Zoodles alla Puttanesca

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I think Italian cooking is always pretty healthy.  It tends to use lots of fresh ingredients and olive oil, but the pasta and breads have to be eaten sparingly.  I am trying to cut those carby things out as I follow the Dash diet but don’t want to give up those delicious Italian flavors!  Last night, I decided to substitute zucchini noodles for the pasta, adding a tasty puttanesca sauce!  Side note:  do you know what puttanesca means?  It means “belonging to the street walker”, and it’s a spicy tangy sauce – much like the spicy lives of a street walker, I guess!  Only Italians would come up with a name like that :)  Anyway,  I bought a dandy little contraption call the Veggetti (I know, it’s a funny name, isn’t it?) that makes “noodles” out of vegetables, like zucchini.

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I then made a modified Puttanesca sauce (modified because I added pancetta – yummy) and tossed it all together for a delicious guilt-free  “pasta” dish!  The flavors were so intense and delicious!  This will definitely remain a favorite :)

Zoodles alla Puttanesca

4 zucchini – spiralized

4 oz chopped pancetta – Trader Joe’s sells this already chopped, and I always keep some around

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1/2 small can of sliced black olives – drained

2 T capers – rinsed

1 1/2 cups marinara sauce – I make my own and here’s the recipe

1 T anchovy paste

3 Dorot crush garlic cubes – these can be found at Trader Joe’s, too

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Fry the pancetta over medium high heat until it’s crispy.

Add the anchovy paste and mix it up.

Add the rest of the ingredients (except the zucchini) and cook until the garlic melts.  Mix it all up.

Add the zucchini noodles to the pan and cook only until they are warm.  DO NOT OVERCOOK otherwise the noodles will turn mushy (yuck!)

Remove from pan and add a bit of olive oil and red pepper flakes to taste.

The Other Woman….

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Recently, I’ve been listening to some old music by the Italian group, Pooh!

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This group has been around since the mid 1960’s, and their songs always seem to tell a story.  I know that lots of people listen to music for the pure joy of the melody, while others listen carefully to the words.  I am one who always listens to the lyrics, and many times I try to figure out what the song is trying to say!  Most of the times, I can figure out the hidden meaning, if there is one, but other times, my imagination probably gets the best of me!  One of their songs that always makes me wonder is L’Altra Donna (The Other Woman).  When I listen to the lyrics, I’m touched in conflicting ways.  The song is a type of beautiful love letter to someone they can’t have, but also to someone that they don’t want to have. The singer is obviously married but is singing the song to his mistress.  I can’t help but get angry at the singer – he seems to want his cake and eat it, too.  He is getting all the benefits of having a wife and a mistress, but yet is being unfair to both of them.  I know that infidelity is rampant everywhere, but it seems to me that this song rationalizes its merits because the man is singing about love for his mistress (which proves he’s not a total cad) but yet, he won’t leave his wife for her.  In Italy, and not just in Italy but lots of other places too, I feel that the institution of marriage is sacred, but the vow of infidelity is often times ignored.  Therefore, men and women have lovers but yet, they will not leave their families for that lover.  That’s a good thing, don’t get me wrong, but I often wonder where that leaves the lover, especially if they don’t have a spouse.  And it seems to me that the only one who wins, is the one who is doing the cheating!  I’d love to hear your thoughts on the song – what do you think they’re trying to say and how does it make you feel?

L’Altra Donna

È ancora tutto all’aria da ieri sera,
è più comodo in albergo,
paghi il conto e te ne vai;
ma in certe cose tu ci credi ancora,
far l’amore nel tuo letto,
prepararmi il tuo caffè;
è poi mi lasci andare via, quando è ora,
perché ognuno ha la sua vita,
e la mia non è con te.
Sei l’altra donna,
la libertà,
quella che sa e non può dir niente,
quella che all’alba rimane sola,
e che non può mai lasciare impronte,
con me non puoi cercare casa,
o uscire insieme a far la spesa,
sei l’altra donna,
quella importante,
quella che ha tutto e non ha niente, di me.
Mio figlio è un’altra storia, un altro amore,
tu non puoi partecipare, Dio lo sa se io vorrei.
Tu in macchina con me non puoi fumare,
mozziconi col rossetto. parlerebbero di te;
ma in fondo tu che colpa hai del mio cuore,
delle ore che mi manchi, dei problemi che mi dai.
Sei l’altra donna,
la libertà,
quella che sa perché ritorno,
e quanta pace tu mi sai dare,
io dirò tutto a lei un giorno,
faremo insieme un’altra casa,
io e te che siamo un’altra cosa.
Io e te che siamo la stessa cosa,
faremo insieme la nostra casa;
prima dell’alba c’è ancora un’ora,
stringimi forte e sogna ancora,
di noi.

