Sardinia is the second largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, is part of Italy and has a unique culture that differs from most of Italy when it comes to Carnevale. During Carnevale, there are many other unique masks in the provinces in Sardinia some of which are the following:
In the province of Ulassai, the typical mask is called “Su Maimulu” which represents the personification of the bear and his guardians.
In the province of Ottana, which holds one of the most notorious and fascinating festivities of Carnevale, they celebrate is celebrated with 3 unique masks: “Sos Boes”, the oxen, “Sos Merdùles” which holds the oxens’ reins and lastly “Sa Filonzana” which is an enigmatic feminine figure.
In the province of Cuglieri, the typical Carnevale mask is called “Sos Cotzulados” which name derives from the shells of the island with which these masks cover the body over the skins of goats and other animals.
Another province of Sardinia that celebrates Carnevale with unique mask is Sestu. They celebrate Carnevale with “S’Orku Foresu” which is a zoomorphic mask with long horns and wrapped in black or brown leather.
Aside from these unique masks, the Carnevale celebration in Sardinia is accompanied by many foods such as: fava beans with lard and fritters, local wine are also part of the festivities. If we are there to celebrate Carnevale, why not also enjoy the typical dishes of Sardinia, which is highly characterized by the island life and its culture.
Since pasta is one of the main dishes through Italy, there is no surprise that one of the main Sardinian dishes is with the typical Sardinian pasta called Malloreddus, this pasta is similar to gnocchi but instead of being prepared with potatoes Malloreddus are made with wheat semolina traditionally flavored with saffron. Another typical first dish of the region of Sardinia is the Fregula with tomato sauce and clams, where Fregula is a Sardinian pasta made from scratch and worked into small grains.
Sardinias dishes are created to keep in mind their territory, so it varies from “piatti di mare e terra”, or dishes of sea and land. For the “piatti di terra” lamb and goat are mostly used due to the type of terrain of Sardinia that favors these livestock. For the “piatti di mare” the Mediterranean Sea offers an abundant variety of fish and shellfish that are incorporated in many Sardinian’s dishes. Sardinia is known for dishes such as Garum, which is an ancient salsa prepared with fish in vinegar and honey, the Bottarga which is a Mediterranean delicacy of cured fish roe, and the “Spaghittus cun arrizzonis” in the Sardinian dialect, which is a dish with spaghetti and sea urcin.
If visiting during Carnevale or year round, Sardinia will always offer an incredible place to enjoy the unique and traditional island that it is.
Carnevale in Italy
Carnevale, which occurs 40 days before Easter, is celebrated in Italy as a huge winter festival. Parades, masquerade balls, music, and parties are the main way Italians celebrate this day. It is custom to take dressed-up children to the Piazza, major town square, to play around and show their costumes off, coriandoli (small colorful pieces of paper) are thrown at each other. For the adults pranks are common, thus the saying A Carnevale Ogni Scherzo Vale, which translate to “anything goes at carnival.”
A deeper meaning to Carnevale comes from its Latin roots carnem levare, a farewell to meat as a penance while preparing for Easter. Nowadays some people follow this tradition by observing lent.
Venice is known for being the best city to celebrate Carnevale, usually starting few days earlier. The Venetian artisans make traditional masks and dresses that are the most colorful, elaborate, and fascinating. On the day of Carnevale, the parade hosted in Venice is second to none.
Viareggio, in the seaside of Tuscany, is also known for its parade, featuring huge paper mache floats. This parade starts in the afternoon and continues until dark. It also includes a firework show, making this parade a very unique one.
Dolci Tradizionali – Traditional Sweets
During the celebration of Carnevale, there are traditional sweets, which are prepared to enjoy during the parades and parties.
The ones that are offered at Marchese Italian Market are:
· Migliaccio: traditional Carnevale cake made mostly in southern Italy. Traditionally this confection was made with the flour of “miglio”, which was a very humble cereal, from which its name originated. Nowadays, Migliaccio is made with semolina flour and ricotta cheese, which creates a very moist and sweet cake.
