“Capture the Colour” and lost photographs!

Two months ago something terrible happened, the iPhoto Application on my MAC desktop CRASHED! I guess it had been giving signals such as: “Are you sure you want to download more pictures? Memory is running low!” I had not only dismissed the recurrent message, I had not even backed up my photo library of over 6000 pictures! Can you imagine how devastated I was when one morning I opened iPhoto and my pictures had disappeared? In complete shock and unable to think, I tried to search for the lost photographs but all I could find where pics that belonged to my son and that I never even seen before . . . crazy!

I let the days go by, hoping that giving the computer a break it would magically go back to its old self. Well, it did not happen; what happened instead was that my blogger friend Meg, from Meg Travels, invited me to participate in “Capture the Colour”, an invitation that at any given day would have got me super excited, but on that particular day, I actually panicked.

Capture the Colour” was an opportunity to share some of my favorite photographs. Furthermore, it was yet one more opportunity to share my Italy with you. I had no choice, but find my lost photographs.

More than six weeks have passed; I have been since trying to search for my photographs in every folder, subfolder, sub-sub-folder . . . and I finally managed to find, in no particular order, almost all my pics. I have been spending hours everyday trying to reorganize my photo library – on an external hard drive! – I predict it will take many more hours. Despite the distress I just could not pass on Meg’s invitation and so here I am with my 5 photographs, which are probably not my best, but still, they carry a lot of great memories!


NOTE: The only requirement to participate is that each photographs capture one of each of the following colours” blue, green, yellow, white and red. Then nominate 5 bloggers to pass this contest.

To learn more about “Capture the Colour” visit Capture the Colour PhotoBlog (I found that sometimes this link doesn’t work properly, in that case go to TravelSupermarket.com ).


The BLUE water of Scario, Cilento National Park – Italy 2009

The GREEN shutters of Ponte Vecchio, Firenze – Italy 2008

The YELLOW night glow of the Fontana dei fiumi, Roma – Italy 2010

WHITE guardian at Sottoportego Soranzo, Venezia – Italy 2008

RED sky of Bagnaia, Isola d’Elba – Italy 2011

And these are my five nominations – against which I do not stand a chance, their photographs are amazing!


Manipal’s Photo Blog

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My New Year’s Eve . . . Friends, Lentils, Cotechino, Tombola and “Something” red!

Festa di San Silvestro, named after Pope Sylvester I, is how in Italy we refer to New Year’s Eve.

Did you know that were the ancient Romans that in 153 B.C. moved the start of the year from the Spring equinox to January 1?

In Italy, traditionally the Veglione di Capodanno (New Year’s Party) lasts all night and typically starts with the Cenone (big supper) which is then followed by a big party with music, dancing and games.

When I was a child, after the Cenone friends would often come over for desserts and to wait for the Mezzanotte (Midnight). The table was cleared to make room to play Tombola (Italian version of Bingo), Mercante in Fiera (“Merchant at the Fair”, a traditional family game played with 2 identical decks of illustrated cards which are auctioned for final prize) and Sette e mezzo (“Seven and a half”, a game played with Neapolitan cards and that is similar to blackjack).

A Mezzanotte (at Midnight) the bottles of champagne were popped open for the brindisi (toast) while everyone was cheering on the new year with the “Buon Anno!” wishes.  We would then run by the windows to watch the display of fireworks, firecrackers and flares.

The best botti di Capodanno (New Year’s fireworks and firecrackers) I have witnessed were on the water of the Amalfi Coast, from the terrace of the Hotel Saraceno where I spent a beautiful night with my husband and my brother and sister-in-law; It was December 31, 1987.

Whether at the fanciest venue or at home with friends and family, no New Year’s Eve celebration in Italy would be complete without the lenticchie e cotechino (lentils and cotechino – a type of cooked sausage).

Because of their resemblance to coins the lentils are a symbol of prosperity and to ensure the good fortune they must be eaten within one hour of Midnight.

The  most valuable Italian lentils are grown in the high plane of Castelluccio di Norcia, in the region of Umbria, at 4,500 ft above sea level. The climate and soil contribute to the high quality of the legume. In 1997 the lenticchie di Castelluccio have received the IPG (Protected Geographic Indication) recognition.

The lentils are typically served with pork, symbol of the richness in life, therefore Cotechino and/or Zampone are the perfect complements to the lentils.

The cotechino, is a big sausage  made with a mixture of ground pork, pork rinds, and spices.
An alternative to the cotechino is the zampone where the same mixture is stuffed into a boned pig’s foreleg.

Both products are typical of Modena, in the region of Emilia-Romagna. The zampone originated around the 1500 thanks to the ingenuity of the Modenesi who, being under siege, had to find a way to preserve what it was available.

Tonight, I am celebrating the New Year’s Eve with a potluck dinner with some Italian amici (friends). I am preparing the lenticchie and cotechino, we will play Tombola and Mercante in Fiera and we will toast the New Year with My favorite Italian Spumante (sparkling wine), “Ferrari“!

Cotechino is not easy to find in my area. However, I was able to buy a pre-cooked one at an Italian grocery store in Wheaton, MD. The advantage of buying a pre-cooked cotechino is that it only requires to simmer in warm water for 20-25 minutes. This will ensure  the melting of the fat which will give this special sausage a very earthy flavor. You need to keep the cotechino warm until you are ready to eat.

I was in NYC two weeks ago at the Italian market EATALY, where I did find the lenticchie di Castelluccio. However, even if I love chefs Batali and Lidia, I was not going to drop $15 for 1/2 pound of lentils. That would have defied the purpose of the lentils . . . to bring you fortune and prosperity! My organic green lentils would do just fine!

RICETTA (Recipe)

MY LENTICCHIE STUFATE E COTECHINO (braised lentils and cotechino)

1 pound dry green lentils
1/2 onion thinly sliced
1 large carrot chopped into large pieces
1 celery stalk
4 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
salt to taste
1 slice of pancetta 1/2 inch tick finely minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste

Before you start sort and rinse the lentils.

In a large pot warm the oil and sautéed the onion, the carrot, the celery and the pancetta.

Add the tomato paste and a little bit of warm water and stir to dissolve the tomato paste.

After 3-4 minutes add the lentils and let them coat with the condiment for 4-5 minutes.

Add enough water to cover the lentils, add salt, cover with a lid and cook on medium heat for 1-1/2 hours.

Check frequently to make sure that the water doesn’t dry out completely. Add warm water if necessary.

When the lentils are just about done, remove the carrots and celery.

Also, at this time, remove the cotechino from the warm water and place on an oval serving dish.

Slice the cotechino into 1/4 inch thick slices. The juice from the cotechino will accumulate in the bottom of the dish and will serve as additional condiment for the lentils.

Spoon the lentils around the cotechino and serve immediately after Midnight!

I almost forgot about the “something” red!

Typically Italian is the tradition, on New Year’s Eve, to wear something rosso (red), particularly lingerie.

It appears that already in ancient Rome, under Octavian Augustus, during the Roman New Year, women and men used to wear something red because this color represented power, love, health and fertility.

So, don’t waste any time, cook your lentils, get yourself something red and party your night away into the New Year!