Category Archives: Holidays

La Befana Vien’di Notte….Trullalla!

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I posted this a few years ago….and wanted to share it again for a nice Holiday tradition!

Tonight’s the night….are your stockings hung?  All over Italy, children are awaiting the loot they will find when The Befana comes to visit.  And all women are getting ready for their day….or are they?  There’s always the question if being wished “Auguri” tomorrow is a good thing or not, since La Befana is an ugly old witch….and does it mean that whoever is wishing us cheer is thinking we are like La Befana?  Quite a dilemma, huh?  The story of La Befana is a cute one, and you can read about it on my post here:  La Befana by Tesoro Treasures.

But today, I wanted to share a fun little song from 1978, sung by the great Gianni Morandi, about La Befana.

Enjoy!

Trullalla, Trullalla!

The Befana comes at night

With shoes all broken

With a sock

Around her neck

With carbon, with iron, with brass.

On her broom

To fly

She comes from the sea, She comes from the sea.

And the snow shall fall

On the deserts of Maharaja

From Alaska to Canada.

She’ll need to leave

And she’ll sing while she leaves.

She’ll dress like a woman from the South

And with the sock she’ll arrive.

The storm will win,

And she’ll sing “Trullalla”

The Befana will arrive…

Trullalla…Trullalla!

A child,

The size of a little mouse,

Inserted himself in the chimney

To see her closeup.

When she arrives,

The Befana,

Without teeth,

Jumps and dances for some wime.

Then, hiding, she backs away

With the night stuck to her skirt.

And a warm wind will blow

on the deserts of the Maharaja

From Alaska to Canada.

Only one star will shine,

and she’ll have to follow it

to fly towards the North..

and the road is long, but

the storm will win.

And singing Trullalla

The Befana will go.

Too Many Tourists in Italy?

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Summertime is probably the busiest time of the year to travel to Italy – not only are there lots of foreigners visiting but Italians themselves take their vacations in August. I’ve always thought that it was not a very good idea for almost the whole of Italy to shut down during the Ferragosto Holiday (the weeks around August 15th). It seemed to me that the poor Italians had to visit the beaches and the mountains (or wherever they want to spend their holiday) when they were at the peak of crowds! I don’t know about you, but I don’t particularly like to sit on a beach among the hundreds of beach chairs all lined up in a row (and several rows deep!)….

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I like to be able to spread out and enjoy a tiny bit of paradise to myself. That is relaxing to me – not surrounded by hundreds of people. But that’s the way it is and maybe Italians are used to that!

But now, worse than ever, things are getting seriously crowded in many Italian tourist destinations that there is talk of limiting the number of tourists in these locations! Can you imagine planning a trip to the Cinque Terre or Venice and being turned away because they have reached their limit for the day? It’s as bad as visiting Disneyland or some other amusement park!

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According to the latest statistics, the amount of tourists in Venice and Florence has risen by 5%, in Capri 9%, and a staggering 20% in the Cinque Terre! This is putting a strain on lodging and on also on the life of those that live in these places. For example, there are only 5000 people who live in the Cinque Terre, but they get over 2 million visitors a year! Of course, this tourism brings lots of money into these areas, but it’s also becoming too much to handle.

It seems to me that there are logistical problems with trying to impose these limits – how do you close an entire city from more people coming in? It’s not like a paid attraction where you can limit visitors at the door. So I don’t think this will be successful but maybe other, less popular but just as beautiful locations, can be pumped up so that tourists are dispersed and not concentrated in just a few of these heavily populated vacation spots.

What are some of your favorite locations in Italy that may not be as crowded? Mine would be the Italian Lakes, even though I know they get their fair share of crowds during the summer months…

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Buon Natale Se Vuoi

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As we approach the Christmas holiday, I’m inspired to post a beautiful song sung by one of my favorite Italian artists, Eros Ramazzotti! His songs always have beautiful lyrics as well as moving music. This one speaks of the peace that Christmas should bring, but that is sadly missing in our world today. The official music video (which you can see here and which I could not embed into this post) was filmed under the gorgeous porticos of Bologna and shows Eros dressed up as a homeless man, meanwhile another famous Italian artist, Biaggio Antonacci, poses as a taxi driver. This song about Christmas is from his latest album Perfetto!

