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archive of September, 2013

ITALIAN COFFEE

posted by Home In Italy on September 25th, 2013

Coffee is a very popular drink in Italy. You can choose your “Caffè” amongst many different kind of coffees.

Espresso: simply known as Caffè, served in a small cup. Strong in taste with a rich bronze froth on top.

Doppio: it is a double espresso.

Ristretto: stronger than a regular espresso since it is made with less water.

Caffè Lungo or Americano: an Espresso made with more water – opposite a Ristretto. Caffè Lungo is served in a small cup, Caffè Americano in a bigger cup.

Macchiato: an Espresso with a dollop of steamed milk on top.

Corretto: Espresso that is “corrected” with grappa, cognac or sambuca.

Cappuccino: Espresso in a big cup, containing equal parts of coffee, steamed milk and foamed milk. Italians drink it only before 11 AM.

Caffelatte: Espresso made with more milk than a cappuccino but only a small amount of foam. Usually drunk at breakfast.

Latte macchiato: steamed milk that is “marked” with a shot of espresso coffee.

DISCOVER ITALY: ASSISI

posted by Home In Italy on September 20th, 2013

The medieval city of Assisi, birthplace of St. Francis, founder of the homonymous Religious Order of the Franciscans, was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2000.

Other than being the city of Saints Francis and Clare, as well as the symbol of their messages of peace, Assisi is a very welcoming community and expresses the best of the hospitable Italian spirit. Additionally, the surrounding territory, stretching all the way to the region’s capital, Perugia, offers an infinite array of natural, historic and enogastronomic attractions.

Architects, bricklayers and stone masons have helped to shape Assisi’s incomparable landscape, yet the historical figure that has long defined its destiny and the locality itself has been, without a doubt, St. Francis, the Saint who talked with the animals. To him is dedicated Assisi’s most important monument, the Basilica of St. Francis, which is comprised of two churches (one Upper and one Lower) and a crypt, dug in 1818. It is the resting spot of the Saint’s tomb, located inside a simple sarcophagus that rests on top of bare rock.

Cimabue, Giotto, the Lorenzetti brothers, Simone Martini – indeed the greatest artists of the 14th Century, have painted frescoes on the walls and ceilings of the Basilica. The site is an obligatory destination for many, believers and non-believers alike, who appreciate the Franciscan message.

The complex is formed by two superimposed and independent churches. The Upper basilica – with its Gothic appearance, slender and luminous, is famous the world over for its beautiful frescoes painted in the late 1290s by Giotto and his School. Twenty-eight panels of the most extraordinarily intense, blue background, they depict scenes from the life of St. Francis, in a narration that is moving and alive. Other Italian masterpieces join those of Giotto, including frescoes by Cimabue in the transept, cross vaults and apses.

The Lower basilica, meanwhile, is certainly darker and more austere, though it is decorated by yet more grand masterworks, particularly from the Florentine and Sienese Schools of the 1300s – Giotto and his inner circle, Cimabue, Simone Martini and Pietro Lorenzetti.

LUXURY APARTMENT IN FLORENCE

posted by Home In Italy on September 12th, 2013

Cieffe is one of the most luxurious private experiences in Florence accommodations today. This fascinating residence matching the modern comfort with history gives you the very best of Florentine life.

Palazzo Bardi, whose apartment Cieffe represents the noble floor (Piano Nobile), was built in 1420 by Brunelleschi. It is located between the Arno River, the Uffizi gallery and Santa Croce. The building is considered the first step towards a new model of private renaissance palace in Florence, changing the late gothic architecture. The courtyard of the palazzo is decorated with Andrea della Robbia majolicas, a crown of big columns typical of Brunelleschi’s style, antique marble and precious Renaissance ironworks.

The name of the apartment is due to the fact that in the 16th century the Cieffe used to meet in this apartment, which was the palazzo’s theatre during the renaissance. The Cieffe was a group of scientists constituted by the Bardi Count and other scholars of musical theory, among who was Vincenzo Galilei, father of Galileo. They created new musical principles, merging music to the 33rd “canto” of Dante Alighieri’s Inferno, giving birth to what is known now as lyrical opera. Still hanging from the ceiling of the theatre is the scenic machinery used at that time.

Cieffe is a 320 sqm (3.400 sq. ft.) apartment on two levels. The décor is a combination of the finest contemporary Italian design and Florentine ‘500 architectural details. The interiors are superbly decorated with original plaster works, stones and 18th century frescoes. Bauhaus period furniture are from the best designers: Van der Rohe, Eames, le Corbusier, matching a precious 17th century sofa and two medieval terracotta statues. Castiglioni, Flos and Fontanarte lightings give to the place a very special atmosphere in the evening.

Click here to see more pictures.

RECIPE OF THE MONTH: MERINGUES WITH BERRIES

posted by Home In Italy on September 4th, 2013

Ingredients

Meringue Shell:
5 Egg Whites
1/4 Teaspoon Cream of Tartar
1 Cup Granulated Sugar
1/4 Teaspoon Cinnamon

Berries:
Three Cups Mixed Fresh Berries, Cleaned
2 Tablespoons Sugar

Filling:
1 (8oz) Container Whipping Cream
1/2 Cup Powdered Sugar
1 Tablespoon Grand Marnier

Directions

For the meringue, preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, beat the egg whites with the cream of tarter until they are foamy. Begin to add the granulated sugar, a spoonful at a time, then add the cinnamon. Continue to beat until the meringue is very glossy and forms stiff peaks.

You may choose to make one large meringue or individual ones at this point. To make individual meringues, spread about 1/2-cup of the meringue into a 3-inch circle on the parchment paper. Adding a little more of the egg white mixture, and using a spatula, shape a rim around the edges. Continue to make more of the meringue shells, spacing evenly across the baking sheet. To make one larger shell, make in the same manner.

Bake for about 1-1/2 hours or until firm to the touch. Turn off the oven, but leave the meringue shells in the warm oven for another hour, then cool completely.

To make the berries and filling, mix the cleaned berries with the sugar and let sit for at least 2 hours. Prepare the cream by whipping with the sugar until firm peaks form. Fold in the Grand Marnier and a teaspoon or two of the berry juices, and refrigerate.

To assemble, plate an individual meringue on each plate, top with some of the whipped cream mixture, and add a couple of spoonfuls of the berries on top.