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The Other Woman

Everything’s still in the air from last night,

it’s more comfortable in the hotel,

you pay the bill and then you leave;

but you still believe in certain things,

making love in your bed,

preparing me your coffee;

and then you let me leave, when it’s time,

because we each have our own lives,

and mine is not with you.

You are the other woman,

my liberty,

the one who knows and can’t say anything,

the one who remains alone at sunrise,

and who can never leave traces,

you can’t look for a home with me

or go out together to go shopping,

you’re the other woman,

the important one,

the one who has everything and who has nothing of me.

My son is a different story, another love,

you cannot participate, God knows if I would want it.

In the car, you cannot smoke

leave lipstick marks, they’d speak of you;

but in the end you are not to blame for my heart

or the hours when I miss you, all the problems that you give me.

You’re the other woman,

my liberty,

the one who knows why I return,

and how much peace you know how to give me,

I’ll tell her everything one day,

and we’ll build another home together,

You and I are another thing.

You and I are the same thing,

we’ll build our own home together,

before sunrise there’s another hour,

hold me tight and dream again

of us.

Venice’s Fabulous Hotel Danieli and my SPG Experience

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I know I’ve already written a little about the extraordinary Hotel Danieli from our first visit there in 2004 (click here if you want to read it), but I thought I’d do an update from our recent visit during Carnevale 2015!  It’s nice to know that things have not changed at this hotel – they are still as wonderful as they were 10 years ago!  The only thing that I noticed changed is that they have gone to an electronic key system. Funny enough, though, is that they have kept the old fashioned tassle on the key!  You still turn in your key with the concierge when you leave (unless you don’t mind carrying around a huge bulky tassled key with you!) and they put it on the little peg board they have behind the desk!  It’s still so old fashioned that way!  And after 5 days of staying with them, I didn’t have to tell them my room number anymore when we came back into the hotel after our walks about town – they knew it!

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It’s great customer service when you feel like a hotel really pays attention to their guests and makes them feel so much at home!

Upon check-in, we found a bottle of prosecco in our room – a wonderful treat to make us feel so welcome!

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And then on my birthday, which I celebrated while in Venice, they sent me a beautiful chocolate cake!

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At first, I thought someone from my family may have ordered it delivered, but when I couldn’t find a card with it, I went and asked the concierge.  When I told him it was my birthday, he came out from behind the desk and gave me a big hug and kiss!  And then he happily told me that the hotel had sent it!  What a nice surprise!

We spent a lot more time using the facilities at the hotel on this visit – so much more than we did back in 2004!  Probably because we weren’t travelling with young kids :)  At every single moment, the service was exceptional.  We ended up having Aperol spritz’ in the lobby every afternoon and breakfast in the beautiful terrace restaurant every morning!  The views from the terrace are absolutely stunning!

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Too bad it was February, otherwise we would have definitely sat outside every morning and every night taking it all in.  Despite that, we were still able to go out to enjoy the terrace’s views – they are gorgeous and so magical!  It’s as if you are looking at Venice from a bird’s eye view!

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The hotel was beautifully decorated for Carnevale with fresh flowers and masks everywhere!

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And so many people were milling around in costumes – it’s as if they had stepped out of a history book!

