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A bit about the origins of Vernazza, cinque terre. The name is thought to derive from the Latin adjective verna, meaning “of the place  or “indigenous”. Thus the village’s name would be linked to its most famous product, Vernaccia, the local wine. As you approach Vernazza from the sea, its small piazza seems to slowly open... View Article The place-name appears to come from the Latin “cretaria” which means “clay”, of which much of the geological formation of the territory is made. Gradara and its Fortress are one and the same. At the beginning it was simply a watch tower built by the Griffo family in the second half of the 12th century.... View Article Italian Heart celebrates Italian beauties in its own festival of Borghi d’Italia. Here is the first of a series of posts on little Italian treasures… Enjoy! Curtis de Vado is the Latin name which means ” corte” – the large agricultural complex- placed near a ford on Tagliamento river ( exactly on the one of the... View Article For Italian Heart’s celebration of Italian villages, here is a post about Acerenza in Basilicata region. Enjoy! The Oscans, who were among the first Lucanian tribes, occupied the uplands of Basilicata, including the place that they called  “Akere”, later ”Acherutia”. The Latin poet Horace mentioned it as  “Acherontia”, bringing the name back to its true... View Article Historic notes on the panettone: Il panettone, traditional Christmas cake, is doubtlessly one of the most famous Italian sweet for celebrating the Christmas holidays. Tradition says to present it to friends and family and eat it all together during those long festivity meals. The panettone was born in Lombardia, in Milan, and its basic ingredients... View Article My favorite lyrics, Italian Christmas carols, memory of many Christmas days spent with the family in the coziness of a decorated room singing along with the crackling of the fire while the snow gently lays onto the outside world… Tu scendi dalle stelle Tu scendi dalle stelle, o Re del cielo, You come down from the... View Article Christmas Markets: the tradition of Christmas markets is very strong throughout Italy. On market days artisans showcase their crafts: wooden statues, characters from the nativity scene, glass or ceramic objects, candles, toys, fabric dolls, etc. You can also find home decorations like Christmas lights or ribbons. There are also the characteristic stalls that sell typical... View Article Friday 26th of November 2015: the opening ceremony of Christmas in Padua. In the program this year: Christmas lights all around the city, a tall solidarity tree, Santa Claus in Prato della Valle, bows on the monuments, choirs, traditional songs, children’s games and shows, theatre in piazzas, presepe, Christams markets, exhibitions, and many many more…... View Article Christmas legends: the legend of the decorated baubles After the birth of Jesus a poor artist was in Bethlehem and wanted to pay a visit to the new born child but he had no gifts to bring him. So he had an idea: he went to the grotto and did what we was best at... View Article Abruzzo, a train from a fairy tale. Are you looking for a fascinating itinerary that will immerse you into the Christmas atmosphere? This year on the 5th of December the historic abruzzese train will leave the station of Sulmona and will follow the tracks of the Italian trans-Siberian stopping at Roccaraso and then Campo di... View Article Traditional Abruzzese costume: wide and colorful Handkierchief in silk, cotton or wool with fringes. Handmade white long shirt in linen. Wide neckline decorated with crochet or with tombolo. Long and wide sleeves. Typical garment of the traditional abruzzese costume is a red-purple colored, rectangular rag that used to be winded up tightly to the body,... View Article “ddu ‘bbotte” from Teramo Among the musical instruments from Abruzzo I would like to mention the organetto (squeeze box) called “ddu ‘bbotte” in the local dialect. It is an instrument that goes with chants and dances during local festivals in the pretty abruzzese villages. The fun comes from the dialect term DDU BBOTTE incessant movement that the player makes opening and closing the bellows. In Abruzzo and Molise, especially in hilly... View Article Every fairy tale comes to an end and so does our Italian adventure. On our last day in Umbria we drive to Perugia and visit Piazza IV Novembre with the Cattedrale di San Lorenzo and Cappella di San Severo. A quick stroll around, a slice of pizza on our way and we have to farewell... View Article Today is dedicated to the visit of Assisi, perhaps the most spiritual town in Italy. We depart from our B&B and catch the bus that leaves us right at the top of the hill where the upper part of the town is. We then start walking down following a map and our instincts. We want... View Article We wake up the next day without knowing what was waiting for us.. best things always come unforeseen. While strolling around in Spoleto, after visiting the teatro romano and the interesting Casa Romana, we get to the Basilica di San Salvatore (that we discover was a temple previously) where we are captured by its strong,... View Article Benvenuti in Umbria! Welcome to Umbria! After not too many days spent in Abruzzo it is now time for