Posted by: passagetoitaly | April 1, 2010

PassagetoItaly Has Moved!

PassagetoItaly has moved! Please

continue to read at:

Posted by: passagetoitaly | March 31, 2010

What’s Cooking Wednesday: Spinach with Lemon

As a child, I absolutely hated spinach. I can even recall the actual day that I first tried it. My sister had made a pretty large bowl of it, and was sitting on the coach eating it. Now that I think about it, it was kind of odd that she was even eating it. I don’t remember how it was seasoned, or how she had made it. Upon trying it, my face showed signs of “eww, how gross!”. Now that I’m older, and my taste buds have opened up, I’ve come to enjoy this vegetable. It’s jam packed with essential vitamins and minerals.

As per the last What’s Cooking Wednesday post, grilled stuffed chicken breast, I promised to share the recipe with you for its contorno, side dish, spinaci all’agro. It’s very simple, and very quick in comparison to the secondi.  You can find this recipe on La Cucina Italiana Magazine’s website, or read the recipe below.

Please stay tuned for next week’s recipe which will be based on the dishes my family will be cooking for Easter! Yum! Here’s a hint: l’agnello. Do you know what it is?

This also concludes the operation of this blog on WordPress. What to learn more? Scroll down below for information on where I will now be blogging from!


Spinaci all’agro

Spinach with Lemon


15 ounces baby spinach (12 cups packed)
1 lemon
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper


Wash and drain spinach (do not spin-dry), leaving moisture on leaves for cooking.

Using a sharp vegetable peeler or paring knife, cut 2 long strips zest (about 1 inch wide) from lemon, avoiding white pith. Cut away any remaining pith from zest with a sharp paring knife. Cut zest into thin strips. Cut lemon into 4 wedges.

Heat oil in a Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium heat. Add spinach (in batches, if necessary) and pinch salt; stir, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until spinach is wilted and tender, about 4 minutes. Season with salt to taste.

Transfer spinach to a large serving dish. Squeeze fresh lemon juice over spinach to taste. Sprinkle with zest and pepper.


Don’t forget this is the last day of this page being in operation! But don’t worry, you can still access all my posts via the newly reconstructed PassagetoItaly on Blogspot. Click here!
Posted by: passagetoitaly | March 30, 2010

Flikr: Padova, Urbino, Verona

Please be sure to stop by at my flikr photopage, PassagetoItaly! I’ve uploaded more pictures from Padova and Verona. More pictures will soon be added.

Off the Beaten Trail: Cortona, Italy edition

Our last edition in the series focusing on Cortona in the Tuscany region of Italy finalizes with the Giostra dell’Archidado, Joust of the Archers, and the Tuscan Sun Festival. Stay tuned for more photographs in Cortona!

Giostra dell’Archidado

Each year the duel is held from late May into early June in honor of the marriage between Lord Francesco Casali and noblewoman Antonia Salimbeni of Siena, which occurred in 1397. It is a special event as it also commemorates the alliance between Siena and Cortona.  This alliance enabled the Ghibellines to reconquer the town, after being occupied and pillaged by Arezzo.

In the reenactment, archers compete against one another in hopes of winning the prize, the golden arrow. Each archer represents one of the five quintieri. Each person involved in the joust dresses in traditional medieval garb, and music of the period can be heard.

The festival is held in the Piazza Signorelli.

Piazza Signorelli

For more information concerning dates for this year, please visit Toscana Folklore. Site is in Italian. The site currently has the 2009 dates, but as the festival nears, they will probably put up the more current information.

To see a video of the Giostra, visit Vimeo. Video and site created by Spencer Simrill, Jr.

Tuscan Sun Festival

During the 1990’s, Barrett Wissman, cellist Nina Kotova, and author of Under the Tuscan Sun, Frances Mayes, all put their heads together to unite the world of music and art in a festival. Cortona was the chosen town to host such an event. During the event, spectators can view world class concerts, as well as experience fine art, film, culinary and wine events, fitness and wellness, and learn about the local culture and history.

This year’s celebration will feature Grammy opera singer, Renee Fleming; Joshua Bell, Ekaterina Scherbachenko; and Steven Isserlis.

