Tag Archives: Italy

My women of influence…..Louise

I’ve long been thinking about a series of posts on women, past and present, who have influenced my life.  Wrapped up in that word ‘influenced’ ……… inspired, nurtured, loved, set the bar high, blazed the trail, lived with grace, risen to the task, used their gifts, modeled kindness, exhibited joie de vivre………..

I awoke this morning, the 113th anniversary of the birth of my Aunt Louise, determined to begin….

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Born to Italian immigrants in a tiny mining town in Colorado, she and her younger sister, my mother, Theresa

(see post ‘Mothers Day:  my definition…’)

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were the first in their family to attend college, thanks to their older brother who sold his truck to make it possible.  Both graduated from Colorado State Teacher’s College.  Louise, after teaching for several years went on to earn a Master’s Degree at Columbia University as Teacher of Spanish

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She studied Spanish in Madrid,  fearlessly traveled the world as a single woman

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Piazza San Marco, Venice 1930

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taught high school in what was then the Panama Canal Zone, worked in the Spanish Embassy in Washington D.C., as well as the American Embassies in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and La Paz, Bolivia.

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Returning to the United States she taught high school Spanish for nearly twenty years, retiring in 1965 as her hearing was deteriorating due to an infection contracted while she was in Panama.  Wanting to add to her retirement income, she brushed up her typing and shorthand skills acquired at Woodbury College in 1942 and went on to work several more years.  In 1971 she traveled to Italy, for the last time, again visiting the Piazza San Marco

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as well as the hometowns of her parents, Bosconero and Castellamonte.

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Louise never married, never owned a car.  Always ready to travel, she organized trips to Catalina, San Francisco, Monterey, Disneyland, Olvera Street and Knott’s Berry Farm when I was a child; often including cousins and her sister, Nota.  At the end of the day, all piled into the bed that pulled out from the wall at Aunt Nota’s, ever the teacher, she would quiz us on current events as we drifted off to sleep. 

A beloved aunt, she influenced and enriched my life in so many ways.

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Filed under Family history, Inspiration, Travel

Italian Feast…..part 2

Being Italian means serving food at every possible occasion and lots of it…Christmas Eve Eve is certainly no exception.

Following the Bagna Cauda, pasta of course!!

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favorite sauces added to the menu by family and guests:

red sauce with Vodka

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mushroom ragout

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red sauce with sausage and vegetables

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red sauce with tuna and peas

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pesto

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puttanesca

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each one delicious!!!

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In my world, no meal is complete without something sweet:

zabaglione: egg custard with Marsala

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and afogato:  vanilla ice cream, with coffee, chocolate sauce,

and whipped cream

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heritage honored – traditions kept alive – memories made

Grazie, Cugini!!!

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Filed under Family history, Food, Holidays

Italian Feast…..part 1

‘Twas the night before Christmas…….Eve

Christmas Eve Eve!

Each year, those of us who are family and those lucky enough to be invited, gather at Gail and John’s,

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around the kitchen island for Bagna Cauda.

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(I may be the family historian, but these cousins keep alive the Italian traditions of the palate!)

All I would need to make the meal complete:

bagna cauda

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cabbage

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dill bread

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The Bagna Cauda  – ‘hot bath’ in Italian:  a mixture of olive oil, butter, sliced garlic, anchovies and cream.

The method for eating:  dip cabbage in the hot bath with one hand, while taking a slice of dill bread with the other, catching the dripping sauce and cabbage on the bread, and into the mouth it goes – absolutely sublime!!!

Others like to dip carrots, celery, fennel, small potatoes, peppers….

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…this is just the beginning…wine is being poured, acquaintances are being renewed, little ones are wonderfully under foot, absent dear ones are being recalled and missed…

….blessing are being counted and appreciated….body and soul are being fed….

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Filed under Family history, Food, Holidays, Interiors

and more shutters…

…which serve the same purpose as their colorful counterparts, but have become decorative in a very different way.  Lacking bright COLOR, they allow the architecture to take center stage, while serving as visual definition to windows and doors

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A bit more somber and sophisticated….

do you have a preference???

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Shutters…a design lesson

Just as every human life needs purpose, so do, in my opinion the elements of design – a purpose other than simply decorative.  Traditionally, shutters served a practical purpose.  They were hinged and equipped with latches so that they might be secured across doors and windows to provide privacy or protection.

In the process they become decorative as well – especially when splashed with COLOR!

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Provence (272)

Provence (170)

Provence (6)

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Can you see and sense the difference purpose makes……..????

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Roman Doors – the Sequel

Standing in the light drizzle of an April afternoon near the Spanish steps, we’ve lifted and let fall the door knocker to announce our presence….we’ve waited…. and now have been invited to enter!  

What could be behind these doors which open directly onto the busy sidewalks of Rome?

Shall we grasp the knob to find out?

Although dreaming of being admitted, there is something about letting one’s imagination run free…..

The door knobs are almost exclusively placed in the center of the heavy paneled doors.  While not quite as quirky and diverse as the knockers, they are still quite decorative.

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even a pair of doors has the knob right in the center

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 the plain ones are polished to perfection by the touch of many hands

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What is your vision of what lies behind these doors, or have you actually used the knob………???

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Roman Doors

The recent media attention on the Papacy has sent me to the pictures of our last visit to Vatican City and Rome. 

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As we walked the streets of the city,  I was drawn to all the doors.  So many tantalizing questions:  what interior space lies behind each one,  who lives or works there,  what treasures might be within,  what dramas might have played out inside, who designed the hidden spaces – the doors themselves…..who chose the intriguing hardware for the doors………….???

Whose hands have raised these door knockers to signal their presence and wish to be admitted…………???

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So tempting to knock….and wait…………………..

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