Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Italy I know

My first language was Italian. My Mamma moved here to the United States with my father when they got married, and so the only language that was spoken at home was Italian.

Every few years or so, my family would pack up their bags and fly to a little town hidden on top of mountains in southern Italy.
The twists and turns, up and down the narrow roads meant we were getting closer.  

The road becomes more bumpy and then finally you could see the old church on the right... a slight turn and the main piazza was in view. 

The view. 

If only I could bottle up just how insanely beautiful it is. 

Right before everyone begins to wake up, the sun is already risen and shining, and all is quiet.

As soon as we arrive, I do the one thing I've done ever since I was a little girl. I run back to my Nonno and Nonna's living room, open the balcony doors and step out.

And I just stand there for a few moments. The smell of burnt wood and trees... I can almost hear the whispers of past times replaying in my mind. 

It never changes. It's almost as if time stands still in this little town.

That's why I love it so much. No matter how different or old I am, it sweeps you right back to how you last left it. 

Memorizing the roads from my mamma's parents home to my father's parents home became second nature over the years.

"Just walk past the little white house, past the giant bend in the road, past the vineyard until you reach a slight turn. Then just when you can the sun behind the mountain, go all the way down and you'll see Zio's pink house on the left. Keep going past so and so's house... and then you'll be right in front of Nonna and Nonno's house."

I can actually see that road in my mind right now.  

Along with my sister and cousin, I would go for long walks through the town, and we became accustomed to a distant Zio and Zia waving to us proclaiming we were the daughter of so and so from America

Sometimes we stop and our cheeks are pinched to say how much we've grown or how much we look like our mother and father. 

It's this Italy that is home to me.

Sometimes we would complain there wasn't much to do growing up in a small town, but as I've grown up I've realized what a blessing it is to know this Italy... one that not many get to see.

I suppose to anyone else, it would just be another little town.
But to me, the beauty of it all is how many stories are tied up in this little place. The people, my family that grew up here, the tales of past times... make it magical.

I can't wait to return and relive all of these memories again. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Asparagi e Riso

Proverbio Italiano of the day:

"Ancora Imparo."

I love this quote by Michelangelo which means, "I am still learning." I began this online journal as a way to grow and learn more and more about where I'm from, the foods, stories,... and ultimately more about myself.

We must always give ourselves enough grace to continue learning and growing in everything in life. Even in things that we don't know much about! That's the amazing thing about living. To learn new things and never stop. 

My Mamma and I were deciding what to cook the other night, and we looked at the ingredients we had around, asparagus, onions, etc... and thought why don't we make it with rice?

It came out so good, and it is such a simple recipe. You don't have to have that many ingredients and it cooks in under an hour. It makes as a great side dish to meat, fish, or even alone if you prefer. Buon Appetito!


1/2 onion (chopped up)
15-20 pieces asparagus
2-3 cups long or short grain rice (brown or white)
1 packet chicken/beef/vegetable broth (whichever you prefer)
black pepper
salt to taste
extra virgin olive oil

let's make it

1. In a large frying pan, sauteed chopped onions in olive oil.
2. Chop up asparagus in little pieces, and add them to the onions in the frying pan.
3. Add black pepper and salt to mixture.
4. Wash rice in a rice strainer. Add the cups of rice to the pan mixture. Cook on medium heat.
5. Take another small saucepan, bring to boil 1-2 cups of water. Add 1 packet of seasoning and mix well. 
6. As the asparagus and rice mixture is cooking, add scoops of broth to it, slowly.

7. Continue to stir and cook, adding all of the broth one scoop at a time. 

8. Place cover over frying pan, cook on low heat for 20-30 minutes or until rice is soft. Add more broth if rice is still not cooked well.

Monday, March 6, 2017

A day in Sorrento

Along the Southern coast of Italy among the many cities by the sea, you will find the enchanted town of Sorrento. To reach Sorrento from my family's hometown, it's about a one hour drive. I was incredibly excited when the day finally came to pack ourselves in my cousin's car and venture for this magical place. 

I had seen dozens of movies and dreamed over countless photographs of Sofia Loren walking around the streets of Sorrento, and so my mind was overly excited for all of the beauty I was about to encounter myself.

Along the road that lead us by the coast, my cousin pauses halfway and points to the car window, "Guarda che bello....siamo arrivati" Take a look!.... we're here.

I turn to see that image I had seen appear on photos, on TV, in magazines... the Italian coast in all it's glory, the mountains with the cobalt blue ocean below it.... right there before my eyes. I was completely astonished, it seemed like a dream. They didn't have to ask me twice to jump out of the car to take a closer look. 

The rest of the day, with a map in hand and camera in other, we walked our way through the town. We passed through the colorful streets with markets selling their famous limoni (bigger than both my hands!), handmade gladiator sandals, gelato, and typical seafood dishes. 

The streets are filled with various vendors of fruits, clothing, and restaurants urging you to come taste their pizza a legno

We walked and walked, with one place set in our minds to find: the sea port. 

When we finally saw the strip of ocean peeking from the roads, my two cousins and I squealed and ran towards it like we were children running to an ice cream truck. It was every term for beautiful you can think of. 

The colorful houses stuck together with the small boats in the port, and the countless people splashing in the water added to that la dolce vita feeling. 

After, we stopped along one of the restaurants by the ocean side and ate a delicious pizza and acqua frizzante. We then headed through the town again and stopped for souvenirs and a granita al limone.

One day simply wasn't enough to soak up all of the beauty this place had to offer. From the colorful houses that lined the cobblestone roads to the lemon trees and beautiful turquoise waters... it was beyond what my mind had imagined. 

If you plan on visiting Italy, make sure you stop along the coast to visit Sorrento... it's a definite must see.