Living in Italy http://italiaanse-toestanden.duepadroni.it Hilarious Expat Adventures Fri, 09 Feb 2018 19:48:09 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.4 The Bonarda Oltrepo Pavese DOC – A red ‘prosecco’ for happy occasions http://italiaanse-toestanden.duepadroni.it/bonarda-oltrepo-pavese/ http://italiaanse-toestanden.duepadroni.it/bonarda-oltrepo-pavese/#respond Fri, 09 Feb 2018 19:48:08 +0000 http://italiaanse-toestanden.duepadroni.it/?p=9927 The unknown Oltrepò Pavese wine region south of Milan produces a range of DOC wines and a spumante DOCG. Some of the wines are typical of the area like the sparkling, young and fruity Bonarda. This wine, made of the croatina grape, is hardly known abroad as the wineries mainly produced it for local consumption. […]

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bbq barbecue bonardaThe unknown Oltrepò Pavese wine region south of Milan produces a range of DOC wines and a spumante DOCG. Some of the wines are typical of the area like the sparkling, young and fruity Bonarda. This wine, made of the croatina grape, is hardly known abroad as the wineries mainly produced it for local consumption. People of region or even Milan passed by to have the winemaker fill their damigiane, casks.

Bonarda, fresh, fruity, frizzante

bonarda agnes It is a fresh wine, to be served cooled, easy drinkable on a late summer afternoon or with most types of food. A typical table or farmers’ wine. But the last 10 – 15 years the quality of this and other wines of the region has increased significantly. A proof of this has been the Tre Bicchieri that Il Gambero Rosso (the Italian Michelin) in 2017 awarded the bonarda Campo del Monte of the Fratelli Agnes winery. The first time a bonarda received the highest recognition possible. One might consider the bonarda as a red alternative of the ever present white prosecco. Ideal for a barbecue outside in the warm evening!

spumante natureReasons enough to try this happy wine in case you manage to lay hands on a bottle! And if you still prefer white (or rosé), forget the prosecco and try the DOCG Metodo Classico spumante of the Oltrepo. The Nature of winehouse Monsupello was chosen by, again, the Gambero Rosso as the best spumante of the whole of Italy in 2015.

Salute e Cin Cin!

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Too Many Turists in Italy – How to Avoid the Crowd http://italiaanse-toestanden.duepadroni.it/italy-turism/ http://italiaanse-toestanden.duepadroni.it/italy-turism/#respond Wed, 07 Feb 2018 14:49:39 +0000 http://italiaanse-toestanden.duepadroni.it/?p=9882 Last year some alarms went off in Italy: there were too many turists visiting the most famous sights, like Venice, Florence, Rome, the Cinque Terre, the Lombardy Lakes etc. The crowds were just becoming too large to be able for these cities and areas to cope. Venice was becoming uninhabitable and the original Venetians were […]

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crowds italyLast year some alarms went off in Italy: there were too many turists visiting the most famous sights, like Venice, Florence, Rome, the Cinque Terre, the Lombardy Lakes etc. The crowds were just becoming too large to be able for these cities and areas to cope. Venice was becoming uninhabitable and the original Venetians were fleeing the city. In a few decades the worlds most famous city would become a sort of Disneyland, overcrowded during the day, empty at night. A horror scenario. Some measures are now being taken to reduce the inflow and dampen the turist tsunami. On the small footpaths of the Cinque Terre now only a limited number of visitors is allowed during a day: you need a ticket to get in.

 

How to Avoid the Crowd

turists italyIf you hate crowds you can still enjoy Italy if you look for the less well-known spots. Where they are you can find using the very nice interactive graph by Filippo Mastroianni on Tableau.com for Banca d’Italia. Have a look there to find the quiet provinces and rest assured: there is something beautiful and authentic to discover everywhere in Italy!

The same Banca d’Italia also provides a table with the number of foreign visitors by province (the smallest adminstrative division except for comune) which helps to get a more detailed insight. As you can see the top sights are the usual suspects: Rome, Milan, Florence, but also Como, Bolzano, Varese. The province we live in is one of the quietest (52nd of 128) and then the city of Pavia is likely to take in most of these, making our wine region in the south one of the less visited ones of Italy.