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Amidst the antique and elegant surroundings, it felt as if we had walked back into 15th century Venice.  Wearing the attire helped :)

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The Hotel Danieli is definitely a very unique and stately hotel.  It is one of Venice’s finest, and because of that, it is quite pricey if you have to pay for a room.  But luckily, we paid absolutely nothing for our 5 night stay there!  You’re probably wondering how we did that!  I am going to let you in on the absolute BEST credit card loyalty program I have ever been a part of!  No, I don’t work for this program – I am only a BIG fan!  They really know how to treat those that are loyal to them with exceptional perks at their hotels!  I believe in giving credit where credit is due, and this program definitely deserves my praises.  They go above and beyond in customer service!  Sadly, we experience so little of that these days that when one finds someone that is running their business as it should be, it needs to be complimented and promoted!  The program is called SPG (Starwood Preferred Guest) and it is affiliated with American Express.

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You get points by charging things on your AMEX card, and then you trade those points in for nights at Starwood Hotels (you can trade them in for other things, like flights, but I find that the hotel points are the best value).  The Starwood umbrella includes many brands:  Westin, St. Regis, Sheraton, W and Luxury (and many subsets of these!).  The hotels are found all over the world, and I have to say that we have expanded our travels so much more after becoming members back in 2003.  We have stayed at places (like the Hotel Danieli) that we probably would never have experienced if not members of this program.  It has also made our lives more spontaneous – we live fairly close to San Francisco and have, on more than one occasion, decided to stay overnight in SF on a whim (sometimes without even packing overnight bags and toothbrushes!).  I know that we would never have done this if we didn’t have the points to stay in a great hotel!  Not only can you experience staying in these beautiful hotels for free as soon as you have enough points for an eligible night, but you are handsomely rewarded for being loyal customers!  We have been members for quite a while, and because we use their hotels quite a bit, we have been promoted to Platinum status and have become eligible for suite upgrades.  At this level, even more benefits open up.  For instance, we get free internet and free breakfast every day of our stay.

During this particular stay at the Hotel Danieli, our breakfast, in the beautiful terrace restaurant, would have cost us 50 Euros per person per day. Instead, we got it complimentary!  And, as an added bonus, we were upgraded to a suite for our entire 5 night stay.

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We had a living room, which was decorated with fresh flowers every day, a lovely bedroom, a foyer with a vanity table, and a gorgeous marble bathroom!

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But the best part of our suite was the spectacular view of Venice’s main canal!  Every morning, when we opened the shutters, we were greeted by the sight of gondolas and an unobstructed view of San Giorgio Maggiore…it was just like living a dream.

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If you are interested in exploring this SPG card and all its benefits, here is the link!  If you do sign up, let them know that Barbara Rindge sent you (yes, I’ll get some points for the referral and I’ll greatly thank you!).  But really, I’m not doing it for the points – I truly believe they are a great loyalty program!

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Enjoying our daily Aperol Spritz!

Carnevale di Venezia 2015 – Checking One More Off the Bucket List

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Yes, we finally made it!  We’ve been wanting to go to the Carnevale di Venezia for a few years now, but something always got in the way.  This year, though, we DID IT!  And it was everything, plus so much more than we thought it would be!  I can only say that if you get the opportunity to visit Venice during this very special time, you have to do it.  You will not be disappointed!

This year’s Carnevale season began on Jan. 31st and ended on “martedi grasso”, or Fat Tuesday, on Feb. 17th.  We arrived in Venice on Feb. 13th, stayed until Feb. 18th, and were able to experience the last, and most eventful, weekend of the Carnevale season.  Venice was very crowded during the day, with lots of people gawking at the sights and at the “professional” carnival costume wearers!

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I call them “professional” because I think they must be actors or models – whenever you ask them to take a picture, they strike a beautiful pose!  Some are even escorted by photographers!

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The costumes were sensational, with my favorites being the ones whose faces were covered entirely by the masks.

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To my surprise, though, the nights were fairly empty.  This made for an other-worldly feeling.  I felt like I was walking back into time experiencing Venice just like it was hundreds of years ago!

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Venice takes on a completely different atmosphere at night, when it’s quiet.  The lighting of the piazzzas and churches is magical and very romantic, and walking the streets of the original city that has so many reproductions (like the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas) is truly an amazing feeling!

