Wednesday, December 26, 2012
Saturday, December 15, 2012
From this summer's batch of plants that thrived on my very hot southern-exposure terrace, I harvested the little red peppers and made crema di peperoncino.
It will keep me warm as the winter progresses. Just a dab of this stuff and your mouth is aflame! Red pepper, garlic and salt smeared on bread. Simple. Effective. Great.
Just how much piccante can you stand?
As for me - a lot.
Bring it on!
Sunday, November 11, 2012
What even Italians can muster this exclamation when shooting a photograph of friends. They learned that somewhere along the line in their English lessons and/or movie listening.
But here we want to salivate in front of this marvelous cheese window in the Salone market area in Palazzo della Ragione in the center of Padua. Just look at those great big hunks of formaggio. I can assure you that they taste even better than they look. When I buy from this shop, cheese becomes an experience. What you find in the supermarket just isn't the same.
Thursday, November 8, 2012
In the few days leading up to the big US vote, I had to do my usual explanation about the electoral college vote. Honestly, I never understood the system myself until I started living abroad and had to explain it to others. Funny how that goes.
There are several voting differences between USA and Italy:
1) In Italy, they can vote for a party, but cannot directly vote for the specific candidate representing that party.
2) They only recently introduced the "primaries" and it is currently being performed by just one party: Partito Democratico. And anybody can vote for in that primary election - including people who would be "registered" as voters of a different party, if that were required in voting registration (which it is not).
3) There is no absentee ballot if you live in Italy. If you are registered in Calabria but working in Milan, too bad. You need to get your butt down to Calabria if you want to vote.
4) Referendums are performed as separate votes on different days from general elections. It can cause a hassle to get to your home town to vote, since you do not have an absentee option. It is also a considerable expense to organize the voting centers so every time they are opened, for elections or referendums, it comes at extra cost to the nation.
5) You vote here on Sunday and Monday
6) The vote is a popular vote.
Tuesday, October 30, 2012
I'd like to introduce you to my little-but-powerful artist's book called Gondola Ride Kit: Instructions for a Heightened Experience. It's an ironic guide for living one of Venice's quintessential experiences: the gondola ride. There's a map, instructions and a trouble shooting guide at the end as I take you through the lagoon city in a whole new way. To start, I recommend the experience during the winter months of November to February, not your typical touristic season in the lagoon city.
Some the sections are dedicated to the five senses. You must concentrate on each one as you ride along in the gondola.
For those who have read Dante Alighieri's Inferno, there is Experience B with references to Virgil and Minos, among others.
It's a guide. It's a book. It's art.
Enjoy this fabulous and unique read! Get your own copy. Buy one for a friend for Christmas! It will make for an amazing gift for anyone leaving for Venice this winter. It can also be considered a special memento or just lets you dream about Venice with a new point-of-view. Not to mention that this little book is part of major public collections like Tate Gallery. You'll have a piece of art that is the "stuff" of museums.
This is the first time I have directly written about a piece of my art on this blog. I feel it is the right time and very relevant to your interests in Italy and my neighboring city of Venice, where I used to live. This artist's book is on sale for a great small price via Internet now. For more information, please go to my ETSY shop: http://www.etsy.com/shop/irenewoodburyworks
Thank you for supporting me as an artist and spreading the word about Gondola Ride Kit.
Let me know what you think once you've gone for your own ride with manual in-hand.
Friday, October 19, 2012
The people in Agordo, a town near Belluno, decided to approach the current idea of imagery on their scaffolding cover in the most artigianale of ways. Instead of using a sponsor's image to print over the entire surface of the facade area being restored, as is often done in big cities like Venice these days, or printing a photographic replica of what the facade normally looks like to place on the covering, someone got some paint and brushes and did their painterly and naif version of the original facade. I find this completely adorable. You can find this scaffolding painting across from the church in the center of town.
For some images of what the photo slick versions usually look like:
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Such a terrific solution to this gardener's dilemma: how to grow squash in a relatively small space. Just use your fence to let the vine grow vertically. And when the squash gets big and heavy, seat it on its own custom-made wooden shelf attached to the fence and hovering over the sidewalk. In no time, you'll have some great chow for some autumn risotto di zucca.
I am very proud of my neighbor's ingenuity.
For a recipe for Pumpkin risotto, click here.