To view the scheduled programs, please visit Tuscan Sun Festival. Site is in English.


Interested in reading more about Cortona, Italy in Off the Beaten Trail? You can access the preceding posts by clicking on the links below:

Off the Beaten Trail: Cortona, Italy #1

Off the Beaten Trail: Cortona, Italy: Churches, Part 1

Off the Beaten Trail: Cortona, Italy: Churches, Part 2

Off the Beaten Trail: Cortona, Italy: Sagra della Bistecca

Off the Beaten Trail: Cortona, Italy: MAEC and the Museo Diocesano

Have more suggestions for events held in Cortona? Please leave your suggestion in the comment section, or e-mail me at:

PassagetoItaly (AT) gmail (DOT) com

Posted by: passagetoitaly | March 26, 2010

Feature Friday: Urbino, Italy Photographs

Finally! It’s Friday! There is no scheduled post for today, but I’m doing an entire re-haul of my photographs on Flikr. Some you may have already seen, and others maybe you haven’t. The main reason why I took down my pictures was to put watermarks on them. I will be more at ease with watermarks on them, and have them online.

If you haven’t seen the photos, please stop by at PassagetoItaly, or simply click on the Flikr photos on the sidebar.

Buon Weekend!

Posted by: passagetoitaly | March 25, 2010

Love Thursday: Taste Italia

Dear Readers:

For those of you who follow my blog, PassagetoItaly will soon be moving to another blog host. Sorry everyone, but I’m thinking that BlogSpot is much more user friendly. Originally the site had been set up on BlogSpot, and I wanted to try out WordPress. Since I don’t have a large following yet, it is best that I make the transition back to BlogSpot now, rather than later. I simply love the fact that BlogSpot has a widget that enables readers to see which blogs I’m following, and show the most recent updates on them. I’m also making the blog a bit fancier. This will come into effect by the end of the month.

And now our scheduled post…….


Last week after work, I ventured over to Barnes n’ Noble, my favorite bookstore, and also the only one that’s close to my home. It takes five minutes to get there by car. Every month, I try to buy the British-printed Italia magazine, but this month, it came with a 2-in-1 deal. For a total of about $16, the little package came with the Italia magazine, AND the Taste Italia magazine. With this exclusive purchase only found in Barnes n’ Noble, I saved $4. Italia usually costs $10.50 by itself, which is pretty expensive considering its not a very thick magazine, like say, Vogue.

In spite of Italia being this month’s issue, Taste Italia was the issue from February, and therefore celebrating Valentine’s Day. (Maybe I’m cheating on this week’s Love Thursday, in this respect.) The front cover boasts 56 authentic recipes, but it also advises you of In Season ingredients. Currently, the following are in season (they provided the English term along with the Italian equivalent, which I’ve italicized):

Chicory endivia
Crab granchio
Kale cavolo verde
Leek porro
Oyster ostrica
Cod merluzzo
Artichoke carciofo
Celery sedano
Cabbage cavolo
Onion cipolla
Parsnip pastinaca
Chestnut castagna
Hare lepre
Partridge pernice
Pheasant fagiano
Venison carne

It’s interesting how they translated venison as carne, which means ‘meat’. In my dictionary, it translates to carne di cervo, which would translate to ‘meat of deer’, or in real English, ‘deer meat’.

The magazine continues with In Season recipes, which I can’t wait to try. As I’ve mentioned here, I’ve been experimenting with food, and perhaps very soon, all procrastination will cease, and I will write a post about them.

As I continued scanning through the magazine, I came up this:

Heart-themed cooking accessories, of course! Click the collage to enlarge, and get a closer look. From left to right:

heart-shaped nougats, recipe found in Life is Sweet, by Hope and Greenwood, Ebury Press;

heart-shaped pasta, available at Find-Me-a-Gift;

heart Ramekin dish which can be purchased at;

a heart cutting board available at VelvetBrown;

gingham red heart oven gloves at DotComGiftShop;

Le creuset cerise stoneware deep heart-shaped dish which is available for purchase at;

and Amore heart napkin rings found at GrahamandGreen.

Perhaps it’s a little late to give Valentine’s Day gifts, however, you can experience love in the kitchen all year round! Food tastes much better when you know some love has been put into it.

