The American love affair with Tuscany

Tuscany has always been a very popular tourist destination for people from all over the world.  For Americans, since the publication of Frances Mayes’ “Under the Tuscan Sun” (and the eponymous movie plus her other subsequent books on Tuscany), the fascination with this region of Italy has reached amazing heights.Crostini from Tuscany

I am not knocking  this trend – the desire to share the Tuscan lifestyle is the reason I began writing this  column. I am from Tuscany and passionate about all it has to offer :Art, architecture, food, wine, history, vineyards, sunflowers and natural beauty. Tuscans are very proud of their heritage and live a great life. But who knew that all the traditional foods I grew up with (such as bruschette, crostini, rustic bread soups, home-made salumi and sautéed beans) would end up being featured in the trendiest of U.S. restaurants?

It seems I cannot drive more than a few minutes from home without seeing a “Tuscan” or “Tuscany” restaurant, hotel, condominium building, cooking school or billboard. Even the Olive Garden Restaurants have joined this trend with their Culinary Institute of Tuscany and their latest television commercials featuring Tuscan menu specials.

Read more

Fresh made pizza from a vending machine made in Italy

How would you like to insert 4 or 5 dollars into a machine then watch it prepare dough from scratch, add fresh ingredients and emit a hot, freshly-baked pizza in under 3 minutes? This is the concept behind the “Let’s Pizza” vending machine.

The machine was invented by Claudio Torghele, 56. This Italian entrepreneur sold pizza dough in California and was impressed by the popularity of pizza in the U.S.

According to the New York Times:

Read more

A dog’s life in Lucca, Italy

In 2008, Italy was named as one of the top 5 retirement destinations for U.S. citizens by International Living. My friend and client Marlene recently moved to Lucca (Tuscany), Italy. Marlene often lets me know how she is adjusting.  A very important concern for Marlene was for her beloved pets. How would they adjust?  How would they be treated? Below are Marlene’s comments on life in Italy with her two miniature dachsunds.

One of the best decisions I could have made when moving to Italy last year was to bring my adorable miniature dachshunds with me. Ruby and Ginger, ages 4 and 3 respectively, are little red cuties who attract lots of attention here. They are referred to as Bassoto or “short legs.” Because mine are miniature, they are called bassotini.
When I take the girls out for their walks, I get stopped by at least half the people I see so they can pet them, talk to them or just call them “belline” (pretty little girls). The girls are very friendly, so this helps tremendously. Many of the folks I see on a daily basis make a beeline for the girls and I am just the one who happens to be holding their leashes. Ruby and Ginger have many, many friends here who don’t mind in the least if they jump on them and give them kisses. I have tried in vain to teach them not to jump on people, but here it’s encouraged.

Read more

7 Ways to save money and make great food using leftovers – Italian-style

In a previous article, I challenged readers to come up with some low cost, healthstuffed eggplants (melanzane ripiene)y and delicious recipes using leftovers and inexpensive ingredients – just like the Italians do. As you may know, Italians throw nothing away and utilize every part of the animals they consume (think of head cheese or pickled pigs feet)! This is true now more than ever. We all want to save money and not waste anything. It’s better for the earth too.

Following are reader suggestions and some recipes. Buon Appetito!


Read more

Nobel Prize winner Rita Levi Montalcini turns 100 with verve!

Every day I watch the Italian Telegiornale (TV news) to keep up with what is going on in my native country. This week, I was moved and inspired by the interview with Nobel Prize recipient Rita Levi Montalcini on the occasion of her 100th birthday.

Beautifully coifed and elegant in a navy suit, with a sweet expression and lively eyes, she is still a commanding presence and passionate about her work. She published her autobiography in 2008. Montalcini is a senator for life in Italy and still working. She has dedicated herself to the FAO Goodwill Ambassador Program and is dedicated to promoting the FAO’s vision of a world without hunger.

Read more