LA NOTTE VISTA DA QUI
SEMBRA BELLISSIMA
STELLE CHE ACCENDONO IL BLU
QUANTA LUCE C’E’
ECHI DI UN ALLELUJA
CHE NON SI SPENGONO MAI
OGGI E’ UN GIORNO SPECIALE, E’ NATALE ED E’ SEMPRE COSI’

DIMMI PERCHE’
E’ NATALE MA PACE NON C’E’
“BUON NATALE” MA IL SENSO QUAL E’ ?
UN SALUTO FORMALE NON E’
COME AMARE, QUANTI SOGNI FANNO GLI UOMINI
CHE IN UN GIORNO VANNO VIA
“BUON NATALE” SE VUOI, QUELLO VERO CHE E’ DENTRO DI NOI
DENTRO DI NOI

LA NEVE CHE CADE QUI
MI SEMBRA CANDIDA
MA NEL SILENZIO CHE FA
C’E’ UNA GUERRA
IN OGNI TERRA A META’
CHE NESSUNO MAI SALVERA’
ANCHE UN GIORNO SPECIALE FA MALE E TREGUA NON HA

DIMMI PERCHE’
E’ NATALE MA PACE NON C’E’
“BUON NATALE” MA IL SENSO QUAL E’ ?
UNA FRASE FORMALE NON E’
UN PENSIERO CHE VALE PERCHE’
C’E’ UN NATALE SE VUOI
MA PUO’ NASCERE SOLO DA NOI
DENTRO DI NOI

STELLA COMETA SARAI
STELLA PURISSIMA
SE DALL’ALTO DEI CIELI UN BEL GIORNO LA PACE VEDRAI

DIMMI PERCHE’
E’ NATALE MA PACE NON C’E’
“BUON NATALE” MA IL SENSO QUAL E’ ?
DUE PAROLE DA DIRE PERCHE’
E’ NORMALE
CRESCERA’ UN ENORME ALBERO
QUANDO FINIRA’ QUESTA FOLLIA
UN NATALE VERRA’ E PER SEMPRE CI CAMBIERA’
CI CAMBIERA’… CI CAMBIERA’

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The night seen from here

Seems beautiful.

Stars that light up the blue.

How much light there is.

Echoes of an alleluia

That never turn off.

Today is a special day, it’s Christmas and it’s always like this.

 

Tell me why

It’s Christmas but there’s no peace

“Merry Christmas”, but what does it mean?

A formal greeting, it is not

Like loving, how many dreams do men make

That disappear every day.

“Merry Christmas”, if you want, that which is real inside of us

Inside of us.

 

The snow that falls here

Seems like a cure

But in the silence it makes

There’s a war

In every country divided

That no one can ever save

Even a special day is bad and there is no truce.

 

Tell me why

It’s Christmas, but there is no peace

“Merry Christmas”, but what does it mean?

A formal phrase it’s not

A thought that means something because

It’s Christmas, if you want

But it can only be born from us

Inside of us.

 

Comet star, you’ll be

Pure star

If, from high in the heavens, a beautiful day of peace you’ll see.

 

Tell me why

It’s Christmas, but there is no peace.

“Merry Christmas”, but what does it mean?

Two words to say why

It’s normal

To grow a huge tree.

When will this folly be over

A Christmas will come and it will forever change us

It will change us…It will change us.

 

 

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 in the Moonlight – A Book Review

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With the gorgeous setting of 18th Venice during the mysterious season of  Carnevale, the story features a secret society, murder, suspense, and a love story.   Elizabeth McKenna’s latest novel, Venice in the Moonlight, was an enjoyable short read (it’s only 186 pages).  But perhaps it was too short…the conflicts were well developed but were resolved too quickly, in my opinion.  There wasn’t much depth to the resolutions , which left me wanting for more explanation.

