There are many ways to say “Thank You” in Italian. Italians by nature are a thankful people. Warm and hospitable and pleasing to be of help. They are thankful for their food, wine, art and design and the beautiful landscape of their country. They are thankful for surviving two World Wars, the Black Death, natural disasters, barbarians and at least six civil wars, unstable rulers and countless city-state skirmishes. So having multiple ways to express their gratefulness and thanks doesn’t seem a bit overdone but honest and true.
“Grazie” has become part of a international vocabulary of thanks and along with the corresponding reply “prego” is one of the first words students of Italian learn but there are other ways Italians say “thank you” including
- Molte grazie – “many thanks”
- Mille grazie or grazie mille – “thank you very much” literally translated to mean “thanks a thousand times” or “a thousand thanks”
- Ringraziare – a verb used to mean “to thank” or “to give thanks” conjugated with various pronouns*
And in response there is the ubiquitous, widespread and multi-contextual Italian word “Prego” the most commonly used way of replying to “Grazie“. However my favorite response is the use of the phrase “non c’è di che.” This response is used to say no need for thanks it was my pleasure to do it. Translated to “do not mention it”, the favor you are being thanked for was my pleasure to do.
||I thank you (singular informal)
||I thank you (singular formal)
||I thank you (plural)
We don’t know for certain if Renaissance legend Leonardo da Vinci, made New Year’s resolutions but if he did, based on Michael Gelb’s bestseller How to Think like Leonardo da Vinci: Seven Steps to Genius Every Day, they might have included the following
- Develop a curious approach to life and an unrelenting quest for continuous learning.
- Practice persistence and worry less about getting things done. Remember that everything leads to a greater understanding even the things that are begun and unfinished.
- Develop a positive attitude. Learn from mistakes and aim for progress but letting go of perfection.
- Simplify and remember that “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”.
- Stay active physically and mentally spending time in nature for that is what stimulates neural connections that activate healthy behaviors and actions.
- Avoid anger and grievous moods and keep your mind cheerful. Practice poise and grace.
- Do not worry about pleasing other people if it becomes more important than our own health and self-care goal.
- Make dining a pleasurable and sensual experience and stop eating just before you feel full.
- Find your purpose by looking at your life vision, values and goals from a holistic perspective so that you can integrate them into your whole self.
- Temper logic with imagination; work with play; problem solving with creativity.
- Cultivate your senses and reflect on their enjoyment.
- Make an action plan with visuals and text for continuous improvement and measure your progress.
Time to pick our favorite Italian wines for Christmastime entertaining. Experts agree there is no better wine for the holidays
than Cabernet Sauvignon, that spicy, dark-fruited lingering red we all love to pair with meat. After all grand cuts of meat are what the holiday table is all about. We want that intense garnet color and incensual aroma in our glass reflecting the glistening lights and complementing the sugar and spice that are symbolic of our holiday meals. I could find a formidable match with an Amarone, Barolo, Barbaresco or Brunello from Montalcino. A Vino Nobile or Rosso from Montepulciano, a Chianti Classico, or a complex Sicilian but sometimes a robust red can weigh you down so we’re looking for a lighter version of a traditional Italian red.
I’m choosing a Lagrein (pronounced la-GRINE) from Italy’s Alto Adige (Sudtirol) just because I happen to love the region and well it’s the most Christmasy part of Italy. Surrounded by the Alps and the Dolomites there is a fairytale-like atmosphere that makes the days of Advent very special. Lagrein wine is dense and dark purple/ruby in color with aromas of black raspberries and plums, cinnamon and nutmeg with flavors of cranberries and some leathery notes. Sounds like Christmas to me. It’s a relative of Trentino’s Teroldego (which I like) so I think I’ll invite it to join us at the holiday table. Who would you like to invite?
Depending on your generation, Veteran’s Day in the US often focuses on a wall with a mirror-like surface that winds its way through Constitution Gardens in Washington DC. It honors US soldiers who served, fought, died or were missing in action during the Vietnam War. Having lived through those times I always experience a sobering nostalgia on Veteran’s Day about the casualties of war and the diverse reasons why wars are fought.
There is a similar wall known as the Monumento alla Resistenza in Sesto San Giovanni, a suburb of Milan, designed by Piero Bottoni and Polish artist Anna Praxmayer. Scratched on its surface are scenes that trace in 13 stages the anti-Fascist struggle of the Italians during World War II. Located in the Piazza della Resistenza, the wall gradually rises higher toward the sky with the sculptured form of Victory freeing a flight of bronze doves.
We visited this monument several years ago with our Milanese cousin Lidia who lived in Sesto. She like many other Italians of her generation have memories of bombings and hidings as children and families that lived through war, resistance and liberation. Although active memories fade as people pass away, generational memories linger as families and friends remember those who served while the collective memory of our country honors all veterans here and aboard.
Italian cookbook authors like Hazan, Bastianich and Batali have given us great insight into the ingredients and techniques that make Italian cooking one of the world’s most favorite cuisines. So when I see a post about a recipe that uses one of Italy’s most iconic ingredients, pasta, and labels it “just about the most revolting dish ever devised” I’m compelled to take a second look. According to an article published in The Guardian, the revered and infamous English food writer Elizabeth David who strongly influenced post WWII British cooking through a series of articles and a subsequent book on pleasures of Mediterranean food, found a recipe for an Italian salad in the book Ulster Fare, published in 1945 by the Belfast Women’s Institute Club that made her cringe.
Known for her candid comments (the mid-century equivalent of Gordon Ramsay and Anthony Bourdain) David labeled the recipe “just about the most revolting dish ever devised”. Also known as the “world’s worst pasta salad” it is a hodgepodge of misplaced ingredients and missteps (did they mean peas instead of pears?) that make it a culinary malfunction. The Guardian writes about it under the title “Do not try this at home”. Some might disagree as to the labeling of the dish as the worst ever blaming the proofreader for the ingredient error. But if Italian sensibility and taste were taken into account it still is a painful misuse of pasta.
1 pint cold cooked macaroni
½ pint cooked or tinned pears
½ pint grated raw carrot
French dressing to moisten
2 heaped tablespoons minced onion
½ pint cooked or minced string beans
Mix the chopped macaroni and vegetables; moisten with French dressing, ﬂavouring with garlic if liked. Serve on a dish lined with lettuce leaves. Decorate with mayonnaise and minced pimento or chives.
With the vacation season in full swing I wanted to spend some time talking about travel, in particular European travel, subset Italy. Of the 308 million-plus citizens in the United States, only 30% have passports versus 41% of Canadians and 71% of Brits. Europeans travel much more than Americans. It seems the art, architecture, food and wine of their neighbors is too good to pass up. And of course it’s convenient, you ca ride a train for a few hours and enter a new country.
I’ll admit it took me a while to travel beyond the beltway. We all have our reasons to postpone travel; work, family, time, money and an emotional commitment to travel outside the box. Time Magazine once published an article
that has stuck in my mind, a study by Cornell University that cited how we should spend our money to gain the greatest satisfaction and happiness.
“If you’re conflicted about whether to spend money on a material good or personal experience (say, a vacation), the research says you’ll get much more satisfaction,and for longer,if you choose the experience“.
It may be time to re-think your goals and invest in a travel experience. Italy is Europe’s everyman with something for everyone. Apply Now.
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!