Celebrating the Italian Ferragosto with a glass of wine from Santa Liberata vineyards!

If you are in Italy today, most probably you would escape the heat at the seaside, lakes or mountains. If you’d stay at home you will have a huge family party or enjoining the company of many friends. You’d probably make many toasts, watch a lot of fireworks and eventually attend a traditional Palio horse race in one of the many old towns around Italy.

Today is August 15th, not just another ordinary summer day, but THE summer day that everybody has been waiting for! Today is the “Ferragosto,  literally the ‘hottest’ holiday in Italy! So whatever you’ll be up to, just make sure to celebrate and have fun from day to night!

Talking about celebration and tradition in Italy, you’ll certainly have to raise your glass to toast and say “CinCin” at some point. That’s a sure thing.

As you know,  you’ll  have a wide choice of  great wine in Le Marche, thanks to excellent vineyards and their  amazing families who run the business generation after generation.

Today, in observance to the Italian Ferragosto holiday, I’d like to share with you the story of an amazing vineyard in Le Marche: the Santa Liberata vineyard and their Savini Family.

Please enjoy this interesting post from the WineLoversPage blog by our dear friend Neil Duarte and  let’s start celebrating! Cheers!

More info about the Santa Liberata vineyard, their family, their wines, estate and cellar, their wine tasting experience and much more…here!

Casa Agostinelli: a place where taste and tradition of Le Marche region welcome their guests in a true “Farmily”!

How strange life is! I’m going to tell you about a surprising place in Le Marche, that I was able to discover thanks to some dear friends from Texas, Terry and Neil.

The Duartes have just come back from a travel in Le Marche and Terry, knowing that I would myself have been back to Italy soon, advised a visit to Montemarciano.

Here’s what she wrote to me:

“I know the charm of the hills in Montemarciano, a town that gives a wonderful view of the Adriatic Sea, as well as the extraordinary landscape of the Apennines and Monte San Vito.”

…and so, I visited the Agostinellis!

I cannot tell you what I was most impressed with by this delightful family the other day.

Probably the taste of homemade ‘tagliatelle’ pasta, the same recipe my grandmother used to make every Sunday when my family got together. Then we used to spend all the day chatting and telling how life was going.

Or maybe something about the warm hospitality with which Dilva and Giancarlo welcome their guests. Or,  even the extraordinary feeling of spending a few hours as we used to do long ago.

Dilva is making her homemade traditional ‘tagliatelle’ with Terry

Giancarlo and the harvesting of garlic

“Buon Appetito!”

I have no doubt: besides the quietness and the beauty of the scenery surrounding “Casa Agostinelli” (aka, Agostinellis’ Home), besides the authentic taste of meals, it is the vibe you breath here that struck me most!

I felt like being back to the old days, when spending quality time together while sharing thoughts and opinions was one of the most enjoyable time! 

Today my thanks go to the Duartes for the great advice and to the Agostinellis, who made me realise that certain values still exist.

If you’re also missing the simplicity of old times, then get in touch with ‘Farmily’. Please find more information on their facebook page https://www.facebook.com/casa.agostinelli/

 

 

Risorgimarche: music and solidarity in the places of the earthquake

“A shaking of the surface of the Earth, resulting from the sudden release of energy in the Earth’s lithosphere that creates seismic waves. It can range in size from those that are so weak that they cannot be felt to those violent enough to toss people around and destroy whole cities. The seismic activity of an area refers to the frequency, type and size of shaking experienced over a period of time.”

This is the definition of the word “earthquake”.
This is what happened to my land.
There are towns and villages that, once I’m back to Italy, I will not be able to see anymore since the do not exist any longer.
There are friends who live in a house that does not belong to them, because they were forced to leave their own home.
There are children who must learn too early that tragedies in life really exist, not just on TV.
There are old people who will never see the places where they were born and lived for a lifetime ever again.
There are broken dreams.
There are non-existent hopes.

And then there is “Risorgimarche”.
It is not a novelty that the Italian actor Neri Marcorè, who is originally from Le Marche region, still has a strong connection with his region. 

The Italian actor Neri Marcore’
Photo credit: ansa.it

Recently, he has been the face of some commercials in support of Le Marche (check out the hilarious video below)  and now, we are happy to tell you about his project in support of this land battered by the earthquake.

