Posts tagged ‘Italy’

Happy Birthday to a Crazy Old Broad!!

And no I’m not talking about Betty White. The signora in question is Italy and she’s 150 years young. Today the entire country (except those mean green Leghisti) is waving the green white and red to celebrate Italian unification.

Patriotism has never been an easy sentiment for Italians. They feel more kinship to their own town or region than to their country. This is natural for a relatively new nation with such a fractured past. And these days, most Italians weren’t even in the mood to celebrate the anniversary, what with all the political, economic and cultural turmoil. Up until recently, everyone from politicians to business leaders were debating whether or not March 17 should be declared a national holiday. This was a bit shocking to me even if chronic existential crises over national unity is nothing new to a Canadian.

But in the end hatchets were buried and schools and offices will be closed all over Italy. I tried to get my kids interested in the occasion and taught my daughter the national anthem (as I’m pretty sure they don’t do it at school anymore). The kids also came home with tricolore flags and were very proud when I hung them outside. We also inadvertently celebrated over dinner this evening. Bellie and Diggy insisted on having both tomato sauce and pesto with their gnocchi, because tomato sauce alone would have been just too healthy an option. After I finished serving I noticed that their dishes were in keeping with the patriotic theme.

Then I asked my husband to briefly explain the Risorgimento to the kids but they were more interested in wolfing down taleggio cheese and singing, or rather, screaming the national anthem than hearing about Garibaldi and Mazzini.

Perhaps I’ll let them watch Roberto Benigni’s subdued rendition of the Inno di Mameli from this year’s San Remo festival. It conveys all the strength, elegance and emotion that unites all the citizens of this maddeningly wonderful country.

Viva l’Italia!!

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17 March 2011 at 2:43 am 3 comments

Waiting for Miss Panino

Ciao Bloggisti!

Hope you’ve been having a good summer. I got back a week ago from our holidays in Liguria. Lots of swimming, walking and, of course, eating! We went to quite a few sagre (village fairs featuring local gastronomical specialities, live music, etc.) and stuffed ourselves silly. And I discovered a heavenly ice cream parlour in the town where we stayed. It had the most decadent, delicious chocolate ice cream I’ve ever had. The shop also specializes in real Sicilian granita but I was too smitten with their ice cream to try one. Definitely next time!

So now I’m back at my unusually quiet home, organizing the last few things in the house while the kids are still at seaside with their nonni. My mom arrived from Canada this morning, laden with so many goodies that getting back to my pre-pregnancy weight will take a lot longer than expected. But how can I resist Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, chocolate-covered almonds, cheddar cheese, banana chips, jackfruit chips, fluorescent orange cheese puffs, Sweet Tarts and my beloved Ketchup chips? My mouth is watering at the very thought! But I guess it’s a good thing to be distracted since tomorrow is D-day.

Yep, I’m still lugging that panino around. I know I haven’t been keeping you up to speed with my pregnancy but I’m no Dooce. I worked full-time up until the end of my eighth month and went on holiday soon afterwards. In the evenings I was too, too tired to have the energy to turn the computer on so I spent most of my time watching 30 Rock or reading (books such as the Baby Whisperer, Kurt Cobain’s biography, The Help, The Scarlet Letter, etc.). And just between you and me, I couldn’t really sit down for long periods in front of my computer because, ahem, my keister would hurt like mad. Blame it on the belly. But the hubster recently got me a new laptop so I can write anywhere now.

Another book I’ve been reading lately is the Canadian Medical Association’s book of Mother and Baby Care. Since I’m almost at Week 40, let’s see what they have to tell me:

By this stage, you will feel very ungainly, and will be bumping into objects. (Yes and yes)

Your skin will feel stretched and taut across your abdomen and may be itchy (oh yeah!)

Your belly will be so large that you have difficulty getting comfortable in bed (ok, I get it – I’m a freakin’ whale!)