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The story follows young Marietta – a widow at the age of 20 – who spent 5 years of her young life married to a horrible husband and an even worse mother-in-law.  After her husband’s sudden death, she was banished from the family home in Verona and sent back to her hometown of Venice.  She hoped to make amends with her widowed father who had married her off to this horrid family, only to find out that her father had died a few months earlier.  Marietta had been angry at her father for 5 years, trying to figure out why he had chosen to marry her into the horrible Gatti family.  But, as she finds out more and more about her father’s life during those 5 estranged years, she comes to realize that he only did what he felt was best for her and that he still loved her so much.  As she delves into the circumstances leading up to her father’s “accidental” death, she discovers that someone had been out to get him.  But why?  Her sleuthing into Venice’s dark corners puts her in danger herself.  Someone doesn’t want her to uncover some dark secrets and Marietta finds herself alone, not knowing whom she can trust.

Enter the love story (which, by the way, I ended up enjoying the most out of the story).  During her “exile” from Verona, she had been rescued by the handsome Nico when her carriage had gotten stuck in mud.  After arriving in Venice, she kept running into this handsome man.  At first, she didn’t trust him – he seemed to be a womanizer and a cad -just like her late husband had been.  She didn’t want to give her heart to someone just to have him use her and then discard her when he tired of her.  So she played it safe and pursued a strictly business relationship with him, trying to use his influence to discover more about her father’s death.  Time passed, and things changed…

All in all, the book was entertaining and I would recommend it for a quick read.  The setting was great and the author described 18th century Venice beautifully – down to the masks worn during the Carnevale season.  I just wish that the conflict resolutions weren’t dismissed so easily.  It seemed that the grave dangers the characters found themselves in, and which had been building up throughout the story, were resolved within moments.

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 Please enjoy this short interview with Elizabeth McKenna…

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  • How did you do research for your book?

 

Years ago, I had traveled to Italy and fell in love with it. When I decided to use Venice as a setting, I hauled out my photo album to refresh my memory. I also read the book, A Venetian Affair by Andrea di Robilant, which is a true love story set in the 18th century. It helped me with historical details. I also, of course, relied on the internet. I found a copy of Casanova’s memoirs online, which was extremely interesting.

 

  • How long have you been writing?

 

I was a journalism major, so I have been writing my whole adult life, but I didn’t start writing fiction until 2008.

 

  • If you could go back in time, where would you go?

 

I wouldn’t go back too far. I like the Hollywood glamor of the late 1940s/50s. I love to watch the black and white movies where the woman has semi-curled hair and a beautiful evening gown.

 

  • Favorite travel spot?

 

Anywhere in Europe. I love the architecture and the food. I am not a beach resort sort of person. I like to explore and learn things when I travel.

 

  • What   is your next project?

 

I am working on a contemporary romance titled, First Crush. Here is the description I have been using:

 

Remember your first crush? How your heart raced and your cheeks flushed whenever you saw him? Jessie Baxter does, and it’s happening all over again at her high school reunion. Lee Archer is The One Who Got Away. Despite Jessie’s best efforts, he only wanted to be friends. Fifteen years later, things are different. Lee wants more, but first Jessie has to unload some baggage—the biggest one being a psycho ex-husband. Will Jessie learn to trust again and make her first crush into her last love?

 

Elizabeth McKenna’s latest novel will have you remembering the angst of high school, the grief of a failed relationship, and the happiness of true love.

 

Would you like to win a copy of her 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 and Barnes & Noble.

 

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Easter and the Colomba

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Easter is quickly approaching – warm Spring days, blossoms on the trees – all the beauty that this special Season brings with it.  And part of our Italian heritage’s celebration includes the traditional Colomba!  This year, we almost thought we wouldn’t be having one since they were very late in arriving here in the Bay Area.  Normally, I pick one up in San Francisco’s North Beach but as of last week, they hadn’t arrived yet and I wasn’t certain that I would have the opportunity to drive to North Beach again before Easter.  Frantically searching in the local area, I found one at a nearby grocery store, Lundardi’s, in Los Gatos.  Thankfully, we will continue with our Colomba Easter tradition for this year!

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The Columba is a sweet bread covered in crystallized sugar granules.  Colomba in Italian means dove – and the bread is in the shape of a dove.  Sometimes almonds are used for the eyes!  This is a traditional Easter treat, just like Panettone is a traditional Christmas goody.

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