Summer Is Here! Choose Your Brew!

Ann (Anncruise) sent in a photo of a delicious looking cup of Italian iced coffee.  I love iced coffee year round, which got me wondering about how many other types of  summer Italian coffee drinks there may be out there.  Here is but a few of the many tempting delights I found!  Thank you Ann, for the wonderful idea to research yet one more thing we love about Italians…their specialty coffee drinks!

As the temperatures begin to rise, bars all over Italy start serving iced coffee, a beloved summer tradition many Italians enjoy. How do you like yours?

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Italy’s Answer to Iced Coffee

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It makes sense that the Italians would invent a most exquisite coffee drink for the summer. It’s a shaken-over-ice, slightly sweetened espresso called shakerato, served in a stemmed glass, prepared in bars all over the county.

The shaking process yields a thick crema that floats on the espresso. In Italy, ice is viewed with suspicion, and you’d never be served a tall glass of coffee over lots of ice, the way iced coffee is in the U.S. Too dangerous!

(From The Atlantic.)

 

Coffee granita

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You have surely heard of granita, the Italian dessert consisting of sugar, ice and flavorings. The original recipe comes from the town of Messina, in the region of Sicily – that’s why it is also called “granita siciliana” – and it derives from sherbet, an Arabic dessert. Today we teach you how to make a real granita siciliana al caffè (Sicilian coffee granita).

The original granita siciliana is made from three simple ingredients: coffee, sugar and ice.

Prepare 10 ounces coffee using a good Italian blend. A strong Arabica blend is the best choice. In a small pot, pour 16 ounces water, 9 ounces sugar and one vanilla bean. Cook over low heat until the sugar has completely melted and has turned into syrup. Take out the vanilla bean. In a steel pan combine coffee and syrup and stir using a wooden spoon. Let chill, then put the pan in the freezer.

Now comes the most important part. After one hour, take the pan out of the freezer and use a whisk to scrape the ice. Put the pan back in the freezer and do this every 30 minutes for three or four times. Serve the coffee granita in small glass cups and add some fresh whipped cream on top. Garnish with coffee beans or a dust of cinnamon powder.

Fun fact: granita siciliana was historically eaten along with fresh crisp bread. In today’s cafes it comes served with “brioscia”, a typical Sicilian pastry.
Enjoy your granita al caffè!

 

Coffee frappe

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In Italian it’s called “frappè al caffè” and it’s usually consumed during an afternoon break rather than as a dessert. A coffee frappè is a milkshake made with Italian espresso, milk, sugar, ice cubes and chocolate powder. Some recipes also feature two scoops of coffee gelato

 

Coffee soda

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This coffee drink can’t be found everywhere in Italy: it’s a recipe from the southern region of Calabria, where it’s known by the name of Brasilena. It’s a sweet, cold drink made of Italian espresso, sparkly water, sugar, caramel and lemon juice

 

Coffee cocktail

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How about an alcoholic drink with your favorite Italian beverage, to enjoy with your friends after a nice dinner? To make a high-quality coffee cocktail you will need an Italian coffee blend, vodka, coffee liquor and some ice cubes

 

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I do not know what Piero and Max  are drinking, but it sure looks like it could be some sort of coffee cocktail!!  Looks good what ever it is!

(Credits to Filicori Zecchinis Usa…one of the most ancient coffee roasters in Italy, founded in Bologna in 1919.)

 

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Well I don’t know about you,

but I am ready to settle down in a comfy lawn chair on the beach

gazing out over the Adriatic Sea,

while sipping on my coffee cocktail listening to Il Volo.

(Oh yes, and it would be perfectly alright with me if that nice young man in the blue shirt and glasses wanted to sit right next to me.)

  Anyone want to join me?

~~Jane~~ 

 

 

 

VERONA Concert, May 19/20, 2017 ~ Personal Review by Patrizia Ciava

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A MAGIC NIGHT AT THE VERONA ARENA

On the 19th and 20th  of May, the pop-lyric trio Il Volo held two concerts, both sold out, at the Verona Arena, as part of their world tour “Notte Magica: Tribute to the Three Tenors”.

The Verona Arena, a temple of opera for excellence, offered an ideal setting for Il Volo’s concert “Notte Magica: Tribute to the Three Tenors”, an event where the magnificence of the location, the charm of the music and the extraordinary voices of the three performers blended in a perfect combination, stirring enthrallment and marvel.