Come and relax in the beautiful and quiet Oltrepò Pavese!

oltrepo pavese

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Living in Italy Book Review http://italiaanse-toestanden.duepadroni.it/book-review/ http://italiaanse-toestanden.duepadroni.it/book-review/#respond Thu, 01 Feb 2018 11:44:46 +0000 http://italiaanse-toestanden.duepadroni.it/?p=9492  Coming back soon! In the meantime, the latest review of my book Living in Italy on Amazon: Jorge Sager 5.0 out of 5 stars  Instructive…and funny Sorry, Mr. Smulders, but I laughed a lot with your nightmare. Very good for anyone who wants to know how the experience of changing country (and culture) is. A […]

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In the meantime, the latest review of my book Living in Italy on Amazon:
Jorge Sager 5.0 out of 5 stars  Instructive…and funny
Sorry, Mr. Smulders, but I laughed a lot with your nightmare. Very good for anyone who wants to know how the experience of changing country (and culture) is.

A presto

Stef

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San Siro Football Stadium Milan: the Real Experience http://italiaanse-toestanden.duepadroni.it/san-siro-stadium-milan/ http://italiaanse-toestanden.duepadroni.it/san-siro-stadium-milan/#respond Sun, 07 Jan 2018 11:29:15 +0000 http://italiaanse-toestanden.duepadroni.it/?p=8620 The San Siro stadium in Milan, the home ground of both Internazionale and AC Milan soccer clubs, is officially named after the two-time World Cup winner (1934 and 1938), Giuseppe Meazza. But the stadium is more commonly known as “the” San Siro, after the district in which it is located (and the patron saint of […]

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san siro milanThe San Siro stadium in Milan, the home ground of both Internazionale and AC Milan soccer clubs, is officially named after the two-time World Cup winner (1934 and 1938), Giuseppe Meazza. But the stadium is more commonly known as “the” San Siro, after the district in which it is located (and the patron saint of Milan). Although it is originally from 1925 the stadium underwent major modernization for the 1990 World Cup games. It has now three tiers and a capacity of 80.000.

A particular experience

san siro milan soccer football We went to see a game, AC Milan – Crotone, yesterday and although the level of playing was not that high it was quite an experience. AC Milan is struggling this season, again, even after having bought an entire new team, spending hundreds of millions and Crotone is in the bottom region of the Seria A in only its second season in the top league. We had (very tight) seats in the second tier and from up there the field seemed much smaller than on television. Paradoxically, the field also looked rather empty even with both teams, 22 players, on it! The passing now also appeared much more risky than we expected from the tv reports and the play seemed to develop rather slowly. And, another weird experience, there is no replay of course (although they might in principle, show these on the large screen in the stadium) so you are constantly left with a bewildered „what happened?” Two Milan goals were cancelled by the referee and we could not understand why. We missed it and there was no replay to check.

Tickets

ac milan museum san siroConclusion: if you have never been in a (large) soccer stadium it is definitely worth the experience. Our tickets for excellent positions cost 35€. Come early and enjoy the atmosphere of diehard Milan fans arriving, take a snack and a beer at one of the many foodstalls outside and see the stadium slowly fill up and being decorated by the tifosi from all over the country! Under the southern terrace outside the stadium, you will find the San Siro Museum. Guided tours (in English) of the stadium are possible in combination with a visit to the museum. Tickets for AC Milan games are available at the Best Ticket website. Tickets for Inter can be bought at their website or at the few selling point in the city like the Ricordi media stores in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II and Il Sipario Mondadori Multicenter at Piazza Duomo.

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Mary’s Little House – The Black Madonna of Loreto http://italiaanse-toestanden.duepadroni.it/black-madonna-loreto/ http://italiaanse-toestanden.duepadroni.it/black-madonna-loreto/#respond Sun, 31 Dec 2017 14:22:55 +0000 http://italiaanse-toestanden.duepadroni.it/?p=8478 Safely hidden on top of a hill, behind the walls of the vescovo‘s (bishop’s) palace in Lorete, Le Marche, within a magnificently decorated marble shrine, stands a little house.  As the legend tells us, Mary of Nazareth, wife of Joseph, was born, grew up, and was visited by the archangel announcing Jesus’s birth in this very […]

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loreto black madonnaSafely hidden on top of a hill, behind the walls of the vescovo‘s (bishop’s) palace in Lorete, Le Marche, within a magnificently decorated marble shrine, stands a little house.  As the legend tells us, Mary of Nazareth, wife of Joseph, was born, grew up, and was visited by the archangel announcing Jesus’s birth in this very house. The house, which survived the centuries, was flown to this new location by a group of angels in the 1291, in order to save it from a raid of Palestine by muslim invaders.

