Bigger than love…an interview to lovely Issa and her ‘Le Marche Magic’

One of the things I love best of having started my blog is the chance to get in touch with many people and other bloggers.
I love to discuss and exchage points of view with people with different experiences, cultures and nationalities. This makes you feel close to so many friends, even at distance. Each of them with different interests and passions, but all linked from following a blog or from writing their own where they talk about what they particoularly care about. Sometimes it also happens to find bloggers with very similar passion to yours…that’s what happened with Issa, an American lady who moved in Le Marche seven years ago and I got in touch with thanks to her own blog: Le Marche Magic. Please keep reading this wonderful interview, which is also the outcome of a beautiful interaction between bloggers 🙂

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

  • I did not move with a family but on my own at 39 yrs of age. I moved here from where I was living at the time, the smallest state in the United States called Rhode Island. I moved here to be with my grandmother who lived in Florence. I say lived cause she passed away over a year ago. [We’re very sorry to hear that]screen-shot-2017-02-22-at-8-42-45-am

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

  • I found the transition extremely easy, since I am a woman who loves the challenges life presents me. I love people and traveling. I feel mother earth is our home and would love to meet as many different types of people with also different beliefs than my own, I feel this will complete me on my own life’s journey.

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

  • To be specific, Le Marche how it differs from home is that the lifestyle here is wholesome something I have not to pay a whole paycheck to have but here it is a way of life that I love. For me there was nothing difficult to get used to, it all came naturally to me because I feel this is a way of life we are supposed to live.

    A beautiful view of Le Marche by Issa

    A beautiful view of Le Marche by Issa

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

  • I love the ‘marchigiani’! They have a way about them of watching you for about a year to sum up who you are before letting you in…This is good, because we all should pick the people in our lives the way we pick our fruit…I mix with expats who have integrated in to the lifestyle here only.

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

  • Yes, I have been very fortunate to have made many many wonderful life friends and also have been the witness/ maid of honor for a dear friend, as well. I do have a habit of making lifetime friends wherever I go. 

Is there anything you miss about living in Usa?

  • No.

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

  • The way I am able to live my life, healthy.

    Issa visiting the beautiful Torre di Palme

    Issa visiting the beautiful Torre di Palme

What’s your favorite Italian food?

  • Very hard question to answer because every region has a specialty, but I am partial to seafood. No I love seafood and vegetables … and here it is all fresh and that is wonderful!!!

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 before and if so what did you love the most about Le Marche?

  • Before 2009 I had never heard of Le Marche…and I love EVERYTHING this is why I also have started a blog to bring the world here…secretly because it should remain a treasure always and the tourist that come to visit should be people who want to keep the traditions and help keep the goodies of Le Marche. I would hate anyone who came and disrespected this beautiful region of Italy. I would never want it to become like Venice or Florence or Rome for that matter.13612398_10153479861451330_6875354225667551878_n

How difficult was getting a work visa/permit?

  • I was lucky to have found my soulmate here…but I did try and get a 1yr visa and it is not an easy thing to get if your an American. First they want to know if you have at least $100,000.00 dollars in your bank account (I kid you not) they want proof…and you also need to have a monthly check from , social security or retirement. Just to make sure ur not coming here to steal work. I personally had over $45,000.00 and a letter from the Secretary of State of Rhode Island and a letter from someone here in Le Marche (who is very influential) to say they would house me free of charge to just write my book….yes, at the time I wanted to write a book as well. But when I met my husband to be, not a lawyer would touch me, but to be honest with the internet and my wits I managed to get all the paperwork needed through New York and a firm I hired there.14045740_10153564019726330_1275270544717984653_n

How does the Italian work culture differ from your country?

  • Here they believe in family and…vacations.

How does cost of living compare to home?

  • It is so much cheaper here to live.

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

  • None!!!

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

  • Do it!!! Live everywhere you find your place on this earth and be limitless with your life.14925661_10153762396866330_631706273925303767_n

In retrospective is there anything you would change?

  • Not a thing.

Why should people visit Italy? 