Since afternoon, it seemed that every element wanted to help create an ideal atmosphere, starting with the abundant rainfall during the day, which abruptly ceased, against every forecast, shortly before the concert began, giving a starry mantle to the public who had traveled from all over Italy and the world to acclaim the three young artists.

Anyone walking around without knowing which show was going to be on stage, might have thought it was an international gathering. Groups of people of different ages and nationalities talked to each other in a jumble of English, Italian, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, and even Japanese

What was above all so striking was the diversity of the audience; entire families with young children and elderly parents, young and not so young couples, adults in evening dresses and festive teenagers showing off t-shirts and bandanas with “Il Volo” written on them.

The newly arrived looked around eagerly, searching a familiar face met at a previous concert or on social network; some American fans proudly showed bunches of concert tickets, stating that they had followed their idols, first in the United States, and now in Italy.

Looking at the mixed multitude who crowded the Arena stalls area and terraces, whose only unifying element is the common passion for Il Volo, it is only natural to wonder what these artists have that is so special. How many singers are able to move fans from one continent to another? Nowadays, virtually no-one. 

The orchestra goes first on stage and intones the notes of Verdi’s “The Power of Destiny”, almost as if to emphasize the mysterious power of fate that has brought three teenagers with prodigious vocal talent to meet in the same television program, with the same unusual passion for classical music, overturning their lives, those of their families and the thousands of people who would otherwise never have met each other or be there in that moment.

Finally in they come, Gianluca, Piero and Ignazio, welcomed by the roar of the crowd. To see them on that stage, so young, fresh and relaxed, it seems impossible that they are the stars of that magical evening. The feeling that pervades those who attend their live concert for the first time is to finally understand the mystery of those voices that have bewitched millions of people around the world.

Gianluca sings “Nessun Dorma” and it’s as if a spell is cast on the Arena. His deep, warm, velvety voice seems to creep into the folds of the soul, wrapping each of those present in a poignant embrace. The giant screen projects his intense, almost painful expression; Prince Calaf seems to have emerged from Puccini’s opera to seduce the beautiful Turandot. Ignazio takes over, whose vigorous and clear tones are reminiscent of the flow of a rushing river, evoking the figure of the bold knight who wins the princess thanks to his boldness and his passion. Then it’s Piero’s turn and the millennial stones of the Arena seem to flinch and vibrate under the power and intensity of his voice; you can imagine the princess Turandot who surrenders to the strength and security that emanates.. . Three different interpretations of the same aria, up to the climactic moment in which the three voices join in sublime harmony, each remaining distinct yet, at the same time merging with each other to create a perfect chemistry The audience who had listened in sacred silence erupts into a loud and heartfelt choral ovation, the first of a long series.

For more than two hours, the songs continue uninterrupted, with three voices, duets, solos, with no faltering in the performances of the three young artists, simply impeccable in interpretations, tones, and vocals. The expressions of the spectators denote a bewildered admiration mixed with disbelief, as if they were really watching a magical show and couldn’t find a rational explanation for what they were witnessing. The question that seems to float in the air is: “is this really possible”?

Gianluca’s voice reveals surprising qualities, possessing a sweet and caressing tone but at the same time, profound and sensual, that can suddenly explode with unexpected strength reaching tenor notes without ever losing its sweetness. His passionate performances leave the audience almost overwhelmed, unable to contain the intense emotion he is able to arouse and, when in the finale of “Aranjuez” he maintains the last note and increases its volume and intensity without taking a breath,  the stunned spectators hold their breath too and then explode into an endless and liberating applause.

Ignazio has the ability to transform himself, in a fraction of a second, from a funny joker into a masterful interpreter of very demanding pieces where he and the music become one. His surprising vocal extension, its versatility, its ability to reach high-level notes while at the same time maintaining a clear and light weave of pop singer, make his performances incomparable.

When he sings, the audience seems to be caught by a temporary estrangement, as if the music and his voice fills up every corner of the mind and leaves no room for anything other than emotions.

