The Italian Island of Sardegna . . . My Paradise

Two weeks ago I was fortunate to spend one week with my husband in the Caribbean Turks and Caicos Islands. While I was there, loving the sun, the soft white sand, and the crystal clear water, I kept thinking how much I miss living close-by the sea.

My hometown in Italy, Avellino, was only thirty minute away from the amazing Amalfi Coast – I shall write about it; after lunch, I could just hop in my car and take the drive to Amalfi, Maiori, Positano or Minori. My boyfriend husband and I exchanged some of our first kisses on Minori‘s shore…

My nonna (grandmother) lived in a sea town from where we would take the motorboat to reach Il Bikini, a beach/bathhouse establishment in the Bay of the Sorrento Peninsula.

Il Bikini
photo courtesy of http://www.ilbikini.com

And, as I mentioned in a previous post, I used to spend most of my childhood summers on Paestum‘s beach.

In my twenties, I vacationed in many Italian’s islands: Sicilia, Salina, Panarea, Vulcano, Lipari, Pantelleria, Favignana, Ischia, Capri, Elba, Caprera, and finally, my absolute favorite, Sardegna.

In the Summer of 1984 I was my  uncle Vincenzo’s guest in Sardegna. In the small village of Portoscuso, on the South-West coast just across the little jewel of Isola di San Pietro;  I spent three wonderful weeks with my relatives, their home only few steps away from the beach. My days were simple: napping and reading on the beach during the day, dining alfresco under the portico in the evening, and watching the Olympic Games – held in Los Angeles – at night. My fiancé husband joined me in Portoscuso and we then spent three more weeks traveling throughout the mysterious island of Sardegna.  From South to North, from West to East, then South along the East Coast, and inland to Oliena and Su Gologone where I had one of the best meal I have ever had. I was in love with everything . . .  the sea, the mountain, the architecture, the food, the people. But guess what? I did not have a camera! Yeah you heard it, no camera, no pictures!

No pictures of the white beach of La Pelosa in Stintino, of the secluded Cala Luna, of the Catalan city of Alghero, of the ancient Nuraghi . . . nothing, just my memories.

My husband and I went back to Sardegna in Summer 2008, this time with our teenage boys. We only spent one week in the area of Porto San Paolo, on the North-East coast, just South of Olbia and across the small island of Tavolara. Only one week was needed for my boys to fall in love with the place too. And this time I took few pics too!

You might be asking why I am telling you all this. You know what they say,  ” l’erba del vicino è sempre più verde ” (the neighbor’s grass is always greener), so in Europe all are longing for the Caribbean Sea and for good reasons, don’t get me wrong. Imagine my excitement once I came to the States . . . so much more convenient to reach the Caribbean’s from here! So, I visited Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Bahamas and lately Turks and Caicos.

Coming home after this latest trip, however,  I had an epiphany. I started comparing my Caicos‘s pictures with my pictures from Sardegna and  that’s what I want to share with you today. While enjoying the slide show, remember that in Sardegna, the scenery also comes with the delicious regional cuisine: porceddu (suckling pig rosted on the spit), malloreddus (handmade pasta), pane carasau (sort of thin flatbread), pecorino sardo . . . .and the unique aroma of mirto (myrtle)!

La mia Sardegna and Turks and Caicos

NOTE: click on the first picture and a full screen image will appear then follow the arrow . . . I guess you will like it!

Well, I know where I am going back . . . and you? Where are you going?

If you need a travel consultation and trip planning for your next trip to Sardegna visit my site Sharing My Italy or email me at mg@sharingmyitaly.com

Inspiring Workshops in Florence!

We always come across advertisements for cooking workshops in Italy, but how many times we have come across a workshop on Commedia dell’Arte or Baroque and Renaissance Dance or Inside Design: Concept of Italian Interiors?

Well, these are exactly some of the exciting workshops offered by GO INSPIRED and you could be attending one on them in Florence this summer.

It’s true I do write about all the wonders of Italian food, I love to cook, and I am enjoying sharing My recipes with you . . .  I am, however, still an architect. I love all forms of arts; interior design is one of my passions.

When Margo Kopek, one of the co-founder of GO INSPIRED, recently contacted me to ask if I would support her organization through my blog, I was skeptical at first. I do not usually endorse anything that I have not personally tried, experienced first hand, and enjoyed.

I decided, however, to do a little research to review GO INSPIRED’s credentials and offerings and I was pleasantly surprised with what I found.

This is what the About Go Inspired page says:

“A way to combine adventure, travel, education, and cultural exploration, Go Inspired took form. Refusal to give up what we deem as the “good things in life” in order to enter the work force, Go Inspired was a way to combine our zest for life with our passion for working towards a healthy global community.
We believe that peace in action can come in many forms but that self-exploration and cultural exchange sit at the heart of it. When we challenge ourselves to go beyond our comfort zone positive change takes place. In the spirit of adventure, we invite you to join us in whichever program resonates with you and hope that you find it as passion-invoking as we have. After all, it’s about going inspired and then going on to inspire others.”