  • Well from everything I have written above, it is obvious that I believe that every human being should travel. “Mother Earth is our home, just like you know all that is in your house. One should visit and try and understand as many humans beings living on our planet. Maybe we don’t incorporate always their lifestyles into our own, but what makes us RICH is at least understanding where they are coming from.” [Quote by Issa:-)]

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

  • Yes my blog is called Le Marche Magic, I love where I live here in Le Marche and have found MY OWN special place on our mother earth. I would like to share it, I feel the untouched nature of Le Marche can really help and touch many people. Even if they come for a visit or to live. Le Marche is a way of life.14890512_10153766806646330_5066149853472691443_o

I hope you all enjoyed this enthusiastic and pleasant interview from Issa.

Please don’t forget to visit her blog about Le Marche: http://www.lemarchemagic.com

I closed my original interview with a

“GRAZIE MILLE ISSA!”

and I’d like to share her lovely reply…

“You are very welcome! I hope I answered all your questions to your satisfaction. It was extremely easy for me to write all my answers since my fingers just flowed with love of writing about the place I love. A place called Le Marche.

With pleasure”, Issa 2/21/2017 Grottazzolinafullsizeoutput_28b0

 

 

A piece of history in a traditional musical instrument: the accordeon!

I’m an hopeless romantic, I love spending afternoons browsing old photos and thinking about moments of the past. I love savoring the joyful moments experienced, and feeling close to the people who filled them.

Last Holidays were particularly nostalgic and I had been thinkig about my family a lot. Memories of when I was a child and I used to play together with my grandparents and my cousins.

Today’s technology allows to capture millions of moments of everyday’s life: take a picture of any event, even the least significant ones. Maybe this is the reason why old photos have a more “intense relevance”, as if they were more “real”.

In the past, pictures were taken to enclose really memorable moments and when you looked back at them, well…you have the feeling you’re brought back in time. When I was a child, it was very common to get together with all neighbours, both young people and grown-ups.

I remember very well when adults just winked at each other and that was enough to start celebrating, without any particoular reason. My father started playing the accordion, my aunt began to sing the notes of the melody and then we were all suddenly dancing, young and old people, all together, in the street.img-20170127-wa0003

Sometimes this off-the-cuff street parties happeed to celebrate a profitable workday in the farmland, or a national holiday, in short, it did not take much to get the party started!

Looking back on these pictures I thought that many of our traditions are gone or fading. And that’s why last month when I was back to Italy, I decided to go and visit the International Museum of Accordeon in Castelfidardo, that has been the town with the largest production of this instrument for over a century.screen-shot-2017-02-05-at-21-29-19

In addition to documenting the history of this famous instrument, the museum pays tribute to the many craftsmen and industrial entrepreneurs, who through their commitment, have helped transforming culturally this area of Le Marche.1data38

1data39And from Castelfidardo, in fact, is also the famous Paolo Soprani, who created a workshop at the end of 800, where he improved the quality and the aesthetic of the accordion. imagesOriginally, that was just a Viennese rudimentary contraption. Paolo made the first modern accordion and gave birth tor a flourishing craft industry of this instrument.superking

The quality of accordions made in this charming town, is appreciated all over the world. To my grandfather, his accordion was more precious than a gem. Indeed, it was his own gem!screen-shot-2017-02-05-at-21-33-27

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The International Museum of Accordeon in Castelfidardo

1data071data19I would like to thank the staff of the Castelfidardo Accordion Museum for having welcomed and for coming with me in this beautiful “journey to the childhood memories”.screen-shot-2017-02-05-at-21-33-39

screen-shot-2017-02-05-at-21-31-55If you find yourself in Le Marche, my dear friends, please rememebr to add Castelfidardo in your destinations to visit. A few minutes from Loreto and the stunning park of Monte Conero, this town will offer breathtaking views. The proof of the pudding is in the eating!

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For more information please visit to: http://www.museodellafisarmonica.it/

 

 

The”crescia sfojata” …and it’s finally Christmas!

It’s almost Christmas and we are ready to bake a traditional delicious dessert from Le Marche: the “crescia sfojata”

CRESCIA SFOJATA

For the dough:

2/3 cups all-purpose flour or grano tenero “00”

3/8 cups warm water

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 teaspoon fine salt

For the filling:

2 green apples (about 1 lb)

15 walnuts

60-70 raisins

5 oz organic apple juice (or as an alternaitve: rhum, brandy, sherry)

2 spoons cane sugar

1 spoon cinnamon powder

some organic lemon peel

crescia-sfojata-1Start making the dough:

Warm up the water (it has to be warm enough, but not too hot). Sift the flour and add some salt and olive oil in a large mixing bowl and keep stirring the mixture. Using your hands, work the ingredients until it comes together. Turn out on a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Add more flour (sparingly) to the work surface only if it is absolutely necessary. Shape the dough into a ball; cover with a wet towel or a wrap and let rest on the work surface for about half an hour.