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While there, we decided to take in a masquerade ball!  Yes, everything about this event was expensive – from the rental of the costumes (which you must have if you attend a ball) to the actual cost of the ball, but it was definitely worth it.  As my husband pointed out, we’ll probably never go to another one of these again, so we should experience it to the fullest!  The best part of the masquerade ball was being able to go inside one of the private palazzos of Venice to see it’s splendor.  The ball we attended was the Mascheranda Ball and it was held in the Palazzo Pisani Moretta.

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This palace was originally built in the 15th century, renovated during the 18th century, and decorated by famed Venetian artists such as Tiepolo, Guarana, Diziani and Angeli.   We arrived by water taxi and were greeted by some elegant majordomos before being escorted into the lower level of the palazzo for drinks, hors d’oeuvres, and some entertainment by acrobats and dancers.

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Dinner was served on the second level in two beautifully decorated salons with paintings and frescoes on the ceilings and on the walls.

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Dancing came at the end with classical dancing in the dining salons and a “disco” on the lower level.  Seeing all of us dancing to modern music all dressed up in our Renaissance garb was quite a site to see!

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The event was well worth the money, only that the food was mediocre at best.  Too bad, but I guess that was a small price to pay for the experience!  After the ball, we decided to walk back to our hotel near the Piazza San Marco (about a half hour walk).  We were the only people walking around the small alley ways (or calles) of Venice and we were dressed up in our antique outfits – we felt like we had walked right out of a picture from Renaissance Venice!  So surreal!

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Venice: A Travel Guide to Murano Glass, Carnival Masks, Gondolas, Lace, Paper and More

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About Authentic Arts: Venice Travel Guide

VENICE A Travel Guide

Every traveler to Venice wants to go home with a special souvenir–a carnival mask, a piece of Murano glass, a handcrafted piece of lace. But selecting which mask or which goblet to buy can be an intimidating experience. How do you know if you’re buying something authentic, something made in Venice, something made in a traditional way? How do you gauge how much you should pay, and how do you know if you’re being ripped off? How do you determine if you have fallen prey to one of the city’s many tourist traps?

Laura Morelli, an art historian and trusted guide in the world of cultural travel and authentic shopping, leads you to the best of the city’s most traditional arts: Murano glass, carnival masks, gondolas, lace, paper, and more. This indispensable guide includes practical tips for locating the most authentic goods in one of the busiest tourist destinations in the world. Packed with useful information on pricing, quality, and value, and with a comprehensive resource guide, Laura Morelli’s Authentic Arts: Venice is the perfect guide for anyone wanting to bring home the unique traditions of Venice.

Artisans of Venice is the companion to Laura Morelli’s Authentic Arts: Venice, A Travel Guide to Murano Glass, Carnival Masks, Gondolas, Lace, Paper, & More. Put both books together and you’ll be the most knowledgeable traveler in Venice!

About Artisans of Venice: Companion to the Travel Guide

Artisans of Venice

Going to Venice? Don’t buy anything in Venice until you read this book!

Buyer Beware: Venice is full of tourist traps and mass-produced souvenirs passed off as authentic. Do you know how to tell the treasures from the trash?

In Venice, it’s not easy to tell the treasures from the trash. This is true now more than ever before, as increasing numbers of carnival masks, glass, and other souvenirs flood into Venice, imported from overseas and passed off as authentic. There is no substitute for an educated buyer. Laura Morelli helps you locate the city’s most authentic artisans–those practicing centuries-old trades of mask making, glass blowing, wood turning, silk spinning, and other traditions. Wouldn’t you rather support authentic Venetian master artisans than importers looking to turn a quick profit without any connection to Venice at all?

Venice boasts some of the most accomplished master artisans in the world. Here’s how you can find them.

Laura Morelli leads you beyond the souvenir shops for an immersive cultural experience that you won’t find in any other guidebook. Artisans of Venice brings you inside the workshops of the most accomplished makers of Venetian fabrics, Murano glass and millefiori, carnival masks and masquerade costumes, gondolas, Burano lace, mirrors, marbleized paper, hand-carved frames, and other treasures. This book leads you to the multi-generational studios of some 75 authentic master artisans. If you’re reading on your Kindle device, tablet, or smartphone, you can click directly on their street addresses for an interactive map, and link to their web sites and email addresses directly from the guide. A cross-referenced resource guide also offers listings by neighborhood.