Thursday, September 13, 2012
I didn't want to open the package until absolutely necessary because everything was so "safe" inside the denim wrap, tape and cardboard. So the package sat in its "clothes" for months. I only opened it 3 weeks ago to get to a drawing I wanted to hang on a wall - finally.
Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of my mother's masterpiece of practical creativity and sewing diligence which was that package before I cut it up. (I was in a rush that day.) Here are the outer remnants that still remain:
Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Well, it's being replaced by a more modern variety of stamping machine which is neither yellow nor boxy anymore. Here's introducing Trenitalia's new slick machine.
Thursday, September 6, 2012
In the heart of Padua, Louis Vuitton has brought the art of the famous Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama. Her world consists of obsessive dots.
What I like about this window display is that there isn't a single bag or Vuitton product in the composition. Just Yayoi.
The company is trying to bring this art to a new public that might not otherwise see it. For more about this mission, watch this video.
Wednesday, August 8, 2012
While the Olympic games are being played, it has made me think. Many people are receiving medals for their great efforts. All I have to show after a year of "work" and diligence is the possibility to get back to my former activity, although that's a lot more than some people can do. Not everyone literally climbs mountains. And some never get back what they lost.
I knew I would get back into my alpine activities but it amazed me that I really had to wait about a full year for that to happen, like the doctor told me from the onset. You always think it's going to faster for you: the young, active person. I also needed to keep up my physical therapy with a regular schedule of work, a house to care for and other activities of everday life. Finding time for everything wasn't always easy.
It took me longer to get my tendon in order than my friends to give birth to babies, which they are in the process of doing now but got pregnant months after my surgery. It's ironic because most of us consider the waiting period during pregnancy to be long. My achilles tendon recovery was longer.
This is not the first time I have had surgery and had to go through therapy. It's actually the third over the last 15 years. I am probably a bit frustrated that I have had so much of surgery and injuries and recovery. Yet I know there are other people who have been through more. But that's in my head. My gut doesn't always care about those cases. Maybe that's why getting over this operation is such a big deal for me.
I have to admit that my tendon still isn't perfect. It still feels raw when I push it. I am still doing physical therapy to help it along. I think I'll need to do that until I can truly lift up my body onto the tips of my left toes, a movement that I only do partially at the moment. August 4th was a year after surgery but I think I need another 3 months to get everything back in shape.
And then one day, I won't have to think about it anymore. The tendon will just perform exactly as it should.
Sunday, August 5, 2012
It was August 4, 2011 that I rolled into surgery on a hospital bed. Yesterday I trekked up the Sorapìs in Cadore, Dolomites, as a reminder of how far I have come. I walked up about 1400 meters and my tendon rallied with me. This was my longest single rise this year, even longer than the day-journey in the high Alps recently.
Friday, July 20, 2012
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
What I really want to talk about is the City option. Fiat had the great idea to create a feature that makes moving the steering wheel a breeze. It's called City because it makes urban driving so much easier. Parallel parking is simple and the wheel feels "light" as I move into my space. Basically with just a couple of fingers on the wheel, I can steer the car in whatever direction I like. Fantastico!
So what do you love about your car? Any interesting features?
Stay cool in this heat and try to avoid driving at high noon. It's a challenge to enjoy being in a metal box under a burning sun at that hour.
Photo source: QUATTRORUOTE
Sunday, June 3, 2012
The earth continues to shift and shake in this part of Italy. We felt 3 big ones on Tuesday: 9.03 a.m. 5.9 on the Richter scale and 12:36 p.m. (5.3) and 12:57 p.m. (5.1). I was in an office on ground floor and things started moving, but it could have been worse. People are still scared. The experts expect more to come, we just don't know how many and how strong they will be.
On Thursday, an elementary school had a piece of ceiling fall while school was in session. It did not happen during an actual earthquake. No children were hurt.
This event happened just a couple of days after an expert had cleared all the schools in the area, stating that they were safe. Needless to say, the mayor was horrified and now classes have been cancelled for that school as well as all of the others in the comune.
In Padua, a piece of ceiling affresco fell in Basilica Sant'Antonio during one of the earthquakes.
Yet the real disaster area is about 100 km from here. If you want to help in the disaster relief for the areas most hit by these recent earthquakes, specifically in Emilia Romagna, you can make participate by:
send an SMS to the number 45500 to make a donation of Euro 2
- or -
make a bank deposit to a bank such as:
Seguici su Facebook:http://www.facebook.com/pages/ForliToday/153595958049491 buy from Ferrari's online benefit auction where they are selling cars, such as the 599 XX Evo valued at Euro 1.3 million and other accessories like helmets worn by racers such as Federico Alonso and Felipe Massa, etc.