Making the filling:

Warm up the apple juice and pour it on the raisins in a bowl. Let the raisins absorb the moisture until they return to room temperature and turn soft (about 20 minutes). Peel the apples and cut into thin slices. Place them in a bowl and cover with cane sugar and roughly chop walnuts, well drained raisins. Add the cinnamon and lemon peels. Preheat oven at 390F.

Roll out the dough:

Spread a clean lined or cotton tablecloth (preferably washed with mild soap and rinsed well), flax or cotton, on the table. Spread some flour on top of it, take the dough and start flattening it by hands and then by a rolling pin. When the dough is thin enough start stretching and pulling it- outside with your fingers and making sure not break it. The dough should become almost transparent.

Place it back on the tablecloth (the dough should be about 19 inches in size). Since the edges will be a bit thicker, use your fingers along the edge to make it thin. Spread out the filling on the dough, but make sure not to cover the the edge. With the help of the tablecloth, start rolling the dough on itself. Made a couple of turns and fold towards the inside the two outer edges and continue to roll until the end.

Gently transfer the dough on a baking sheet covered with baking paper. Brush it with melted butter and bake. Cook for 30-40 minutes until the pastry is golden.

Let cool and cut into slices.crescia-sfojata-2

“Buon Appetito” and Merry Xmas!

Thanks to our dear friends Silvia and Donatella from Fabrica del Gusto for sharing this sweet collaboration!

 

Neo and Discovermarche

Our friend Neo Kook, just visited us from South Korea. This time he stayed in Le Marche for two weeks and so I had the chance to spend some time with him. That was very important for me because it revived the desire to convey to my friends readers how special is the land I come from and how hospitable the people are.

Neo back in Le Marche and visiting the old town of Offida

Neo back in Le Marche and visiting the old town of Offida

Every time I go back to Italy, I realize that the big City that welcomed me, sometimes softens with its lights, colors and sounds, the taste and the smell of my homeland. Suddenly I remember the charm of the landscape in Le Marche, and its historical and cultural treasures. But most importantly: the warmth of people and their friendly and welcoming attitude.20161102_153208

The owners of local business as well as people living in touristic areas treat their guests not just as customers but as real good friends to cuddle and to take care of on every tier.20161102_163821-2

In Le Marche the romantic vision of the land that offers its fruits to work with passion is still alive.

Visiting an olive oil factory in Spinetoli

Visiting an olive oil factory in Spinetoli

Listening to Barbara Marcozzi (one of the owners at the family-run business of Antica Pasta) while she explains how much carefulness it takes to follow all the different steps in the making and production of their pasta is really inspiring. Noticing the pride in her eyes when she talks about the product they offer their customers. Her self-confidence as she knows how much effort and excellence it takes to get to the final result, in terms of accurate workmanship and of the highest quality of the raw materials. All that makes me feel proud and nourishes the desire to share to the world how much experience and passion our craftsmen carry out their tasks.

Barbara and Neo

Barbara and Neo

I realized Neo has many more friends than I could imagine, although most of them do not even speak English and he is not yet so good at communicating in Italian.

"Aperitivo time" with friends: Monia and Neo

“Aperitivo time” with friends: Monia and Neo

Neo thanked me very much for the help and support with the language I provided and for the company we had together. However, it is me who have to thank him openly for the opportunity to remind me of the goal of Discovermarche.20161102_172038-2

The passion that binds me to my land is stronger and more alive than ever.

“Neo, Discovermarche wish you a good time in Le Marche!”

 

Salumificio Mezzaluna: the tradition of Le Marche for over 50 years

Before leaving for New York, I decided to host a dinner to have the chance to say goodbye to some of my closest friends.

My ‘menu’ included the traditional appetizer “Italian cold cuts”, a simple dish to prepare, but always very appreciated and tasty.

