insights on art, culture, lifestyle, spirituality, travel, music, society and much much more from a jet-setter currently on "furlough"…

Archive for the category “italy”

Roma Termini Christmas Tree

Passing through the Roma Termini Train Station during the Christmas season? One cannot simply walk through the station without noticing the huge, 7 meter tall Christmas tree. This Christmas tree stands in the center of the entrance hall and towers over the hustle and bustle of travelers running to catch trains, buses and the metro. Strings of colorful lights and ornaments dawn this tall, pyramid shaped tree and since 2005, have held the secrets, wishes, prayers and desires of many people.

Locals and tourists alike fill the bottom of this tree using scraps of paper, the back of train ticket stubs and other random surfaces. Messages range from letters to Babbo Natale, the Italian version of Santa Claus to proclamations of the real meaning of Christmas and prayers to bring loved ones home for the holidays. Instead of Roma Termini simply a transit site, this tree has become a unique haven for passengers to share. Perhaps PostSecret needs to make another book with notes from this infamous tree?


Panettone: a MUST-HAVE

It would not be Christmas in Italy (or Christmas at all, in my opinion!) without including panettone, the official Italian Christmas cake consisting of a yeasted brioche bread, raisins and candied fruit. This special cake, eaten during the season of Advent, originated from Milan in the north of Italy. These days, if you live in a major metropolis outside of Italy with a large Italian population, it is easy to get panettone at your local Italian grocery store, gourmet food store or bakery. Many American supermarkets, such as Trader Joe’s (aka. Trader Giotto’s) and Whole Foods, also carry their own version of panettone, usually made following an “authentic Italian recipe”. In Italy, it is common to bring panettone to various holiday celebrations to be eaten as a dessert, or given to a friend/loved one as a gift.

These days, one can purchase panettone in many different flavors and varieties. Some of my favorite brands of panettone include Bauli, Albertengo, Loison and Perugina. If the traditional raisin meets candied fruit variety of panettone doesn’t strike your fancy, feel free to indulge on other flavors, such as chocolate chips, chocolate hazelnut, limoncello creme, pistachio creme… even moscato and prosecco! Eat it for breakfast, as a snack or for dessert… it is delightful with tea, coffee or vino!

One year, my friend from Milan sent me a homemade panettone for Christmas, made by the company Loison. We ate that with mascarpone and really, it was the taste of heaven. See how beautiful it is, all wrapped up? It’s the best Christmas gift ever.

Simply put, unlike the North American fruitcake (hard to eat and often re-gifted), panettone is a delicious Italian dessert that you’d want to eat over and over again! Buon Appetito e Buon Natale!

Natale con i tuoi…


The Italians have a famous saying: “Natale con i tuoi, Pasqua con chi vuoi…” (Christmas with your family, Easter with whomever you want) This was a phrase I heard countless number of times during my Christmas vacation to Italy last year.

What do you think about this phrase? I hope to get responses from native Italians, Italo-philes and non-Italians as well. Do you agree or disagree, and why? I will reveal my thoughts in a later post…

Umbria Jazz & More Sparkly Lights in Orvieto


If you are in the charming, medieval city of Orvieto, Italy for the holidays, be sure to check out the annual Umbria Jazz Winter festival. The dates of the 2011 festival run from 28 December 2011 to New Years’ Day 1 January 2012. This festival features the best in Italian and international jazz, from a variety of genres/musical traditions. It is a great way to take in a concert inside Orvieto’s spectacular Gothic-Romanesque duomo (cathedral) and spend the last few days of each year in the the green heart of Italy: the region of Umbria. Many of the concerts are free and worth listening to. For those who want to enjoy the town’s vibrant social life and mouth-watering cuisine, feel free to indulge in the many Umbria Jazz sponsored events, such as Jazz lunch and dinner specials in many of the local trattorias, happy hours and the famous Umbria Jazz wine and gourmet sessions.

While you are at it, don’t forget to take some time just to walk around the city and take in the dazzling Christmas lights and many nativity scenes (presepe) that randomly pop up around town during this joyous time of year. Orvieto is certainly the place to be for a more rustic and peaceful Italian holiday celebration.


Holiday Reflections Commence…

Welcome to the last month of 2011! It’s amazing how much time has passed since my last urge to writeand how much time has passed… period! Now that the holidays are upon us again, I have decided to reflect on the last Christmas break, which I spent in Rome and Orvieto, Italy. I am grateful to have spent that time in Italy last year, and experiencing a whole new way of celebrating the “most wonderful time of the year”. As the year draws to a close, I have decided to slow down and reflect on my time in Italy last year. To be honest, I’ve been running around like a headless chicken, working 2 jobs and getting my photography business well established this year that I’ve barely have time to think. This month, I plan on doing just that. It’s never too late, right?

Certain months of the year that were previously spent in {Italia} always makes me nostalgic for the Motherland, a place that still fuses my passion for life even after 7 years. I can now add December to the list, after spending my first (of many) Christmases in Italia last year. At times, memories come back to me: the sights, sounds and smells of Christmas in the Old World. I spend a lot of time teaching elementary and middle school kids how to write, yet rarely get to do so myself. In addition, I have also never written a series of travel journal entries, let alone shared these preciously guarded thoughts with the world.

In honor of the 12 Days of Christmas, I am giving myself a goal to write (12) Natale in Italia 2010 entries between now and the end of the year. If time wasn’t an issue, I’d blog every day. To keep things to the point, I’ll simply share my favorites.

So… here I go, diving into the unknown, ready to wet my feet and write again. I hope to brush up my rusty writing skills and share some of my favorite memories, stories and lessons of Natale in Italia 2010 with you all. Think of it as a memoir, a guidebook, musings on lessons learned and even a road map for life. I hope you will join me on this holiday adventure and welcome comments and suggestions for this revived blog! Buone Feste!!

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