Ferragosto

The Feriae Augusti were introduced by the emperor Augustus in 18 BC. This was an addition to earlier ancient Roman festivals which fell in the same month, such as the Vinalia rustica or the Consualia, which celebrated the harvest and the end of a long period of intense agricultural labor. The Feriae Augusti, in addition to its propaganda function, linked the various August festivals to provide a longer period of rest, called Augustali, which was felt necessary after the hard labour of the previous weeks. During these celebrations, horse races were organised across the Empire, and beasts of burden (including oxen, donkeys and mules), were released from their work duties and decorated with flowers. Such ancient traditions are still alive today, virtually unchanged in their form and level of participation during the Palio dell’Assunta which takes place on 16 August in Siena. Indeed, the name “Palio” comes from the pallium, a piece of precious fabric which was the usual prize given to winners of the horse races in ancient Rome. During the festival, workers greeted their masters, who in return would give them a tip. The modern Italian name of the holiday comes directly from the Latin name.

Nowadays the week of Ferragosto (15th of August) is when Italy stops and hedonism rages. Hard working people go on holiday, everyone is heading for the beach or the mountains, and if the catastrophic combination of stars comes to our attention this week, we can make the tranquilliser on the nightstand because no one available and no office is working (or, if so, very symbolic). Those who, by some miracle, do not burn at the waterfront, and are on vacation or are not yet on holiday, they are required to have a minimum of a large family jumble with a compulsory grilling or picnic. The cities are empty, at least the townspeople leave, the tourists remain, and even in the smallest village there is some parties.

No matter where we go in Italy, we certainly have some great programs: a lot of museums have an extraordinary opening around the country, in Jesolo all night Gigi D’Agostino mixes music, Rome is on the banks of the Tevere, all over the street and streetfood booths are everywhere, with concerts and fireworks. The line is infinite, and even if we do not plan with it, we will definitely find a party to join.

So let’s go, cheers & Buon Ferragosto!! 🙂

P.S.: …where is my Aperol Spritz? 🙂

La lista dei desideri – 9.

Sardegna again 🙂 This island is an unlimited source of inspiration!! Today I will introduce you a little island, which called Tavolara. It is one of the most beautiful Sardinian islands. And it is one of the most recommended excursions. You want to visit it because you like to, even just for a day, see a pristine place far away from modernity. To reach Tavolara, you have to take a ferry from one of these three towns:

  • Porto San Paolo
  • Olbia
  • Golfo Aranci

From Porto San Paolo, the journey by ferry takes about 15-20 minutes. From Olbia and Golfo Aranci, the journey by ferry takes, respectively, one hour and one hour and thirty minutes. There are, at least, four main reasons to visit Tavolara Island while you’re spending a holiday along Sardinian north-eastern coast:

  1. The island is a real paradise for diving. Punta Filasca, cala Corsi and the so-called Frana dei mufloni are some of the most renowned dive sites. The wreck of the Thalassa, at a depth of about fifty meters, is only for experienced divers. Teddja Liscia is full of colours and marine life.
  2. Tavolara is divided into two parts. The northern coast, military zone, is off limits. The other part of the island, called Spalmatore di Terra, is the tourist area. Here you will find pristine beaches, a marina and some small restaurants.
  3. The hiking path towards the peak of the island is one of the best things to do. The first part is simple but becomes more difficult as you go up. Since the island is protected in Area marina protetta Tavolara – Punta Coda Cavallo (a marine protected area), you have to be accompanied by a guide.
  4. Near Tavolara there are two other small islands to see: Molara and Molarotto.

Its highest point, Monte Cannone, is 565 metres (1,854 feet) above sea level. A cove and beach can be found at each end of the island, Spalmatore di Fuori at the northeast, and Spalmatore di Terra at the southwest. Currently, the island is inhabited by only a handful of families, and has a small cemetery and summer restaurant. There are no roads or hotels, and the only inhabitable stretch is a white-sand tongue that’s best measured from end to end in steps.