But seriously, since I know that in max. 10 days my girl will be making her appearance, I’m enjoying my last days with the bump. It may be a pain sometimes but it’s by far the easiest way to carry a little ‘un. And there’s no way to describe the sensation of a baby moving around inside of you. I will miss it. For now, she seems to be in no hurry to move out. My mom, who used to be a maternity nurse, checked my belly today and said the baby’s head still hasn’t engaged. But tomorrow there will be a full moon and anything could happen.

Since I’m not sure if I’ll be able to write more in the next few days, here’s a very overdue and brief overview of my pregnancy.

FIRST TRIMESTER

Found out the big news on Xmas day. Was more nauseous than in the previous pregnancies. So much so it was hard to hide my condition at work. Started cleaning up the house to make room for baby. She’s going to take over the old kitchen. Had a bad stomach flu, which always happens when I’m expecting. I was also DOG-TIRED, all the time! But I did have enough energy to go on a trip to Liguria, Nice and Piedmont, where Bellie had her first skiing lesson.

SECOND TRIMESTER

Felt much better. No more nausea and my energy levels (and my appetite) went up. Could start to feel baby kicking! And found out we were expecting a little girl!! The search for a name began. Started explaining to Diggy that he was going to be a big brother. Was not immediately impressed. Asked if he could punch and pinch her. Must keep an eye on him. Major cleaning and renovation work at home.

Went on a lovely Easter vacation to Tuscany and Rome. Hubby turned 40 and we threw a big party for the old guy. Started doing yoga and prenatal exercises at home. Bump started to show and I was at that awkward stage: I could barely fit in my pre-pregnancy clothes but I wasn’t big enough for maternity wear.

THIRD TRIMESTER

Felt really good during most of this trimester except for one thing: my swollen feet! But it’s normal with the heat and humidity of Milan. I would get massages and do reflexology but it was only when I was in Liguria that my feet miraculously recovered. We finished up renovations and prepared the baby’s room. I forgot how annoying it is to wash and hang onesies, tiny socks and bibs. Bellie went away to summer camp for the first time and we travelled to Carnia to visit the site.

The still nameless baby was kicking up a storm, which would provoke cramps and other fun things but nothing serious. I still had enough strength to do some major spring cleaning all over the house. Doctor confirmed that baby was going to be a big girl! It was really busy at work in this period but I managed to wrap everything up before starting mat leave at the end of July. Little bro came to visit. And finally… the panino and me went on holiday!

Now we’re in the home stretch. I thought that with all the activity and travelling that went on over the last nine months, she’d make an early appearance. But it looks like she’s a late bloomer, just like her brother and sister before her. That’s ok. I don’t mind waiting a little bit longer.

Will keep you posted!

23 August 2010 at 10:51 pm 4 comments

Too Upset to Write!

So I’ll just post this link to Cathal Kelly’s article published in today’s Toronto Star which says it all.

And there won’t be a sexy ugly list right now. Just two pictures of the man who we should have seen more of on the pitch (and not because he’s easy on the eyes): Fabio Quagliarella

24 June 2010 at 11:56 pm 2 comments

Sorry, eh!

Ciao Bloggisti,

Yeah, it’s been a while. But I have a really good excuse. I’m working on a certain project which has temporarily diverted all my creativity into another worthy outlet. I can’t go into details right now but I’ll let you know soon enough ;).

But can I let something off my chest right now? WOOO HOOOO!!!! Here’s to my home and native land that did a SUPER job hosting the 2010 Winter Olympics!!

There were some weather issues, technical problems and tragedies. But Canada managed to overcome it all with characteristic hard work, spirit and sense of humour (did you see those inflatable beavers?). And we Owned the Gold, including the top spot in the hockey firmament! Because of Sid Crosby, Obama now owes Prime Minister Harper a case of beer. Hee hee! But our neighbours to the south did very well for themselves despite yesterday’s loss, earning 37 medals. The Russians, on the other hand, were still smarting from their less than stellar results when they bid Vancouver a “classy” farewell in this Pravda article: “Doesn’t it feel great to slam the door behind you as you walk out, stick up the middle finger using the palm of the left hand on the upper right forearm for extra leverage and blow a giant raspberry? That is exactly how it feels as Russia leaves Vancouver after disappointing Games with a question, was the Canadian ice hockey team on drugs?” Um, no, but perhaps the Editorial Staff of Pravda was.

