

300 gr lenticchie verdi secche | 10-11 oz dry green lentils

1-2 cucchiai olio d’oliva | 1-2 tblsp olive oil

1-2 cucchiai di burro | 1-2 tbsp butter

peperoncino q.b. /quanto basta | red chili pepper, to taste

1 cipolla tritata | 1 chopped onion

1 costola di sedano tritata | 1 stalk of celery, chopped

2 gambi di porro tritati | 2 bulbs/stems chopped leeks

1 carota tritata | 1 chopped carrot

1 bicchiere di vino bianco secco | 1 c./8oz. dry white wine

1 pomodoro piccolo tritato | 1 small chopped tomato

1 foglia di alloro | 1 bay  leaf

8-10 bicchieri/2-2 ½ litri d’acqua | 8-10 c./2-2 ½ Qt. water

Dadi di brodo vegetale q.b./quanto basta (circa un dado per litro d’acqua) | Broth cubes, as needed (approx. 1 cube per quart of water)

Sale e pepe, q.b. / salt and pepper, to taste

Qualche rametto di timo fresco | A few sprigs of fresh thyme

Facoltativo: 300 gr cotechino o altra salsiccia, | Optional:  10-11 oz. “cotechino”, a traditional Italian pork sausage, or other sausage

lenticchiePreparazione  |  Preparation

Sciacquate le lenticchie e mettetele in ammolo in acqua fredda per circa 2-3 ore.

Rinse and soak lentils in cold water for approx. 2-3 hours.

Riscaldate l’acqua con i dadi di brodo e tenetela coperta a fuoco lento finche occorre.

Heat the water with broth cubes and keep covered at a simmer until needed.

Trascorso il tempo di ammollo, potete iniziare a preparare la zuppa di lenticchie.  In una pentola grande rosolate  cipolla, porro, sedano e carote tritati nel burro e l’olio d’oliva.

Upon completion of soaking time, in a large pan sauté the chopped onion, leeks, carrot and celery in the butter and olive oil, until onion is transparent.

Aggiungete le lenticchie, ben scolate dall’acqua di ammollo,e la foglia di alloro, girandole 1-2 minuti mentre assorbono il burro, l’olio ed i gusti della verdura.

Add lentils, having drained the soaking water, and the bay leaf, stirring 1-2 minutes as they absorb the butter, oil and flavors of the vegetables.

Aggiungete e fate sfumare il vino bianco, girando il tutto a fuoco basso.

Add white wine and stir the mix while sautéing so wine absorbs into lentils as it evaporates.

Aggiungete il pomodoro e girate a fuoco lento.lenticchie-3

Add tomato and stir while sautéing.

Aggiungete sale e pepe quanto basta.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Aggiungete circa la meta` del brodo e coprire la pentola. Controllate, girate ed assaggiate di tanto in tanto, aggiundendo del brodo in piu` quando occorre ed evitando che le lenticchie si attaccano. Attenzione che le lenticchie ultimate siano al dente e non stracotte.

Add about half the broth and cover the pan. Check, stir and taste every so often, adding more broth as needed to avoid lentils cooking to the bottom of pan.  Take care that the finished lentils are “al dente” and not overcooked (when ready, lentils should be soft but not mushy).

Aggiungete del sale quanto basta.

Add salt as needed/to taste.

In una padella a parte, fate rosolare le salsicce. Abbiate cura a non stracuocerle. Alla fine della cottura la pelle sara` diventata biancastra. Dovrebbero essere tenere e non dure.

In a separate pan, steam the sausage(s). Be careful not to overcook. When finished, the casings will have turned white. They should be tender, not tough.

Quando le salsicce saranno ultimate, toglietele dalla fiamma e togliere la pelle.

When sausages are cooked, remove from heat and remove casings.

capodanno-buon anno 2014Quando la zuppa di lenticchie sara` ultimate, toglietela dalla fiamma, togliete la foglia di alloro, aggiungete del timo fresco e mescolate.  Affettate le salsicce, mettete le fette in cima alle porzioni di zuppa ed aggiungete un rametto di timo fresco.

When lentils have finished cooking, remove from heat, remove bay leaf, add the leaves of several fresh sprigs of thyme and mix.  Slice the sausages, put slices over the top of the portions of lentil stew, add a sprig of thyme and serve.  Buon appetito!

Avete mai mangiato la zuppa di lenticchie?  Mangiate qualche cibo speciale a Capodanno?  | Have you ever eaten lentil soup?  Do you eat any special foods at New Year’s?