another adventure. My husband and I farewell my family and start a new 4-day jurney with my in laws. The four of us drive from the countryside of Abruzzo to Norcia (Umbria region) to get a... View Article Here it comes, another well deserved day at the beach, this time in Punta Cavalluccio, Rocca San Giovanni (Abruzzo). Another day to lay out under the warm summer sun. The perfect day for some canoeing and a swim (well, not me, but I tried my best and basically enjoyed being safety in the water). Punta... View Article Back from the Amalfi coast we are ready to relax with my family in Abruzzo and what’s best than having a lunch at my nonni’s? Everyone needs a tranquil day to lay back, recharge and spend some time with the loved ones. After a lazy morning my husband and I stop by at my nonni’s... View Article Arrivederci Amalfi! You have been one of the most amazing place I’ve ever been in my life, without a doubt. Early in the morning we get our car from the garage in the centre of Amalfi and drive outside the town on the coastal road that unwinds right on the cliff revealing a new view... View Article Another day, another adventure! We make sure to have a good breakfast before leaving this morning because a long day awaits us. We get on a ferry heading north to the famous Isola di Capri. After a tormented journey and some nausea, we arrive an hour later and we immediately realize that we weren’t the... View Article It is our second day on the enchanted Amalfi coast. We wake up in our hotel fully recharged and ready for a full on day. We catch a bus and head up on the breath-taking Ravello, a small village sitting on top of the hills just outside Amalfi. The ride to reach the top is... View Article This year I really wanted to have a holiday within the holiday. My husband and I feel blessed when we can go and visit our families in our home Country so every time we go we end up strolling around our home towns. This time I decided to change the gear and take our families... View Article After four days in Jesolo with my in-laws it’s time for us to head south to sunny Abruzzo. A five hour drive, some rain on the way and the smile of my daddy to comfort us when we finally arrive at our destination. We enjoy a 5/6 course meal with him (completely vegetarian…he knows how... View Article On a typical Italian midsummer day all you need is a beach umbrella with some beach chairs, an acquaintance form the beach and maybe a book or cocktail in your hand. For the not so young anymore a card game (gioco a carte) is a must as well as a bocce game. But we rarely... View Article Here we are, back to Italy for a break from this cold and rainy Victorian winter. It is mid August and we land in Venice on a hot summer day. On the very next day, jet lag apart, my husband and I take advantage of my in laws’ kind attitude and availability and ask them... View Article For Italian Heart’s celebration of Italian villages, here is a post about Bosa, Sardinia region. Enjoy! The Phoenician name was Bs’n, which simply means “the people of Bosa”, then a collective ethnic name, reported in an epigraph from the IX-VIII century. B. C. The produce: The vineyards of the famous amber-coloured Malvasia wine are the... View Article For Italian Heart’s celebration of Italian villages, here is a post about Oratino in Molise region. Enjoy! The village first was called Loretinum (XII century); the name changed in Ratino (XV century), then it became Loratino and finally Oratino. The origins of this word are still unknown. According to the parish priest of the early... View Article The straw hats of Signa, history: In signa in 1714 Domenica Michelacci known as Bolognino, began to cultivate “grano marzuolo” a variety of wheat with small ears and tiny grains in order to have straw for weaving. He sowed it densily so that it would grow longer by seeking out the light in shallow furrows... View Article On this cold winter day I wish I was here lying down on this incredible rocky beach in Abruzzo. My mum promised to take me here next time I go visit. This is hands down one of her favorite places in Italy: Punta Aderci and its Trabocchi. The Reserve of Punta Aderci covers an area... View Article Ascoli Piceno lace, history: Textile weaving with vegetable fibres and wool has been an important activity for the Ascoli Piceno area for centuries. Almost all rural homes had at least one loom around which women would engage in spinning, warping, weaving, tailoring and embroidery. Complete bridal trousseaux were made at home as well as dresses,... View Article Coral from Trapani, a brief history: In ancient times coral finds its popularity as an amulet, as evidenced especially by the classic “cornetto”, Italian for “little horn”, an amulet worn to protect against the evil eye. It was believed also to have beneficial effects on female fertility and to protect children from harm. But it is as prestigious ornament that coral finds its affirmation. The processing... View Article Ceramics in Messina, a brief history: Activities related to ceramics have taken place in Messina since the Arabic period. For several centuries the production of ceramics was limited to objects for domestic use such as dishes and containers. The village where the most authentic expression of creativity came from was Santo Stefano di Camastra