· Chiacchiere (Chit Chats): one of the most traditional sweets during Carnevale throughout Italy. Chiacchiere are strips of sweet pastry dough fried and coated with powdered sugar.
· Frittelle di Carnevale (Fritters): fried dough crunchy on the outside, soft and filled with pastry cream on the inside.
A seasonal drink is also offered it s “Vin Brule”, in English it is known as Mulled Wine, and is a warm beverage made with wine, traditionally it is made with red wine, sugar and spices. Vin Brule is the perfect drink to warm up in the cold winter days and for a soar throat.
La Befana was an old woman who lived in a small village in Italy. She was known throughout the village for her wonderful baking and the cleanliness of her kitchen. She was often seen sweeping the area in front of her home. And many had heard her say that she was so busy baking and cleaning that she rarely had time to do anything else.
One winter day, while La Befana was sweeping in front of her home, three travelers stopped to ask her for a drink of water. They told La Befana that they were astrologers (they were often called the three wise men) who were following a star to the birth place of the Christ child. She kindly gave them water and then invited them to dinner.
After dinner the astrologers prepared to continue their journey and asked her if she would like to come with them to see the Christ child. La Befana shook her head saying that she could not possibly take the time needed for such a journey. She was secretly itching to get back to her cleaning and cooking. She stood at her door and watched them leave.
La Befana went back to her sweeping. But hours later she began to feel that she had made a mistake. Maybe she should have gone with the 3 astrologers to see the Christ child. La Befana decided to follow them.
She quickly grabbed a basket and filled it with baked goods of all kinds. She then put on her shawl and with her basket and broom hurried off into the night practically running to catch up with the wise men.
La Befana traveled through the night but never caught up with the wise men. It is said that she ran and ran until she and her broom were lifted up into the air!
Ever since that night, La Befana is believed to fly through the night or run over the roofs in Italy on Epiphany eve. She stops at the home of every child, leaving them treats in their stockings if they are good and a lump of coal if they are bad.
She hopes that one of the children she visits will be the christ child.
Copyright LLL, Storyteller/Storysinger
The name Befana is said to be a mispronunciation of the Italian word epifania which stands for epiphany. La Befana still visits the children of Italy on the eve of January 6, Epiphany. She fills their stockings with candy or a lump of coal. It is also believed that she sweeps the floor before she leaves. Many households leave her a small glass of wine and a small plate of goodies.
Although you'll find Christmas celebrations all over Italy, With decoration starting on December 8th, we listed some of the most unusual or most popular Christmas celebrations, events, and decorations. Naples
is one of the best cities to visit for Nativity cribs. Naples and southern Italy have other Christmas traditions, including the Christmas Eve dinner of the seven fish dishes, although it doesn't really have to be seven fishes and not everyone serves it. Bagpipe and flute players, zampognari and pifferai, are a part of Christmas celebrations in Rome, Naples, and southern Italy. They often wear traditional colorful costumes with sheepskin vests, long white stockings, and dark cloaks. Many of them travel from the mountains of the Abruzzo region to play outside churches and in popular city squares. Rome is another top city to visit during the Christmas season. There's a large Christmas market, nativity displays, and several huge Christmas trees. Here's what to see in Rome during Christmas season. Saint Peter's Square in Vatican City hosts the popular midnight mass given by the Pope inside Saint Peter's Basilica. Those in the square see it on big screen TV. At noon on Christmas day the Pope gives his Christmas message from the window of his apartment overlooking the square. A large tree and nativity scene are erected in the square before Christmas. Torino, in northern Italy's Piemonte region is one of the best places for lights. Over 20 kilometers of streets and squares are illuminated by some of the best illumination artists in Europe from late November through early January. Verona, the city of Romeo and Juliet, is decorated with hundreds of lights. An illuminated arch with a huge star points to the Christmas market and in the Roman Arena is a display of nativity scenes. More about Verona Near the top of Monte Ingino, above Gubbio in central Italy's Umbria region, shines a huge Christmas tree, 650 meters tall and made up of more than 700 lights. In 1991 the Guinness Book of Records named it "The World's Tallest Christmas Tree." The tree is topped by a star that can be seen for nearly 50 kilometers. Tree lights are turned on every year on 7 December, the evening before the feast of the Immaculate Conception. Città di Castello, in Umbria, celebrates Christmas Eve in on the Tiber River. Towards evening, a group of canoeists, each dressed as Father Christmas, with their canoes illuminated by lights, make their way along the river to the bridge at Porta San Florido where a crib is suspended over the water. When they get out of their canoes, they give small presents to the children gathered there. Lago Trasimeno, also in Umbria, celebrates with Soul Christmas, Umbria Gospel Festival, December 8 - January 6.
