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Monday, January 30, 2006

The newsstand

Italian newsstands are usually family run small businesses that make their appearance in every major square or street. The edicola carries magazines, newspapers, bus tickets, DVDs, computer CDs and variety of collect-me-forever weekly issues of encyclopedias of all kinds. While newspapers may tell you the latest on the country's politics, the owner of the newsstand will be the most informed person on what happens in the neighborhood.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Architectural barriers

It's pretty evident that in the past centuries Italian cities were not built with much thought about architectural barriers. And things haven't improved in recent years. In picking your final destinations, you should be prepared to deal with steep stairways, bridges without ramps and sidewalks occupied by cars. If you are traveling with infants (or people with disabilities), you should keep that in mind if your goal is to fully experience all the hidden vicoli in Venice or explore Amalfi's viuzze up in that rocky coastline...

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

We are back...

After almost a month of vacation, we are back home in Seattle. During this time we traveled both in the northern part of the country (including Austria) and in the south (Naples and surroundings of Rome). We took this picture in Capri, a beautiful island near the Amalfi coast that is worth visiting in a warmer season. Naples was especially interesting. We'll dedicate a few postings to this city and its peculiar culture that makes it unique in Italy.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Natale in Italia, blog on vacation

Our family is heading to Italy tomorrow for the Christmas holidays. During this time we plan to visit relatives and friends, and continue in our journey of capturing useful media footage to share on this blog. Despite the fact we'll be in Italy, I anticipate us being mostly offline and unable to keep up the regular rhythm of new postings until we come back home by mid January. That's not all bad news, because it means we'll be busy collecting new content for you to consume in New Year's time.
Buon Natale and Buone Vacanze!

Un gelato, please...

Gelato is a must have Italian experience. Many ice-cream shops pride themselves in making their own gelato by displaying a sign Produzione Propria. There are two categories of flavors: creme (e.g. chocolate, vanilla, creme caramel, pistacchio, hazelnut, etc.) and frutta (e.g. just every fruit). My suggestion? Ask for Misto Creme or Misto Frutta, a choice that will get you as many different flavors as possible for your money.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Law enforcement corps

In Italy, there are a variety of law enforcement corps that specialize (and often overlap) in several functions. The Carabinieri (dressing in light blue in the picture) are the Italian military police. The Polizia (dark blue shirts) patrols highways and railways. The Guardia di Finanza (usually dressed in elegant gray uniforms) goes after IRS and tax evasion violations. Finally, the Vigili Urbani are those officers who dispense parking tickets on the streets. In this regard, a friend of mine told me a word of wisdom: you don't want to be a Vigile Urbano in your own town...

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Bruschetta: so simple and so good

Bruschetta is an extremely simple appetizer to make. Yet, every time my mom does it, it tastes so original and so good. The secret is all in the quality of the two key ingredients: ripe tomatoes and olive oil. This year for the first time I tried to grow my own tomatoes. The difference between the home grown fruits and those purchased at the store was like day and night. We only use imported extra virgin olive oil at home, often brought back from one of our trips overseas. Don't settle for an average bruschetta. Strive for quality of the few basic ingredients and avoid the temptation to add more ingredients in lieu of quality.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Watch out for that big P

In Italy, you can start driving at 18. Students in the process of getting their license, can drive dad's car (with daddy inside) if they display a big letter 'P' on the back of the car. P stands for principiante, that is beginner. The journey to graduate to 'crazy Italian driver' implies the following next steps:
- get the license
- get rid of the un-cool P sticker
- convince daddy that there is no need to come along anymore