Monday, June 23, 2014

Italy: MAMMA what are you cooking?

Cooking with Mamma Giulia.  
Another one of a kind experience from 
Yle with www.yltourcongressi

simple ingredients 

The people I meet on my trips Home to Italy each year, 

are the parts of each trip I remember for years.   

 I met Mamma Giulia on an earlier trip when I had a tour of Masseria Provenzani, a luxury country estate outside of Lecce.

On this visit Yle,  the CEO of, 
a custom travel consultant, arranged an interview with Mamma G and for me watch her make her signature focaccia and talk about her thoughts on healthy Italian food.

The courtyard pergola of Masseria Provenzani

 Mamma G creates joy for your mouth with Mediterranean cooking.    

Learn the secret ingredient she adds to Focaccia!

Taurinos' olive oil is found in Mamma G's kitchen 
My second meeting I was treated as a valued friend.  During the week I spent in Puglia, Yle introduced me to many of her favorite people, all who I would never have met without her introduction: an oilve oil farm where trees date back 1,000 years,  the top pastry chef in Lecce, a famous artist and others. Stories to be posted at

After our visit to Taurino's Olive farm to taste olive oil and viewing the operation of how to press olives, we took the short ride to the masseria.      This totally renovated farm complex may take your breath away!  From the miticulous garden to the pool or the room available in an old tower.   You shall immediately become entranced.

But we are here to meet Mamma Guilia, one of the outstanding cooks/instructors for Cooking with Mamma program.  

The dough was mixed in advance and final preparation started.

after dough was shaped in the pan, fresh herbs from the garden and tomatoes are inserted into each pan as well a liberal amounts of olive oil

Hot out of the oven, the smell of fresh focaccia was wonderful

As we sampled this delight, Mamma told me about her passion for cooking


I do not cook but I certainly enjoy eating!   Yle always takes such wonderful care of me, I think I am her only client!   

One visit with Yle Sambati and you are a friend for life!

Oh, the secret ingredient...............POTATOES!   Mamma G adds potatoes to the mixture.

the texture was very fluffly compared to other slices of focaccia i had sampled.   You purchase a slice by weight  in most bakeries...... an after school snack, avoid the crowd wiht the local school lets out.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Florence, Italy: Do NOT miss the Gnomon in June or you will wait another year

Florence's cathedral, the solstice

Florence, Italy    

I have been traveling to Firenze (Florence) for years since I attended a semester abroad many years ago.   
But I have never heard of The Gnomon until my expat friend Sheila(an accomplished photographer and long time real estate professional) sent me an email today.

If you are in Florence try to experience the Gnomon.   

A quick search online gave me some back-
ground information and fascinating photos I will share with you.  (see credits).

If you attend this month, please share your impressions and photos.  I will be happy to add them to this post.

What is the Gnomon in Florence in the cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore?

device in A The bronze plate in the floor of the left transept lines up with the sun's rays coming through   1.                          

According to Wikipedia a gnomon is part of a sundial that casts the shadow.    The device in the dome of the Florence cathedral is nearly 90 meters above the church floor.

On only four days each year the shadow cast will fall on white marble disk set in the floor at the left side chapel indicating the exact point of the summer solstice.  

Don't be late, this event only lasts between 12:30 and 1:30 and I have been told there are only a limited number of tickets for each 'performance'. 1.

You are witnessing the sun passing through an opening  (5 cm)in a bronze disk inserted up in the dome to form a circle which perfectly fits into the 90 cm disk inlaid in the floor of the Cappella della Croce (chapel of the cross). 2.   The lucky spectators will catch the circle of light cross the floor and fill the marble disk before moving on.  

The creator of this gnomon was Paolo del Pozzo Toscanelli, studying a science not well know in mid 1400.     Such a spectacle may have frightened the local population at that time.

Climbing to the top of the dome I heels while living in Florence, was one of the most  insane events of my trip.  


1.  Fiorentina  June 21, 2013

3.  Silvia Messeri, Th Gnomon of Florence

credits:  1.  Fiorentina  June 21, 2013

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Travel questions answered on line

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