Welcome Everyone.

Welcome to News From Italy, my blog about our Italian Adventure. Although this blog has now ceased publication I will be continuing to blog and I am sincerely hoping that my many followers here will move with me to Travel Tales blog to follow my next adventures wherever they may take me. The links to my other blogs are:-

I look forward to keeping in touch with you via them, thanks once again for all the support you have given 'News From Italy' over the years.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Auguri di Buon Anno - Happy New Year

   Health and Happiness to you all for 2013

Italians are well known for their love of festivals and celebrations and New Year’s Eve is no exception. December 31st is known as La Festa di San Silvestro', the feast of St. Sylvester, a fourth-century pope. It is a time for a large meal traditionally with ones family, but also besides eating it is a time to party with  family and friends.  Lentils are traditionally eaten as part of the meal because they symbolize money and good fortune for the coming year, as the spiced sausage called Zampone to promise a good quality of life for the coming year. After the meal, people often gather in the local piazzas to await the coming of the New Year. At midnight, there are often fireworks displays and the celebrations last well into the night.  
In Roma the festivities are centred around the Piazza del Popolo as can be seen in this video.  Capodanno 2012 - Roma - Piazza del Popolo

Thankyou to all my wonderful blogging friends for your Christmas greetings and kind words of appreciation.   May 2013 be a great Blogging Year for readers and writers alike. Please consider if you are interested in Travel, Photography and Books following my other blogs in 2013, as your encouragement helps me keep motivated to continue.   LindyLouMac's Book Reviews,  Travel Tales,  LindyLouMac's World in Photos.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Buon Natale – Happy Christmas 2012 - Momento Musicale.

Along with my husband David I wish each and every one of you
Buon Natale – Happy Christmas 

It has become something of a tradition on News From Italy to leave you with a selection of Italian Christmas music to listen to over the holiday period.

                                      White Christmas Jazz 'Gianni Gandi


                              'Bianco Natale sung by Irene Grandi   '

Italian Folk Carol 'O Bambino' sung by Nancy Sinatra.  
Italian Folk Carol 'O Bambino' sung by Nancy Sinatra. Youmay have also heard this last song referred to by Italians as 'Tu Scendi Dalle Stelle'

Although the next song is not strictly Italian I am including it as the words and video share a love of  Italy. ' The Italian Christmas Song' by American Legacy Jazz Band.

My next choice is a version of  'Jingle Bell Rock' sung in Italian with the refrain in English. 

'Silent Night' sung in Italian 'Astro del Ciel' by the Italian Lyrical Choir Tripudium.

 Finally 'O Come All ye Faithful  or 'Adeste Fideles' 

Still looking for more Christmas music, then you may want to visit the links to my older musical Christmas posts.   
The  graphics are courtesy of  The Graphics Fairy and all the music was found by conducting a search on YouTube. 
I hope you found something to your taste here and I look forward to catching up with you all in 2013. Until then I share these two vintage cards with you all to convey Christmas Blessings.

Old vintage cards, the first of which is actually an old Italian postcard, showing an Angel with two children.

    Buon Natale – Happy Christmas

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Olive Harvest

The Olive Harvest that wasn't. In Italy there is a saying about the harvest, one year good one year bad. Judging by our olives this year and the fact that we had a bumper harvest last year this proved true. A few weeks ago having had a swift estimate of our crop and deciding we would struggle to reach our mills minimum requirement of at least 200 kilos, we sadly decided not to bother.  This is not such a dreadful decision as thanks to our abundant harvest last year we still have plenty of oil left for our own purposes.

A side effect of the weather this year seems to be that many of the olives have turned black much earlier this year and as we had a reasonable crop on a few of our younger trees we decided to harvest these for putting in brine and using for cooking purposes.

So our work in the Olive Grove this year was on the advice of our neighbours a really good pruning of the trees.

Same Tree After.

If you are new to reading this blog since our last harvest and are disappointed not to be able to read all about our experiences, I can only apologise and direct you back to the previous posts on the subject of which over the years there have been quite a few.

I have posted an album of photos of the Olives, Olive Trees and our Pruning work on Google Plus for those that are interested in seeing a few more photos. The photos shared here are also taken from this album.
Olive Harvest 2012

Previous Olive Harvest Posts
Olive Harvest 2009 - Part One
Olive Harvest 2009 - Part Two
Olive Harvest 2010 - Che Disastro!
Our Olive Oil 2010
Olive Harvest 2011 - All Done
Olive Harvest 2011 - Picking
Olive Harvest 2011

News From Italy is currently in the running for an award from Expatblogs.com and as readers comments are considered in the final judging it would be greatly appreciated if you were able to consider leaving a comment.
With just over twelve hours left to go before voting closes and the final decisions are made your support would be very much appreciated, every comment left counts.
Just click on this LINK  to be taken to the comments page.  Thankyou blogging friends and loyal readers.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Olive to Oil

Today I am sharing with you again a post from last year about the milling process for Olive Oil as I have lots of new followers that have expressed an interest both here on the blog and on my FB page. News From Italy, since I last wrote about the process.

