Posts tagged ‘Abruzzo’

Easter 1999 – Easter 2009

10 years ago. Seems more like 10 days ago. We were visiting one of our closest friends for Easter in L’Aquila. He grew up in Milan but moved to Abruzzo with his parents so he could help them build their dream house in their hometown, Poggio di Roio. It wasn’t easy for him to leave his friends and everything he knew but he made the best of it, found a job at the university and slowly carved out a new life for himself.

We couldn’t wait to visit him and see the house. It still wasn’t ready by the time we went down but he was proud to show us the work in progress, where the bedrooms would be, the wonderful view from the hill. His parents were hoping that our friend would eventually live there with his wife and kids. Like all Italian parents, they wanted to make sure their little boy was “sistemato”.

We stayed in L’Aquila, in a house which was usually rented out by students. I remember it being particularly cold that Easter, especially at night. But we loved walking around town despite the chill. We would stroll around the Piazza Duomo, visited the 99 Cannelle fountain, gazed upon the imposing Spanish Fortress. The architecture of the town ranged from Medieval, Renaissance to Baroque. It was a true jewel.

Ten years and 2o seconds later. Many of those Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque buildings are forever damaged or collapsed. The town we admired will probably never be the same again.

Our friend and his elderly parents were alseep in their brand new house when the earth began to tremble. They escaped in time and spent the night in their car. The next day they awoke to discover the dream house they spent over 15 years to build was full of cracks and collapsed walls, still creaking and shaking due to the aftershocks. The university campus where our friend worked is now a mass of rubble. Yet he’s as cool as a cucumber. Like most Abruzzesi, his strength of character comes through in times of adversity. He’s rolling up his sleeves, already thinking about how to rebuild the house, getting on with the day-to-day things.

Easter is a time of re-birth, a time of miracles. This year’s celebrations will be different. All Italians are profoundly shaken and saddened by this tragedy. But we know how lucky we are that our friend survived. He’s our Easter miracle.

“Baciamo le mani, Loris!”

If you’d like to help the Abruzzo Earthquake victims, please check out the useful links at the end of this WhyGo Italy article. Thanks.

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10 April 2009 at 12:03 am 6 comments

Eating guitar strings

Ciao Bloggisti!
I have to be quick with this post because I’m home sick and so are the kids and they’re finally having a nap, which means I have about 30 minutes to write if I’m lucky. So here goes!
I’ve had guitars on the brain for a while now. As some of you might know, I’m a huge Beatles fan and after watching their Anthology documentary, I got the itch to start learning the guitar again. I half-heartedly began about 20 years ago when my friend Justin (who now happens to be a successful guitar teacher in Manchester) sold me a little acoustic guitar.  But being the impatient and undisciplined teenager that I was, when I didn’t start sounding like a young George Harrison after a month’s playing, I pretty much gave up. But in my old age, I decided to start anew, hoping that my willpower would have built up by now. I convinced to the hubster to buy me a brand new acoustic guitar for my birthday, I bought the Learning Guitar for Dummies book and DVD and now I try and practice when the kids are in bed, praying that my pathetic rendition of Frère Jacques won’t wake them (or the neighbourhood cats) up. It’ll take a while to actually play decently but I’m proud of the callouses on my fingers.
Guitars were also on the menu of the latest restaurant I had the pleasure of dining at in the centre of Milan. Well, to be honest, Da Giannino, L’Angolo d’Abruzzo,  actually served up spaghetti alla chitarra, a square-shaped long pasta made from a stringed tool called chitarra (literally, a guitar). You can read more about this wonderful Abruzzese dish in my pal Joanne’s Frutto della Passione.

(Have to take a quick break. One of the “monkeys” just woke up and is screaming for me.)

(Ok, Monkey #1 now is on the sofa watching cartoons. I’m safe for a few minutes yet!)

Anyway, Jo happened to be at the restaurant with yours truly and raved about how authentic their spaghetti alla chitarra was. And if she says so, it must be true! I also was lucky enough to try the spaghetti in my tris di primi, a sampling of three different types of pasta. As well as the spaghetti, there were giant ravioli called schiaffoni (big slaps!) and little green gnocchi, all fresh, all delish!!

Tris di primi: spaghetti alla chitarra, schiaffoni and green gnocchetti

Some of my commensali had another speciality from Abruzzo, roasted lamb with potatoes. The meat was fall-off-the-bone tender, flavourful yet not gamey, a result that’s often difficult to achieve when cooking lamb.


Roasted lamb and potatoes

I, however, opted for one of the dishes I just have to eat whenever we visit our friends in L’Aquila, Arrosticini. They’re succulent skewers of grilled mutton which, traditionally, should be eaten by holding the skewer with your hands and pulling the meat off the stick with your teeth. And that’s exactly what I did! I don’t know about you but I get a visceral pleasure from eating food with my hands, however messy it can be.



These arrosticini did not disappoint, all washed down with a house wine (which I failed to note) served in lovely, hand-painted ceramic jugs.

All in all, I was thrilled with my dinner. The food was great, the service fast and very friendly and best of all, it was extremely affordable.  We paid about €25 each, which included pasta, main course, dessert, wine, coffee and some deadly liqueurs. Prices like that are a rarity in Milan. So next time you’re in town and you’re hankering for a taste of Abruzzo , give Giannino a call. And please do call in advance because the place is literally an angolo,  tiny and always, always packed.

Da Giannino – L’angolo d’Abruzzo

Via Rosolino Pilo, 20 – Milano

Phone: +39 02/

Opening hrs: Tues – Sat 12:00pm – 11:00pm, Sun 12:00pm – 3:00pm

(Phew! I did it! Monkey #2 is still fast asleep. It’s a good blogging day!)

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5 March 2009 at 5:31 pm 4 comments Registered & Protected
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