But enough about them. What’s more tragic is the fact I missed my date with Clive Owen!! Well, I didn’t actually have a “date” date but he was in Milan over the weekend for Fashion Week and I had no idea till a few minutes ago when I read this! Does that man know how to wear a suit or what? And just look at those EYES! And where was I? Lying on the sofa watching the Canada vs. US hockey game in German. It was worth it in the end but “scheiße”!

What else is new in my corner of the world? It’s been a pretty busy year so far but we took a much-needed break over the Carnival period. We travelled to Liguria, the south of France and the mountains of Limone Piemonte where Bellie had her first skiing lessons. She was reluctant at first but was speeding down the slopes like a pro in no time. And here’s Diggy climbing his own personal Everest.

Limone Piemonte

So that’s what’s been going around here and in my mind. And what about you? I’d love to find out how your year has been so far and what you thought of the Olympics (or Clive Owen in a suit!).

Ciao ciao

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1 March 2010 at 10:50 pm 1 comment

Sant’Ambrogio Winterlude

Ciao Bloggisti!

Back from my self-imposed hiatus. I’ve been busy with the usual but I’ve also decided to relax more in the evenings and do things to help me wind down after a long day. So instead of blogging I’ve been obsessively watching  episodes of 30 Rock and reading books. Just finished The Namesake. Great up until the first half but the ending was a slight disappointment. Not that I didn’t feel guilty about not writing. Every evening I thought about it but you know, I decided not to get stressed about something that is essentially a hobby. I knew that when the moment was right, I’d start posting again.

So, it’s a good thing I got sick and am at home today. It means I can finally write! So without further ado, let me tell you about my recent mini holiday in Lombard Alps.

While the Milan area may not be as romantic and exciting as living in Rome or the Amalfi Coast, we do have one perk that makes us the “envy” of the Bel Paese: il ponte di Sant’Ambrogio, or the long weekend in commemoration of the St. Ambrose, the patron saint of Milan. What makes this holiday extra-special is that not only do we get St. Ambrose Day off (on December 7, also the traditional opening of the season at La Scala), the next day is the feast of the Immaculate Conception, which just so happens to be a national holiday in Italy. And this year we were extra lucky because December 7 and 8 fell on a Monday and Tuesday. So we basically had a four-day weekend!!

We decided to make the most of it and take the kids to the mountains, in the Valsassina and Valchiavenna valleys, to be precise. The little ‘uns were thrilled because the day before we left it had snowed in the area. Us big ‘uns were thrilled because we slept lots and ate even more! Here’s the photographic evidence:

Mountains in Valsassina

A December afternoon in the lovely town of Chiavenna

A selection of local coldmeats, including Valtellina's world-famous bresaola

Two different types of pizzoccheri, a "light" pasta dish made cooked with different types of cheeses, potatoes, swiss chard or cabbage, garlic, sage and butter. The pizzoccheri on the left are made with traditional buckwheat tagliatelle while the ones on the right are made with a type of gnocchi from the Chiavenna area.

Lombards on ice! A skating rink in Chiavenna.

After our lovely holiday we were still hungry for more, so I baked cupcakes. First time ever!

So that’s how we spent our first long weekend of the season. Now I’m desperately trying to book a hotel in Val d’Aosta for New Year’s but it’s not looking promising. So if we don’t get lucky, it means that I’ll be ringing in 2010 with the in-laws. Can someone please help me? Anyone?!?

