Pizza!

If you live in America, chances are high that you’ve had pizza before.  But it definitely wasn’t anywhere near the true Italian pizza!

Pizza originated as simple flatbread created by people of ancient Greece, Babylon, Egypt, Israel, and Rome.  Some believed that the Jewish Matzoth, a simple type of flatbread, introduced it to Italy.  The flatbreads in these times were used as edible bowls and were easily made with just water and flour.  Other ingredients were introduced to start making the familiar pizza we know today.  Herbs, spices, and olive oil were the first things to be added to the flatbread to give it some flavor.  Next was mozzarella cheese from Indian water buffalo.  And unlike the cheese we Americans are used to, this cheese is fresh and not dried out.  Tomatoes were the last things to be introduced.  They were thought to be poisonous at the time and then soon became a “peasant food.”  Tomatoes were eventually brought into the aristocratic society and they became a part of this beloved dish soon after.

So what’s so different about the Italian pizza?  One was mentioned: the cheese.  Most American places used processed cheese in their recipes, while the mozzarella used in Italian pizzas are fresh.  The ways the two are cooked are also drastically different.  Traditional Italian pizzas are baked in an open wood fire oven, opposed to a regular, electric oven.  And last but not least, the toppings vary.  In Italy, toppings range from just cheese and spices to vegetables and anchovies, to boiled eggs and bacon.  A much wider variety is available for any set of taste buds.

If you ever visit Italy, make sure you don’t leave without trying a true Italian pizza…or two or three or six.

 

Sources:

http://www.lifeinitaly.com/food/pizza-history.asp

http://aboutpizza.com/page.asp?PageID=44

 

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D’Angelo Family Name

There was a ton of noble families that came out of the Italian region of Venice. One of these families was the D’Angelos. Folks in this region usually went by one name, but around the 10th century,  as the population increased, a last name had to be adopted. D’Angelo is said to have been a nickname for the first one to carry this name. Since D’Angelo means “From the Angel”, its possible the first one with this name was one of a religious status. As I talked about before in one of my earlier posts, my family is from the northern part of Italy, in the Abbruzo region. Now last names that started in Italy are categorized by a large number of spelling variations. This ties into the northern region in that Northern names often end in the letter “o” where as the southern names end more so in an “i”.

 

http://www.houseofnames.com/d-angelo-family-crest

Popes & Motorbikes

Did you know the pope owned a motorbike? No, me neither. He has a Ford Fiesta too, I always wanted a Ford Fiesta that was green. But alas, the pope isn’t selling his Ford. He is however selling his Harley, which you can now buy somewhere, probably ebay. So why does the pope have a motorbike? Well if like myself you were hoping you were about to find out our new pope was once a leather clad disgruntled youth you are in no luck, all your luck is gone. Instead it was gifted to him in June when about forty thousand men and women (hopefully not children) came to Rome to have themselves and their beloved Harley’s blessed. They were there to celebrate the 110th birthday of Harley Davidson. The money garnered from the auction will be given to local charitable organizations, which is less surprising. And now we’re free to start regifting.

Carnevale Di Venezia

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cODcumsVAxY

Venice is carnival is known for its bigger then life costumes and over the top masks. The Venice Carnival origins are to be found in two ancient traditions: the Latin Saturnalia and the Greek Dionysian cults – major religious festivals involving the use of masks and symbolic representations.  The nobles of the city would have richly designed masks made for them to wear for every night of the carnival.  The Carnival in Venice history as an official public holiday, however, began only in 1296, when a decree of the Senate declared a public holiday the day before the beginning of Lent. During WWII Mussolini banned the carnival but was not fully reborn until 1979 when a group of enthusiasts attempted to revive Venetian Carnival. Now it’s back bigger than ever and people travel all over the globe to take part in the diverse art’s from theater to street performers. It creates a mystical, magical dreamland.   