Dalmo, Barbara’s father, our friend who lives in Chicago, advised me to go to Fermo to shop at the salami factory “Salumificio Mezzaluna”. In fact, this is one of the most well-known for the quality and authenticity of their products.10497060_1658662634370937_3850512196388414305_o

The "Salumificio Mezzaluna" is located in Fermo.

The “Salumificio Mezzaluna” is located in Fermo

And there, I met Paola, who welcomed me with great warmth and extreme kindness and while advising what to offer to my guests, she starting telling me about the story of their company:

Paola, owner of the historical family-run salami factory Mezzaluna

Paola, owner of the historical family-run salami factory Mezzaluna

“Early in the 60’s, Nerino Mezzaluna, our father, decided to realize his business idea: let his domestic farming grow and start selling the meat of his pigs to local customers. It was a small family farm, the work was typically seasonal, and it was done only during the winter time because there was no cold storage to keep the meat fresh at that time. At the beginning of the 70s, the farm was transformed into an artisan company, the salami factory was enlarged and equipped with refrigerators and modern and more efficient seasoning rooms. Also with the hiring of employees (initially only three), the “family” (this is the way my father used to call the overall business of the company) became bigger and increased in their the production at the same time.salame Our mission for the future is to maintain and improve more and more our cold cuts, to increase the quality and safety standards, with particular attention to the protection of animal welfare, and to continue to make niche products. This is our mission for the future and we want to keep doing it with passion and dedications we always did so far.”13669249_1849781725259026_2346228424176095896_o

As I laying the ham, salami, pork loin and ciauscolo (a traditional sausage made in Le Marche, which is actually perfect to spread on bread, toasted bread and bruschetta) into each dish for dinner, I realized how much I miss all these smells from my land.

The ciauscolo:a  traditional spreadable salami made in Le Marche

The ciauscolo:a traditional spreadable salami made in Le Marche

The strong and uplifting scent of ciauscolo and salami, brought to my mind the many snacks that my mother made my brothers and I.

I must confess: I could not resist the combination “fresh bread and cold cuts” and, right before dinner, I was already full. You know: once you start, you can’t stop…14199533_1873111429592722_8757129388395242794_nBuon Appetito!

 

Special thanks to Salumificio Mezzaluna for the wonderful welcome!

For more information on their production, please visit their website at: 

http://www.salumificiomezzaluna.it/en/

Nuova Simonelli: science and technologie developing the coffee world

There are habits in our lives that we do not want to lose. While living in New York, I decided I did not want to give up on the morning’s coffee smell of my Italian moka pot.moka_crema1

I grew up with this aroma, that used to wake me up every morning before going to school, when my mom made breakfast for me and my siblings. I kept having my morning-coffee-routine every day when I was studying at university, and, even on days when I was late and had to rush, I could miss anything but not my coffee.morning-819362_1280

I believe coffee is a true lifestyle. At least for me.coffee-1031142_1280

Besides being one of the product for which Italy is well-known in the world, it is also and without a doubt, one of the most reproduced product, revised and brought in many different ways, everywhere.

Everyone knows that the largest producer of coffee in the world is Brazil. But most coffee lovers do not know that one of the leading companies that produces espresso machines and exports them all over the world, is located in Le Marche, Italy.sl-00

I’m talking about the Nuova Simonelli, an Italian company based in the town Belforte del Chienti, (in the province of Macerata) with experience and tradition going back to 1936, when founder Orlando Simonelli made his first espresso machine, which he named “1936”, after the year of manufacture.1936_simonelli

This was already an innovative machine for that time, and technically at the forefront of its kind. Since then, we have been witnessing the rise of this extraordinary company which, building upon the tradition of the ancient craftsmen and following the consolidation of its presence on export markets, in 1993 Nuova Simonelli sets up its own USA Division located in Ferndale, in the State of Washington.sdsd

Today Nuova Simonelli operates in 109 countries around the world, exporting 82% of all production. In addition to branches in America and sales offices in Canada, China, France and Spain, the network’s commercial Nuova Simonelli has over 800 dealers located in every continent, who are able to respond rapidly to any operator worldwide.534838_10150851741077236_836922226_n

Nuova Simonelli stands out also for its social commitment that supports the entire coffee supply chain worldwide. In fact, Simonelli Group is now cooperating on an important project with the University of Camerino (Unicam), one of the oldest in Europe that conducts important scientific research.hub