Manarola in Cinque Terre has a unique ecological nativity powered by solar energy. More information In Abbadia di San Salvatore, near Montalcino, the Fiaccole di Natale or Festival of Christmas Torches (Christmas Eve) is celebrated. Carols and torchlight processions in memory of the shepherds from the first Christmas Eve. Cortina d'Ampezzo in the Alps celebrates with a skiers torchlight parade - At midnight on Christmas Eve hundreds of people ski down an Alpine peak carrying torches.
With the Grand Opening of Marchese Italian Market one year ago, we remember the things that make us who we are today. We first thank our customers that helped and supported us throughout the year, second to our staff that have contributed and continue to set the standard and to our supporting crew in Italy that continuously shop around for the latest products.
If you haven’t met our staff, we would love to introduce them and give them credit for all their hard work. Our weekday staff members are one of kind. Weekday mornings you would run into Amber, a Virginia native but don’t let her blonde hair and southern accent fool you, she can make a Panini and espresso like an Italian. And then we have Hillary, our new general manager. A native Italian and ODU alumni, her love for Italian culture and food brings new life to our small market. Many of our Saturday faithful know our Barista John Paul or as we know him JP for the great cappuccino, but he also makes the creative cakes, selective pastries and the wonderful platting of our dishes. It is a true art seeing him work, if you haven experience JP on the weekend, you have been missing a true artist. Our other weekend member is me, Henry. Although I do not work behind the counter much, my main job is our Facebook page, financial reports, importing, and this blog. I’m confident in our staff to continue to make this year as great as our first. Lastly our co-founder, Annamaria, the heart and soul of Marchese Italian Market.
Despite economic hardships, Marchese Italian Market has been able to expand and bring new products and services such as our new Spuntini menu. With a New Year starting expect to see more products, lower prices, and our new line of Italian wines. It is exciting to start the new venture here in Virginia Beach, a home that has grown to be very special to us. So in looking towards the future, we hope that you continue to join us on our blog, recipe page, and at our market!
All Saints Day is celebrated November 1 and is a national holiday in Italy. On All Souls Day, November 2, Italians bring flowers to cemeteries to honor deceased relatives. During November you'll find some music and cultural festivals and performing arts seasons are starting.
Truffles are the star of November Festivals in Italy. Many truffle fairs are held in northern and central Italy. You'll also find chestnut festivals in many towns and villages during November. Restaurants will often have special meals highlighting truffles, chestnuts, or wild mushrooms especially on Sundays. Fall is a great time for eating in Italy.
Here some Truffle Festivals Around Italy:
Piemonte Region: Alba White Truffle Festival ends the first weekend of November. The Alba White Truffle Festival in the Piedmont town of Alba is one of the biggest truffle festivals in Italy.
Tuscany: San Miniato Truffle Fair - La Sagra del Tartufo Bianco, a truffle fair, is held in the medieval hill town of San Miniato in the Pisa Province of Tuscany on the second, third and fourth weekends in November. 25% of Italy's white truffles are produced in this territory and November is the heart of truffle gathering season. There will be food and craft stands and entertainment and restaurants will feature truffle menus. If you haven't had truffles, this is a great place to get an introduction.
Fall Italian Truffle Fairs - More truffle festivals in Piedmont, Tuscany, Umbria, Le Marche, and Emilia Romagna regions of Italy.
