According to the market research firm InfoTrends, global consumers will take more than one trillion digital photos this year with a large part taken on vacations and trips. So what do you do with the over the top number of pictures taken on your trip to Italy. Of course there’s your Facebook wall album and the obligatory photo book. Your annual Vista Print calendar and family Christmas card. Perhaps a Vimeo video. But like many Italian travelers the street art and iconic landscapes and architecture of Italy create such great photo opps that they want to bring Italy home with photos framed for wall art that deserve to be properly displayed.
According to pro designers the proper way to display your framed photos as art and make them look good on your wall is to follow a standard used in many galleries and museums. Always hang your artwork at 57″ on center meaning that the middle of the artwork is always at 57″. The 57″ standard represents the average human eye-height known to be most pleasing for viewing. Click here to learn how Maxwell Ryan from Apartment Therapy applies this standard when hanging artwork and enjoy your fotos of Italy!
Techniques to help Americans change their eating habits and lead a healthier lifestyle are always in the news. The most recent being the concept of mindfulness, using a common meditation technique as a nutritional tool that you can use to manage portions, pay attention to choices and just slow down a bit. Mindful eating or the concept of sitting down at the table in a relaxed and convivial manner to enjoy the unfolding sequence of a meal has always been part of the Italian lifestyle. For most of us this style of eating is a lost art. Finding it again has the potential to improve the quality of our lives and a greater appreciation for what we eat.
We believe that “mindful eating” really is an extension of the traditional Italian concept of eating in courses and by its nature fosters portion control starting with the antipasto or pinzimonio of fresh vegetables dipped in extra virgin olive oil – a little something before the meal to control your appetite. Next, the primo piatto or first course with a small portion of pasta or risotto followed by the secondo piatto, a protein (beef, pork, fish, chicken, rabbit) once again generally a right-sized portion served with a contorno, vegetable side. A small green salad simply dressed with a vinaigrette is often served at the end of the meal to improve digestion.
Food placement or how we eat our meals is heavily based on cultural habits and the Italian style of eating in a certain sequence tends to make you pay more attention to your food as each course is an event. The “Italian model” is a mindful approach to how you eat your meals and following it may surprise you how your portion sizes and choices change when you simply become more aware of what you’re eating.
Sirius XM satellite radio launched the Beatles Channel (channel 18) this past week and other Sirius stations joined in the celebration. One in particular was XM Channel 88 NFL Radio who asked listeners to call in and name their Fab Four of Football. This got me thinking what would my choice be for Italy’s Fab Four. The top 4 most fabulous experiences you could have it Italy. It almost seems impossible to choose 4 distinctive touchstones that define the “fatal charm of Italy that can be found nowhere else” but here are mine.
Driving through the iconic landscape of the Tuscany’s Crete Senesi and Val d’Orcia
Florence, Rome and Venice
Assisi and the Franciscan Santuario of La Verna
The mosaics of Ravenna
An amazing list to be sure but here are a few more things in Italy I think are over the top, the star of the group, the best travel investment you can make, the cherry on the sundae, the most dominant person, place or thing you can see in Italy.
Like Brutus in the Roman Forum on that fateful Ides of March the ubiquitous Caesar Salad came out of the least expected place. Not a traditional Italian dish never to be found on any true restaurant menu in Italy, its name often associates it with Italian cuisine.
The salad was originally created in 1924 by Caesar Cardini at his restaurant in Tijuana, Mexico. Cardini immigrated to California from Italy’s Lake Region after World War I. Cardini relocated his San Diego restaurant to Tijuana when Prohibition left a gap in the cocktail dining crowd.
Gastromythology tells the story that the salad was created on a busy summer weekend at Caesar’s restaurant with what was on hand and tossed at the table for effect. Popularized by celebrity diners traveling across the border (Clark Gable and Jean Harlow where said to enjoy it) Cardini’s Caesar Salad became a signature dish and was once voted by the International Society of Epicures in Paris
as the “greatest recipe to originate from the Americas in fifty years.”