Risorgimarche is an invitation to come to Le Marche and to discover a still little-known land through a series of musical concerts.
Some Italian artists like Luca Barbarossa, Fiorella Mannoia, Malika Ayane, Daniele Silvestri…and many many others, will perform in different locations tin Le Marche and make people discover our enchanting region.
Every event will start around 5pm. This timetable is designed to protect the environment, exploiting the natural light and thus preserving the places that will host these concerts.

From the first concert of Nicole’ Fabi in Spelonga, Marche, Italy on June 25th, 2017         Photo credit: Risorgimarche Facebook page

Solidarity is important, but it is even more important to give people the opportunity to resume their lives and to continue with their own strength.
Here’s the goal of Risorgimarche: to let tourists fall in love with the natural beauty of Le Marche region.
It is through the revival of the tourist flow that is the recovery.
So, thanks to all the artists that will volunteer to this project and wil offer moments of leisure for a good cause. They will attract visitors from outside of the region and let them admire the beauties of which it is rich.

Photo credit: Risorgimarche Facebook page

Thanks to all those who, by taking advantage of the free admission to these musical events, will attend and find out what Le Marche Region can offer to them.
Thanks to the organizers and above all to Neri Marcore, a talented actor who has not forgotten his origins.

THANK YOU!!!

For more information: http://risorgimarche.it/

The artichoke frittata – original Montelupone recipe

With the summer time and the warmer temperatures, it is nice to treat yourself with yummy dishes that are easy to cook. In “honor” of our much beloved Montelupone Artichoke, today I want to share with you a super easy recipe, with a special ingredient…

The artichokes frittata…an-easy-to-make and nutritious dish!:-)
Frittata can be served warm and cool. It is perfect with an aperitif, as an appetizer or as well as a main or even a side dish. In other words: frittata is welcome anytime!

Ingredients

Montelupone Artichokes
parsley

salt

pepper

lemon

eggs

Parmesan cheese

pecorino (sheep) cheese

Prep time

30 minutes

Difficulty

Easy

Directions
To make a good artichokes frittata, start by cleaning the artichokes.
You will have to remove the outer leaves of the fresh artichockes. Then fill a bowl with water and some lemon juice. Soak the cleaned artichokes for a few minutes then drain and cut them into very thin slices.
Beat the eggs in a medium bowl. Whisk in some grated parmesan and pecorino cheese, about 1/2 teaspoon salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
Add the artichokes and chopped parsley. Pour in the egg mixture. Swirl the pan to distribute the eggs and filling evenly over the surface.
Shake the pan gently, tilting it slightly with one hand while lifting up the edges of the omelet with a spatula in your other hand, so that the eggs run underneath during the few minutes of cooking.
Cook in a covered pan over low heat for about 15 minutes shaking the pan gently every once in a while. From time to time, remove the lid and loosen the bottom of the omelet with a wooden spatula, tilting the pan so that the bottom doesn’t burn. Instead it should turn a deep golden brown. Then flip the frittata and continue cooking without lid for another 10 minutes.

Frittata can be stored in the fridge for up to two days.

Tips
Buon Appetito!

The Montelupone Artichoke celebration: ode to an elixir of life

Everybody knows it is a good habit to have a lot of vegetables in one’s diet.

While on the phone with an Italian friend of mine, she was telling she only eats seasonal veggies. I actually never thought about greens as super “antioxidant” food and their power to prevent illness.

To me, veggies have always been a delicious side dish, low in calories and able to provide a sense of fullness and the corresponding reduction of hunger: the perfect combo to keep you fit!:-) However I never really thought trough other vegetable properties.

My friend told about her conversations with some local farmers, who explained to her that if we would follow some simple rules and eat some particular food on a daily basis, we would be able to avoid many drugs.

For instance, did you know that artichoke can be a weapon to fight cancer?

In their Health & Wellness section online the news magazine ANSA.it (Italian Associated Press) , describes the artichoke as a possible treatment against mesothelioma, a major form of asbestos-related cancer affecting about 2,000 people every year.

In addition to that, artichokes contain phytonutrients (“fight-o-nutrients”), or plant compounds that have antioxidant properties and promote general human health. They also boost the immune system and lower cholesterol.

Photo credit: Il Carciofo di Montelupone

Artichokes are packed with vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that increase health and wellbeing, making them incredible defenders against cancer, aging, heart disease, and illness.

As you know, I travelled back to Italy during the Easter holidays. I then decided to stay longer in order to visit the Montelupone Artichoke Festival.