The Objective is not less inspiring:

“Go Inspired is a cultural exchange company that looks for unique, creative opportunities to explore the world. We offer an array of courses, workshops, volunteer placements, and trips abroad as a way to complement classroom learning, build language confidence, enhance professional development, provide humanitarian aid, and to facilitate self-growth.”

If this was not enough to win me over, I was sold when I discovered that Go Inspired also leads a summer Volunteer Program in Italy (Florence and Rome), which includes working with HIV and AIDS patients, elderly homeless persons, childhood education and more. . .

GO INSPIRED will run three different workshops in Florence this Summer:

“Commedia dell’arte is a form of theatre characterized by masked “types”. Commedia dell’arte (“Comedy of Art” or “Comedy of the profession”), means unwritten or improvised drama, and implies rather to the manner of performance than to the subject matter of the play. It was a popular form of entertainment in Italy during the Renaissance although it began in the 14th Century and continued until the 18th Century. Commedia gained popularity in other European countries, especially France. The actors performed in public in town squares and no scripts were used; only scenarios were written allowing the actors to improvise the dialogue to the delight of the audience. Commedia Dell’Arte is still alive around the world. . . The course focuses on reading, understanding, and interpreting scenes, characters and stories contained in major classical texts, reviving them from an environment some 500 years ago. This course allows students to see the many emotions connected to time, space, love, fame, war, power, justice, friendship, violence and jealousy that remain in our world today. Theater as an intellectual exercise and as a strongly emotional experience will be explored in this course.”

“Historical dance, or early dance, embraces social dancing of the courts and ballrooms of Europe, and choreographies from theatre and court entertainments. The periods covered range from the fifteenth century to the nineteenth. Within this span, periods are often identified by titles, such as:

  • Renaissance dance (in England, Elizabethan dance and Tudor dance)
  • Baroque dance

Some typical dance forms, in approximate chronological order, are:

  • Basse danse, Bassa danza, Ballo, Tordion, Pavan (or pavanne), Almain (or almayne), Galliard, Canario, Passomezzo (or Passo e mezo)
  • Country dance, Gigue, Sarabande, Rigaudon, Minuet (or Menuet)

Cotillion, Quadrille, Mazurka, Waltz.

“Inside Design is an opportunity to take a tour of the world of Italian design; to study design precedents and develop an interior design project. Students will be guided to investigate a famous Florentine fashion griffe, starting from the analysis of its products, and to translate its philosophy and features into a space reflecting its particular atmosphere. The course will include lectures, visits, critiques and studio time to work on a project. Visiting museums, design show rooms and architectural offices as well as hosting specific guests will introduce students to the complexities of developing interior spaces as well as an introduction to Italian design culture. Working on their projects, participants will express their own creativity through sketches, drawings and maquettes, focusing on materials, surfaces, volumes, light and colors. The aim of the course is to define a universal method to face a design project in a personal way.”

These workshops are truly exciting and I wish I could attend one myself. I would probably choose the Baroque-Renaissance Dance. I can definitely see myself in a Lady’s gown dancing to the tune of the Minuet!

I encourage you to visit Go Inspired on the web  www.goinspired.com and . . . Let’s be inspired!

 FTC Disclosure

I have not received any compensation for posting this content and I have no material connection to the brands, topics and/or products that are mentioned herein. My opinions are 100% my own.

A place of my childhood . . . Paestum

Paestum is an ancient Graeco-Roman city in the Italian Region of Campania. It is located in the Cilento and Valle di Diano National Park, near the Tyrrhenean sea.

Paestum was founded in 600 B.C. by Greek colonists and its original name was Poseidonia in honor of the Greek’s Sea God, Poseidon.

In 273 B.C. the Romans took possession of the city, and they renamed it to Paestum.

In the 9th century, the Saracens’ incursions, along with the mosquitoes infected by malaria, forced the inhabitants to abandon the  city that was later buried by swamps caused by the river Sele. Paestum remained hidden until 1748, when the excavation for the construction of a new road brought to light the well preserved Greek-Roman temples.

If you visit Paestum you will be astonished by the grandeur of the standing remains of three major temples. These temples are  the best preserved Doric temples in the world, outside of Greece. The temples have been traditionally identified as the Basilica and the temples of Neptune and Ceres. In reality, however, they were dedicated to Hera and Athena.

In Paestum you will also able to visit the National Archeological Museum of Paestum that documents the evolution and transformation of the city; here, you will be able to admire some architectural and sculptural decoration from the excavation, and the painted slabs of so-called Tomba del Tuffatore (Tomb of the Diver), the sole example of painting of the Greek age of Magna Grecia.

But Paestum is not only an archeological site, on your way to Paestum you will travel along the so called Strade della Mozzarella (Roads of the Mozzarella). It appears that at the beginning of the 9th century AD, the Muslim Arabs introduced the water buffalo in the area. More than 1000 years later, Paestum and the plain of river Sele are home to the tame herds of water buffalo whose milk is used to craft the delicious mozzarella di bufala. Both sides of Route 18 are pullulated with cheese factories where you will be able to savor the freshly made mozzarella and many more specialties, all derived from water buffalo’s milk.