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History

The Kingdom of Tavolara is a tiny kingdom claiming independence in the 19th and 20th centuries in Tavolara Island, off the northeast coast of Sardinia. Set up by the Bertoleoni family, sanctioned by Charles Albert, King of Sardinia, it claimed to be one of the smallest kingdoms in the world. Giuseppe Bertoleoni claimed to be its monarch. When he died in the 1840s, his eldest son became “King” Paolo I. During his reign, in 1861 the Italian government paid 12,000 lire for land at the northeast end of the island to build a lighthouse, which began operating in 1868. After Paolo’s death in 1886, a number of newspapers published the report that according to his will, the island had become a republic. The New York Times described a government with president and council of six elected every six years by a vote of the people, male and female. Others reported on Tavolara’s alleged third presidential election in 1896. These reports, however, did not end the Bertoleone “kingdom”. The third “king” of Tavolara was Carlo I, who was succeeded upon his death in 1928 by his son “King” Paolo II. Paolo went abroad, however, and left Carlo’s sister Mariangela as regent in his absence. Mariangela died in 1934, leaving the “kingdom” to Italy. Her nephew Paolo II still claimed the kingdom until his death in 1962, a year that marked the installation of a NATO station on the island. The present head of the Bertoleoni family is Tonino Bertoleoni, who runs “Da Tonino“, a restaurant on the island. Politically, the interests of the micronation are represented in its external dealings by Ernesto Geremia of La Spezia, Italy, who has written a history of the island.

Mozzarella: A to Z

Admit it, mozzarella is one of those things about Italy you just can’t resist 🙂 Now I have collected everything I know or could find about this cheese.

Basics

Mozzarella is a traditionally southern Italian dairy product made from Italian buffalo’s milk by the pasta filata method. Mozzarella received a Traditional Specialities Guaranteed certification from the European Union in 1998. This protection scheme requires that mozzarella sold in the European Union is produced according to a traditional recipe. The TSG certification does not specify the source of the milk, so any type of milk can be used. In Italy, mozzarella made with the milk of the Italian water buffalo is an important variety. The Italian buffalo mozzarella sold as Mozzarella di Bufala Campana is protected under the EU’s Protected Designation of Origin scheme and may only be produced in select locations in the regions of Campania, Lazio, Apulia and Molise. Fresh mozzarella is generally white, but may vary seasonally to slightly yellow depending on the animal’s diet. Due to its high moisture content, it is traditionally served the day after it is made, but can be kept in brine for up to a week or longer when sold in vacuum-sealed packages. Low-moisture mozzarella can be kept refrigerated for up to a month, though some shredded low-moisture mozzarella is sold with a shelf life of up to six months. Mozzarella of several kinds is also used for most types of pizza and several pasta dishes, or served with sliced tomatoes and basil in Caprese salad.

Buffalo’s milk

In Italy, the cheese is produced nationwide using Italian buffalo’s milk under the government’s official name Mozzarella di latte di bufala because Italian buffalo is in all Italian regions.

Cow’s milk

Fior di latte (written also as one word), is made from fresh pasteurized or unpasteurized cow’s milk and not water buffalo milk, which greatly lowers its cost. Perfect for fillings and frying. Outside Italy “mozzarella” not clearly labeled as deriving from water buffalo can be presumed to derive from cow milk. Mozzarella affumicata means smoked mozzarella.

Comparison

To produce 1 kg (2.2 lb) of cheese, a cheese maker requires 8 kg (18 lb) of cow milk but only 5 kg (11 lb) of buffalo milk. Producing 1 kg of butter requires 14 kg (31 lb) of cow milk but only 10 kg (22 lb) of buffalo milk.

Sheep’s milk

Mozzarella of sheep milk, sometimes called “mozzarellapecorella”, is typical of Sardinia, Abruzzo and Lazio, where it is also called ‘mozzapecora’. In Sardinia, it’s really common to find mozzarella made from sheep’s milk. 

Goat’s milk

Mozzarella of goat’s milk is of recent origin and the producers are still few; among the reasons for this new production is the need to offer a kind of mozzarella to those who do not digest cow’s milk, because goat’s milk is more digestible. Goat’s milk mozzarella is made in very few dairies. As goat’s milk is easier to digest than cow’s milk, many producers have begun increasing quantities. Called “caprotella” (capra the Italian word for goat), it’s light but also very flavorful.

Other facts

Light variant
Mozzarella is rather high in calories. One hundred grams contains about 288 calories (for buffalo mozzarella), or 260 for the fiordilatte variant. Many producers make a “light” version weighing in at 170 calories per 100 grams.

For pizza
Many restaurants use a mozzarella variant that contains less fat and water than traditional mozzarella, as it ensures easier cooking and a less soggy crust.

Kusturica 🙂 
In 2011, the famous Serbian director Emir Kusturica produced the film Mozzarella Stories directed by the young Italian director, Edoardo De Angelis.