We have harvested our own olives every year since we moved to Italy, although this year was rather different and that will be the subject of my next post.

I hope you will enjoy reading about the process, there are also links included to my posts from previous years, should you be interested.

Olive Harvest 2011 – Milling from Olive to Oil

Once we had decided that five days picking was more than enough, certainly in one stretch, the next task was to get the olives to the mill. A good job we did stop when we did as we only just got them all in the X-Trail and the Smart Car would really have not been much help would it! If you have not yet read my post on our picking and would like to do so just click on this link. Olive Harvest 2011 – Picking
Loaded and ready to go!

Off we then went on a short drive to the Oleificio in Montefiascone, where they were expecting us. We had arranged to arrive with our crop sometime on the Tuesday morning when we we would be given a more precise appointment for our milling.

Arriving at the mill olives are unloaded into a large crate.

Our crate is the one in the top left hand picture and when we left on Tuesday it had been moved into the warehouse area for storage, photo top right. Before leaving we confirmed in the office that our slot for milling would be the next day, Wednesday 16th November verso (towards)2pm.

Having been through this process before we warned my sister that we were probably in for a very long afternoon at the mill. Fortunately she did not seem to mind, although she did take her book as I suggested she never actually got to read it, as she found the whole process interesting, well I she seemed to! We arrived at the appointed time and our arrival was acknowledged immediately, however it was probably half an hour later when someone decided to tell us that due to a breakdown during the night, they were running a couple of hours behind, so why not go off somewhere else for awhile. We took the advice and went off to the station to check the times for my sister’s train to Roma the next morning, we were unable to buy her ticket though as the Tabac (where they sell train tickets) was of course closed for the afternoon as were most of the local shops. There is a new branch of Todis in Montefiascone opened on 26th October which is unusually ‘orario continuato’ continuous opening with no afternoon closure, so we did a little food shopping before returning to the mill for our rescheduled appointment.
On our return we located our crate, now outside, see the bottom row in the mosaic above, just before 4pm our turn arrived. The crate was weighed we were given our ticket, for use later to pay for the milling process which is calculated by the amount of oil produced, then the olives were loaded into the hopper and the process began. The olives would appear as olive oil in approx two hours time, I followed the process as best I could in these photos. The first mosaic of photos show the olives being weighed, before being tipped into the hopper, the leaves are then separated from the olives by being blown and deposited in the basket outside, see bottom left of picture, before the olives are sent off into the milling machinery.

As mentioned above the leaves have been separated as the olives make their way into this first stage of the milling process where they are washed and ground.

In the next stage of the process the pulp is transferred into tanks, there are six in all and they are used in rotation, our olive pulp was designated to tank number two.

An impressive looking beast here are some close ups of the procedure, notice how red the pulp is going down the tube in the first photo, top left!  The operative kindly opened the lid so that I could photograph the pulp entering the chamber.

While we waited for the oil, I will took a few photos around the mill, including where the waste product from the procedure is transferred to. It appears to lose its colour looking at the last photo ‘ stuff’ which had been around for awhile maybe used as a compost product but this is just a guess.

The setting sun, Montefiascone Duomo and general environs of the mill.

The green lights indicate that the pulp is ready for the next stage and the chamber is emptied as it passes through the next batch of machinery to the final stages, the waste product is removed and ends up where I showed you in a previous collage. It gets exciting as the procedure enters the final stages as you wait for your very own olive oil to appear.

Which it finally does and to our delight the operatives told us that not only was our oil of a very good quality, but in fact even better it was excellent, they knew this because of the transparency, just take a look at the large photo!

We are very pleased with the end result and I hope you have enjoyed my very basic description of the process, any mistakes are my own!

For those of you that are new to this blog and may be interested in the previous Olive Harvest posts, here are the links.
Olive Harvest - Phase One – 2009
Olive Harvest - Phase Two - 2009
Olive Harvest 2010 - Che Disastro!Travel Tales
Olive Oil 2010
and the prequel to this post  Olive Harvest 2011 - Picking
Lots more photos can be viewed in in My Flickr Albums in the collection entitled Olives and Olive Oil.
Copyright All rights reserved by LindyLouMac Photo Collection

Please note this post originally appeared as Olive Harvest 2011 - Milling from Olive to Oil  on November 28th 2011.

News From Italy is currently in the running for an award from Expatblogs.com and as readers comments are considered in the final judging it would be greatly appreciated if you were able to consider leaving a comment.
With just a week to go before the final decisions are made your support would be very much appreciated.
Just click on this LINK  to be taken to the comments page.  Thankyou blogging friends and loyal readers.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Book Review - The Espresso Break by Barbara Zaragoza

Paperback:  299 pages
Genre:  Non-fiction, Travel Guide,
Publisher: Merchant's Press 2012
Source: From the author in return for an unbiased review.
First Sentences: Welcome to one of the oldest cities in the Western world - Naples, Italy. This insider's guide is a compilation of three years researching and travelling throughout the Campania region and a little beyond.
My opinion: Travel guide with a difference.