So the salad of Caesar gets its drama not from the Roman forum but from the streets of Tijuana via an Italian immigrant with Italian sprezzatura. Over the years the recipe has evolved into many adaptations.
Here is one.
Caesar Salad Skewers
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 (2 ounce) tin anchovies, drained
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 garlic clove
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 heart of romaine, trimmed and cut crosswise into 1-inch strips
16 cherry tomatoes
Freshly ground pepper
For the dip. In a blender, combine the mayonnaise, 1 cup of cheese, lemon juice, anchovies, mustard, vinegar, garlic and Worcestershire sauce. Blend on high until thick and creamy, about 20 seconds. Place the dip in a bowl and top with the remaining 1 tablespoon of cheese.
Divide the romaine strips evenly among 16 skewers and thread them onto the skewers through their center rib, keeping them close to the tip. Top each skewer with a cherry tomato, garnish with pepper and top with a crouton. Serve with the Caesar dressing dip.
I surely have more than 11 but here is my Italy in 30 Seconds List.
- Tagliatelle and ragu’ from Bologna
- Panzerotti from Milano
- Wild boar ragu -pappardelle al cinghiale ragu’ with a glass of Brunello from Montalcino
- Shopping at Santa Maria Novella Farmacia in Florence
- Pizza al taglio in Rome
- Bistecca alla fiorentina a/k/a the Tuscan T-bone with a glass of Chianti Classico Riserva
- A glass of Sagrantino wine from Montefalco in Umbria
- Cioccolata Calda – hot Italian Drinking Chocolate in almost any piazza in Italy
- A dip at an Italian terme (hot spring)
- Cappellacci di zucca and glass of sweet Albana di Romagna wine to end a meal in Ferrara
- A glass of Vin Santo with cantucci in Tuscany
Easter in Italy is a celebration of food and tradition. One inedible food memory for Italians and Italian-Americans who grew up celebrating Old World food traditions is Pizza rustica (Italian Easter Pie), a luscious and filling pastry stuffed with meats and cheeses. Mixed in with assorted Italian meats (sausage, pepperoni, salami or prosciutto) and hard-boiled eggs is a special type of cheese only made during this time of the year. A unique ingredient, basket cheese is made from pasteurized cow’s milk and rennet, an enzyme that causes milk to become cheese by separating it into the solid curds and liquid whey. Basket cheese gets its name from the plastic basket in which it is formed and the indentations that give it a distinctive name and look.
Meant to be eaten seasonally, after the Good Friday fast, basket cheese is part of the tradition and ritual of an Italian Easter.
If you need a visual image to keep you focused on your Lenten journey you might consider the Italian Renaissance artist Pinturicchio’s Allegory of the Hill of Wisdom (1504). The Greek philosophers Socrates and Crates are caught in a rather tricky balancing act on the top of a steep hill with the Roman goddess Fortuna. A desperate band of travelers are shown trudging upward on a difficult path, supposedly a path we humans have to undertake if we want to reach wisdom.
To view Pinturicchio’s Allegoria del Colle della Sapienza you have to look downward rather than upward as it is part of the floor intarsia in the Cathedral of Siena. A masterpiece underfoot, Giorgio Vasari called the floor of Siena’s Duomo “the most beautiful, big and magnificent that has ever been done”. Normally covered by carpets to protect it, the floor is uncovered for a few months each year when stories from antiquity, biblical scenes and allegories come to life through intricate patterns and designs created in marble as vivid and alive as any Renaissance sculpture. Siena cathedral floor
Siena is one of my favorite cities in Italy, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a must see when traveling in Tuscany. Siena is located in the Val d’Orcia, a breathtakingly beautiful part of Italy that makes the journey all the more memorable. A perfect image in my mind’s eye to reflect on life’s journey. Pinturicchio’s travelers to the Hill of Wisdom find their fortunes cast from the top as if to say Fortune is fickle and Wisdom lies in knowing so.