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Siena | Part 3 | Centro storico, contrade & Palio

 narrow street siena italy jodina

Le strade di Siena sono strette perche’ nel medioevo l’intera citta` doveva stare all’interno delle mura che la proteggevano. Questa si trova nella Contrada dell’Oca, come si puo` notare dalle bandiere in vista che ritraggno, appunto, un’oca in campo verde. In questa foto, una donna cammina in salita portando un bambino in braccio. / The streets of Siena are narrow because in medieval times the entire city had to be within the walls that protected it. This one is in the Goose Quarter, which is noted by the flags in view depicting exactly that, a goose, on a green background. In this photo, a woman is walking up, carrying a child in her arms.

[Note this blog is written in Italian interspersed with the English translation.]

Per quest’ultima puntata su Siena, facciamo un giro per il centro storico, con la sua architettura medioevale, le sue contrade antiche, la famosa Torre del Mangia nella Piazza del Campo – dove, due volte l’anno, ha luogo il tradizionale Palio, e non possono mancare alcune interessanti foto della gente locale.

For this final installment on Siena, we’re taking a tour of the historical city center, with its medieval architecture, its ancient city quarters, the famous Mangia Tower in the Campo Square – where, twice a year, the traditional horse race takes place, and of course, a few interesting shots of local Siena folk.

Bacheca ocaioli - community bulletin board Oca quarter siena italy jodina

Ecco la bacheca della Contra dell’Oca. Siena e` suddivisa in 17 contrade, ognuna con le proprie chiese, musei, sedi storiche e circoli. Gli abitanti della contrada la vivono come un prolungamento della propria casa e fanno parte di un’unica grande famiglia.  /  Here is the community notice board of the Goose Quarter. Siena is divided into 17 quarters, each with its own churches, museums, historical sites, and circles or associations. The inhabitants of the quarter live it as an extension of their own homes and make up one big family.

Siena contrada della selva iTALY JODINA

Qui siamo nella Contrada della Selva. Sopra le insegne che indicano i nomi delle strade spesso si trovano anche le insegne delle contrade. / Here we are in the Forest Quarter. Above the signs indicating street names, you often also find the signs of the quarters.

siena contrada dell'aquila 4 - wm

La Nobile Contrada dell’Aquila.  /  The Noble Eagle Quarter.

shop window siena italy jodina

La vetrina di un negozio che vende caffettiere. In bella mostra anche una caffettiera a forma di oca, probabilmente ci troviamo nella Contrada dell’Oca! / The window of a shop that sells coffee makers. In full view is a coffee maker in the shape of a goose; we probably find ourselves in the Goose Quarter!

artisan in shop - artigiana in bottega - siena italy jodina

Un’artigiana lavora la cera in una bottega specializzata in candele artistiche. / An artisan works with wax in a small shop specializing in artistic candles.

Horse hitch -anello per legare cavalli siena italy jodina

Dettagli che raccontono la storia:  Siena e` famosa per i suoi Palii, infatti sulle mura si possono notare degli anelli, ai quali anticamente si legavano i cavalli. / Details that tell about history:  Siena is famous for its horse races; in fact, on the walls one can notice rings, to which horses were tied  in olden times.

Horse hitch -anello per legare cavalli siena italy jodina

In primo piano: un altro anello per legare i cavalli. / A closeup: another ring for tying horses.

Siena gentleman - signore senese - siena italy jodina

Un signore senese fa la passeggiata domenicale. / A Siena gentleman taking a Sunday stroll.

girls at ice cream shop - ragazze gelateria - siena italy jodina

Delle ragazze all’esterno di una gelateria. Chi sa quali gusti hanno preso? I miei preferiti sono il cioccolato e il pistacchio. / Girls outside of an ice cream shop. I wonder which flavors they got? My favorites are chocolate and pistachio.

Piazza del Campo Bar Palio - siena italy - jodina

Eccoci arrivati in Piazza del Campo. Le case soprastanti i negozi vantano un’ottima posizione dalla quale vedere il Palio… se si ha la fortuna di viverci o di potersi permettere di affittarne una per l’occasione. Il pubblico guarda la corsa da palchi allestiti in piazza. / Here we are arrived at the Campo (Field) Square. The houses above the shops boast an excellent position from which to view the horse race… if one has the luck of living there or can afford to rent one for the occasion. The public watches the race from bleachers set up in the square.

the staff and barristas of a coffee shop in Piazza  del Campo siena italy, jodina

Il personale di un caffè in Piazza del Campo. / The staff of a coffee shop in Campo Square.

Bar Palio patrons Piazza del Campo siena italy - jodina

Turisti e locali si godono un bel pranzetto davanti ad un panorama antico e spettacolare. / Tourists and locals enjoy a nice lunch before an ancient and spectacular panorama.

siena italy torre del mangia - jodina

Ed ecco la veduta… la famosa Torre del Mangia, che due volte all’anno fa da testimone al Palio di Siena: il 2 luglio e il 16 agosto. Per avere un’idea di com’e` un Palio e l’atmosfera che lo circonda, vedete il video sotto del Palio del 2 luglio 2013… ha vinto l’Oca! / And here’s the view… the famous Mangia Tower, which witnesses the Siena horse race two times a year: July 2nd and August 16th. For an idea of what a horse race and the atmosphere surrounding it is like, watch the video below of the July 2, 2013 race… the Goose won!