in... View Article The bread stamps are one of the historical expressions of pastoral art in the Southern Italy, in particular in the area of Matera where until the first half of the twentieth century people marked the bread before baking it in the communal ovens, so they could be recognised by the owner. Made in hand carved... View Article The Sicilian puppet theatre known as the Opera dei Pupi emerged in Sicily at the beginning of the nineteenth century and enjoyed great success among the island’s working classes. The puppeteers told stories based on medieval chivalric literature and other sources, such as Italian poems of the Renaissance, the lives of saints and tales of... View Article Ceramics of Grottaglie, Puglia. A brief history: Grottaglie is in the south of Puglia, just in the middle of the Salento area, one of the most beautiful Italian regions: a landscape of red soiled farmland, ancient white houses, huge olive trees and, everywhere, the blue, clear water of the Mediterranean sea. The abundance of red... View Article An absolute gem and one of my favourite regular stops in Abruzzo: the medieval town of Castelli and its fabulous maiolicas. Castelli is a comune in the province of Teramo, Abruzzo, included in the Gran Sasso e Monti della Laga National Park. The medieval hill town lies beneath Mount Camicia on the eastern side of the Gran Sasso Massif. Castelli is best... View Article Looking at these Fabriano drawing books immediately puts a smile on my face. These are the days of my secondary school. It is late in the evening and the last thing I do before going to the bed is “preparare la cartella” (prepare the schoolbag). I notice that I have graphic arts the following day... View Article One of the most popular traditional feasts of Abruzzo, well-known also abroad, is undoubtedly the Feast of San Domenico in Cocullo, a small mountain village in the province of L’Aquila. The peculiar part of this feast is that the statue of San Domenico is covered with real snakes caught by locals called “serpari” (snake charmers).... View Article A couple of weekends ago my mum was needing a break form the frenetic daily life so she indulged into a two days guided tour in Puglia and Basilicata that took her to see the majestic castel del Monte and the world famous “sassi di Matera”. Two of her must see spots that were still... View Article La Venaria Reale is a grandiose estate just outside Turin. In comprises 80,000 square meters of floor surface in the Reggia and 60 hectares of Gardens, adjacent to the 17th century ancient village of Venaria and the 3,000 fenced hectares of the Park of La Mandria. It is a natural and architectural masterpiece that was declared part of... View Article Capodimonte, is a small village situated on the picturesque promontory facing the touristic Bolsena lake. It rises on a picturesque peninsula on the south-west shore and it belongs to the Isola Bisentina municipality. Capodimonte is the gem of Bolsena lake and it is ancient village is perched on the promontory at 334 metres a.s.l. The... View Article Atelier Carria, the name and signature. Maria, a friend and a very talented artisan. Our paths crossed last year when we had a chance to get to know each other in a deeper way in preparation of my wedding receptions in Italy. She is the mind and hands behind the little colorful bags of my... View Article My dear friends Marco and Alberto, two brothers living and working in Padua and owners of Almar (www.almaritalia.it), interviewed on their lifetime passion as artisans and entrepreneurs in interior design. “We love what we do and we dedicate to our job all our time (including our free time). We started learning about interior design at... View Article My mother in law, talks about Jesolo, our personal retreat on the Venetian lagoon. Jesolo is a sunny town on the Venetian lagoon renowned seaside resort, famous for its summer attractions. “Our beach house in Jesolo was furnished by our family, my sons collaborated to decide all the decorations, so we now feel it is... View Article Traditions in Abruzzo and how the passing of time has affected them. My mum’s love affair with Abruzzo. “Traditional festivals haven’t changed much with the passing of the years, with the exception of the simplest carousels and the children happy with just one balloon in their hands. I remember a traditional mask (la pupa) that... View Article Master tailors: nonno and nonna “I grew up with a needle in my hands, I could do needlepoint and jackets since a very young age. I remember when I was ten I would come to Pescara to take some fabrics with me, I would then go home and embroider them. With the money from the... View Article History of a Sicilian icon: the carretto The Sicilian cart (or carretto siciliano in Italian and carrettu sicilianu in Sicilian) is an ornate, colorful style of horse or donkey-drawn cart native to the island of Sicily, in Italy. The cart has always been the symbol of Sicily and its traditions. The Sicilian cart, just like... View Article My beloved mother in law Anna writes down some memories of her childhood in Padua, Veneto region. “My husband and I were both born in the 1950s in Padua, Veneto region, when the cultural and social transformation was very strong but we distinctly remember some old professions: • The knife