Hays at 6am
We’re celebrating New Year’s Eve earlier than usual with a good morning cocktail made with espresso for an italyin30seconds pick me up (more like a shot out of a cannon) from A. J. Rathbun’s Spiked Punch, a blog that celebrates the legends and lore of liqueur. The first one is called Hays at 6am made with espresso, sweet vermouth and Benedictine with a float of espresso beans (nice touch). The other is called Hays at 7am, a frothy espresso gin concoction made with an egg white, supposedly for the later riser.
Sure to excite and encourage you to experience Italy in 2014, we think either would be just as well served at 6 or 7pm to ring in an Italian inspired New Year.
Hays at 7am
Here’s our list of the best Italian inspired Christmas gifts for 2013 in 30 seconds or less. Brief, simple with the idea that less is more.
- the Domsai, a plant with a personality from Italian designer Matthew Cibic produced in Nove, near Bassano del Grappa
- Divina Commedia, a diminutive version of Dante, a series of figures by Alessi, accompanied by a monthly publication aimed at children to tell the famous work of Dante in a simple and easily understandable language
- Nespresso Pixie with a 25 second heating time it’s one of the fastest single cup coffee makers you can find and it uses 40% less power than other similar machines
- Lucky in Love Bracelet by Thun
- Italian bottle cap magnets, handmade using recycled bottle caps by an Australian artist with a flair for Italy
It’s 7 degrees outside and they’re predicting snow so I’m naturally thinking about how to stay warm and in Italy one of the oldest ways besides an open fireplace to heat your home and cook your food was with a stufa, a wood burning stove. Besides the food, wine and hospitality of the Italian people, one of the most comforting images I have of Italy is the Italian stufa. Our cousins in Portogruaro have one. My favorite is at an albergo in Varena (near Bolzano) jn the Val di Fiemme in Trentino, a beautiful forest green giant of a stufa in the middle of the common dining room.
Italy is one of the biggest markets for wood-burning stoves in Europe. Around 30% of all homes in Italy use wood for heat. The traditional full wood burning ceramic stove (stufa al legna di tradizione) is both functional and a statement of art and design. Some of the most beautiful are made by Thun and Italian ceramicists from the Castellamonte area of Piemonte. The design behind the Castellamonte stoves is based on hundreds of years of tradition beginning in the 19th century when the classic Castellamonte stove with its elaborate decorations and bright-colored glazes made it a prized piece of furniture. New and innovative designs, state of the art technology and a renewed appreciation for how beneficial this kind of heat could be make the crackling of the fire one of the most comforting sounds around.
Sant’Eustachio Il Caffè, an ancient Coffee Shop and Roaster in Rome. A few steps away from Piazza Navona and the Pantheon, Sant’Eustachio has become an iconic destination for those seeking coffee nirvana.
Each coffee is separately roasted over wood logs (tostato al legno) in a wood-fired roaster located in the back of the coffee shop that dates back to 1938. The result is an aromatic, deeply appreciated espresso with a thick layer of frothy crema that captures the romance of Roma.
In Italy there is no Black Friday. There is some reference to days of blackness in Boccaccio’s Decameron when he wrote about the Black Plague that ravaged the city of Florence in 1348. The experience inspired him to write a story of seven men and three women who escape the disease by fleeing to a villa outside the city. The color black for centuries has been used for various calamities. In fact until the mid 1990’s the universal meaning of the term “Black Friday” referred to the US stock market crash in the 1800’s. Over the years it has taken on various connotations all related to retail profit and the creation of a shopping frenzy which some consider a modern calamity.
In Italy the holiday season officially begins on December 8, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. This is traditionally when decorations go up (both on the streets and inside Italian homes) and when some Christmas markets start. As Italians do not normally celebrate Thanksgiving unless you have moved there from the US or Canada, there is no Black Friday pressure to shop till you drop. Italians do celebrate harvest festivals with seasonal specialties like the white truffle, mushrooms, chestnuts, forest fruits, honeys, regional cheeses and of course wine. With such a bounty it’s no wonder shopping is often an after thought. As in most Italian “things to do” lists, there’s always time later to take care of a task. Proverbial procrastinators, Italian’s will wander the Christmas markets, enjoy the holiday window displays and Christmas creches but as to shopping, there’s plenty of time left for that.