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Moon daisy

September 27, 2016 Leave a comment
Ox-eye or moon daisy

Ox-eye or moon daisy

I love the name moon daisy.

It’s a great deal more romantic-sounding than the more usual ox-eye daisy.

The young leaves are eaten raw in Italy apparently, even though they’re bitter.

Mind you, Italians eat just about any sort of wild greenery, cooked or in salads.

Tiramisu

June 29, 2016 2 comments
Partly eaten tiramisu

Partly eaten tiramisu

A Niagara Falls of mascarpone cheese and whipped cream hides a rock structure of Savoiardi Lady Fingers soaked in coffee.

This is a treat made by Giovanni’s mother who used toothpicks to keep the cling-film from dipping in the cocoa powder on the top.

A really delicious way to get picked up!

Nice weather for ducks

June 2, 2016 Leave a comment
Six white ducks in a row

All in a row

Wet all day – typical for a Bank Holiday, the Festival of the Republic in Italy.

I photographed these birds some time ago, in sunshine rather than rain.

They’re actually geese, but whenever I hear the phrase ‘putting your ducks in a row’, it’s this image I conjure up.

Pizza di Pasqua

March 26, 2016 Leave a comment
Easter fare

Easter fare

‘Pizza di Pasqua’ means Easter pizza.

It isn’t pizza at all, but a cake made with cheese.

It’s typically eaten for breakfast on Easter Day in Umbria, along with salame and eggs.

Our neighbours brought some today, along with salame and eggs!

La Befana in the clouds

January 6, 2016 Leave a comment
Cloud effect before a hailstorm

Cloud effect before today’s hailstorm

A storm brewing over the valley; maybe whirling in its midst is La Befana, the Italian Christmas Witch who visits at Epiphany.

She’ll be departing now, having done her rounds of leaving sweets and presents.

I came across an elemental description of her by the Italian poet Giovanni Pascoli:-

Viene, viene la Befana
Vien dai monti a notte fonda
Come è stanca! la circonda
Neve e gelo e tramontana!
Viene, viene la Befana

This is my English translation:-

Here she comes, the Christmas crone
From mountains in the dead of night
How tired she is! she’s wrapped up tight
In snow and frost and all wind-blown!
Here she comes, the Christmas crone

Away in a manger

December 31, 2015 Leave a comment
Valtopina's Nativity Scene

Valtopina’s Nativity Scene

This is the finished Nativity Scene in Valtopina.

It’s a little piece of the Holy Land based on a theme of mountains and caves, with miniature tableaux of activity tucked into pockets of the landscape.

A cascade of water runs continually from the highest point.

The Holy Family is hidden in a cave in the centre with the Christ Child lying on straw between an ox and an ass.

The orange notice at the back proclaims that the scene improves each year (thanks to our contributions). It’s certainly the most elaborate I’ve seen yet.

Colourful chaos

December 25, 2015 Leave a comment
Valtopina nativity scene under construction

Valtopina nativity scene under construction

Every Christmas our town of Valtopina constructs a nativity scene in the same place and along the same basic lines.

It consists of a landscape of cliffs and glens and forests with, as its main feature, a stream of real running water that turns a miniature water wheel.

Somewhere in this landscape, bathed in light, is the Holy Family, with various shepherds and kings trekking their way towards them.

I haven’t seen the completed scene this year – it was unveiled last night –  but this was how it began.

The young man in the quilted jacket is being advised by his grandfather, just visible.