Few years ago, on an afternoon trip to Paestum with my family we stopped at one these caseifici (cheese factories) and my youngest son, Mattia, could not stop eating the still warm bocconcini di mozzarella (mini bites). With his mouth full, he kept saying : “ Oh my God, this is the best thing I have ever eaten! “. You would never know until you taste the real thing!

For me Paestum is not just about the magnificent temples or the tasty mozzarella. Paestum has a special place in my heart. I have spent most summers of my childhood on the sandy beaches just north of the archeological site. When people ask me why I wanted to be an architect, my mind goes always back to Paestum, to the memory of the temples and to the end of summer when, back home, I used my wooden blocks to recreate the temples.

How many beautiful memories I have, the soft and warm sand, the cavalloni (giant swells), the sandcastles, the merry-go-round on the beach, the quiet afternoon on the shaded porch playing with the lizards, the smell of pines from the vast pineta (a large area of pine trees), the foraging for blackberries, the sweet figs, the artichokes’ fields, the bright red tomatoes, the herds of water buffalo in the field along the road and the freshly made mozzarella di bufala (buffalo mozzarella), the gelato at the bar of the lido (bathing establishment), the afternoons horsing around at the Greeks temples, the stairs to the top of the Saracen Tower, the strolls with my big brothers, the lingering fragrance of the gigli di mare (sea lily) growing out of the sand, the color of the oleanders, the waves of velvety ‘piante di sigari’ (cattail), the hours spent learning how to swim, the evening watching my parents dancing under the stars, the fuochi d’artificio (fireworks) to celebrate the Ferragosto, the dark nights brightened by the miryads of fireflies. . .

Lately, I also learned that my two wonderful older brothers used their cute little sister (me) to attract all the pretty girls on the beach. I have not memory of that and  it seems hard to believe considering how jealous of them I was. . . I remember that!

My boys

Few years ago, I went back to Paestum with my children because I wanted to share with them this place so special to me, and today I share with you few of the pictures I shot on that lovely afternoon.

I hope you will all have a chance to visit this beautiful place.

Learning the Italian Language. Chapter two

I am back sharing my beautiful language with my list of words of the month. If you have been following my blog you should recognize many Italian words from my January and February’s posts.

A little note to apologize for my list looking waving. I cannot figure out how to use the tab command on this blog site. If any of you know how, please help me!

PAROLE ITALIANE

FOOD          

Minestrone                      Minestrone – a vegetable based soup

Biscotti                           All kind of hard cookies

Befanini                          Tuscan biscotti

Calzoni                           pizza dough stuffed with mozzarella,

                                      ricotta and salame. Baked

Panzerotti                       similar to calzone, stuffed with mozzarella

                                      and tomatoes. Deep fried

Charlotte di pere              pear pie

Crostata                          fruit tart

Pizzetta fritta                   fried small pizza

Pastacresciuta                fried leavened dough

Pomodori                        tomatoes

Crocche di patate            potatoes croquet

Torta                               cake

Pere                               pears

Torta Caprese                 flourless chocolate cake

                                      typical of Capri

Ripieno                           stuffing

Chiacchiere                     strips of dough, deep-fried

Sanguinaccio                   thick chocolate custard

ABOUT FOOD          

Friggitoria                        local shop selling deep

                                      fried food

Colazione                        breakfast

Pranzo                            lunch

Cena                               dinner/supper

Al forno                           oven baked

Forno a legna                  wood oven

Fritto                               deep-fried

Dieta                               diet

Dieta Mediterranea           Mediterranean Diet

GREETINGS          

Buon San Valentino         Happy Valentine’s day

HOLIDAYS          

Epifania                           Epiphany

Befana                            Old good witch of the Epiphany

San Valentino                  Valentine’s day

Festa degli Innamorati      Valentine’s day

Carnevale                        Carnival – Mardi Gras

Martedì Grasso                Fat Tuesday

Mercoledì delle ceneri       Ash Wednesday

Quaresima                       Lent

Pasqua                            Easter

GENERAL          

Poesia                            poem

Gruppo Cultura Italian       Italian Group for Culture

Inverno                            Winter

Calza                               sock – stocking

Letterina                           short letter

Stile di vita                       lifestyle

Funicolare                        funicular railway

Segreto                            secret

Maschere                         masks – Also the traditional

                                        characters of Carnival

Coriandoli e stelle filanti      confetti and streamers

Rinascimento                      Renaissance

Ballo in maschera               Masquerade ball

Commedia dell” Arte           Comedy of crafts

Una bonta                          a delicacy

Calle                                 narrow streets in Venice

Buonissimo                       extremely good

Here you have it, a full list of words for you to practice.

Which is your favorite Italian word?

Remember, If you live in Frederick County (MD), Montgomery County (MD), Washington Metropolitan Area, and the Princeton (NJ) Area, and you are interested in Italian language classes visit my website www.sharingmyitaly.com  You will also find information on cooking classes and consultation for custom designed trip in Italy.