food. family. life.

what i was reading… 8.october.2013

Royal Grammar School Chained Library in Guildford, England

{ciao tutti.}

I see subtle hints of fall in Southwest Florida… the air is a bit cooler and very breezy, the humidity a bit lower and the evenings are just beautiful now. The stores and shops are showcasing fall decor including my favorite, hundreds of gorgeous orange and white pumpkins. Here is what I was reading recently… I wish you a peaceful and fabulous week.

1. FOOD. Pumpkins are the key to knowing that October has arrived in full force, with the coming of the Halloween holiday here in the states, people seek out pumpkins to carve and decorate their doorways and lawns.

The closest thing to Halloween in Italy is the celebration of Carnivale in Venezia (Venice.) For Italians, the pumpkin is representative of a delicious fall seasonal food (it is a relative of the squash family) using them to make dishes like ravioli di zucca, risotto di zucca (pumpkin ravioli and risotto) and a lovely bruschetta con zucca e mozzarella di buffala (roasted pumpkin and buffalo mozzarella bruschetta.)

These dishes and more are a wonderful way to celebrate the season like a true Italian. Check out your local green market and ask about the best cooking pumpkins they have to offer for your fall dishes.

3. MUSIC. The music of yesterday and today differ much in style and lyric. I love to listen to old vintage music (this is what our girls call music from our youth) as music is the key to unlocking wonderful memories of a special place, person or time in your life.

We have all had this happen to us… you are driving along and you hear that song, the one you heard for the first time when at a party with your first high school crush, the song you heard when you first fell in love and knew it was for real…

Take a moment to collect the songs that mean something to you and create listening collections that you can play and enjoy in your car, at work or at home. Mixing these classics filled with memories along with today’s new songs is a great way to create musical collections that speak to you and what you love.

A long-time favorite of mine… “Only Lonely” by Bon Jovi (circa 1985).

3. ART. October for me does not really conjure up images of ghosts and witches for me as Halloween unknown to Italians. The concept of dressing up and going door to door asking for treats (candy and such) was unknown to me until about 10 or 11 years old.  I found it odd that once-a-year we were allowed to go to mostly strangers homes (at night!) and ask for treats (accept food from these strangers, too) and our parents played along… interesting.

To say the least, I really have no personal connection to Halloween (although I did carry out this tradition for my girls as I love the idea of dressing in costume and masks.) Masks, however, are very important in the Italian culture mainly due to a very large religious celebration that occurs annually (from February 15th to March 4th) called “Carnivale” in Venezia (Venice.)

This celebration goes on forever and the tradition is that followers are to dress in period costumes and elaborate face masks while attending hundreds of parties and events during the day and evening. Now this is interesting… and beautiful.

carnivale goers in costume and masks - photo courtesy of

Carnivale goers in costume and masks – photo courtesy of

The making of these elaborate masks over time has become a true art in Italy and the world, Italians seek out the most interesting and unusual mask all year, a welcome and exciting challenge for those who attend Carnivale.

Venetians are masters at this craft and for those of us who have never had the luxury of visiting Venice, you must add this city to your list for sure and make a point of visiting the artisans who create masks just for Carnivale every year.

I love the masks, they have the power to evoke the feel of a time long-gone when kings and queens, princes and princesses would dress for a formal ball and spend the evening trying to determine who lay behind the masks. A very romantic concept and one that is just my style.

4. FASHION. The key to men’s fashion, the experts say, is found in how Italian men have dressed for centuries and still dress today. I found an old article from the Wall Street Journal I love that explains this fashion concept for those who are unaware and wish to learn from the Italians. 

The essence of Italian men’s fashion is summed up in one word… sprezzatura (Italian for “studied nonchalance”.) Style, fit and fabric selections are very important to Italian men, no matter what the occasion or type of event. Shoes are also a very thought out accessory, no Italian man would be caught dead in flip-flops or running shoes during his daily work routine or on an evening out with his favorite regazza (girl.)

They seem to find the exact style that suits their personality, in a most natural way, so the observer sees a man who exudes confidence and a lot of attitude. For the men out there, steal this concept from the Italians… as I have often observed, women from all over the world will love you for it.


The style of Italian men…


Ciao per adesso!

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