Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Night of San Lorenzo

The Night of the Shooting Stars

La Notte di San Lorenzo

also know as The Night of San Lorenzo 

I am never Home to Italy during August so I have never seen the shooting stars that might grant me a wish.    Actually I have never seen a shooting star much as I look every time there is a clear sky.

Even today you hear 'make a wish' when you see a shooting star.   According to the web site Florence Inferno , August 10 is also know as the Night of San Lorenzo or the Night of the shooting Stars.  Apparently there is a scientific explanation as well as tradition or myth.   Valentina Gambino explains in an article in Envornment, the meteorite display may be repeated over several days with the days between August 12 and 13 when most visible.
Photo from the Envornment web page

But what about the myth or history behind the 'free wishes"?
Tears of San Lorenzo, sparks from the bonfire were two of the descriptions of what the shooting stars symbolize.  St Lorenzo was put to death on August 10th.

Who was San Lorenzo?
Researching San Lorenzo or Saint Lawrence,   With some humor (or perhaps it if my Catholic interpretation) Trinity Stories lists events prior to San Lorenzo's martyrdom:
He was responsible for collecting and distributing alms to the poor in Rome
San Lorenzo was commanded by emperor Valerian to give all the 'riches' of the Church to the Roman Prefect
San Lorenzo presented the poor under his care to the authorities
For this act he was burned on a gridiron.  Perhaps only myth, it is said San Lorenzo told his torturers to 'turn him over, he was already done on one side".   He died in 258AD.

Do the shooting stars represent his tears during torture or sparks from the bonfire that consumed. There can be may versions of one story.

Free Wishes:
But what is the draw of 'free wishes'?
Why have we been wishing on starts as far as I can remember?
"Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight" is know by many children?

With the hope that shooting stars on the night of San Lorenzo can be seen all over the world, I shall be out looking up at the stars tomorrow and the next 3 nights.

Remember that August 15th is Ferragosto, Assumption Day an important religious and traditional holiday.  I need a calendar just of holidays and feasts in Italy!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

ITALY: Rome airport adds trains to Northern Cities

Just saw this online, Trains from the Rome Airport to Venice and other stops
No Change in Rome?

Direct trains from Rome Fiumicino Airport

Travel directly from the airport in Rome to Venice, with stops in Florence, Bologna and Padova
Now there’s one less connection to make when you’re traveling from Rome Fiumicino Airport to popular stops in Italy, including Florence, Bologna, Padova and Venice. After a long flight it’s nice to skip the airport connection, usually required to get you to Rome Termini, the city’s central station.
With 2 daily departures in each direction you can travel on Trenitalia’s high speed Frecciargento trains between Rome Fiumicino Airport and:
Book your Trenitalia E-ticket now, which you can print at home and is ready to travel with, seat reservation included!



This entry was posted by Angela on July 8th, 2015, and is filed under Italy. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback from your own site.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Cooking and Wine School in Puglia

The Only Cooking and Wine School in
 Puglia, Italy

Yle Sambati, CEO of was recently interviewed by
Lee Laurino, Editor/Writer of Home to Italy about her Cooking and Wine School in Puglia, Italy.

Participating in a cooking class may be one of the top activities for travelers to Italy.   It may be your first trip or your yearly return to Italy,

Cooking with mamma's has long been part of the creative experiences Ylenia designs for her guests.   Local Italian women, grandmothers, have taught countless guests the cooking secrets handed down for generations.  

The Puglia Cooking School offers more than leaning to cook Italian food.  Yle, her name all her friends use, tells me, “When I started our culinary program, I really felt that this was the time to introduce people to a new way of cooking and eating.   Not just the common and well known Italian dishes, but above all the healthy and incredible vegetarian cuisine you can create using seasonal organic ingredients.”

“Most people think cooking vegetarian style is like not eating.  Wrong.  Cooking vegetarian means being more creative and focused on using fresh ingredients that create seasonal menus and special foods available at a specific time of the year.”

“And when it is about cooking ‘cucina povera’ style so much the better.  It is the cuisine style that our ancestors have always cooked and that it is now so popular in the south of Italy.  It is only inspired by the “prodotti natural dell terra” the natural products of the earth, and it is great for feeling good, strong and happy."

How did you become interested in vegetarian cooking?

“I have always been a vegetarian, this is not a secret and I am a big fan of the cucina povera. It is amazing, so creative, never fake, and so delicious. I’m not surprised that this cuisine style is loved by the Puglian people from generation to generation. “

“With my job, I’m a Puglia Travel Consultant, I am visited by so many friends from all over the world.   Food and wine was often a main topic and sometimes they joined cooking lesson that were similar to other cooking lessons they offer in other parts of Italy    . When I told guests about cucina povera and explained to them what they were eating, they simply loved it and wanted to know more about the ingredients and how to combine them.”

Local Mammas share their secrets

When did you expand your cooking lessons to include cucina povera and wine?

“So I realized it was time to create my own cooking and wine school because it was a great way to share this experience with friends visiting me and joining my tours from all over the world.   I did not want them to join a common cooking class, some cooking course they can easily find everywhere in Italy.”

 “I really wanted to recreate the most authentic atmosphere, cooking with local mums, using the most genuine ingredients and educate them on how this type of cuisine could be a real elixir for the health, eventually introducing it a couple of times in the week, at least in the beginning.”


Where is your school located and who are your instructors?

“So I started looking for the most inspiring mammas from the area (I did not need English speaking mammas I wanted fabulous local mamme),  extensively researched  this type of cuisine, studied the nutritional facts, personally visited farmers purchasing the ingredients and finally found a gorgeous location to open my lovely Cooking and Wine School in Squinzano, north of Lecce.