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
But then we discovered what had happened in Italy while we were away: a bombing at a high school in Brindisi which killed one and injured many and a major earthquake nearby Padua! The day we got back a funeral was underway for Melissa Bassi, the bombing victim. Meanwhile in Northern Italy, over 4000 found themselves homeless. For some images and information on the BBC about the quake's effects, click here.
The epicenter of this earthquake was San Felice sul Panaro, about 100 km from Padua, and registered 5.9 on the Richter scale.
My area was shocked to feel such a strong tremor because it generally feels "safe" from this kind of natural disaster. Italy has over 40% of its population living in what scientists consider an emergency danger level for earthquakes.
It got me thinking about the other earthquake I didn't feel but was deeply involved in: San Francisco in 1989. That one measured at 6.9 on the Richter sale and risked killing or injuring both my parents who were on vacation there. I was a young teenager home alone for the first time and briefly contemplated being an orphan after the news hit. Since I couldn't contact them because the phone lines were either too busy or down and cell phones hadn't existed for the public yet, I just had to wait and see if and when my parents would contact me to say they were OK or just plain come back home.
Maybe the strangest news coming out of Italy's most recent earthquake disaster is the fact that 250K rounds of Grana Padana and Parmigiano Reggiano were "disformed" or destroyed. Could be funny if you don't think about the massive financial loss for the factory and producers because of those "cuts" in the cheese.
I deeply and sincerely feel sorry for the people in that area. It has lost castles, towers, cultural treasures of all kinds, thousands of homes and destroyed farmland. Some died. Even in modern factories as they worked the night shift.
Le mie condoglianze
Monday, April 30, 2012
Yesterday F and I took a short trail up Monte Ceva, starting from the church of Turri (Montegrotto). It was great work for my healing tendon. It made the dog happy to spend time in the outdoors. We discovered new plants that grow in these parts. The view was better than expected from the top. On a clear day, you can see to the Adriatic Sea and enjoy plenty of the Paduan plains. The only problem was how amazingly humid and hazy it was considering that we are still in April!
Monday, April 23, 2012
Friday, April 13, 2012
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Thursday, February 16, 2012
Sunday, January 29, 2012
Padua is showing the signs of carnival. First it was the fritelle in the pasticceria. Then crostoni at the supermarket. Now some of the windows are decorated in the theme of carnevale. I already have seen confetti being sold at the tabaccaio and decorating the city center's pavement. Do you have your costume ready?
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Thursday, January 5, 2012
This year even more displays have dotted the historic street. But then the thieves (or rather pranksters?) struck. Two days ago, one family discovered they were missing a sheep. Another house found a random donkey on their stoop that no one knows who is the rightful owner. Yesterday a nativity was reversed and all the figurines disappeared. The nativity with the missing sheep, which then had a sign asking for some collaboration in the return on the sheep, saw a cow go missing, too. Kids are roaming the street looking for their missing ceramic and straw animals. Families are now putting their nativities somewhere safe inside the four walls of their houses.
It's sad to see what started as a spontaneous event of fun participation become threatened what is probably a few teenagers that are being stupid and trying to just peeve a few families. But now I believe that this street will not display so many manger scenes in future years. They will be afraid of possible theives. I hope I will be proved wrong.
It's ironic. All this after 3 years of virtually nothing.
I read other bloggers with long strings of comments after almost every post: 13, 25, 38. I am lucky if I get 1. (Thank you, my actual historic commenters!)
I know I haven't been doing the blogger-type to the best of my abilities by commenting on lots of other blogs to get new interest on my site or being listed in a million other blogs with links. settled for just a dozen. Honestly, I don't have time because I work full time in a different field other than Italian culture and tourism, perhaps a natural link to this blog's theme.
I also seem to have a different mission and tone to my blog posts. I am not always hailing the glory of the bel paese. I am not using this blog to prove to future publishers that I can write. I am not advertising another profit business, such as a B&B, or promoting a book I just published about Italy.
My blog must age to be appreciated, like wine and my favorite cheese, I guess.
I must admit that I do like getting more intelligent solicitations like the recent ones.
By the way,
Happy New Year!