Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Music - Italian Style

Music is a big part of my life, and when I travel I love to sample as much of it as possible.

Here is a sampling of some of the music I was able to listen to while in

Chamber Music
I got to sit in the front row, and it was so amazing to see more of the subtlties of the musicians.. the foot tapping, the breathing, the passion..

This musicians of this group from Venice stood while they played. There was no conductor, per se. Rather, the lead and solist violinist took charge. The harpsichord was wonderful. I felt transplanted in time.

This young woman below was an amazing pianist. I could not believe the strength in her hands.

Experiencing jazz in a piano bar was great fun.

Here is a new and upcoming musician... Guido. He is taking piano lessons from one of the jazz players (above), and sat down to entertain the clients of the piano bar during a break. He is twelve and very cleaver, and enjoyed practicing his English with me.

Cooking/Culinary Arts and Fashion

I seem to include a lot of food things on this blog. If you wonder why that is, it is because I consider cooking and food, another creative outlet. As in fashion design, the culinary arts have elements and principles of design… all which need to be combined creatively to come up with the finished product.

Once I return home from Italy, I am preparing dinner for the Film Club I am a member of. How fun! My plan was to work on my Italian by buying an Italian cookbook with hopefully step-by-step instructions, so that I would have a little assistance with the text. Indeed I was able to find such a book, and I have been enjoying going through it, trying to decipher certain things, and planning a menu for the group.

I decided I needed to have a practice run, so I could see how I am doing, and see if there are any words that become critical to the translation. So, I invited a new friend to dinner, with fair warning, “I am translating”.

Here is my planned menu (and not all of comes from the cookbook text). Some of it I am winging, either from looking at the pictures, or from some of the food I have savored over and eaten here.

Sfoglia di pane con cipolla, e pomodori freschi e olive
Bread with onions, fresh tomatoes and olives

Primo Piatto
Orecchiette con pomodoro, rucola e ricotta
Orecchiette (pasta) with tomoto, rucola and ricotta

Secondo Piatto
Pollo con aglio, olivi, e pesto
Chicken with garlic, olives and pesto

Il Dolce
Biscotti amaretti
Amaretto Biscotti

My dinner guest is Giada Floris.., who is an artist I met on my last visit. She will be conducting a workshop in June for the Design Retreat I am hosting here in Italy. I thought dinner would be a nice way of getting to know her better.

So, the dinner progressed…

First… take a look at the recipe, and then the number of words I had to look up to understand! I thought I was doing well in Italian, but this humbled me.

Then… some of the ingredients, as I prepared.

The cheese that was called for was new to me. It was a aged and smoked ricotta. It looked and smelled a little strange, but hey... that is what this is all about, right? experimentation.

The pasta was orecchiette, and I was happy to let Giada tell me about the art of "al dente". Needless to say, I put her in charge. Here she is measuring it out, and draining it once it was cooked.

There was one Italian word I could not find in my dictionary, so Giatta explained it to me. The word is saltatevi. It translates to jump things in the pan. Basically, I liken it to the technique you use when you flip an omelette. I had never thought that one does that with pasta.

So... time to eat.
Here we have the crostini and the salad

followed by the pasta (Il Primo)

and then the Il Secondo...

and of course wine...

We were too full to eat dessert..

The entire dinner process was a blast: from the planning to grocery shopping to translating to the preparation and finally the eating (Mangia!)
The meal lasted for two hours,which is how the Italians love to do things... nice and slow, and full of good conversation.
I thank Giada for being my 'court taster'. The recipe was approved and I will serve it at the film club meeting (amongst others).

Sunday, January 17, 2010

On Becoming a Fannullone

Bruno, my Italian sweetheart, aged 74, taught me a new word last summer.

It is Fannullone. I had to look this one up in the dictionary the first time he told me about it. He was using it to describe himself, that day.

We (Bruno, Santina and I) were sitting at a café having our morning coffee. On this particular day, Bruno intended to take it easy, as he had been working hard on renovating the apartment I now rent. He planned to relax (although I don’t really think he knows how … and don’t I know that story well). So, when I found fannullone in my Italian/English dictionary, I nearly rolled off my chair from laughter. It means, “a lazy-good-for-nothing”. I instantly decided this should be something we all want to be, every now and then….. As it is for Bruno, some days he works, and some days he does not.

Life is too short to work everyday, so I am trying very hard to learn the art of being a fannullone. If I need to lighten my mood, and/or bring a smile to my face, all I have to do is think about the word, ….. and Bruno.

