Life in Small Town Italy

Moving to or even visiting Italian villages is a unique and sometimes perplexing experience. Expect people to stare (and I mean really stare) as you walk down the street, without letting it give you a complex. No, you are not funny looking or strange. They just don’t see many outsiders, and curiosity is one thing Italians do not lack!

“But they’re whispering about me!” That’s normal. They want to know who you are. And actually, if they’re limiting it to polite whispers you’re probably in a medium-sized town. In smaller towns they loudly query, with a total disregard of discretion, “Who are they? What do they want here?”  Continue reading

Italian Worm Cheese [Video]

We have a saying in Italian. Non c’è niente di nuovo sotto il sole. (There is nothing new under the sun.) And yes, I know it’s from the Bible. But I also know that King Solomon, who wrote that, didn’t live in a foreign land. Otherwise, I wonder if he might not have changed it to: “There is something new under the sun. Every day, and in countless ways!”

We were in the deep south, at my father-in-law’s home. [Read: Italy’s Deep South →] A dear man, but eccentric, and prone to grumpiness. Having lived alone many years, he had the tendency to mutter under his breath a lot. Mario says he was mostly cursing. He didn’t like the priests or the saints, and seemed to blame them for most of his ills.  Continue reading

Modena’s Balsamic Vinegar [Video]

The Modena province in Emilia Romagna, where we lived many years is known as the Home of Balsamic Vinegar. And because it’s one of the places we most love returning to, it’s where we spent our Easter holiday this year. Full of tradition, great food, fine autos, and friendly people, it’s a great place to visit!

Traditional balsamic vinegar, as expensive as it is tasty, is also known for its curative properties: abundant in potassium and calcium, and with antioxidant properties. And is also thought to lower blood pressure, stabilize cholesterol levels, and keep blood glucose levels steady.  Continue reading

Italian Easter Traditions

“Toc, toc, toc.” Wiping my hands on my apron, I went to the door wondering who would visit so close to lunch. “Buon giorno,” I greeted the unexpected visitor hesitantly. “Can I help you?” not really knowing what to say or do. I’d never been visited by a priest before! “Well, I’m here for the house blessing,” he informed me. “The blessing?” I asked stupidly. (Surely looking as dumb as I felt.) It was my first Italian Easter, and I had no notion of the Easter house blessing.

“But, my house is already blessed!” I informed him.  “Already blessed?” he marveled. “Why yes, I’m God’s child and his blessing is always on my house!” Silence, as we stared at one another dumbfounded. Then, “Um, you’re not Catholic, are you?”  Continue reading

Italy’s Cilento National Park

My husband’s hometown, in the middle of a national park, is one of Italy’s most interesting places. Interesting because it’s rarely ever visited. Interesting because it’s a striking area of lonely, rugged mountains, extending into the Tyrrhenian Sea, and forming the southern end of the Gulf of Salerno.

And also because the Cilento National Park (in the Salerno province) is a park of hill towns. Most of which are small, averaging about 3000 inhabitants, though my husband’s village is much smaller.  Continue reading

The Italian Tooth Mouse

I like odd holidays, like today’s Tooth Fairy Day! Although here in Italy, we’d have to call it Tooth Topolino Day, in honor of Italy’s very own tooth mouse!

No one seems to know the origin of this holiday or even why it started. But I think probably it all began in Spain, with Pérez Mouse, who worked for the king. Back when the king sold all his baby teeth to Pérez.  Continue reading