As for Piero, his extraordinarily full-bodied and mighty voice seems to come out of his mouth as breath comes out of other common mortals’, without any apparent effort. Sometimes, watching him on the screen, he surprises you as he is following what is happening in the audience, smiling or nodding to those who he recognizes in the crowd, while continuing to sing without skipping a beat or missing a note. In his solo songs, his virtuosity reaches its highest expressiveness. His passionate interpretations of “No Puede Ser” and “E lucevan le stelle” make chills run down your spine, the screen enlarging the sparkle of emotion shining in his eyes and reflecting in those of the spectators in an ideal bond, and when his mighty and boisterous “E muoio disperato!” (I die in desperation) resounds in the Arena, it seems that even the walls are aggrieved  with emotion and sadness.

The concert ends with the triumphant final of a “Grande Amore” sung with the audience and the Arena lights up with thousands of lights that seem to compete with the stars in heaven. Finally, the audience moves reluctantly to the exit, while the echoes of the concert still seem to linger in the air, as if wanting to hold on, a little longer, to the charm of that night where the ineffable beauty of a timeless music combined with that of three extraordinary voices have been able to recreate the magic once again.

Translation by Susan J. Ambrosini and published on All About Il Volo on June 10, 2017.

 

 

~~Jane~~

 

Notte Magica, June 15/16, 2017, Dusseldorf and Hamburg, Germany

 

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Sprechen sie Deutsch?

Team Il Volo had a few days of “relax time” and then were off to thrill the people in Dusseldorf and Hamburg, Germany  this past week.  Do you remember back in 2009 when they were asked what the most difficult language was to learn?   Yes, it was German.  All three of them agreed and attempted to say a few German words.  But, that was then and this is now…world class singers with style and grace…at ease with knowing bits of language from all over the entire world!    

Getting ready for the concert.  Piero with Master Diego Basso.

 

Yep, tie looks straight!

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I am sorry some of these videos are a little blurry, but the music is sublime!

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This next video is about 10 minutes long, but worth watching it to the end.  It’s so cute, they ask the audience if anyone speaks Italian, then English, then German…then they say that Piero will speak Italian, Gianluca will speak English and Ignazio will speak German to them!  The audience loves it when Ignazio speaks his German!

 

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Ignazio hamming it up in Hamburg!

Don’t know where they were when this photo was taken, but I just had to end the post with this heavenly vision in BLUE!

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And now it’s on to Moscow!!

 

Credit to all owners of videos and photos.

 

~~Jane~~

 

 

Nutella Dreams Are Coming True!

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On their Italian journey last year, our world travelers,  Jana and Lorna,  stopped by the little cafe in Montepagano and enjoyed Nutella crepes.  Little did they realize that soon Chicago would boast the first stand – alone permanent Nutella cafe!

But first a little history on where Nutella came from…

Pietro Ferrero, who owned a bakery in Alba, Piedmont, an area known for the production of hazelnuts, sold an initial batch of 300 kilograms (660 lb) of “Pasta Gianduja” in 1946. At the time, there was very little chocolate because cocoa was in short supply due to World War II rationing.[3] Ferrero instead used hazelnuts, which are plentiful in the Piedmont region of Italy (northwest), to extend the limited chocolate supply. This product, called “Pasta Gianduja” was originally sold as a solid block, but Ferrero started to sell a creamy version in 1951 as “Supercrema”.[4]

In 1963, Ferrero’s son Michele Ferrero revamped Supercrema with the intention of marketing it throughout Europe. Its composition was modified and it was renamed “Nutella”. The first jar of Nutella left the factory in Alba on 20 April 1964. The product was an instant success and remains widely popular.[5]

And now fast forward to May 31, 2017…

America’s first Nutella cafe opens!

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People enter the cafe through a door shaped like a Nutella jar, which also includes pendants shaped like hazelnut flowers and a ceiling designed to remind customers of Nutella waves.

The 2nd floor of the cafe features a fireplace.

Their menu goes beyond sweet stuff with savory sandwiches and salads made with the hazelnut spread, including panini with speck ham from the same Italian region where the spread originated.

Nutella has held cafe pop-ups across the country but nothing permanent like this new one in Chicago.  Chicago is well known for it’s flourishing food scene, so it was a top choice for the Windy City to be home to the first cafe.

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So next time the guys are back in the U.S.A. those of you in Chicago,  be on the look out for a famous Italian singer who just happens to love Nutella.

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You just never know who you  may run into at this very cafe!!

Nutella Cafe, 189 N. Michigan Ave., (312) 729-5186, open 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Monday through Thursday; 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday; 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday; 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday.