marble shrine mariaNow this is what the legend says and you may believe it or not, but historians have noted that the structure of the three walls (the current north wall is a later addition) as well as the material used are of the kind found in Palestine and are not found anywhere in Italy. Also, there are written records of a certain prince Angeli (which means ‘angels’ in Italian!) having ordered the house to be transported to Italy by boat in 1291. In any case, the early Renaissance clerical rulers of Loreto believed the house to be real and sacred and built a basilica around it, employing the likes of Bramante and other famous painters and architects.

basilisk of loretoInside the house the so-called “Black Madonna”, a statue of Mary made of black ebony, is venerated. (The current one sadly is a 1921 replacement; the original has gone lost.) This Madonna is considered to be the patron of aviators, given the legendary flight of the house. Millions of believers visit the sanctuary each year and you may see them praying with their heads against the walls of Mary’s little house.  If you do not come on pilgrimage the basilica is still worth a visit for its beautiful decorations and the panoramic setting in the hills of the mid-Italian Le Marche region.

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Sardinian Mussels in a Fascist Town http://italiaanse-toestanden.duepadroni.it/sardinian-mussels/ http://italiaanse-toestanden.duepadroni.it/sardinian-mussels/#respond Sat, 30 Dec 2017 12:17:48 +0000 http://italiaanse-toestanden.duepadroni.it/?p=8468 “Nieddittas” our friendly host told us, “Take the cozze di Arborea, those are the best.” We had asked him which type of mussels we should buy in case we wanted to cook them ourselves, during our holiday in Sardinia. We had already eaten a fabulously delicious zuppa di cozze e arselle in a nearby restaurant […]

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sardinian mussels“Nieddittas” our friendly host told us, “Take the cozze di Arborea, those are the best.” We had asked him which type of mussels we should buy in case we wanted to cook them ourselves, during our holiday in Sardinia. We had already eaten a fabulously delicious zuppa di cozze e arselle in a nearby restaurant in the small village of Cabras, at the western coast of the island. But where to buy these gems of the sea? Antonio helped us out and was right: the ones of Arborea are the best.

arborea sardiniaArborea turned out to be located close to our holiday house, a little further south, at the same bay of Oristano. We decided to have a look and found this small village to be situated in the center of a maze of, very un-Italian, rectangular roads, named Strada 22 Ovest (West 22nd St.), etc. Just like Manhattan, but with blocks of cornfields instead of skyscrapers. To our surprise the houses and offices of Arborea were all built in the same architectural style: a mixture of neo-Gothic and Liberty (essentially Victorian, but with an Italian twist).

mussoliniAs we learned, the city was built from scratch in the 1920’s, during Italy’s fascist era, to become the center of a new agricultural area. This Terrealba area used to be a malaria infested swamp before Mussolini ordered it to be reclaimed. Originally Arborea was in fact called Mussolinia and it is just one of several examples of “Mussolinian” cities. The most famous of these is Latina, close to Rome, in the Agro Pontino agricultural area, also originally a swamp that was drained by the Fascists. To relive the history of this particular project, read the great and Strega prize winning novel ‘Canale Mussolini’ by Antonio Pennacchi.

It was a strange experience to be walking in this open air museum of dubious origin. While perhaps feeling a bit guilty for liking this fascist creation, we nonetheless enjoyed Arborea’s harmonious and friendly atmosphere.

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Italian Restaurants in Milan – From Aperitivo to Dolce http://italiaanse-toestanden.duepadroni.it/restaurants-milan/ http://italiaanse-toestanden.duepadroni.it/restaurants-milan/#respond Wed, 27 Dec 2017 19:14:03 +0000 http://italiaanse-toestanden.duepadroni.it/?p=8398 In Milan there are thousands of restaurants which leads to an embarrasment of choices. Although traditionally there were different types of restaurants, like osteria, trattoria, ristorante and the like, the difference between these types generally has blurred, so you do not really have to worry about the precise denominations. They all serve more or less the […]

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italian restaurant milanIn Milan there are thousands of restaurants which leads to an embarrasment of choices. Although traditionally there were different types of restaurants, like osteria, trattoria, ristorante and the like, the difference between these types generally has blurred, so you do not really have to worry about the precise denominations. They all serve more or less the same type of food. As a general rule you may find it worthwhile to stay away from the touristy areas (around the Duomo , the Galleria and the Scala ) and take the effort to go a little out of city center: prices drop and more importantly, the food usually becomes better. There are some exceptions of course and these are mentioned in this post: the restaurants in Milan Center with the best price-quality ratio.