 

 

My favourite travel apps – 2.

Let’s continue! 🙂

Citymapper

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Most likely you know this too, or have heard of it.
It’s from A to B trip planning tool with ETA including all modes (subway, bus, rail, ferry, bike/car sharing, Uber). With real-time departures, transit maps, line status and real-time disruption alerts. Uber integration. Bike routing and live bike share info. Constant updates. Everything you need and may not even realize you need to manage your life in the city. Its coverage is constantly growing. Currently available in the following countries:

  • USA and Canada: New York City, San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, Washington DC, Baltimore, Seattle, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal.
  • Asia: Singapore, Hong Kong, Seoul, Tokyo.
  • Australia: Sydney, Melbourne.
  • Europe: London, Manchester, Birmingham, Paris, Lyon, Berlin, Hamburg, Brussels / Belgium, Amsterdam / Randstad, Madrid, Barcelona, Milan, Rome, Lisbon, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Moscow, St Petersburg.
  • Latin America: Mexico City, São Paulo.
  • +you can actually VOTE for your city and they’ll add it citymapper.com/nextcity 🙂

Citymapper is, quite simply, the best travel app to be introduced to New York City” – New York Times

Now forget about Google Maps because Citymapper eats Google Maps for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.” – Tech in Asia

Vizeat

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VizEat is gourmet travellers favorite app. “Go for immersive food experiences with locals in 100 countries! Visiting Madrid? The best paella is waiting for you at Marco’s. A weekend in Rome? Learn how to cook real lasagna at Lucia’s. A layover in New York? Sip a mojito on Mickael’s rooftop!” Sounds good, hah? I need to be honest here, I never tried this live, but I promised to myself that once I’m back in Rome, I will use this, as it’s the best way to get to know new people and amazing home made Italian food and recipes.
Rated an average of 4.9/5 by travelers, 20 000 local hosts put the spotlight on specialties of their city, traditional recipes and fun… Do not miss a thing : enjoy an unforgettable culinary and human experience!

How it actually works:
– Select your destination or choose the option “Around me”
– Discover our hosts’ experiences or let us inspire you with our top lists: cooking classes, market tours , secret places, brunchs, dinners…
– Exchange with your favorite host and book your food experience
– Share an authentic and convivial moment: Your best travel memory starts now!

“Total change of scenery… An absolutely excellent Italian dinner, served by an exceptional host in an unusual location. Impeccable price-performance ratio: Something new that should not be missed under any circumstances.”

“An unbelievable evening. Six strangers at the table, but the impression that they’ve always known each other, like an evening with friends. We dined amazingly well, drank awesome cocktails and didn’t even realize how time was passing.”

Sounds convincing, hah? 🙂

Flush Toilet Finder

🙂

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Flush Toilet Finder is the quickest, simplest way of finding a public bathroom or restroom. Simply open the app and it will display the nearest toilets to you. It’s free, no in-app purchases and has over 190,000 bathrooms in its database. You can even search for restrooms without an internet connection!

– Search through 190,000 public loos all around the world!
– Find which WC’s have disabled access, a fee for usage or require a key!
– Get immediate directions on how to locate them!
– Add a toilet to increase our list of toilets and improve the app for everyone!
– Rate and report a toilet by swiping to the left on a toilet in the list!

 
P.S.: …and how cute the icon is?! 🙂

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Cucina italiana – Senza carne – 9.

I love cheese and I love them all. Also I have already expressed my feelings towards Burrata, Mozzarella is kind of obvious, but there is a third player here: Z i z z o n a (literally: big boob) 🙂

Where is this name coming from? There was an Italian comedy “Benvenuti al Sud”, in which the leading actor Claudio Bisio invents a kind of mozzarella, which he calls the Zizzona di Battipaglia, which allegedly weighs an incredible 5 kg. After the film’s success, in 2012, the trademark Zizzona di Battipaglia was registered, for a brand that produces 800 g mozzarellas in the shape of a breast. In Italian, “zizza”, is a slang word for breasts. 🙂

https://9gag.com/gag/aM9jzbX/this-is-what-a-real-mozzarella-from-southern-italy-looks-like-this-is-a-zizzona-literally-big-boob

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My favourite travel apps – 1.

This will be a super subjective list, and I have only included those apps I’m really using and found it useful. Besides the obvious google maps, airbnb, booking.com, tripadvisor I selected the ones which have additional features and still they are all free to download.