grinder (el moleta in the... View Article My mum tells us about her life in the Abruzzese countryside. “My name is Naira and I am a high school teacher of physics, I am 57 years old and live in a tiny village named Cavaticchi in Abruzzo. My love for the countryside comes from the long Sundays spent at my grandparents’ house, they... View Article The history of ceramics of Caltagirone, Sicily is doubtlessly millennial. Since human kind has learned how to dominate the four elements, in Caltagirone (Sicily) there have been artisans able to create original colours and shapes. When men starting to live on agriculture they began making big containers and small vases made of a black-grey mixture... View Article Bottega Artistica Italiana was born some years ago from a communal program of two good friends, Paola and Rita, two modern time Italian artisans. These two teachers felt the need of having a personal space and time to relax and share their passion for all handmade things. “Ours is a tiring job but also an... View Article My nonna remembers her childhood in the country village of Nocciano, Abruzzo. “Of my primary school years I remember going down in an underground room in the countryside, there was a torch to light up the room and keep us warm, my teacher was constantly drunk. I studied until I was 8 years old. I... View Article 8th of March: International Women’s Day. I am going to make this one the month dedicated to the women in my life publishing posts about them and their lives. I love you all. In my life I have been lucky enough to meet and love my great grandmother; her name was Amalia. She lived till... View Article “Cisternino, characterized by its white houses, is considered one of the most beautiful villages of Italy. It is a super tiny medieval village that looks onto the Itria Valley. We are in the Puglia region where you can find the world famous trulli and where the sun shines all year round. Cisternino is a representative... View Article Cecina The cecina from Tuscany is typical of the province of Siena, it is entirely made of chickpeas flour, water, salt and olive oil. And pepper to serve. One of the most representative recipe of the Italian cucina povera. The cecina is all about simplicity, genuineness and primitive flavor. The flavor that conquers my mum’s... View Article “La festa più golosa del mondo!” I have always celebrated Carnival, I have pictures dated 1989 with a little me dressed as a Spanish lady. As a little girl my mum used to dress me up and take me to the main piazza in town to watch the confetti carpet covering the entire surface of... View Article The archaeological site of Agrigento is a memory that brings me back in time, 14 years ago. As routine, when planning the family holiday my mum would ask my sister and I if we had any preferences. And, obviously, I could never hold my dreams down. That year I really wanted to go and see... View Article In 1894 Italian poet Gabriele D’Annunzio writes a brief description of the handmade traditional jewel: la Presentosa in his book “Il trionfo della morte” (The triumph of the death): “Portava agli orecchi due grevi cerchi d’oro e sul petto la presentosa: una grande stella di filigrana con in mezzo due cuori.” (“She was wearing two... View Article A tribute to Anna, my mother in law: Piazzola sul Brenta, a comune in the province of Padua (Veneto region) and her home town. Anna and her family moved to Padova when she was only 3 years old. From that day on and for many years she used to go back to Piazzola to visit... View Article Ready for one last trip out of Padua, in the morning of the seventh of January my husband, parents-in-law, Australian friends and I caught a train for a short 30 minute journey to magical Venice. I was feeling very touched and unsteady as I usually feel when traveling to Venice. The idea of visiting this... View Article For the Modern Lifestyle section another story of real life, this time my cousin Daniele tells us about his lifestyle as a teenager living in a small town. “Hi, my name is Daniele, I am 18 and I am studying for a diploma in surveying. I live in Santa Teresa di Spoltore (2 hours east... View Article The stops: Merano, Innsbruck, Bressanone, Ortisei, Bolzano From the 4th to the 6th of this month we were excited to go and explore the Christmas markets. Matteo and Roberta (my brother-in-law and his girlfriend) unexpectedly booked a place near Ortisei for 2 nights as their gift wedding for us, so sweet! And very much appreciated... View Article The good thing about living away from your home country is that you can get married wherever you like. The good thing about getting married away from for your home country is that you have to go back to celebrate with relatives and friends that cannot come to the wedding. The even better thing about... View Article After a Christmas spent in my region we traveled to Padua to enjoy the other half of the holiday in the even colder north-eastern lands of Italy. For the last day of 2014 my husband and I stayed at home with his parents. New Year’s eve went by very quickly, a relaxed chatting morning and... View Article A white Christmas in Italy deserves some traditional Christmas games, and this year we couldn’t be the exception. A few days before New Year’s Eve we organized a game night with friends to get