Last June the “International Hub for Coffee Research and Innovation” opened and is now responsible for implementing specific research activities through its internal structure, supported by collaboration with international research centres. To this end, the Scientific Committee will look for international collaboration with centres that boast the best knowledge and skills in the specific subject to establish scientific teams with expertise.14022195_10154481428567236_6902225571589145634_n

The International Hub for Coffee Research and Innovation is open to other partners, from the scientific world and business, who are interested in sharing goals and research, or to make new acquaintances and experiences in the various parts of the coffee production chain, in particular for selecting blends and for roasting. Simonelli Group is overseeing the creation of a dedicated structure complete with laboratory, which will act as a ‘branch’ of the University of Camerino for the project. It will be equipped with appropriate equipment and will be the operational headquarters for all the staff, researchers and graduate students, so they can carry out their activities in university laboratories and in the company.

International Hub for Coffee Research and Innovation main activities revolve around the concepts of ‘research’, ‘knowledge’, ‘experience’, ‘authority’, and ‘innovation’. 941825_10151613577187236_605814740_n

I am truly honored by the partnership that Nuova Simonelli has granted us. And I’m excited to be able to report to my American friends, how rich is my land not only in art and history, but also in other excellence to envy!

You can follow the latest news about the Nuova Simonelli by clicking: here as well as on all socials1982351_10152243990677236_1480022398_n

 

Lame Rosse: the Monument Valley of Le Marche!

Dear friends,  I thought a lot before writing today’s post about a hike I had back in August. The reason of my sadness is that this area is currently closed to the public due to the recent terrible earthquake. This still make me feel very sad. Nevertheless, I want to remember this area the way it was and I feel lucky I had the chance to visit it in person before the tragic event on August 24, 2016.

Actually, I wanted to visit the so called “Lame Rosse” close to the town of Fiastra for long. The photos of the area I looked up online reminded me of the scenic splendor of the Monument Valley in the US.

So, back to that day and after parking my car, I was ready and so excited to start hiking! However, the unexpected landscape I was sorrounded by totally blew my mind: the Lake of Fiastra in the middle and the colors of the Sibillini Mountains all around…what a unique beauty!

View of the Lake of Fiastra from the top

View of the Lake of Fiastra from the top

I didn’t want to move away from that outstanding view and from a silence that makes you enjoy it even more. I would have stayed there for hours just to feel the breeze and to take pictures from every angle. But the path that leads to the natural monument is long and so I rushed a bit.13716117_10153974939028645_6921364440043044391_nSoon after the climb begins there is not that much view. The path is quite shady and dense vegetation provides a nice coolness. The way looks like this for a while, with shrubs on both sides blocking the view. The hike could be a bit strenuous for the average person. It is not a leisurely stroll. Howver, it is so well worth it!13754680_10153974939043645_349976048695996285_n

After about an hour and a half I finally came upon these giant red rocks, reminiscent of the southwest US, but here so very out of place. The so called “Lame Rosse” (aka: Red Blades) is a not to be missed natural masterpiece. The accumulation of stratified rock with no surface show their their main mineral constituents.13775399_10153974939273645_3322083385829474822_n13731447_10153974939378645_8493309178942023358_n

Their unusual and unique shape, is due to the long and slow wind erosion over a period of millions of years and during the many stages of freezing and thawing of the mountain. Lame Rosse is characterized by gravel held together by clay, thanks to erosion of atmospheric phenomena has given rise to these pinnacles and figures of all kind. I was there during the daytime, however at dawn and dusk the sandstone turns on a reddish color.

13731680_10153974939988645_9050324415363269878_n

13765975_10153974939598645_228904292573917968_oAfter resting a bit and having a snack, I walked all the way back to my car and drove to the Lake of Fiastra, that totally blew me out earlier that day. Its shores and particularly clear waters surrounded by mountains truly offer picture-postcard views.13754299_10153974940163645_192558288739198200_n

We are all used to hearing about other Italian lakes and you do not expect to be overwhelmed by the sight of this lake located in Le Marche.13697086_10153974940063645_9041257541190452206_n

Even if the lake of Fiastra is not so popular, its incredible blue brings out the colors of the nature that surrounds it. I stayed there until sunset to enjoy the the charm of this wonderful natural gem!13710043_10153974941553645_2567810120587565872_n