Laura Morelli, an art historian and trusted guide in the world of cultural travel and authentic shopping, leads you to the best of Venice’s most traditional arts. Laura Morelli’s Authentic Arts series is the only travel guide series on the market that takes you beyond the museums and tourist traps to make you an educated buyer–maybe even a connoisseur–of Florentine leather, ceramics of the Amalfi Coast, Parisian hats, Venetian glass, the handmade quilts of Provence, and more treasures.

Bring Laura Morelli’s guides to Venice with you, and you’ll be sure to come home with the best of Venice in your suitcase.

About Laura Morelli

View More: http://sarahdeshawphotographers.pass.us/laura-morelli
Laura Morelli holds a Ph.D. in art history from Yale University, where she was a Bass Writing Fellow and Mellon Doctoral Fellow. She authored a column for National Geographic Traveler called “The Genuine Article” and contributes pieces about authentic travel to national magazines and newspapers. Laura has been featured on CNN Radio, Travel Today with Peter Greenberg, The Frommers Travel Show, and in USA TODAY, Departures, House & Garden Magazine, Traditional Home, the Denver Post, Miami Herald, The Chicago Tribune, and other media. Recently her art history lesson, “What’s the difference between art and craft?” was produced and distributed by TED-Ed.

Laura has taught college-level art history at Trinity College in Rome, as well as at Northeastern University, Merrimack College, St. Joseph College, and the College of Coastal Georgia. Laura has lived in five countries, including four years in Italy and four years in France.

Laura Morelli is the author of the guidebook series that includes Made in Italy, Made in France, and Made in the Southwest, all published by Rizzoli / Universe. The Gondola Maker, a historical coming-of-age story about the heir to a gondola boatyard in 16th-century Venice, is her first work of fiction.

Please read this Guest Post by Laura Morelli

The first time I visited Venice as a wide-eyed teenager, I knew I was supposed to buy Murano glass, but I had no idea why. All I knew was that I was whisked to the famous “glass island” on an overcrowded, stinky boat.  I waited behind two dozen American and Japanese tourists to pay an exorbitant price for a little glass fish—what a bewildering experience!

Still, it was the artistic traditions of the world that lured me back and inspired me to study the great artists of the past.  Living in Europe and Latin America, I realized that in many places, centuries-old craft traditions are still living traditions. So began my quest to discover craftspeople passing on a special kind of knowledge to the next generation. I never tire of the stories and the people behind the world’s most enduring artistic traditions—everything from Murano glass to Limoges porcelain, balsamic vinegar, Chinese silk and cowboy boots.

My first foray into non-academic writing came in the form of a specialty travel guide series I published with Rizzoli. With my books Made in Italy, Made in France, and Made in the Southwest, my mission is to lead travelers beyond the tourist traps to discover authentic local traditions and artists, and come home with great treasures in their suitcases. My focus is cultural immersion through a greater appreciation of art objects and the people who make them.

While I was researching my guides, that novel I had wanted to write ever since I was a little girl finally appeared on the horizon. The story of The Gondola Maker, my first work of fiction, germinated in my head while I was working on Made in Italy. The contemporary Italian artisans I interviewed told me how important it was to them to pass on the torch of tradition to the next generation. I began to wonder what would happen if the successor were not able or willing to take on that duty. The characters of the gondola maker and his heirs began to take shape. The motivations of these characters intrigued me so much that I felt compelled to write a book to find out what would happen to them.

I continue to write about art history for a broad audience. I have developed art history lessons for TED-Ed, reaching a global audience of students. I will come back to historical fiction, though, as so many stories behind the world’s works of art—whether famous or undiscovered—remain to be told.