The Italian menu

ossobuco milaneseThe first thing to keep in mind is that Italians dine later than in many other (northern) countries, so don’t try to get a decent meal before 7 pm, but preferably go at 8 pm or even later. In case you really need to fill up in before, you might try one of the italian style fastfood restaurants . But the aperitivo may be a better idea. The traditional Italian menu offers a range of courses, from the antipasti (starters), via the primi piatti (first courses, pasta and/or risotto), secondi (meat, fish) with contorni (vegetables) to the dolci , fruit and/or desserts. Italian coffee and maybe a digestivo to round up! An exception to this rule is the typically Milanese piatto unico of the ossobuco alla Milansese (meat with risotto) in which the first and second course are combined.

One usually doesn’t eat one’s way all through the menu, but restricts oneself to two or three courses ( antipasto+primo , primo+secondo , plus dessert if you like). This would generally already present a full meal. The exception to this are the meals on feast days and the traditional Sunday lunch (especially in the Oltrepò Pavese countryside).

In most traditional restaurants you do not tip, as this is already taken into account by the coperto you pay (usually a few euro per person). You also commonly pay at the cash-desk instead of at the table. If you are not sure, just look around and see what happens at other tables.

Recommended restaurants in Milan Center

  • Acqua di Mare
    Formerly this was the Locale I Tre Fratelli , but the brothers went off and Beppe the new ristoratore turned it into a fish restaurant. Conveniently located on the Corso Magenta , on the route to the Last Supper , you could use this as a before or after lunch/dinner stop. You are advised to let your choice guided by the chef to experience the best the Acqua di Mare has to offer. The atmosphere is friendly and family-like. Some of the possible dishes that might appear on your plate: cavatelli al tonno fresco -pasta with fresh tuna linguine ai frutti di mare – thin spaghetti with seafood rombo al forno – ray from the oven orata al limone – sea bream with lemon.
  • Al Cantinone
    One of the oldest restaurants of Milan, located in a historical building in plain city center, this is a sure winner, not just for tourists. Originally a wine cellar, then a wine bar and a real restaurant from the late ’60s, this place has a long tradition in hospitality. Typical dishes of Lombardy cuisine , such as the risotto with mushrooms and chestnuts, the risotto alla Milanese and the ossobuco are served here. Giving its history and name, it does not come as a surprise that there is also an excellent enoteca on the spot. A bite of Italian: cantinone means big wine cellar, as cantina is the common name for such a cellar and the Italian language uses the postfix -one to designate something big.
  • Al Mercante
    At the very central Piazza Mercanti the restaurant with the corresponding name can be found. It is housed in the Palazzo Panigarola that faces one side of the square. This is a Milanese classic since the ’50s offering the traditional dishes of the city and of Italy, like the risotto alla Milanese, polenta and more. In summer you can eat outside and enjoy the beautiful square while tasting excellent food. Prices are quite reasonable given location and quality.
  • ATMosfera
    ATMosfera is a restaurant tram , that offers you a mobile evening out. Two tastefully restored trams , ATMosfera1 and ATMosfera2 , have been transformed into true restaurants with a retro atmosphere. There’s a choice of three different menus (meat, fish and vegetarian). The round trip lasts about two and a half hours . Payment may be made directly on board the tram. Every Saturday from 7:30-8.30, you can enjoy a degustazione of typical dishes of traditional Italian regional cuisine, accompanied by selected Italian wines, presented by experts in the trade. These tastings cost € 45,00 per person.
  • Boccondivino
    Not far from the beautiful Sant’Ambrogio you’ll find an earthly gourmet’s paradise at Boccondivino . justly carrying its name: boccondivino means a divine mouthful and a mouthful of wine at the same time. There’s a fixed menu that starts with a welcoming prosecco and (many plates later) ends with fresh and mature cheeses (more than 40 varieties to choose from). In between you have tasted pinzimonio (olive oil mixed with vinegar, salt and pepper in which raw vegetables are dipped), all kinds of hams and salami , pasta , risotto and gnocchi. Several of the best wines will be served, with advice from the restaurant’s sommeliers. A place to bring your best (and very hungry) friends!
  • Buongusto
    This very small shop/restaurant is not to be confused with either the Japanese sushi bar Buon Gusto or the Dogana del BuonGusto restaurant that also exist in Milan. This Buongusto specializes in the production of fresh pasta in what they call their laboratory. You can taste the products as well at one of the 28 seats. There is an aperitivo at 10€ and brunch on Sunday.
  • Cucina del Toro
    If you do not want to go far and eat well at a reasonable price the Cucina del Toro might well be the one for you. Located right in city center in between the Duomo and the Castello, this tranquil restaurant offers some of the best dishes to be found in Milan and is a bit of a hidden secret.