Music and Performing Arts
Romaeuropa Festival is Rome's big festival of theater, music, and dance held in venues throughout Rome from late September through early December.
Opera Season starts in many of Italy's Top Opera Houses.
More November Festivals
Verona: The International Horse Show, the second weekend of November, draws participants come from all over the world. There is a parade with decorated horses and period costumes through the city on opening day.
Venice: Festival della Salute is held November 21. The festival, held at Madonna della Salute Church, commemorates Venice's deliverance from the plague in 1621. A temporary bridge is erected across the canal and thousands of pilgrims cross to the church.
While Halloween is only starting to catch on more recently in Italy as a day for costume parties, November 1st has long been a standing holiday on the Italian calendar – it’s All Saints Day (in Italian it’s Ognissanti or Tutti i Santi). This is a day when families honor their dead relatives, often visiting cemeteries to leave flowers and clean up graves. There are also sometimes more public celebrations in town centers. All Saints Day is a national holiday in Italy, so don’t be surprised if more than a few shops and attractions are closed for the day.
There are also more food festivals in November, some of them continuing on from October – like the many truffle festivals in northern and central Italy. November is typically when the vendors who sell roasted chestnuts are out in force in many Italian towns, and some places even have chestnut festivals.
If it wasn’t already raining and cold by the end of October in Italy, expect both of those things in abundance in November. In some areas you’ll still get lucky with relatively warm days, but most of the country is headed straight for winter weather.
Since the temperatures pretty much always go up as you head south in Italy, your best bet for finding the last warmth of autumn is to head south as well. Even if you do concentrate your trip in southern Italy, it’s not a bad idea to carry a small umbrella around anyway – and if you’re in the north, an umbrella (not to mention a warm coat) is basically a necessity.
Temperatures in November vary depending on where you are in Italy, but as a general rule of thumb these are the ranges:
Northern Italy: 35-50°F (2-10°C)
Central Italy: 45-60°F (7-16°C)
Southern Italy: 55-65°F (13-18°C)
If you are looking for a unique Italian experience, check out Yltour http://www.yltourcongressi.com
As a rule, breakfast in Italy is sweet. Cake is a traditional breakfast food, and so are cookies. The first Italian meal is breakfast, or colazione. Whereas the French will indulge in omelet or crepes and fresh fruit along with croissant and jam, and Germans will add ham to their toasts, in Italy there is generally no tradition of savory foods on the breakfast table. The typical Italian breakfast is made of a hot beverage like cappuccino or caffe’ (espresso), with something sweet to eat such as cake, cookies, pastries, brioche, croissants (cornetti), or toast and jam. Fette biscottate (a cookie-like hard bread often eaten with butter and jam) and biscotti (cookies) are commonly eaten.
When at home, cafe-latte and coffee made with the moka are the more common choices for drinks, and usually small breakfast cookies (such as Mulino Bianco or Doria) provide that extra morning boost. Children generally drink hot chocolate, plain milk, or sometimes warmed milk with very little coffee. Cereals are available on the shelves in the grocery store, but mostly eaten as an afternoon snack. Italians often consume their breakfast out. The thousands of bars you will walk by all over Italy serve cappuccino, espresso, cornetti, paste (brioches, or bomboloni), and more for a breakfast you can conveniently consume while standing at the counter!
The fig tree (Ficus carica) is the result of a majestic plant, native to the Mediterranean area.
It is believed that the fig tree is native of 'Asia, but according to other sources, however, its origin is placed in the Middle East. In any case, surely its origin is very old.
In the Bible, for example, is cited as the first "dress" of the story: Adam and Eve "dressed" in fact, of fig leaves. In the Old Testament, the fig is mentioned as a symbol of abundance.
In India, the banyan tree is considered sacred, and the plant is called Ficus Religious.
In Greece the fig tree was involved in many myths, especially of an erotic nature, they also saw it as a sacred tree, and attributed to the god Dionysus, the birth of this tree.
