Roughly 13 years ago we had the fortune of coming across a small abandon country house up in the town of Ca Bazzari (Bazzari) which is our paradise for relaxation when the city of Milan gets to be a bit too much. A small old three-story barn with a patio and no landscaping to deal with but which offers wonderful views of the Val Tidone valley which is considered quite close to the Tuscan hills in beauty and nature (with less tourist!)
Right behind our house is a vast wood area which is covered with Chestnut trees (that tend to arrive in October) that provide fertile ground for the growth of Mushrooms (especially of the Porcini variety). We constantly stumbled upon our neighbor’s descriptions of how many Mushrooms they had found in the past years but in our constant walks in the woods the constantly ran into mushrooms that when we brought them into town they were the joke of the town and suggested to use as poisonous solution to get rid of the spouse. Betti obviously did not appreciate.
This weekend she decided to put a stop to that and dragged me into the woods in search of the always elusive Porcini mushroom. I suggested we try to go as far up and away from the main paths as possible and with Betti guiding the way we stumbled upon a whole field of diverse mushroom from which immediately Betti saw these orange colored variety called Ovuli which are way more rare than the Porcini mushrooms and hard to find.
Upon re-entry from the woods, we brought our bag of mushrooms which obviously contained the typical set of poisonous-looking Porcini but included in the pack we had these two gems
This time Ms. Fernanda and the local mushroom experts dropped their jaws and told us that they are the hardest to find since they are considered a delicacy which gathers a price of 50 euro per kilo!
Betti immediately got on the phone with her Mom to inquire on how to cook them and the final conclusion was just to brush off the dirt, slice them thin and pour a touch of olive oil and lemon drops over them and to dispense of them raw. A true delicate taste and a great way to put a highlight on the weekend.
Who has not dreamed of a traveling cottage able to protect us like a snail shell snail from the elements and able to take us to the most exotic and faraway places, maybe without a circulation permit, car insurance or monthly car payments?
From June 30th to September 9th at the Tadini Academy in Lovere is open the exhibition entitled “Lo squardo del viaggiatore”, which narrates the journeys and the work of Giorgio Oprandi: the artist who introduced colonial Africa to the Italians but perhaps the most interesting thing on show in the exhibition is the car that accompanied him on all his travels.
Oprandi was a painter and an explorer born in Lovere who was the precursor of those artists that, at the beginning of the ‘900, painted landscapes and inhabitants of the Italian overseas possessions.
He was a solitary traveler who toured between deserts, cities, and colonies of Africa with his Fiat 503 equipped with a 16-horsepower petrol engine, that was modified to be equipped with a kitchen and a room, containing all the tools of the craft colors, brushes and canvases.
It is almost impossible to follow the traces of his uneasy wanderings: only the titles of the paintings and sketches give us the geographical coordinates of the artist’s nomadism.
After more than twenty years of traveling between Africa, Albania, and Italy, in the fifties, the historic vehicle was replaced with a second prototype: a Fiat “Giardinetta” equipped with a special framework on which, once the hood has been lowered, a tent could be mounted.
A careful restoration of the first original car welcomes visitors to the exhibition: browsing inside the cockpit you can try to imagine the spirit of adventure and freedom of this artist and his romantic existence.
But in a future date, we will come back to this town overlooking Lake Iseo because it still has many stories to tell.
This Sunday we had the wonderful pleasure of receiving an invitation from our dear friend (as well as talented designer link link here Anders Lunderskvo and his lovely wife Michela Solari (her showroom in Milan is here) to attend one of the editions of Piano City which was set up in the courtyard where Andres has his Laboratory.
Piano City Milano is based on the concept of Piano City Berlin and it finds itself at a fourth edition bigger and better than ever. In fact this year long lines to get into the main events kept us away but an invitation for such an intimate courtyard option was perfect for a beautiful Sunday morning.
Here is a short video snippet that gives an idea of the talented pianist (Julia Barriero and Lorenzo Cattel) who graced us with the wonderful sounds of Schumman, Chopin, Bizet, Honegger and Debussy.
More info regarding this specific concert at this link: Piano City Milano
As some of you might know we are approaching the date for Italy to hold its general Elections. It be more precise it is exactly on March 4th which is roughly less than two weeks away and already we are getting bombarded with the final sprint by all the main parties which are involved in this current version of an attempt at bringing some sense to who will govern this country.
At this current moment from what I can gather the choices are divided between these three guys present in the image below (yes! Thats Berlusconi back in action just like in the old days…mamma mia!)
Let’s start from left to right:
On the left we have Luigi Di Maio of the Five Star Movement party which is represents a populist surge derived from a coalition between a famous Italian comedian Beppe Grillo (who is quite funny in my personal opinion and his close friend who recently passed away Gianroberto Casaleggio, a web strategist. They seem to be favourite in recent polls and recently in the news due to some internal party money issues that are still being investigated.