    Some choices of the menu: gnocchi with goat cheese tagliatelle with cheese and achovies cannelloni with ricotta and vegetable sauce vitello tonnato risotto with tomatoes and mozzarella chopped raw beef of phaesant More examples here . To make a reservation phone or send an email to info@cucinadeltoro.com
  • Il Marchesino
    restaurant marchesino milanThe ideal though somewhat uneconomical spot for a pre Scala dinner (well, in case you could afford the opera tickets …), practically located in the opera house itself, is also aptly named Ristorante alla Scala. High-end Milanese and traditional food is served here and also special Prima del Teatro and Dopo Scala menus . In case you’re really in for a spectacular evening: oysters and champagne! There is also a kind of sushi-bar and pasticceria.
  • Il Salotto
    In general it is not the best of ideas to sit and have your lunch or dinner in one of the Galleria restaurants, as you will pay much for little in a very touristy environment. On the other hand the Galleria is nicknamed Il Salotto as this where the Milanese go to meet people, do informal business and hear the latest gossip. Seeing the Milanese DOC gathering and pass by definitely is worth spending a little time on. To combine the best of both worlds, you might try the restaurant so aptly called Il Salotto . This is one of the better localities in the Galleria and worth a try.
  • La Dolce Vita
    As you stay closer to city center ( Piazza Duomo ) good restaurants are more difficult to find and you are likely to pay more if you find one. This is the case with this one with the obvious archetypically Italian name. Though only a short walk away from the busy Duomo , La Dolce Vita offers a quiet and romantic spot to relax. Each month there is an opera night with a fixed menu at 54 euro.
  • Pane e Vino
    This is a modern style wine bar and restaurant in city center, south west of the Duom o . Apart from the wide range of wines on offer, there is a happy hour aperitivo and lunch restaurant (the closing time is 8pm). There are two menu’s with light, tasteful and varied dishes: a traditional one and one with more fantasy to it. As the venue is located on top of ancient Roman tower ruins , there is the possibility to visit the basement and see some of the remains.
  • Trattoria Milanese
    Not to be confused with another establishment with the same name (quite possible in a city with over 6000 restaurants), this 80-year old one is quite close to the Piazza Duomo and a classic. Traditional Milanese/Lombardy dishes are served here, cooked to perfection alla casalinga like nervetti (veal shank), several risotti and ravioli, mondeghili (type of meatballs) , cotoletta alla milanese, foiolo (cow stomach) , cassoeula . A bite of Italian : alla casalinga is the expression used to indicate that something is prepared like the housewife/your Italian mother would have done it. Quality!
  • Santa Monica Cafè
    If you are young (at heart) and in for a lot of fun (karaoke) right in city center, you may want to try this one out: Santa Monica , hamburger bar, aperitivo venue, soccer bar ecc. During lunch Santa Monica becomes a self-service bar Italian style. Burger and grilled meats prevail. The karaoke festivities take place on Friday and Saturday nights. Soccer matches on a maxi screen each weekend evening.

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Onomastico or Name Day – Your second birthday in Italy http://italiaanse-toestanden.duepadroni.it/onomastico-name-day-second-birthday-italy/ http://italiaanse-toestanden.duepadroni.it/onomastico-name-day-second-birthday-italy/#respond Tue, 26 Dec 2017 18:06:19 +0000 http://italiaanse-toestanden.duepadroni.it/?p=8323 Today I celebrate my birthday, even though I am born on April the 14th. Weird, hey? Even weirder: Italians really keep good track of their saints and martyrs on the calendar and on the day that the saint with the same name as you has died, you are to celebrate! A second birthday party! As […]

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birthday name dayToday I celebrate my birthday, even though I am born on April the 14th. Weird, hey? Even weirder: Italians really keep good track of their saints and martyrs on the calendar and on the day that the saint with the same name as you has died, you are to celebrate! A second birthday party! As I am called Stef from Stephanus, my onomastico or name day as it is called falls on December 26th. The tradition originates from Medieval times when the nameday was actually more important than the birthday which was considered a pagan tradition.

calendar of saintsThe 26th of december is a rather special nameday as it is the day immediately after christmas. In many countries it is an official holiday as well, also in Italy. St Stefano was in fact the first martyr of the Church, altough his death in 36 AD was not really a official execution but a result of public anger, a lynch … The saint was stoned to death after having commited blasphemy to Moses and God. Have a look at the liturgical calendar to see when your onomastico is. That is, if you have one, because not all names are covered.