Where to buy the books:
Amazon: Venice Travel Guide

Giveaway!
The author is giving away a set of these books along with two authentic Carnival masks (one male Bauta style and one female Colombina style).  The baùta is the quintessential Venetian mask, worn historically not only at Carnival time but any time a Venetian citizen wished to remain anonymous, such as when he may have been involved in important law-making or political processes in the city. The simplest of the traditional Venetian mask types, the baùta is a stark faceplate traditionally paired with a full-length black or red hooded cloak called a tabàro (or tabàrro), and a tricorn hat, as depicted in paintings and prints by the Venetian artist Pietro Longhi. Most baùte were made of waxed papier-mâché and covered most of the face. The most prominent feature is a distinctive aquiline nose and no mouth. The lower part of the mask protruded outward to allow the mask wearer to breathe, talk, and eat while remaining disguised.

The Colombina is a half-mask that covers the forehead down to the cheeks, but leaves the mouth revealed. Originally, it would have been held up to the face by a baton in the hand. The Colombina is often decorated with more feminine flourishes, from gilding to gems and feathers, but both men and women may wear it.
Look how beautiful they are!

Just click here to enter this wonderful giveaway:  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Botticelli’s Bastard – A Book Review

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With a title like Botticelli’s Bastard, I had no idea what to expect from this latest novel by Stephen Maitland-Lewis . But as I began to get absorbed in it, it all began to take shape. The story begins when a middle-aged art restorer, who goes through the motions of living his life without experiencing any passion for it, opens up a crate that has been sitting in the corner of his art studio for years. Within it, he discovers an unsigned painted panel of an old Florentine aristocrat. Little did he realize how his life was about to change!  

Now this is where the story got a little weird for me, and I wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy the rest of it….but the painting of the Count began to speak to Giovanni, the art restorer! And, of course, he was the only one that could hear the painting speak! They ended up conversing a great deal, and Giovanni found himself treating the Count like his confidante and best friend! Weird, right? But actually, these conversations opened up the floodgates of history.  All the time periods between the Renaissance and modern times were described from the viewpoint of this painted Count who  had “lived” through them all. It was all pretty fascinating, especially the description of the pillaging of art by the Nazis in Paris during World War II.

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The Count also dropped a bombshell on Giovanni when he insisted that he had been painted by none other than Botticelli himself! Giovanni had his doubts, but promised the Count that he would have the painting analyzed by the experts for authentication.

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Throughout all these conversations, Giovanni began to renew his passion for living – the Count counseled him about life in general and also gave him a mission to accomplish. Giovanni was ultimately faced with a moral dilemma and his character was put to the test.

This book is a perfect example of what true historical fiction is all about – learning about history in a way that is interesting and entertaining!  I can highly recommend it, if you can get past the fantasy of the talking painting!

Below is a question and answer session with

Mr. Maitland-Lewis:

author


  1. How did you do research for your book?

The internet is my primary source for research, but one has to be very disciplined so as not to go off in tangents in reading material with is irrelevant to the topic in hand. For that reason, visits to local libraries are ideal, although more time consuming. With regard to Botticelli’s Bastard, the research covered many different periods of European history, which made the project enjoyable and it did not at any time feel onerous.

 

  1. If you could put yourself as a character in your book, who would you
    be?

Unquestionably, Giovanni Fabrizzi, the art restorer. He was burdened with sadness and later on was faced with the dilemma of Satan on one shoulder and the good angel on the other in determining his course of action. But there is a moral tale for all of us and I found myself inspired by his ultimate decision.

  3.  What made you write a book about a talking painting?

A painting that has survived 500 years, has traveled across continents, and has hung on many different walls, has a life of its own. Just as Oscar Wilde’s
Dorian Grey had a painting that aged, my painting in
Botticelli’s Bastard talks to the restorer. Just as a writer or an actor can get totally immersed in his character, so can a restorer working over a long period of time and in the minutest detail, become overtaken by the painting on which he is working.

4.  What is the last great book you’ve read?

Sophie’s Choice by William Styron. This novel is superb on every level – character, plot, language, and overall style. I first read the book many years ago, at a time when I was not writing professionally, so I didn’t appreciate the subtlety and brilliance of Mr. Styron. Reading it again recently, I realized that the author was one of the major world’s literary geniuses. His writing is so fine that I have to resist the temptation of never writing another word.

 

  1. Do you write every day?

I try to do so. Even if I am not writing a novel, I think it is important to write
something on a daily basis, whether it be a journal entry, or a complex social
or business letter. The great piano virtuoso Arturo Rubenstein remarked once
that “the first day I do not practice, I notice. The second day I miss a
practice, the critics notice. The third day – the audience notices.”