Than in the middle with have the recently departed Prime Minister Matteo Renzi of the Partito Democratico party, close friend of Barak Obama, who resigned last year after a referendum and gave way to the current techical team governing the country. Who is not doing great in the polls due to internal diatribes inside his own party and I have serious doubts he will be able to have good numbers since folks seem to be a bit fed up with him.
Than last but not least we have Silvio Berlusconi who even if elected he has a ban from the EU to be able to govern so he as linked up with the North League resentative Matteo Salvini along with ex-Alleanza Nazional candidate Giorgia Meloni. These folks are representing a so called Central Right movement but the candidates that Berlusconi has lined up with in my book come across as racist and self-interested of their goals.They are looking very good in the polls and this to me reflects a bit of has been a common trend in Italy of conservatism.
So we shall see in the next couple of weeks what will occur. Betti still is undecided who to cast here vote for and in my case I do not vote in Italy since I am a US Citizen and so not eligible to cast a say in this very confusing and sad campaign.
Blog Post Update!
The Central Right coalition had the most percentage of votes along with the populist Five Star Movement while the Democratic Party took a licking! All in all, what does this mean for Italy? Only time will tell. Right now everyone is playing poker till the Italian President Sergio Mattarella calls all involved on daily basis to try to get them to talk to each other and try to come out with a semblance of a coherent government. If this is no possible than we will probably end up with the current governmental members headed by Gentiloni and another go at making an Electoral Law that does not permit these sort of results.
To add to the whole picture the visit of Steve Bannon in Italy (NY Times article here) last week indicating that it is time for the populist movements to raise their head against the EU and pull out! A total mess!
As some of you might know after moving to Italy back in 1992 and having left the sunny shores of South Beach, my first set of interviews looking for a job as in Architect in Italy (with vast Cad Management experience) was sort of touch and go.
All the studios I initially contacted on my arrival in Milan loved my portfolio but back then they were just starting to embrace CAD and offered measly salary offers as opposed to what I was earning back in the US.
After a foray of interviews, I went into a slump and was a bit depressed to the point that my wife considered moving back to Miami (my old position was always open since my boss at the time had mentioned that if I encountered any problems in my new country that I was welcome back).
But out of the blue, my wife’s sister calls me up and says that a friend of hers architectural studio in Genoa (about 2 hours away from Milan) was precisely looking for a person with my qualifications.
So I rush down to Genoa and have the interview with my future boss that went much better than expected (considering that it is an architectural studio that designs Cruise Ships – something totally different than the type of projects I worked on in Miami back in the day).
I have to say that after 24 years working at this studio the level of projects and the working environment are superb! And along the road after embarking on projects for companies such as Princess Cruises, Cunard, and Silversea we arrive at the first of a series of vessels for the new company founded by Sir Richard Branson. Last week we had the pleasure of being his guest at the Steel Kneel ceremony (Steel kneel relates to placing the first steel component of the ship and officially starts the construction process) at the Sestri Levante Shipyard.
The party was amazing as you can see if the short video clips below. Boy George was the DJ (Culture Club was one of the first groups on the Virgin Records roster). I also had the pleasure of having a short chat with Richard at the after party in which we spoke about the vessel.
So in a nutshell….I tend to imagine what would have happened if I had not encountered my current boss and moved back to Miami back in 1992?
Life and its mysterious routes…. Viva Italia!
Here is an additional link regarding the new ship currently under construction.
Virgin Voyages sites
Having moved to Italy back in 1992 I did not grasp or understand the mentality and philosophy that Italians have regarding the sacred concept of “ferie” or vacation.Living in Miami before coming here and working in one of the cities biggest architectural firm where vacation time was handed out with an eye drop approach.
At that time back in Miami I could only take a maximum of 7 days off in one year and even have worked with the firm for 12 years the maximum that I could accumulate was 10 days off but it was a major hassle to be able to use the allotted time when you wanted.
Here in Italy, it is a totally different story. In Milan, everybody works hard but when that heat wave starts arriving in mid-July, the nerves start rising parallel to the heat, and folks start talking about vacation locations and the fact that finally, August is here!
The month of August is the clue month in which most companies take off and shut their doors for approximately 3 weeks. In the last 5 years some companies rotate the time frames and do combination vacation shifts but it will be close to impossible to contact anyone for work related stuff in the two middle weeks of that month.
As I write this, I have just started mine and as I wait for Betti to arrive from the country and we start packing our bags to head off to Lisbon this Tuesday, the quiet sounds of an empty Milan are a gift to my ears. Even if the temperature is in the low 90s I still love this time of the year when we can recharge and get ready for the second half of the year.