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16 December 2009 at 11:59 pm 4 comments

“I also signed the petition in support of freedom of the press”

Ciao Bloggisti

I’m just watching Michele Santoro‘s program Anno Zero. It’s a miracle that the show is still on, considering the “freedom of the press” we’re enjoying in Italy at the moment. Santoro’s guest, journalist Carl Bernstein, is not impressed. And no one else in Italy, or anywhere else,  should be either. I’m sure many of you have heard about Berlusconi’s recent scandals and how he’s trying to muzzle the press in Italy and around the world through lawsuits. I’m not going to get into the details but you can read more about it here, here and here (among other sources).

On 3 October, there will be a demonstration in Rome in defense of freedom of the press in Italy. I cannot be there in person but my contribution is to urge all of you to read the following appeal published in the newspaper La Repubblica and to show your support by signing the online petition.

Appeal by three Jurists

The libel action against “Repubblica” is the last in a long list of attacks against this daily which can only be seen as attempts at silencing the free press, at benumbing public opinion, at removing us from the international information scene and ultimately at making our Country the exception to the rule of Democracy.

The questions addressed to our Prime Minister are real questions that have prompted people’s interest not only in Italy but also in the media across the world. If they are considered to be “rhetorical” questions that suggest answers that displease the person to whom they are addressed, then there is only one and very easy way of responding: the reaction should certainly not be that of silencing the people who ask those questions.

The response instead is that of intimidating those who exercise the right and duty of “seeking, receiving and imparting information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers”, as stated in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights approved by the Assembly of Nations when memory was still very much alive of the way information degenerated into propaganda under the illiberal and antidemocratic regimes of the 20th century.

What is astonishing and worrying is that not only are these initiatives not unanimously stigmatized, but they are not even reported by the media, and that furthermore there are jurists who are even willing to give them legal form, utterly dismissing the harm this will cause to the very seriousness and credibility of the Law.


People all around the world (450,000 to date) have expressed their support of the appeal, including Doris Lessing, Sting, Bernard-Henry Levy and Roberto Benigni. To sign the petition, click on this link and scroll to the bottom of the page.

Grazie

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1 October 2009 at 11:51 pm 2 comments

A day at the agriturismo

Ciao Bloggisti!

Finally coming up for air after a pretty intense two months. The hubster was away on business which meant life was all work, kids and no play. So of course that meant no blogging. But now I’m on holiday in Canada and have a few free minutes to tell you about my lovely day in the country a couple months ago.

Those of you who live in Italy have probably heard of or visited an agriturismo. I mentioned our visit to a rustic agriturismo in Tuscany a couple of posts back. In my opinion, it is one of the best ways to experience Italy. An agriturismo (a combination of the words agricoltura and turismo) is a renovated farmhouse in a, more often than not, picturesque part of the country. Rooms are available to let and if you’re lucky it will have a restaurant with dishes featuring their very own fresh produce, just like at Cascina Caremma in the town of Besate, Lombardy. Located within the lovely Parco Ticino, Cascina Caremma prides itself on its particular attention towards local traditions, the environment and fine food. They are staunch believers in Kilometer Zero cuisine and serve specialities with ingredients that they have either raised or grown themselves. If you are lucky enough to get a reservation, be prepared for a set menu decided upon day by day, in order to guarantee the freshest, most seasonal dishes possible. Mmmm… I’m getting hungry just thinking about my meal. So without further ado, here are some pictures of my day at the agriturismo:


One of the old farm buildings that was renovated and now houses a modern, luxurious spa!

sweet red and yellow peppers
Roasted red and yellow peppers
crespelle
Crespelle (Italian crepes) stuffed with cheese and herbs
risotto with asparagus and tomatoes
risotto with asparagus and tomatoes
meringue mountain with hot chocolate sauce
meringue mountain with hot chocolate sauce

Pretty impressive stuff. And those were only a third of the dishes they served at lunch! We couldn’t even finish everything on the menu and to top it all off we were shocked at how affordable it was. Hmm, I wonder if they have anything similar to agriturismi in the Toronto area. Must find out! But for now, I’m more than happy with my beloved Tim Horton’s. And that, my friends, is another story….

26 July 2009 at 6:06 am 5 comments

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