It is said that Polyphemus used the juice produced from the fig to coagulate the milk and produce cheese in his cave. Aristotle documented fact, in one of his writings, both techniques clotting milk : the coagulation of animal origin and the one with fig juice .
Plato was a great lover of figs, and for this reason he was given the name of "eater of figs." Also recommended to eat this fruit because according to him, helped to strengthen the intelligence.
For the Romans, the fig tree, was a sacred plant as the vine and the olive tree: it is said that during the New Year holidays, as a wish for a happy and prosperous year, they used to give to family and friends, honey and fig fruits. Pliny claimed that eating figs "makes us stronger young people, helps the health of the elderly, and reduces wrinkles."
Also the Phoenicians and Etruscans, are among the oldest populations feeding on figs.
Roses of figs
If you have fresh figs, take them, rinse and dry it with a soft cloth and gently wipe the outside.
Cut into 4 equal parts but without dividing the base (as in the photograph), then open them gently like a flower has four petals and formed with each slice of prosciutto ham a rose, which will place the center of each fig.
Do you know there is no Halloween celebration in Italy?
Highlights of fall are All Saints Day, music festivals, and food festivals including truffles, chestnuts, mushrooms, grapes (and wine), chocolate, and even torrone. Opera and theater season starts many places in fall, too. National holidays during fall are All Saints Day on November 1 and Feast Day of the Immaculate Conception on December 8. On these days, many services will be closed. Around December 8, Italy starts decorating for Christmas and there will be small Christmas markets and many towns set up a nativity scene in a piazza or church.
The vendemmia is the fall grape harvest, an exciting time to be in the wine regions of Italy. While it's hard to predict the exact dates the grape harvest will start since it depends on the grapes reaching their peak of ripeness and that can vary by vineyard, is usually late September and early October. Vino Novello translated means "New Wine" and, according to Italian law, producers can release the wine no earlier than November 6th on the year of harvest. In reality the wine is actually bottled a few weeks after harvest. In the past, farmers used to take wine from the barrels at the end of October simply to check the maturation of the wine. However, in 1999 this young wine was authorized by law to enter the market and wine festivals taking place during November are the perfect place to welcome its arrival. This young wine can be compared to the French "Beaujolais Nouveau", which is also released soon after harvest.
It is not simply the fact that the wine is released early that makes it unique; the actual processing technique differs considerably from that of most wines. The processing procedures require manual harvesting. The grapes are then placed, whole, inside stainless steel tanks where they undergo carbonic maceration (oxygen is eliminated from the tanks and replaced by carbon dioxide and the grapes remain sealed in the tank at a controlled temperature for a period varying from about 8 to 10 days), and the juices undergo fermentation without the assistance of adding yeast. The grape is alive and, because of the actions of natural yeasts and a lack of air, begins to transform all the elements of which it is composed, sugars, acids and mineral salts.
The grapes are then pressed; creating a partially sweet juice that will finish fermenting in another tank. This intercellular fermentation occurring within the berry-results in the formation of a significant quantity of primary odors that constitutes the principal characteristic of vino novello. It is a procedure that is well calibrated to obtain the finest and most intense aromas of the grape. This process goes toward creating a wine that is described as "light, lively and fruity", with it being relatively low in tannins. Consequently, it is not a wine to be aged, as it should be appreciated for the youthful qualities that it possesses.
Roasted chestnuts in the oven
Preheat your oven to 425 F (210 C). Take your chestnuts and make a cut across the round side of each to keep them from exploding, and arrange them either on a rack or on a cookie sheet. I also like to rinse mine in water and live them wet.
Roast them until the skins have pulled back from the cuts and the nutmeats have softened (exactly how long will depend upon the chestnuts, but at least 15-20 minutes). Remove the nuts from the oven, make a mound of them in an old towel, wrap them up, squeeze them hard -- they should crackle -- and let them sit for a few minutes.
Open a bottle of vino Novello (or Beaujolais Nouveau), open the towel, pour yourself a glass, peel the skin off the first chestnut, and enjoy.