Have you been to Siena or seen the Palio horse race? Which is your favorite picture? Love your comments!

Upcoming: Fall Classes enrolling now! | Next blog: Le ferie di agosto all’italiana… in Centroamerica (August holidays Italian style… in Central America)

 

 

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Siena | Part 2 | Veduta mozzafiato dalla terrazza panormica | Foto Blog

rooftops in the historic city center siena italy

[Note this blog is written in Italian interspersed with the English translation.]

       Dopo il mio giro per la Piazza del Duomo (Siena, Part 1, Duomo & People-watching), mi sono recata al cosidetto Facciatone che offre ai visitatori di Siena delle vedute mozzafiato. All’inizio del 300, si comincio` la costruzione di quello che doveva essere un enorme ampliamento del Duomo. Ma il progetto si fermo` nel 1348 quando Siena venne colpita dalla peste, che decimo` la popolazione.

       After my stroll through the Duomo Square (Siena, Part 1, Duomo & People-watching), I went to the so-called Facciatone (Big Facade) that offers visitors to Siena breathtaking views. At the beginning of the 14th century, construction was begun on what was to be an enormous enlargement of the Duomo. But the project was stopped in 1348 when Siena was struck by the plague, which decimated the population.

italy siena facciatone, duomo nuovo

Ecco il Facciatone, in mezzo.  /  Here’s the “Big Facade”, in the middle.

Non si e` mai ripresa la costruzione, e cio`  che e` rimasto e` solo un grande facciatone (da cui nacque il soprannome) che non sembra altro che un grande muro. Oggi il Facciatone (detto anche il Duomo Nuovo) serve come terrazza panoramica.  Si accede alla terrazza dal museo dell’opera del duomo situato accanto. Una scala a chiocciola porta in cima alla terrazza panoramica che fornisce spettacolari vedute di Siena a 360 gradi.

Construction was never resumed, and what has remained is only a huge facade (from which the nickname was born) that looks like nothing more than a big wall.  Today the Big Facade (also called the New Duomo) serves as a panoramic terrace. You can get to the terrace from the Duomo Museum located next door.  A spiral staircase takes you to the top of the panoramic terrace that provides spectacular 360-degree views of Siena.

a fiddler in siena italy near piazza del duomo

Proseguendo verso il Facciatone ecco un violinista appassionatissimo che ci fornisce una colonna sonora perfetta. / On the way to the “Big Facade” a very passionate fiddler provides us with the perfect soundtrack.

iodina ascending spiral staircase to view point, terrazza panormanica siena italy

Eccomi sulla scala a chiocciola quasi arrivata in cima alla terrazza. / Here I am on the spiral staircase, almost to the terrace on top .

view of siena countryside  in Ialy

La mia fatica mi regala una splendida e rinfrescante vista di Siena e dei dintorni verdeggianti. / My efforts reward me with a splendid and refreshing view of Siena and its verdant surroundings.

view from on high of duomo of siena, itaky

Una veduta del Duomo, della Piazza del Duomo e del campanile. / A view of the Duomo, Duomo Square and the bell tower.

view from on high of siena duomo, bell tower, and cupora

Il campanile e la cupola tra le nuvole. / The bell tower and the cupola in the clouds.

view from on high of cupola siena italy

La cupola del Duomo con la sua lanterna in stile barocco disegnato da Bernini. / The cupola of the Duomo with its baroque style lantern designed by Bernini.

view from on high of torrei del mangia, siena, italy

Una veduta della famosa Torre del Mangia; a sinistra un pezzetto della Piazza del Campo dove corrono i cavalli nel tradizionale Palio di Siena. / A view of the famous Mangia Tower; to the left a small piece of the Campo Square, where horses run in the traditional Siena horse race.

jodina in siena italy at top of panoramic terrace

Ce l’ho fatta! Ora mi riposo e mi godo le vedute mozzafiato di Siena. / I made it! Now I’m resting and enjoying the breathtaking views of Siena.

view of rooftops siena italy

Un ultimo sguardo dall’alto dei vecchi tetti di tegole di terracotta. Questi sembrano di essere disposti in uno schema a labirinto. / A last look from on high of the old terracotta tile roofs. These seem to arranged in labyrinth formation.

boots going down spiral staircase in Siena

Scendendo la scala a chiocciola. E` sicuramente valsa la pena salire! / Descending the spiral staircase. It was definitely worth going up!

Have you ever heard of the Facciatone? Which is your favorite view? Love your comments!

  [Grazie sentite ai miei assistenti di redazione Enzo e Giovanna ed alla mia assistente grafico Mimi!]

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