Happy Love Thursday!

Posted by: passagetoitaly | March 24, 2010

What’s Cooking Wednesday: Petti di Pollo Ripieni

Today’s recipe calls for petti di pollo ripieni cotti alla brace, or grilled stuffed chicken breasts.  Unfortunately I no longer have pictures of the process from when I had to restart my entire computer. So all pictures have been sadly lost. The recipe is from La Cucina Italiana Magazine.

How my chicken came out differed, as it was winter when I tried this recipe and I couldn’t use the grill outside. I also don’t have a grill that you can use on the stove, so I just cooked them in the pan and threw them in the oven later. They came out just as good. My suggestion, however, since I’m still learning how to cook – if the chicken is still pink after the time it says to cook it on the stove, that’s ok.  Otherwise, the chicken will come out tough.


1 head of garlic, cloves separated
1 small bunch fresh rosemary sprigs
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil plus more for grill pan
4 ounces scamorza or smoked mozzarella cheese, cut into
1/8-inch cubes
2 1/2 ounces fresh ricotta cheese (1/2 cup)
1/4 cup finely chopped red pepper (from a jar)
4 (8-oz) skinless boneless chicken breast halves
coarse sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Heat oven to 375°. Combine garlic cloves and 2 short rosemary sprigs in a 1/2-quart ovenproof saucepan; cover with oil. Bake until garlic cloves are tender and lightly golden, about 35 minutes.

Meanwhile, stir together scamorza, ricotta, roasted pepper and basil in a medium bowl. Using a small sharp knife and working with 1 chicken breast at a time, cut a 2-inch-long slit horizontally into 1 side of chicken breast. Move knife back and forth in slit to form pocket. Divide cheese mixture among chicken pockets. Press edges to seal. Season chicken with salt and pepper.

Brush grill pan with oil and heat over medium-high heat. Grill chicken until golden on both sides, about 10 minutes total. Transfer chicken to a baking dish and bake until cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes.

Let chicken stand 5 minutes, then transfer to a serving dish. Remove garlic oil from oven. Garnish chicken with baked garlic cloves, and baked and fresh rosemary sprigs. Serve with garlic oil for drizzling.

Buon Appetito!

Stay tuned for next week’s What’s Cooking Wednesday for the recipe for the contorno, side dish, for the chicken.

Posted by: passagetoitaly | March 23, 2010

Italy v. America: La Notte Rosa

La Notte Rosa a Rimini

Imagine walking the streets around the Adriatic Riviera, and you find everyone dressed in pink, businesses and houses decorated in pink, and the streets strewn with, well, pink. It’s La Notte Rosa. So, have you ever heard of La Notte Rosa, or been to a town that celebrate La Notte Rosa? Do you know what it is? If the answer is ‘no’, have a seat with a nice beverage, perhaps preferably hot since it’s another gloomy day here in New Jersey.

According to the official site of La Notte Rosa (yes, there’s even an official site!), it’s the New Year’s of the summer. Let me translate a bit of their site.

Tutta la costa si tinge di rosa, dal tramonto all’alba i 110 chilometri della Riviera Adriatica dell’Emilia Romagna sono un’esplosione di luci, suoni, immagini, colori, 110 chilometri di concerti, performance teatrali, reading, installazioni, convegni, mostre, spettacoli, magiche scenografie.

The entire coast is dressed in pink, from dawn till sunset. The 110 kilometers of the Adriatic Riviera of Emilia Romagna are an explosion of lights, sounds, images, colors, 110 kilometers of concerts, theatrical performances, readings, installations, conventions, exhibits, shows, magical scenes.

building donned in pink

Which towns celebrate La Notte Rosa?

Gatteo Mare
Savignano Mare
Bellaria Igea Marina
Misano Adriatico
La Reppublica di San Marino

How should the towns decorate themselves for this momentous occasion?

Ogni località interpreta il tema in modo creativo ed unico per regalare al pubblico una notte di intense emozioni, una notte in cui la Riviera diventa un grande palcoscenico dove tutti sono protagonisti del rito collettivo più originale dell’estate ma dove il protagonista principale è il divertimento sano e “la vita dolce”.