Google Trips

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Google made a name for itself in the travel space with their flight function and it seems their latest release is no different. When it debuted, hackers all over the world were excited. If you have a Gmail account, it automatically uses your email to populate reservations of all your bookings (hotels, museum entrance vouchers, etc.), which for privacy pragmatists might not be ideal. Other trip organizer apps like Tripcase require you to forward reservations to an email address. But if ease on the road is your thing, and you have a Gmail account, Google Trips might be for you. I was impressed with the variety of suggestions it offered for less touristic places. For bigger destinations, the application offers day tours like “City Souks” or “Literary London,” which you can download in a WiFi spot and then access later on without data. “However, one caveat: when searching for things to do in Lebanon, it populated the results with activities in Syria and Israel, two countries that are impossible to visit from Beirut at the moment, due to ongoing geopolitical issues. While a quick search, conversation with a local or guidebook would let you know that, it is something to take into consideration when using an algorithm for travel advice.”

Travel + Leisure

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Besides the app I do recommend their website too, many useful content, reviews, super up to date and local recommendations:

http://www.travelandleisure.com/

Travel + Leisure’s ever-expanding lexicon of cities around the world can be used for inspiration, or to create custom itineraries. Simply select your hotels, favourite restaurants, shops, bars, and things to do, and let the T+L Travel Guide map them out: you won’t waste any time figuring out how to get from point A to point B. Then you can download the map, as well the full city guides offline use, perfect!

Foursquare City Guide

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This app is also veteran, but besides the early super popular “check-in” feature, it actually has great and useful content. You can find the best restaurants, bars and many more. Foursquare City Guide will lead you to the perfect spot, anywhere in the world. Get helpful, positive tips from our trusted global community and keep track of where you’ve been and where you want to go, all in one place. You can join a community of people just like you who love to explore and seek out hidden gems and read short tips written by real people all over the world. (No negative rants or businesses paying for positive reviews.) You can create lists for any occasion! Keep a running to-do of neighbourhood  hot spots, or places you want to try while traveling. You can also add tastes, rate places, and lifelog where you’ve been to get hyper-personalized recommendations. You can follow friends, brands, and influencers and uncover the best experience possible with millions of tips about off-the-menu items, speakeasy entrances, wifi passwords, and much more. You can keep a history of the places you’ve been. Never forget a memory, photo, or the name of that incredible pizza place you went to while visiting Rome 🙂

If you are still into checking in or becoming a “mayor of your local coffee shop”, you can download their sister app, Foursquare Swarm 🙂

Momondo

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I’m using this app for many years now and still couldn’t find any better one, which is that easy to use. You can find, compare & book flights and also hotels with this beautiful all-in-one app. You can actually search and compare billions of flight and hotel prices all over the world from wherever you are. It is free, easy and fun to use. Momondo is independent and dedicated to price transparency for all travelers. They search major airlines, low cost carriers and travel agencies to give you the best flight ticket comparison there is. With this booking app, you can book a flight directly from your device wherever you are. Price Calendar helps you find the best airfare deals for your budget by showing the average prices on different dates in an interactive calendar. Filter tickets quickly and easily by stops, departure or arrival time, airlines, airport, ticket type and travel site. Also you can find hotel deals. It’s beautiful and user friendly – finding a flight or hotel has never looked this good or been this easy.

 

Il buco della serratura

I know that all tourists books about Rome are recommending this place. Still, due to the fact that it’s not that easy to find and the unusual view, it’s one of my favourite spots in Rome. A peek-a-boo view of St. Peter’s dome through the keyhole on the gate to the headquarters of the Knights of Malta (Cavalieri di Malta) on Rome’s Aventine Hill.
Peek through this keyhole and you will see a garden path that ends with bushes perfectly framing the dome of St. Peter’s in the distance. What you are peering though are the gardens of the Villa del Priorato di Malta, one of the Rome properties of the famous Knights of Malta.

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You need to look for this building and its gate. Usually there is a long queue there, but sometimes no one, so really, remember this building, otherwise you are going to walk further 🙂 Atop the Aventine Hill at Piazza Cavalieri di Malta in Via di S. Sabina.

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And here are my own very bad quality pictures I was able to capture with my iPhone 🙂 (with the great help of a random professional photographer tourist guy, thank you again!! :)) But give it a try, with proper equipment you can have your own photo.

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