Italian Calcio: Italy's Heart and Soul
Calcio (or if you’re not ready for total Italian immersion, soccer) is by far Italy’s most popular sport. It is also a unifying force for its people every time the national team plays, and a venue for airing age-old antagonisms every time the league plays. Clearly, there’s a lot riding on the humble soccer ball’s every bounce. Continue reading.
FIAT 500: An Iconic Italian Car
When you hear (in this case, read) the name “Dante,” do you think of automobiles? Likely not. You think of Dante Alighieri, the author of The Divine Comedy, right? Well, today you are going to add another Dante to your list of Dantes, this one being Dante Giocosa, the Italian car designer who first dreamed up the now iconic FIAT 500. Continue reading.
What Was the Italian Renaissance?
"The Renaissance." "Il Rinascimento." "The Rebirth." We've all heard of this period, but what exactly was it? One way to describe it would be this: Imagine you're fifteen, bored out of your mind, it's the summer, and you're visiting your grandparents an hour away from home. Continue reading.
Want to Learn Italian? Here Are Some Tips!
We all know it, Italian is a beautiful language. It's colorful. It has rhythm. It flows like a river. It's musical. Poetic. Derived primarily from Latin, the first written traces of what is referred to as "Italian" today date back 1,000 years, with earlier evidence of it in Vulgar Latin stretching back to ancient times. Continue reading.
What Is "Italy"?
Many people have attempted to put their fingers on what Italy is, how Italians think, what it is about the country that’s so alluring. The task is beyond hard. It’s difficulty is perhaps part of the answer. Whatever Italy is, it’s certainly something that's baffling. It’s a land of conundrums: of complexities, of simplicities. Continue reading.
That's what it was called: "L'America." To say it was to admit you were a dreamer. To say it meant you hoped for something better. My family dreamed of this "America" 100 years ago. They were inspired enough by the idea of it to cross the ocean, to risk everything. And who were some of my family's dreamers? Continue reading.
The Fork & The Cork
If Bacchus, the ancient god of wine, intoxication, and pleasure, were hanging out in his fancy Temple in Rome today, he'd probably be sipping on a glass (or chugging a bottle?) of Moscato d'Asti, that fine sparkling delight of a dessert wine from the province of Asti. Continue reading.
Nellino's Guide to Italian Coffee
No Question, Italians Love Their Coffee Some argue that the Enlightenment took place in eighteenth-century Europe because, simply, that's when coffee houses first opened. What does that make the Enlightenment? Just one major caffeine buzz. Continue reading.
Official Tortellini in Brodo Recipe
An Italian from Emilia would claim that a true tortellino (that would be the singular of tortellini) resembles "l'ombelico di Venere," Venus's bellybutton. Bologna, located in Emilia-Romagna (the western half, Emilia) is likely the birthplace of tortellini. Continue reading.
The History of the Tomato in Italy
The tomato in Italy has a convoluted history. It’s hard to trace, but there are some key dates and places to keep in mind. For one, the tomato is not indigenous to Europe, though the Europeans certainly have found innumerable delicious ways to serve it. Continue reading.
Cato's Ancient Roman Cheesecake Recipe
Did you know that the oldest surviving work in Latin prose is the ancient Roman statesman Marcus Porcius Cato's De agri cultura, On Agriculture? That would be just over 2,100 years old. In it we find a real jewel, a recipe for cheesecake! Continue reading.
The Art of Gelato in Italy
If it’s a scorching, humid 95 degrees and you are in Rome, what are you to do? You have one option, really, and that’s to pick up a gelato at the nearest gelateria. It’s practically medicine. Thanks are due once again to the Italians, they perfected the art of gelato. Continue reading.
Pasta Pasta Pasta!
Go ahead, try it. Try to think of Italy and not to think of pasta. It's impossible, right? Good thing! Pasta is so good life without it might not be worthy of being called "life." But before I go any further, I'd like to lay to rest the myth that Marco Polo trekked back from China carrying a box of pasta, announcing to his fellow Italians: "I've found it and it's great al dente!" It's a nice story, and certainly he did encounter noodles on his voyage, however, it appears that the ingenious idea of mixing flour and water possibly sprang up in multiple corners of the globe: ancient China, Greece, Rome, and the Arab world. Yep, pasta's ancient. There's evidence, in fact, that the Etruscans (those who lived in Etruria, now called Tuscany, around 800 BC) rolled pasta around thin sticks to create the earliest forms of macaroni. Continue reading