It couldn’t be but there it is: in a place that tells everything about wine production and where you can really enjoy the sweet rhythm of the life in a typical Salento village.

The very moment I saw the Piazza in front of my cooking and wine school, I thought I really wanted this place to be the witness of what food, wine and olive oil means for the Pugliesi people."

The view from the window of the piazza

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Florence Italy: Four Monks in the monastery of Certosa

From the archives:


A short #36 bus ride outside of Florence and you arrive at an enormous monastic complex that today houses only four, hard working monks.

This is a great opportunity to get out of the city and view the smaller suburbs and countryside.


I visit Florence very year and all the good intentions to go outside the city are often over ruled by the endless events and experiences offered within Florence.   

This year I was determined.  With instructions on ‘where to get off the bus’ I was fortunate to have Sheila Ford, an expat in Florence who is a real estate agent and also offers amazing photography walks (see future post) to accompany me.  

Exiting the local bus we began the walk up the long drive.  A beautiful view of the countryside and the outside walls of this massive complex.   There was  total silence except for the birds signing from the orange trees along the drive.  Later I would learn the oranges are transformed into marmalade and sold in the gift shop.


Everything was very low key.  We were allowed to walk into the courtyard and visit the gift shop but all the massive doors to the church and inner cloisters were closed.  

The brother assigned to the gift shop was not curios about an Italian American who could not speak Italian well so he continued to read his paper. 

There may not be many visitors in the winter because the stock on the shelves was a little dusty.  But I did see a nunber of medicinal looking bottles behind the counter.   Later I would learn this monastery produces elixirs and other products.

We asked another brother if the 4 pm tour was being offered and he explained that yes if and only if there were 5 or more visitors.  

So far we were the ONLY visitors and I was the only American.  But within a few minutes several other locals arrived.  A Sunday outing while the weather was warm and the day sunny for the end of November.

If you enjoy photography, every wall and arch gives you great light and shade contrast

Without any announcement the ‘gift shop’’ brother started up the long stair case and beckoned us to follow.  This signal was repeated throughout  the hour long tour to keep the group moving and to keep this stray American from wandering off to capture a photo.

The size and scope of the rooms we visited was astounding.  Our guide had endless information about the history of the buildings and the times when they were built, changed hands or used for a school.  Note:  the tour is ONLY in Italian.  Do not let that bother you. 
Perhaps you will not know the dates of the objects in the room set up as a 'museum' but you will certainly appreciate the inner church paintings and hand carved benches. 


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Naples: Three Sisters continue a third generation business

The Three Sisters in Naples
A 3rd generation of hand crafted umbrellas

                                                                     Tre Sorelle

Naples May 2015:   It was another national holiday and to avoid the massive crowds on Via Toledo, I detoured down the side street of the Spanish district.    You step back in time on these side streets and into the lives of the Italians who live here.   There is laundry flapping overhead, the corner Madonna shrine has dried flowers and electric candles, the local merchants have their stands half way into the street and Vespas weave among the pedestrians.   


On such a street I discovered the Three Sisters who now manage A.Talarico’s.      At first I was not going to enter this small local store until I saw the umbrellas.  Hung from the ceilings, lining the walls, umbrellas in designs I had never seen and others that were hand painted.  Everywhere you look there is another design to catch your attention.    

Olga, Monica and Maria were all working in the store and greeted me warmly, trying to understand my very limited Italian.   I was shown many of their finest umbrellas, each a work of art.   Until I returned to my computer I did not realize I had visited a family business dating from 1860’s, creating handmade umbrellas!    A. Talarico’s has been hand crafting umbrellas for 3 generations.  

In an age when everything is mass produced A. Talarico’s “umbrellas are entirely hand fabricated using hardwoods or cane for the shafts and fabrics made in Italy” for the canopy.1    Handles are simple or elaborate carved woods, bone ivory or silver.       

I asked Monica who paints the wonderful artwork on the umbrellas: 

 "My sister Mary was inspired by the deep love of our beautiful country and especially of our magnificent city of Naples, in fact, most of the themes of her creations are based on characters and landscapes that represent our beloved Naples."

Has anyone asked to learn the technique of hand made umbrelllas?
"While (he was) still alive,  my father had a request from a German girl who wanted to learn from him as she was building an umbrella.
Today we have not, however, the new generation of apprentices, Monica's daughters, Barbara and Francesca, have inherited the gene and aunt Maria's artistic attempt to paint on scarves "

                                       Hand painted designs make each umbrella a one of a kind.

The sisters are now the design and marketing force for the business, after the passing of their father.

In addition to umbrellas they have a wonderful selection of handbags.  All crafted in Italy, selecting one was a difficult choice.  Their non pressure sales approach was a welcome change from the techniques of the street market vendors. 

The quality of a Talarico umbrella has been praised online by several fashion editors and other writers.   On my next visit I hope to take a closer look at the workmanship.   According to one article "these umbrellas feature an 'unshaved' staff and distinctive handles.  All the umbrellas are finished with polished horn tips.2

The cramped quarters only allows for a very small space for the work bench.    The shop also carries silk scarves, stoles, small leather accessories.     If you don’t need an umbrella, visit the Three Sisters to select a handbag.     Prices and styles are impressive and they offer a range of colors within each model.
                          The cramped quarters only allow for a very small space for the work bench.

                           The shop also carries silk scares, stoles, small leather accessories.
Vico Due Porte a Toledo  38/40
Napoli 80134