Every town interprets the theme in a creative and unique way to give the public a night of intense emotions, a night in which the Riviera becomes a big stage where all are protagonists of the most original, collective right of the summer but where the principal protagonist is healthy fun and “la dolce vita”. (Sorry I think my translation is bad, but you get the idea. It makes more sense in Italian.)

Why the color pink?

Perché rosa? Il rosa è un colore che racconta la Riviera come luogo di incontro, dell’ospitalità, della gentilezza, delle relazioni, dei sentimenti, un luogo dove ancora è forte il senso di appartenenza ad una comunità capace di accogliere.

Why pink? Pink is a color that portrays the Riviera as a place of meeting, of hospitality, of kindness, of relations, of sentiments, a place where the sense of belonging to a community capable of welcoming is still strong.


Since my visits to Italy, beginning in 2007, I’ve been to La Notte Rosa twice. The first time was in Riccione. Unfortunately, I didn’t bring my camera that night, and was then not fully engaged with my blog. If I had been able to foresee that I’d in fact need those pictures, I would have taken my trusty camera. The second time I went was in Rimini. Out of two, Riccione was my favorite. The concerts that they hold are free, and all together, Riccione was a lot more fun.

The event occurs on July 2, 2010. For more information about La Notte Rosa, visit the official website. There is also an English page, which I’ve just discovered between going back and forth to the site. You can also view pictures, read about the preceding Notti Rosi and even view a map to get a better idea of where this event occurs. There is also a page of contact numbers to find out more about tourist information.

Have you ever been to La Notte Rosa, and if so,

in which town?

Please share your Notte Rosa experience with us in the comment section!

Posted by: passagetoitaly | March 22, 2010

Off the Beaten Trail: Cortona, Italy: MAEC and Museo Diocesano

The month of March is quickly coming to an end, and next week will be the last Off the Beaten Trail Cortona feature for the month. I’m still trying to work out how many times I would like to post about a certain town, however, within each month one town will definitely be featured.

The Museo dell’Accademia Etrusca e della Citta’ di Cortona

You may remember reading about the MAEC, Museo dell’Accademia Etrusca e della Citta’ di Cortona in the first Cortona edition. It was created by the Accademia Etrusca in 1727, and is one of the major sources for Cortona’s art culture and of great importance. The MAEC official website explains its birth caused

… quando l’abate Onofrio Baldelli donò la sua collezione e la sua biblioteca all’Accademia Etrusca, appena costituitasi ad opera dei fratelli Marcello, Filippo e Ridolfino Venuti e di un ristretto gruppo di giovani nobili cortonesi, interessati alla cultura illuministica.

… when the abbot Onofrio Baldelli donated his collection and his library to the Accademia Etrusca, only after having formed an organization of the brothers Marcello, Filippo, and Ridolfino Venuti and a close group of young Cortonesi noble, interested in the enlightened culture.

It is composed of several different genres of exhibits, ranging from classical archaeology to more contemporary art. The museum showcases a large Egyptian exhibition, including a complete collection of objects donated to the Accademia by Monsignor Corbelli, Bishop of Cortona, who also happens to be an apostolic delegate to both Syria and Egypt.

It also has on display wide collections of Roman and Etruscan inscriptions, including the largest and most valuable of all Etruscan inscriptions; Roman and Etruscan instruments; terracotta objects; cinerary urns; pottery; as well as other objects used in the daily lives of the two old civilizations.

Gino Severini's Maternita', photo from

The artwork on display in the museum is by artists such as: Baccio Ciapri, Pietro di Cortona, Luca Signorelli, and Gino Severini, just to name a few.

By visiting the MAEC website, you can view pictures of some of the exhibits. Go to the link, Il Patrimonio, or simply click the link I’ve provided. Next, click on Galleria fotografica. I think my favorite has to be the courtyard of Palazzo Casale. Imagine an entire courtyard assembled within the museum!

Please also visit Il Parco Archeologico to learn about the town’s excavation efforts. There are also guided tours of the tumuli, tombs. Information about when the tours are available and the pricing can be found on the orari e informazioni page.