I’ve planned to go and visit this beautiful old Medieval village in the province of Macerata and also to enjoy the vibes of the event which are totally unique and and nowhere else in the world can be experienced.

Airview of the Montelupone town
Photo credit: Comune di Montelupone

Crossing the village with its romantic alleys leading to the central square where you can enjoy the beautiful Podestà Palace, the Civic Tower and the historic theater ‘Nicola degli Angeli’ while music and performances entertain all around and create a cheerful background to the food festival.

‘La Piazza’ (the Square) in the middle of the old town of Montelupone, where the Artichoke festival takes place every year
Photo credit: Il Carciofo di Montelupone

A magnificent art and history surroundings for an event that calls thousands of visitors from all over Le Marche, looking for the tasty offer of gourmet delicacies and for the folklore of a celebration that is always much loved.

Each food vendor offers a wide variety of dishes and the Montelupone Artichoke is the main ingredient for all of them, ranging from appetizers, to main and side dishes, as well as deserts and even ice cream.

Just a few irresistibile receipe with artichoke as main ingredient…
Photo credit: Il Carciofo di Montelupone

Veggie ‘Carbonara’ pasta
Photo credit: Il Carciofo di Montelupone

Seafood and artichoke: a really nice match
Photo credit: Il Carciofo di Montelupone

If you are curious to taste real delicacies, don’t miss the Montelupone Artichoke Festival on May 6th and 7th, 2017!

The supergreen hills where the local farmer grow the artichokes in Montelupone area
Photo credit: Il Carciofo di Montelupone

Special thanks go to the Montelupone artichoke producers’ network and to the Montelupone Municipality. For more information, please visit: http://www.carciofodimontelupone.it

Tonnarelli with fava beans, bread crumbs and wild fennel herbs

I’ve been back to Italy since a few days and just started having some lunches at home, to greet friends and relatives during the Easter holidays.
I asked Silvia and Donatalella, the owners of the cooking school “Fabrica del Gusto” of Fabriano (http://www.fabricadelgusto.it) to advise a couple of recipes to surprise my guests.
And, not only they suggested me some really tasty dishes to make, but they’ll also come with me for picking up together the best ingredients.
The main course I will make (following the directions of my teachers:-), is the so called:

“Tonnarelli with fava beans, bread crumbs and wild fennel herbs”
This is a dish that enhances the quality of the ingredients and therefore, when it came to choose the main ingredient, I had no doubts: the “Tonnarelli” by Antica Pasta, made in the Marcozzi’s pasta factory in Campofilone (http://www.anticapasta.it)I’ll disclose with you the tasty recipe, the two most sought after chefs in town just shared with me:

Tonnarelli with fava beans, bread crumbs and wild fennel herbs
Ingredients for 4 people
250 gr of tonnarelli pasta by Antica Pasta
250 gr of fresh fava beans
3 tablespoons of grated stale bread crumbs
Wild herbs fennel
Extra virgin olive oil
Garlic
Salt and pepper
Chilli (optional)

Parboil the fava beans in boiling salted water for a few minutes. Drain them and dip into a bath of iced water in order to preserve their consistency and color. Once cold, remove the outer skins by hand.Blend the bread crumb with fennel.

The amazing scent of the wild fennel herbs

 In a skillet brown the garlic with the oil (add some chili pepper to your taste), add the fava beans and let cook for few minutes.In another pan with a little olive oil toast the crumbs flavored with fennel.
Cook the pasta in boiling salted water for about 4-5 minutes. Season with the fava beans, toasted bread crumbs and serve.

Buon Appetito!!!

Stef on how living and…”surviving” the Italian Good Life!

I realized that many of my followers are interested in learning about the experience of other expats who decided to move to Italy. Due to popular demand and the possibility to get in touch with other bloggers, I’m glad to interview and share with my readers this kind of experiences.

So, today I would love to introduce Stef, a Dutch expat who moved to Italy in 2008, accompanied by his husband and dog, to start their own Bed&Breakfast: the “Villa I Due Padroni” in the Oltrepo Pavese wine region, just 30 miles south of Milan. In 2014 Stef published his first book (in Dutch) about their life in Italy. The English translation is available from November 2016 as “Living in Italy: the Real Deal – How to survive the Good Life” and has had raving reviews from editorial websites and readers alike.

So let’s get started and hear about Stef’s experience as an expat in Italy…

Where are you originally from and when/where did you move to Italy? Did you move with family?      