Enjoy the Summer and baci from Casa Chiesi!
Above photo: @toscaradigonda
For the last couple of week, I have been playing with the new version of Anchor FM (2.0 to be precise) which is an App for both IOS and Android that lets you become an audio broadcaster in a very simple and fun way. I had been debating for the last couple of months the need or willingness to set up some sort of Podcast related to our love for Italy.
I am really loving the simplicity and fun factor in using this new tool but the jury is still out on if we should do a Podcast and more precisely: what subject matter?
This is going back and forth between myself and Betti for the last couple of weeks and since we are now heading to our MUCH needed Holiday break (It’s our 25th Wedding Anniversary this August 15th) the jury is still out.
In the meantime, we invite you to subscribe to our Anchor station and check out myself talking about a diverse subject matter related to what else? Italy of course!
Listen to our latest episode of Casa Chiesi on Anchor by clicking on: Casa Chiesi on Anchor
One of the fun things which I have indulged in with the passing of time and along with the fact that I have lived in Italy for the last 26 years is a passion for Italian Food. Ever since I was a young kid growing up in Venezuela, I had a constant fascination for those loud and full of live restaurants that my Dad use to take to me. The mysteries of spaghetti cooked in a thousand variations or that first rabbit “alla cacciatore” still are stuck in my subconscious.
Once my parents got divorced and my mother dragged me to that wonderful capital of the world called New York, weekly visits to Mulberry Street and Little Italy along with a yearly San Gennaro fest love relationship solidified my passion.
So then comes along a move down to Miami and that no-man lands of Italian Cuisine (I still remember with anger my first visit to an Olive Garden in Orlando which I consider a true nightmare that haunts me till this day). I always had a visceral attraction towards Europe in general and considering that my Dad was from Barcelona I was not a bit surprised that my first visit to Rome when I was fresh out of University was the stuff of dreams. A simple hotel (which no longer exists by the way) close to the Spanish Steps culminated in venturing out and eating, by myself since my German girlfriend at the time had still not flown in to meet up with me, the most magnificent “spaghetti alla carbonara” that my eyes had ever encountered. The restaurant, recommended by the bell hop of the hotel, had a simple open garden in the back and was off the typical tourist trap list which back in 1982 was still quite small in nature.
The beauty of the day, the food, and wine, the friendly service sold me on the greatness of the country that I had envisioned in my childhood dreams. That week I was quite serious about planning yearly trips to explore the rest that Italy had to offer and tempt me with.
Obviously once I got on the plane that took me back to the sunny shores of Miami, that plan hit with the reality of finding work (which I did shortly after) and bogging down into the 9 to 5 grid (in those days it was more 9 to 10) in one of Miami’s most successful architectural firms at the time.
But as we all know life has its mysterious way of not forgetting about the small pleasures that we indulge into from time to time. And right after the relationship with the German girl dried up, a common friend (Italian of course) decided to do a match making a proposal to me over a dinner party that I had the coincidence of going to. Bear in mind I hate match making or any sort of effort on the behalf of people to try to solve the complexity that we call life (and in that case human relationships).
But as I walked into that party and was drawn towards a sophisticated girl from Milan sitting on a sofa and acting nonchalant about the fact that she was eating overcooked Gnocchi far away from home. I was immediately entranced and decided to invite her out. And so began our story, one that evolved towards a wonderful wedding on South Beach and my subsequent move to that country which was always teasing me and tempting me in the back of my mind as a child.
Bear in mind that I am a terrible cook in comparison to Betti, but with that passion, I decided to embark on creating and moderating an Italian Food Community on Google+ which has grown exponentially. If you love Italian Food as much as I do I would love to have you check it out. Grazie,
You can find the Google+ Italian Food Community link here: Google+ Italian Food Community
We are super happy to have added our Casa Chiesi Italian Lifestyle to the Bloglovin platform. Bloglovin is a great platform that offers insights into numerous worldwide Blogs that can be of interest. A great tool to also find other similar blogs that cover Italy which is our main focus over here at Casa Chiesi.
We have noticed a great group of bloggers with similar interest to our love for Italy. A key source for engaging with fellow bloggers is key towards the mission statement that Betti and myself have always stressed: Our love for Italy!
The month of July is already here and what better time than to launch a new project?
We have decided to set up a brand new and shiny Eshop in which we will be offering a series of Ebooks which are directly derived from Elisabetta’s book Eating Heart which can also be purchased at the store.
Every two months we will be offering a new publication which will revolve around the themes that are close to our heart. Food, Italian Living, and travel tips. For now, you can purchase Eating Heart either on Amazon in a printed version or as a PDF which you can enjoy on your desktop or mobile devices (Ipad, Android Tables, and Mobile phones)
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#ebook #italianfood #recipes