There is so much more within the pages of this travel guide to Naples than you would expect as it has a personal feel to it. I suspect that this is because much of the information contained within the pages, of unusual tours and hidden nooks of Naples appeared originally on the authors blog.  The author is an American Naval wife and freelance travel writer who during a three year posting to Naples explored the city and its environs writing about it on The Espresso Break which led to this book.

This guidebook is perfect for the armchair traveller, or to tuck in your bag on your trip to Naples whether you are a first time visitor or have been there many times before. I think you might find some hidden nooks that you did not know existed! I also agree with the author's own suggestion that this book makes an excellent introduction to the newly arrived ex-pat living in Naples as many of the articles will help one understand the cultural differences. Besides ideas for the tourist Barbara Zaragoza covers topics as diverse as food, shopping and the problems of rubbish and racism. It would also not have been complete without the section on Neapolitan espresso and its history, which gives the book its title. As well as the obvious sights, Vesuvius, Pompei and Herculaneum there are many other places covered. Which in my opinion means you cannot fail to find something of interest, with her tour ideas based on different themes, such as Ancient Rome, Grottoes or Odious Women. This guide will certainly be travelling with us on any future trips to Naples.

In conclusion an unusual travel guide for those of us that like to explore off the beaten track as well as the more obvious places. I personally feel that you learn a lot more about a place and its culture if you turn off the well beaten pathways and explore the nooks and crannies.

Author Profile

Barbara Zaragoza was raised in a small city outside of San Francisco. At eighteen she went to Washington D.C. where she studied International Relations at The American University while interning at Capitol Hill.  During that time, she also did a study abroad in Poland right when Communism was collapsing (1989-1990), which led her to go to Prague and work for the Institute of International Relations while Czechoslovakia was splitting. She then went on to do a graduate degree in Russian and East European Studies at Stanford University., followed by a Master’s degree at Harvard University with a focus on Polish contemporary history. During those same years, she fell in love and married a submariner with whom she has three daughters.  Her husband left submarines for a Navy medical career that has included two deployments (Afghanistan and GITMO). She has travelled to five continents and has studied somewhere around seven languages. In 2007 she moved to Naples, Italy for three years  in 2007. The family now live in San Diego, California, which they consider to be home.  
The biographical information and photo used in this post are with thanks to the following websites, where you can also find more information about the author and her writing.

I have posted this book review on LindyLouMac's Book Reviews but decided it should be shared here as well to reach a wider audience.
Do let me know, what you think of this idea? Last year there was interest in the reviews I posted for the   Italy in Books 2011 Reading Challenge

Monday, November 19, 2012

Mushrooms, Toadstools, Fungi, Funghi.

Mushrooms, Toadstools, Fungi, Funghi, whatever you know them as, many varieties are poisonous and in Italy it is advisable to take them to your local Health authority for identification before even considering eating them. In fact local authorities often run courses on identifying them, so surely it is better to be safe than sorry.

I read a newspaper article on line recently which had the following to say: 
'On October 22 an entire family (father, mother and daughter) died after eating poisonous mushrooms. In Italy there are between 600 and 1,300 cases every year of poisoning.

For this reason Health Minister Renato Balduzzi warned recently that to avoid unnecessary risks, people should always bring picked mushrooms to experts for examination before eating them'.

The full article can be read by following the link. 
 Poisonous mushrooms destroy liver and kill!

This is why we do not risk eating mushrooms from our garden!  Apart from these which we are 200% sure about but even then we will only consume if they are freshly picked.

According to Wikipedia  A mushroom is the fleshy, spore-bearing fruiting body of a fungus, typically produced above ground on soil or on its food source.

In the last few weeks there have been an abundance of many different varieties to be found in our garden, some are weird and wonderful, others extremely ugly, or even a little rude!  I will share the photos here with you but no names as I do not want to be presumptuous enough to consider that I might be able to identify them correctly! 

I hope you find them as fascinating as I did when I was photographing them. The photos should enlarge if you click on them individually, for a closer look!

 The next three photos are of the same fungus taken over a three day period, firstly day one emerging.

                         Three days later it was looking like this and appeared to be very attractive to flies!

                                     The same variety collapsed and decaying a few days later. 

                    Finally I want  to try and give you an idea of the size of some of these specimens.

      Please remember do not go foraging for mushrooms without sound advice, as many are killers!
All photos are my own taken in October and November 2012. 
 Copyright All rights reserved by LindyLouMac Photo Collection 
The full set of photos may also be viewed individually in my album entitled