Il Museo Diocesano

Fra Angelico: Annunciation

The museum is part of several different structures – one formerly known as the Chiesa del Gesù, the Church of Jesus, and the original building of the 15th century Compagnia Laicale del Buon Gesù. The chiesa was once used as the baptistery of the Duomo during the 1700s, and contains a marble baptismal font by Ciuccio di Nuccio, which was also made in the 15th century. At the end of World War II, both structures became a museum. The museum contains works of Fra Angelico, Luca Signorelli, Pietro Lorenzetti, Sassetta Bartolomeo della Gattajust to name a few. ( Most photographs of the paintings are from Web Gallery of Art.

Click on each artist’s name to read their biographies. By clicking on the ‘Works’ link, in the upper right hand corner of each artist’s biography, you can view their paintings.

You can view the operating hours on the cortonaweb website, which also includes information on events in the town, photographs, culture, and other general information.

Enjoy your art viewings!

Posted by: passagetoitaly | March 19, 2010

Feature Friday: Who Do You Think You Are?

Photo from

“To know who you are, you have to know where you came from” the narrator exclaims at the beginning of the show, Who do You Think You Are? Has anyone heard about this show? Who Do You Think You Are is a new show presented by and the NBC network., for those who may not be familiar with it, is a website used to research your ancestry. It has been one of my primary sources in researching my family’s history for dual citizenship. Unfortunately, only so much could be found about my father’s family. Not every document has been uploaded to the site, however, its database is quickly growing. They recently added a census from 1950! All information has so far sadly ended with a 1930 census.

During the show, they showcase several celebrities who are trying to discover their family’s past. Season 1, Episode 1 shares Emmitt Smith’s story about his search. Smith, a Hall of Fame American football player, who played for the Dallas Cowboys and the Arizona Cardinals, decides to study the “deep dark history” of his family, as the coming attractions for the show stated, discovering information about his family’s slave history. Emmit Smith travels to Alabama, and runs into a second cousin, who directs him to the archives in Morganville, Alabama, to further his research. This is where he first encounters the segregation of the south. According to the archivist, the archives are divided into black and white genealogy. Before the 1960s, black genealogy was not as well maintained and more “sporadic”, as the archivist stated. Not only does he learn about his family’s slave history, with further help from African-American genealogist Marjorie Sholes, but that there were interracial relations between an ancestor and a slave owner, and trafficking of the family.

Indeed the story is compelling, interesting, and heart wrenching, even with the negative aspects to it all.

You can watch more about Emmitt’s story here.

Episode 2 features Sex and the City’s star, Sarah Jessica Parker, who only knows bits and pieces about her family history, and sets out to discover more about her mother’s side. The episode begins with a meeting with her mother, who gives her a hunch about her great grandmother and great great grandfather. Hopping on a plane, she travels to her hometown of Cincinnati, beginning the search with genealogist, Natalie Cottrill, and who states that Parker may be related to the Hodges found throughout American history centered in New England, later leading to her family’s history based in Salem, Massachusetts. But, before continuing with the information about Salem, Cottrill points out a widowed mother of her great great grandfather found on a census. With further research an obituary was found, leading their census search to California, and discovering that an ancestor was a miner during the Gold Rush in 1849.

Further into the episode, she learns that an ancestor, Robert Elwell, was in fact, one of the few people to make the sea voyage to America on the Mayflower. Learn more about her story here.

Also featured in Season 1  Brooke Shields, Susan Sarandon, Matthew Broderick, and Spike Lee.

Tonight at 8pm Eastern time, and NBC will be featuring one of America’s most beloved television sitcom actresses, starring in Friends, Lisa Kudrow. On the NBC website, you can find previews for tonight’s show, but stay tuned to the site next week, as they will be posting the full episode. Thought this would be a great way for all expats to home in on shows while abroad.

Now I pose this question to you:

Have you researched your family history, and if so,
what did you find?

Who do you think you are?

It doesn’t matter if your ancestors did something very important in the history of America, or even the history of the world. What makes it important is that it’s your family history. If you’d like to share what you’ve discovered about your family, please post your story in the comment section. If you don’t have a blog, but would like your story featured, e-mail me at:

PassagetoItaly (AT) gmail (DOT) com

If you now have the urge to research your family’s history, the NBC website give tips on how to start your search… And don’t forget to share with us what you’ve found!

Buon weekend!

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