Category Archives: Italian Life

Backseat Italian Family

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Fiat 500

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IEI Students in Italy!

Napoli

Hi Mario:
I made it to many of the places you’ve mentioned. Unfortunately, this was my one and only full day here! I leave tomorrow to head back north. I absolutely love Napoli! I didn’t expect it; I thought it would be overwhelming, but it’s much softer and sweeter than Rome, even though yes total chaos! It’s like negotiating a crowded dance floor for me, I love the flow of it. I also experienced the “optional” red light.

The people here seem good-natured and gentle. Unlike in New York, where there is a sour mean streak. (Although I’m proud to say I survived the withering look of the barista at del Professore. That look was only surpassed by the one he gave me when I asked him for a pastry after finishing my Americano. I was prepared for this though, so it made me smile.)

Plus, almost no tourists except for at the museum! Trastevere in Rome was crawling with them (yes, people just like me, yech).

Beppe Grillo revisited
by Mario Fusco

Over the last few years, as an unavoidable consequence of online reporting and blogging, there has been a general degradation in the language of public discourse. For instance, the unmistakable reliance on automatic spell checkers is evident in many stories, and there has been a general relaxation of the rules of grammar, sometimes at the expense of intelligibility.

So, why does the observation above have a place on an Italian blog? Because of the following excerpt (“Crazy days in Rome with papal and political void”, Associated Press, under the byline Victor L. Simpson):

Yet perhaps the biggest gatecrasher of all is Beppe Grillo, who has upset the established order by riding a self-styled “tsunami” of disgust with the powers-that-be and grabbing a quarter of the parliamentary vote.

Italian Elections 2013
by Mario Fusco

Italian Politics 2013

Beppe Grillo

Beppe Grillo

On February 24 Italians went to the polls to elect a new government. The results were widely decried as inconclusive, resulting in a gridlocked Parliament that would be unable to govern effectively and lead Italy out of the economic morass in which it has languished for several years. Press and blogs were awash with opinions about the “two clowns” who had prevailed over the Social Democrats, Beppe Grillo and Silvio Berlusconi. Particularly offensive was the cover of the Economist, which prominently featured the “two clowns” and luridly highlighted their supposed shortcomings, in an echo of Peer Steinbrueck’s remarks.

It’s hard to defend Berlusconi’s record, so it’s advantage Economist here. It is equally hard, however, to accept the dismissive attitude toward Grillo, and not to see in it a continuation of the policy of ostracism by established interests towards the comedian-turned-politician. A policy that began in the early 90’s and that has manifestly failed to muzzle Grillo. One would hope that Grillo’s past life as a comedian should not weigh on anyone’s judgments of his achievement and of his importance to Italy, not any more, in any case, than Ronald Reagan’s career as a B-movie actor should weigh on any judgment of his achievements as Governor of California and President of the United States. Besides, weeping clowns are a staple of the Western cultural panorama, and we should pay attention to them.

Italian Restaurants

Italian cuisine is enjoying a renaissance on the peninsula. Notable among recently-launched Italian restaurants are FIGO and IL TERRONE, both in Palo Alto, and POSITANO and LIMONE in San Carlos. And in Menlo park we had the recent opening of PICCOLO. These new establishments will need to prove themselves against the likes of MEZZALUNA in Half Moon Bay, SAPORE ITALIANO in Burlingame, ACQUAPAZZA in San Mateo, DONATO and CHANTILLY in Redwood City, LA STRADA in Palo Alto, CARPACCIO and ANGELO MIO in Menlo Park, DON GIOVANNI and VASO AZZURRO in Mountain View, and VILLA NAPOLI in Sunnyvale.

We wish them all great success. We are definitely partial to Italian food!!!

FIGO
The best in Italian cuisine   http://figopaloalto.com/

Fun at FIGO's

Great food, great people, great fun! Come visit!

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Summer in Italy
by Mario Fusco

Whether you’re a first-time traveler to Italy or a seasoned veteran you won’t want to miss the Tuscany, Cinqueterre and Rome Tour being organized by The Sacramento Italian Cultural Society. Scheduled to depart on June 20, this 12-day tour hits some of the must-see sites in Italy.

TUSCANY – home to illustrious personages from Dante to Leonardo to Galileo, it was the incubator of the Italian Renaissance, which in turn spawned the European Renaissance, the Enlightenment, and the Scientific Revolution. The Medici family, lords of Florence, were inarguably the most active and effective patrons of the arts ever. Today Tuscany is famous for its wines (Chianti), the loveliness of its hill towns, its artistic patrimony, and events such as the Palio di Siena.

Le Carte Napoletane
by Mario Fusco

Italian Aces

Italian Aces

Allora, facciamoci una partita a carte! With these words Italians whip out un mazzo di carte and sit down to play scopa or briscola or tressette. Children use a miniature version of the same card deck and play a game called “asso piglia tutto“, meaning “the ace takes all”.

These are “Carte Napoletane“, ubiquitous all over Italy. There are four suits, as in American cards, but only ten cards to a suit (think of American cards minus the 8, the 9 and the 10.) The face cards instead, called il fante (the groom), il cavallo (the horse) and il re (the king), play the role of the 8, the 9, and the 10 cards respectively.

The Italian artistic flair is evident even in the design of these cards. The four suits parallel the suits in a standard American poker deck – bastone (club), spada (spade), coppa (heart), and denaro (diamond). The cards are slightly smaller than their American counterparts, but generally stiffer. In the smaller towns, perhaps at the only bar in town, one often finds Italians playing cards over a glass of wine for hours and hours, much as in other countries people play chess in public squares. In the “olden days”, before the advent of TV and of the habit of spending most evenings at home, Italian men headed for their circolo or for the neighbourhood bar to play billiards or cards in the evening. Women, of course, stayed home with the children.

These playing cards are available in any “Sali e Tabacchi”. Just go in and ask, in your best Italian, for “un mazzo di carte”. You don’t even to say “napoletane”; it’s the default in Italy.

Fante, Cavallo, Re

Fante, Cavallo, Re

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Italian Creativity!
by Mario Fusco

So, what if you’re a library and have a few thousand books you need to recycle, and are in need of a nice new checkout desk? And of course you have a limited budget (everyone has a limited budget these days!)

Well, you get creative and avoid buying a new desk, using THAT money to replace the recycled book with shiny new bestsellers, as shown in the pictures below!

Italian Library Desk

Italian Library Desk

Book Desk

Book Desk

It certainly gives a new meaning to the phrase ‘book desk’. Now, what if a patron wants to check out the book located four books to the left, six books down, and three books in? Definitely a challenging architectural problem!
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New Italian Art Calendar
by Mario Fusco

Italian Art Calendar Cover Page

Italian Art Calendar Cover Page

Your 2013 Italian Art Calendar is now available on Zazzle. Lovingly assembled by the artist herself, Angelica Di Chiara, this calendar consists of a series of iconic images of Italy, each image a reproduction of an original work. The spirit of Italy, its architecture and its landscapes, are yours every day of the year in this lovely calendar.

View and purchase the calendar at http://www.zazzle.com/angelica+di+chiara+gifts

Angelica di Chiara, award-winning Italian-born painter, resides in Redwood City, California. Her work can be seen at several venues in the Bay Area and on finestItalian.com

Vino

Vino Italiano


Castello di Gradara

Castello di Gradara


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Acqua Alta a Venezia
by Mario Fusco

Different reactions to the recent flooding (acqua alta) in Venice.

Tristezza


Allegria


Indecisione

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