It works every time.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Friday, January 15, 2010

Costume: from the Opera (with detail shots)

I was fortunate to be able to see a collection of costume from the Verona Filharmonica Lyric Opera collection. Many of the pieces were older, from early in the century. The level of detail here was amazing.

Below are some photos I would like to share.

Two Costumes from Aida



The Hunt for a Dress (again).. and later Fabric (Tessuto)

For those of you who have followed this blog, you will know that last summer I went on a 'hunt' for the perfect dress to wear at my son's wedding. I found it, and shoes, and a purse, etc. here in Verona, and they were lovely.

OK.. so I have another occasion that warrants a new dress. I am very excited to say that I am to be honored at the end of March at a black tie event hosted by the San Diego chapter of the Fashion Group International. I am being presented an award for Educator of the Year.

So, the dress hunt began again, and I found it in my favorite boutique here in Verona, Scarabicchio. Arrigo was a great help in assisting me in my search.

The minute I put it on, I knew it was 'the dress'.

This morning I had the dress with me when I met the usual cast of characters for morning coffee at the cafe. Santina was holding the dress up, and Pierre Luigi looked at it and said (and I quote)... "Molto Sexy". Now, it is probably one of those ... you had to be there... moments. If you can imagine a man with a strong Italian accent saying this. Molto means 'very'. Sexy, you know.

After coffee, I headed to the fabric store (also discussed in my June 2009 blog entries). The store is Menegazzi Tessuti. Paola, the owner assisted me.
Below is my fabric choice for a stole. It is cream wool lainacotte (a type of lightweight boiled wool).

Of course, this trip, I budgeted for a purchase at the fabric store, so as you can see, I bought a couple of pieces. But yes.. fabric was also on sale!

This fabric is French, and is a type of fake fur. It has a cotton base, and a viscose pile.

This fabric is a nice cotton eyelet... it will be come a dress of some sort.

How fun..

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Italian Fashion... Attention to the Details, Part I

I spend many hours shooting photos of the fashions in the Italian store windows...
I am so impressed with the attention to detail that exists here.

Below are a few images I'd like to share...

Brusalavecia: A Traditional Celebration of the New Year in Verona

On January 6th, I witnessed a special celebration in Verona. The day was a celebration of Ephiphany, and all things were closed.

In the early evening, a special even took place in Piazza Bra, where the Roman Arena is located.

A figure of an old witch-like woman was constructed, and the intent was to celebrate the new year, by burning her and all she stood for.

Here you see her, carrying a bag of goods on her back.

The piazza was packed (as you can see below), and children were in attendance with their families. A ceremony took place, with a drumming performance, many discussions (most of which I did not understand), and then the burning ceremony.

In short, the burning of the old woman signifies the end of all the bad things of the year closing, and the beginning of all the good things in the New Year.
Here you see a view of the old woman (from behind, as this is where I managed to squeeze into a spot).

Below you see her burning.

Below I have translated (with my best efforts), the information presented in a brief flyer I found at the tourist office.

Events like the Brusalavecia are the reason one travels: to witness the moments in life, and the celebrations of people in different countries.

In English (my translation)
All people of earth and every latitude celebrate diversely, but more or less the in same manner, the passage of the bad to the good season, the reawakening of nature, the end of an old year and the beginning of the new light of day which conquers over the dark of the night.

The use of fire, in particular, which belongs to a tradition full of significant symbolism and religion, but that has a practical use; to clean the country of its remaining wastes and with the ashes, it fertilizes the ground to therefore produce new fruits.

Carrying an old widespread tradition of the valleys and their surrounding mountains to the heart of the city is a symbolic manner of approach the place of our region.

In Italian
Tutti i popoli della terra ad ogni latitudine celebrano in forme diverse ma più o meno nello stesso periodo it passaggio dalla cattiva alla buona stagione, it risveglio della natura, la fine dell’anno vecchio e l’inizio del nuovo la luce del giorno che prende il sopravvento sul buio della notte.

L’uso del fucco, in particolare, apparetiene ad una tradizione piena di significati simbolici e religioso, ma che ha anche un’utilità practica; si ripulisce la campagna dai suio resti rinsecchiti e con le ceneri si fertilizza la terra perchè produca nuovi frutti.

Riportare un’antica tradizione diffusa neele valli e sui monti circostanti, nel cuore della città, è un modo simbolico di avvicinare il capuluogo al suo territorio.

Tutti I materiali utilizzati sono naturali e in gran parte provenienti dale areee vallive della bassa veronese e dai monti Lessini.

And some more pictures.

After.. you could watch families skate in the man-made rink in front of the Roman arena.