 

  1. What advice would you give budding writers?

Treat the art of writing as a serious professional occupation, and not a recreational activity. Try not to read fiction whilst you are writing fiction, as you could fall into the trap of admiring a particular descriptive passage in something that you have read, and subconsciously repeating it in your own work. Read fiction before or after you have completed your book, not during your exercise.

 

  1. What is your next project?

I have started a novel about a second-rate jazz pianist, and have already
completed about 20,000 words. In the midst of writing this, another project came into my mind and I may well place on hold the earlier one to focus on this latest possible work. I don’t want to say anything about the new project at present, so as not to jinx these very precious early stages.

 

Would you like to win a copy of this book?

Just click here, a Rafflecopter giveaway,
and you will have the chance to get your very own copy FREE!

Of course, you can also purchase the book at Amazon, Barnes & Noble,  Book Depository, and Chapters Indigo.

Oh To Speak Like an Italian….

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FullSizeRenderWhen I hear people speaking in Italy, I’m always amazed at how beautifully the words fall off their tongues.  I love the eloquence and the melody of their phrases.  Their words are so expressive and beautiful and I’ve decided that I  want to sound like that, too!  Even though I am pretty fluent in Italian (it was my first language and one I still speak all the time), I still have so much to learn in order to pull it off authentically.  I have hurdles to overcome, but hopefully with some diligence, I’ll be able to fit in like a native! Well, at least, a native once removed!

My first hurdle is learning the art of speaking formally!  My parents taught me Italian, but it was the Italian spoken between family and friends – not the Italian that I would use if speaking to the Prime Minister or the Pope!  (Even though, I don’t think Papa Francesco would mind if I spoke the familiar with him – he’s so cool that way!!)

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In Italian, when differentiating between the formal and the informal, they use the terms “dare del lei” or “dare del tu” – where “lei” is the formal form of you, and of course, “tu” is the informal.  My mom always said she loved English because “you” was “you” and it didn’t matter who you were addressing, it was the same either way!  That is so true, and therefore, we English speaking folk don’t have to change our pronouns!  For me, this is a very difficult thing to handle in Italian.  I find that my speech is stunted because I’m afraid off offending someone because I am not giving them the “lei”.  It’s not natural to me, whereas the “tu” has no problem coming out of my mouth!  I’ve decided that my only solution for this is to practice and practice until it becomes second nature to me.  I will be speaking all my Italian in the formal from now on (at least until I have it mastered).  I’ve already begun speaking to my Italian cousin this way, and at first, he thought I was speaking about someone else instead of addressing him formally!  Ha! Ha!  But when I explained what I was trying to accomplish, he understood but said that he found it hard to address me with the “lei”.  I just told him to pretend he was speaking to the Queen :)

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My second hurdle comes from some certain verb tenses – don’t ask me which ones because I have absolutely no clue what they’re called!  (All this business of linguistic terms like passato remoto, futuro anteriore, etc. mean absolutely nothing to me – heck, I don’t even know what they’re called in English!)  But they’re the ones which deal with the plural (we, they, them) of “should have”, “should be”, “could have”, and “could be”. I’m sure there are others, but right now those are the ones that come to mind.  I find myself getting stuck on those words and end up modifying my sentences to make it work!  A good recovery, but again, not spoken like a true Italian!

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And finally, my last hurdle (again, probably not really the last one) is the pronunciation!  I’ve been told that my American accent is charming, but I think people say that to be nice – what they’re really thinking is “who is this hick trying to speak our language”?  Sadly, I think this all stems back to the fact that I was embarrassed that I spoke Italian when I was growing up . I felt like I was different and I didn’t want to be different.  Therefore, I toned down my pronunciation and Americanized it.  I didn’t want to stand out in any way, and so I got sloppy with the “r’s” and the enunciation of all the syllables.  I also learned to speak rapidly, which I believe doesn’t allow you to say the words in all their eloquence.  So….I…. am… going… to… try…. to… slow… down… my…. speech…. and pay more attention to those “r’s”!

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