Liturgical calendar: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Roman_Calendar

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The End of the Borsalino Hat? An Icon of Italian Fashion in Danger http://italiaanse-toestanden.duepadroni.it/borsalino-hat/ http://italiaanse-toestanden.duepadroni.it/borsalino-hat/#respond Sun, 24 Dec 2017 21:24:10 +0000 http://italiaanse-toestanden.duepadroni.it/?p=8163 Shocking news in the world of Italian fashion: the 160 year old factory of the famous Borsalino hat has been declared broke. It is not that the hat of all hats is no longer popular, but bad financial management seems to have done the firm in. There is hope of a restart, however, as a […]

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borsalino hatShocking news in the world of Italian fashion: the 160 year old factory of the famous Borsalino hat has been declared broke. It is not that the hat of all hats is no longer popular, but bad financial management seems to have done the firm in. There is hope of a restart, however, as a Swiss investor has already taken care of some of the debt.

Umberto Eco’s hometown

umberto eco hatThe hometown of the Borsalino is Alessandria in Piemont, where the writer Umberto Eco (The Name of the Rose) was born as well. And as of many national and international celebrities there is a picture of Eco wearing the hat. Maybe the most famous picture in which the hat is worn, is that of the final scene of Casablanca. Both Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman where a Borsalino there.

Two million Borsalino’s

borsalino siur pipenThe inventor of the hat, Giuseppe Borsalino, nicknamed Siur Pipen, started his firm in 1857, but it was his son Teresio who really managed to make the hat famous all over the world. A big step was taken when the Borsalino won a prize at the 1900 Paris World Exposition. During the Roaring Twenties the firm produced 2.000.000 hats a year! Incredible, if you know that there is large amount of manual labour involved in making the felt and constructing the model.

Let us hope that this quintessential symbol and icon of Italian Design and Fashion survives the current crisis! For the moment the stores remain open, so if you are not confident this is your last chance to buy one. In Milan go to Borsalino Boutique in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, the Rinascente warehouse or the Corso Como 10 store.

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The Dead Christmas Tree of Rome http://italiaanse-toestanden.duepadroni.it/christmas-tree-rome/ http://italiaanse-toestanden.duepadroni.it/christmas-tree-rome/#respond Thu, 21 Dec 2017 19:29:31 +0000 http://italiaanse-toestanden.duepadroni.it/?p=8153 The tree destined to become Rome’s 2017 center of the festivities of Christmas hasn’t made it. Non ce l’ha fatta, as the Italians say. Okay, it was dead already at the departure of its 600 km long journey from the Valle di Fiemme in Trentino. That because it could not be transported with the roots […]

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christmas tree romeThe tree destined to become Rome’s 2017 center of the festivities of Christmas hasn’t made it. Non ce l’ha fatta, as the Italians say. Okay, it was dead already at the departure of its 600 km long journey from the Valle di Fiemme in Trentino. That because it could not be transported with the roots intact, so it was cut off at the base. But that should not have prevented the tree to last till after New Year, which the same type of tree does each year. What went wrong? According to the company that sold the tree, the people responsible for unpacking the tree are to blame. They probably damaged the branches to such an extent that the tree died much quicker than normal.

christmas tree abies It is a really sad sight now and the Romans call the poor thing ’spelacchio’, the bald one. Meanwhile it cost them 48.000€, mainly for transport from the valley in Northern Italy famous for the abete rosso di risonanza, the picea abies or Norway spruce. Even Stradivarius got the wood for his famous violins here! It takes a tree 150 to 200 years to grow its trunk to a size that is enough for a violin to be made out of it. That explains at least part of the exorbitant prices that are paid for these violins. Rome is not the only city to have chosen this type of tree for Christmas. Milan has the same sort of tree from Trentino and the Norwegian capital city, Oslo, provides the cities of London (the Trafalgar Square Christmas tree), Edinburgh and Washington D.C. with a Norway spruce as well, so its health should not have been a problem. The firm Ecofast Sistema responsible for the installation of the tree definitely has something to answer for, as well the mayor Raggi of Beppe Grillo’s Cinque Stelle movement who has had such a rough start already.

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