For those of you from out of town, if you take the train, the Nutella Café is just a little over a mile from Union Station and about a 30 minute walk.  If you walk, then you won’t feel too guilty about eating there!  🙂

Buon appetito!

Photo and story credits to Eater Chicago, Wikipedia and Facebook.

~~Jane~~

 

Carpool Karaoke!

In case there are some of you out there who don’t know what Carpool Karaoke is all about (like I didn’t before I did this post) here is a brief idea of this newest viral hit sensation.

James Corden, a British comedian and host of “The Late Late Show” says he always thought there was something very joyful about someone very, very famous singing their songs in an ordinary situation.  He states,” you’re dealing with famous people who, for a very long time, have never really been on their own.  They’re very successful people who come with necessary teams of people.  We shoot (film) them for about 40 minutes and they’re completely on their own: It’s me and them and fixed cameras and that’s it.  I think they find that very liberating and there’s a joy in that.”

James has a regular segment on his show that showcases this.  It seems Apple Music and  other countries are now picking up on it. In Italy,   Jake the Fury, an Italian Rapper, DJ and producer, now hosts the Italian version where we see IL VOLO as his guests.

Thank you Penina, for sending us this gem!  The video speaks for itself.  Fun, Fun, Fun!

 Nothing like letting loose as if NO camera were there.   I could sit and watch them drive all over Italy doing this.  And to quote Penina, “Ignazio is BEYOND adorable in this video.”  This video is 17 minutes of pure Il Volo bliss!  Enjoy.

The video that will not show had English subtitles.  Try this one instead.  It’s in Italian, but you will still enjoy!

 

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IL VOLO IN BACKSTAGE

Article by Patrizia Ciava – Translation by Susan J. Ambrosini

Being able to witness the preparations of the artists getting ready for the stage is perhaps an even more interesting and engaging experience than the concert itself. Only members of the staff and a few friends and relatives are allowed in the backstage and in the dressing areas, so being there is a rare privilege. This is the time when the artist, away from the spotlight, shows his most real and vulnerable side, as he is subjected to the tension of “stage fright”, which affects even the most skilled and experienced artists.

Backstage of the Rome Palasport, there is little more than an hour before the beginning of the Il Volo concert and preparations are in full swing, but there is no hint of tension or nervousness as one might expect.

In the corridors, some orchestra players, still in jeans and T-shirts, are seated on the floor, talking quietly. Some try their instruments in a corner. In turn, they enter their reserved changing rooms to put on their stage suits.

The members of Il Volo, Gianluca, Ignazio and Piero, are closed in their dressing rooms but occasionally one of them comes out, wearing only half the stage suit, to chat with others or to take a selfie. They hug those who have just arrived and, when passing by, they always have a word, a smile or a pat on the back for everyone.

Their friends, relatives and staff members chat and joke among themselves in the corridor without showing any sign of worry or anxiety, as if they were in a relaxed family reunion.

At a certain point, a couple arrives at the entrance of the barrier zone, pushing a wheelchair where a disabled boy is seated, but they are stopped by a guard who tells them “you cannot go through without a pass.” Ignazio notices them and goes towards the little family group, calling out loud his two colleagues who join him immediately to give a hug to their young fan whose face lights up with joy and emotion. It’s a completely spontaneous action, there is no manager suggesting in a whisper ” take pictures with him, it’s all publicity,” instead we are told not to take pictures or shoot videos for privacy reasons. The three artists have a friendly conversation for a few minutes with the boy and his parents then, apologizing for the short time available, they leave and return to the dressing rooms.

Memory took me back then to other backstages with the “stars” passing by without even giving a glance at those present, as if they considered themselves semi-gods, followed by a swarm of breathless and frightened assistants. Even those who seemed nice in reality showed nothing more than compliance, exhibiting boredom and annoyance to make it clear that they were famous and the others were no-one. Their angry voices resonated from their dressing rooms shouting at the poor costumers who had missed a crease or made a mistake with an accessory. I still remember my disappointment at finding out the haughtiness and arrogance of artists who had been described to the public as “friendly and down-to-earth”.