together around a table and laugh all night. We started with an unavoidable tombola (similar to Bingo), ours was the Neapolitan... View Article After the intimate wedding that we had on the beautiful Island of Mauritius in October 2014 it came the time for us to go home and celebrate with family and friends. So in December last year Nicola (my husband) and I spent an amazing white Christmas in Abruzzo. The next day, Boxing day (and my... View Article During the past Christmas holidays in Italy my husband and I had the pleasure to show to our Australian friends one of the highlights of my region: Santo Stefano di Sessanio. The village of Santo Stefano has been nominated one of the most beautiful villages in Italy. It is part of the Gran Sasso e... View Article The University of Padua is among the earliest universities of the world and the second oldest in Italy. The University of Padua is one of Italy’s leading universities and my second home for five amazing years. Below: Padua (Padova) – aerial view of the town Padua is the town that saw me growing up and getting a... View Article My husband has great memories of San Gimignano, a medieval village on the Tuscan hills. He has been here three times, on the second time in the early years 2000 he went with some friends for a long weekend stay. Initially chosen for its convenient location halfway between Siena and the magical Florence, San Gimignano... View Article On my wedding day my daddy brought a typical amulet from Naples, a cornetto that he presented to me the day before the ceremony. It must have been a gift from my mum whose origins are Neapolitan. My mum told me to start wearing it immediately and to believe it would bring me and my... View Article Christmas luncheon with my Italian families. In every dish there is the memory of nonne (grandmothers), mums or aunties that create little masterpieces and that at least once in a lifetime made us (as young Italian children) taste a dish with that homemade, special, authentic power. Every small village in Abruzzo has its own secret recipes... View Article The typical Neapolitan Presepe, along with the pipers, the tombolata and the typical dinner menu of Christmas’ Eve, is one of the most intense symbols of the Christmas tradition in Naples. The word “Presepe” comes from the latin praesepe that means what stands before the hedge, that is the “manger”. At the beginning, just like... View Article Traditional Christmas dishes from North to South Italy, they vary from region to region, sometimes even from town to town. In some regions (especially in South Italy) it is common to celebrate Christmas’ Eve with an abundant dinner based on fish, in some other regions the celebration takes place on Christmas day and families get... View Article How Italians get ready for Christmas: a trip down to memory lane I remember being a child growing up in a small town in Abruzzo, every year on the 8th of December (Immaculate Conception day) my mum would go up to the attic where we used to keep our special decorations and come down with... View Article For the section “Modern lifestyle” here is Federica’s story. Federica is one of my friends for University, she currently lives close to Treviso (30 kms North of Venice). She talks about her lifestyle as a young woman living in a small Italian town these days. “Ciao everyone, My name’s Federica, I am 27 years old... View Article Rosa, a friend of mine, is very passionate about her homeland and she is happy to share her memories and the beauties of her hometown with us. Here is what she wants to say about her beloved Marina di Camerota (4.5 hours south of Rome, in the Campania region). “…Once ther was and still there... View Article Every year the town of Trento (Trentino region, close to the National border with Austria) celebrates its patron Saint Vigilio on the 26th of June. At this time of the year the town gets transformed and it seems like it takes you back in time to the mediaeval era. Strolling in the streets of the... View Article This is Andrea from Romagna region talking about a culinary specialty and a small gem, the village of Bertinoro. “I love “gnocco fritto” (a fried dumpling). It has the same shape of a typical piadina from Emilia-Romagna but the dough is fried. I love enjoying my “gnocco fritto” in a small village on the gentle... View Article Autumn in Trentino: a weekend in September My friend from Trentino Noemi answers my question “What is your favourite country festival of your region?” My favourite country festival (sagra) is “Autumn in Trentino”, a weekend that celebrates good food and wine from the region and happens every year around the 20th of September and it... View Article From the words of my friend Andrea, he shares with us the treasures of his region. “In Cesena you can find the Majestic Malatestiana Library, a monastic library from the fifteenth century, at the present day included in the UNESCO Memory of the World. It is the first civic library of Italy and Europe. The... View Article I got married in Mauritius in October this year and at dinner on the wedding day my dad proudly showed up with a confection of Pelino confetti (sugar almonds), the well known candies from Abruzzo, the region where my family and I come from. I love him for taking care of me, always reminding me... View Article