  • I am a Dutchman and moved with my husband to Italy in 2008.

    Stef and Nico

 What inspired you to move to Italy and particularly to set up your own B&B?

  • My husband Nico was a few years from retiring and wanted to make a last career change, while I was busy with a masters study that required a stage in a foreign country, for which I chose Italy.

    Stef and Nico’s B&B, the “Villa i Due Padroni”

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?

  • It was difficult at first to find a rental appartment in Pavia, where we stayed the first 6 months but getting used to the Italian way of life was rather easy.

How does the Italian culture differ from home? Which aspect of Italian life was most difficult to get used to?

  • The most difficult part is getting used to sloppiness, agreements, time frames etc. You keep expecting people to live up to them but more often than not they don’t.

What are the locals like? Do you mix mainly with other expats?

  • There aren’t many expats in our region, which is the countryside south of Pavia. We do mix up with the locals though who are almost all of them agreeagble pleasant people.

Was it easy meeting people, making friends and integrate into the community?

  • Nico started singing in a choir and made some friends that way. Then we got acquainted with some of our Italian colleagues that wanted to cooperate and with restaurant owners, wine makers etc.

Is there anything you miss about living in Netherlands?

  • The one thing I miss is the possibility to cycle to shops etc. Here the hills are steep and the streets bad, so almost everything needs to be done by car.

What do you enjoy most about living in Italy and the Italian lifestyle?

  • Eating out! The climate, the beautiful landscape. The people as well, it is fun (mostly) to try and understand the cultural differences.

    Stef and his lovely “expat”-dog:-)

What’s your favorite Italian food?

  • What not? I like almost everything. The taste is always much better than in the restaurants in the Netherlands. Very fond of (vegetarian) lasagne, but risotto as well.

With your B&B you guest people from different areas and countries interested in discovering Italy. What are their feelings about our country?

  • Most of them are very surprised to find such a beautiful area close to Milan and can’t understand that nobody has ever heard of it. The like the fact that is non-touristy, quiet.


In our blog we try to incentivize people from all around the world to find out more about Italy and particoularly about Le Marche and their local tradition. Have you ever visited Le Marche and if so what did you love the most about Le Marche? 

  • I visited Le Marche yes. There are quite a few Dutch expats running B&B’s over there. I have discovered the coastal area mainly from Ancona to the south. There are some beautiful villages to visit. I will definitely return to visit the mountains as well!

How difficult was getting a work visa/permit?

  • We did not need permits, as EU-citizens.

Did you experience many difficulties in setting up your business?

  • Not on the administrative side as we are lucky to live in a very small ‘comune’ (aka: municipality). Buying and renovating the house however turned out to be a rollercoaster ride which I decribe in detail in my book!

How does the Italian work culture differ from your country?

  • Difficult to say, our work here is completely different from what we did at home.

    Some friends helping in picking grapes for the harvest

How does cost of living compare to home?

  • The cost of living is not much different, although eating out is much cheaper here.

What negatives, if any, are there to living in Italy?

  • The distance to native friends and family of course, but apart from that I wouldn’t know!

What are your top tips to any future expats or people considering moving to Italy from abroad?

  • Language, language, language! You’ll find everything to go much easier and you’ll have much more fun if you know the language BEFORE you move. 

In retrospective is there anything you would change?

  • I would not go and live in the house that is being renovated again, better to rent a temporary apartment to have some possibility to escape if things get hot.

Why should people visit Italy? 

  • The climate, the culture, the people, the food, the landscape. Visit the countryside, not only the cities! Rent a car and admire the beautiful panorama’s, discover small nontouristy restaurants.

You are also writing your own blog.  Can you tell us a bit about it and when/why did you start your blog?  

  • Since 2008 we kept a blog for family and friends to learn about our adventures. In 2013 I decided that is was worthwhile to turn our stories into a book, which was published in 2014, in Dutch. It met with quite a success and favorable reader reviews and has now become available in English as “Living in Italy: the Real Deal”: 60+ stories about our hilarious and horrendous adventures in Italy. Again the readers’ reviews are (very) positive. It is available as ebook and paperback at Amazon and other retailers.
  • See https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N7OY6DM
  • A Sneak Preview and pictures, reviews etc is available at http://italiaanse-toestanden.duepadroni.it/index-UK.html
  • Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/livinginitalytherealdeal/

I also had a lot of fun in reading Stef’s book and stories! I highly recommend his book and be ready to have fun!