But filtering out of Piero’s dressing room you can only hear his powerful trills while he is “warming up” his voice. Then, suddenly, a Latin American rhythm resounds at full volume, the door opens and Piero comes out dancing, wearing the trousers, the dress shirt and the bow-tie of his stage suit, and swirls around grabbing orchestra members, already in their evening dresses, who laugh. His father, standing in front of the door, smiles understandingly. Ignazio and Gianluca come out and join the improvised dancing, then someone reminds them that there are only a few minutes left before the beginning of the concert and they return quickly into their respective dressing rooms. A few seconds later, Ignazio comes out again in his socks and with his shirt unbuttoned and runs to the entrance of the corridor screaming at the manager as he passes: “I have to go and get Alessandra’s cousin, they won’t let her in.” He returns shortly afterwards with the young girl and introduces her to everyone before locking himself in again.

A costumer, hurrying to bring Gianluca’s suit, knocks into someone, the jacket slips from the hanger, falls to the ground and someone involuntarily steps on it, leaving it all wrinkled; it needs to be re-ironed immediately. An episode that would surely trigger the wrath of others, ends up in laughter and jokes: “I told you it would have been best to wear non-ironing clothes … better even, disposable clothes!”

Therefore Ignazio and Piero are ready first, and while waiting for Gianluca, they joke with the orchestra conductor. When there are only five minutes left to the beginning of the concert, a production staff member announces that there is a journalist who would like to interview the boys. Michele Torpedine, their manager, argues that there is very little time but they say they are available. Ignazio and Piero invite him into the dressing room and Gianluca joins them shortly afterwards.

At this point it is quite normal to wonder whether the journalists who have often painted them as conceited and arrogant were trying to exercise a perverse power in shaping public opinion by presenting them in the opposite way as they really are. These three boys are in fact the antithesis of prima-donna behaviour, they are astonishing for their humility and simplicity. It’s as if they have been able to separate their artistic dimension from their personal one, preserving the solid principles and values given to them by their families, who still show an extraordinary example of loving, present, attentive, and never invasive parenting; a rare quality. This is even more remarkable thinking that these three boys, with similar characteristics, coming from different regions, have met by chance in the same place, at the same moment, creating a phenomenon that enchants the whole world. It really brings us to wonder about the power of fate.

Then time comes to move all together towards the entrance of the stage and the backstage corridor empties. The orchestra takes the stage first and plays the introductory song. Gianluca withdraws to a corner with his mother, who adjusts his bow tie, then takes a walk with his brother. Ignazio tells a joke to Pif, a popular journalist who came to interview them. Piero’s father gives a last clean to his son’s glasses, whispers something and hugs him. The orchestra is silent, the audience applauds and Michele announces, “It’s time to go up stage!” We follow the three artists who enter the crowded Palasport hall, welcomed by the roar of a frenzied crowd, and for a moment we all know what it must be like to be worshiped as idols by thousands of people.

Grazie Patrizia and Suzan for this wonderful article.  You have given us a rare and incredible look at what goes on BACKSTAGE!

All credit to article and photos to Patrizia Ciava.

~~Jane~~

Personally Speaking ~ Dream On And Dream BIG ~

Here’s how to get a FREE CASTLE in Italy, your Majesty!

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Want a free castle in Italy? Sure, take one, your highness. But, as with everything good, there’s a catch.

As part of an initiative called the Strategic Tourist Plan, Italy is giving away 103 historic buildings — villas, inns, houses, towers, etc. to entrepreneurs willing to take them. (Yes, that means it could be you!)

All the recipient must do is pledge to renovate the buildings, which are mainly in more remote areas of the country, in a way that will diversify Italy’s tourism industry. This means transforming them into hotels, restaurants, visitor centers, spas, shops — anything that will attract tourist traffic.

This will ideally help ease crowding in popular Italian tourist hubs like Venice and Milan, instead drawing crowds to chill, lesser-known spots along cycling paths, hiking trails, or religious walking routes.

Does the work seem worth it? You’ll need to submit a proposal to the State Property Agency by June 26. So, if you’ve dreamed for years of turning a beautiful castle into a go-kart track, now’s your chance!

We always knew you were royalty. :’)

Above author, Chloe Bryan from mashable.com

 

Dream on and Dream BIG…WHY NOT?

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This could be the view out your back door!

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This could be your next door neighbor!!

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As I said…dream on and dream big!

Writing up my proposal.  I will have a new address soon for a lovely B&B, I’m sure.  I will make the croissants and Marie will make the blood orange juice!    I’ll be sure and look for a place big enough to fit ALL of the FLIGHT CREW in…and of course the guys when they are in town!

Credit to all owners of photos.

~~Jane~~