 

http://carnevale.venezia.it/info_venezia.php

http://www.magicofvenezia.com/servlet/the-template/venetiancarnival/Page

 

Food

Hands down my favorite thing about being Italian is the amazing food. Of course, you don’t have to have family from Italy to be able to experience the food, but it is a huge benefit. I’m much closer with my mom’s side than my dad’s side of the family. We see each other for almost every holiday or excuse we can. Fortunately for me, my mom’s side is the Italian side. Italy is known for centering/making the main focus of their gatherings family and food. That being said, whenever we get together, there are always large amounts of amazing homemade food. My family home makes gnocchi, ricotta, panna cotta, bread and wine. These are only a few, so I’ll name some traditional foods that Italy is known for/that come from Italy. The number one traditional Italian food is pasta. Pizza, gelato, tiramisu, risotto, mortadella, spumoni, canoli, mozzarella, and parmigiana are other well known foods from Italy. Antipasta is the Italian word for appetizer. Some examples are bruschetta, insalata, and tortano. Lunch used to be the most important and largest meal of the day, but nowadays it is dinner. They have time for an afternoon snack and then eat dinner. Dinner typically contains 3-5 courses that is not rushed at all but rather spent savoring the meal. These courses contain dessert and coffee/alcohol. I always look forward to dinner with my family because they allow some of my cousins and I a small glass of my Pappap’s homemade wine (which is amazing I must add) just because in Italy we would legally be allowed to. I wish Americans valued and savored food more like Italians!

 

Sources:

http://voices.yahoo.com/10-famous-foods-italy-7571166.html?cat=16

My family!

Francesco Petrarca and His Poetry

Francesco Petrarca, known in England during the fourteenth century as Petrarch, is the father of the Petrarchan (or Italian) Sonnet structure.  Unlike William Shakespeare’s simple ababacacefefgg rhyme scheme, Petrarca was famous for his abbaabbacdecde rhyme scheme.  

What does this mean?  Well, I can’t say that it meant his style was harder, but it did require knowing more than one rhyme for the last words of the first two lines.

Not all of his poetry was in Italian, though, let alone in his sonnet format.  Some of his works were done in Latin. Rerum vulgarium fragmenta  (which translates to Fragments of Ordinary Thoughts) was his first work and now goes by Il Canzoniere (commonly translated to The Songbook).  Il Canzoniere is a beautiful collection of romantic poetry revolving around longing and anguish.

In quella parte dove Amor mi sprona is listed at the one hundred and twenty seventh poem (that’s not even halfway through) it translates to In the part where Love spurs me. It chronicles the development of a girl into a woman over the changing season as well as the author’s blossoming love for the woman.  He speaks of Love as a physical being, much as Shakespeare’s sonnets chronicled Time and Death’s works in our human realm.

Without going into a deep poetic analysis, I just wanted to entice everyone to read a bit of this beautiful Italian poetry.  I suggest reading it in Italian first, at least the first stanza, because the passion with which it was writ is present and has the ability to impact the reader.

Tower of Pisa

Italy has a “monument” called Italian Pisa. I quote the word monument since they say it’s more like a mystery instead of a monument. They say this because nobody exactly knows who built it. Italian people assume it was built by Etruscan civilization. However, there are scientists, who believe that ancient Greeks or Ligures built Pisa.

Pisa is famous for Torre Pendente di Pisa; The Leaning Tower of Pisa. It’s so famous that it outshines all other Pisa tourist attractions and monuments combined. Locals call it the “long-drawn miracle”. It is located at Piazza dei Miracoli. Construction of the Leaning Tower took almost two centuries to be done.  They know that the construction started August 9th, 1173. 

According to one of the theories, the project belongs to some architect by the name of Bonanno Pisano, who discovered his mistake only after they finished the ground floor (11 meters high). By this I mean the tower was vertical. The architect aborted the construction (or has been kicked out, according to other version), fled the city, and spent the rest of his life in poverty and obscurity. Non of the architectures involved was able to straighten the tower at its foundation level. Only its upper part, built in the second half of the 14th century, looks more or less straight.

It is still a mystery to modern architects, why the tower is leaning. Some theories say that it is due to a misplaced water pump, difference in soil density, or insufficient funding reason. After the corrective reconstruction was finished in 2010, the angle of the Leaning Tower of Pisa decreased from 5°30′ to 3°54′ degrees.

Besides everything said it’s a good question why is the tower leand like it’s falling. It is still amazing how it looks and I haven’t even seen it in person. I would love to see it as some of my friends have. Tourists always take amazing and funny pictures with the tower.

Really-interesting-facts-608x1024 image2a Here are some pictures of the beautiful Tower of Pisa.