Thursday, 18 December 2008

13 Ways to Say "Happy Holidays"

Since Profoundly Shallow is nothing if not inclusive, here's an
utterly simple Thursday Thirteen, this time around:

13 Ways to Say "Happy Holidays!"

1) French: Joyeuses Fêtes

2) Gaelic: Beannachtaí na Féile

3) Swedish: Trevlig Helg

4) Dutch: Prettige feestdagen

5) Portuguese: Boas Festas

6) Spanish: Felices Fiestas

7) Hindi: Naye sāl kī hārdik śubhkāmnayeṅ

8) Mandarin Chinese: Jie Ri Yu Kuai

9) Polish: Wesołych Świąt

10) German: Frohe Feiertage

11) Hungarian: Kellemes szünidőt

12) English: Happy Holidays! ;)

13) Italian, of course, is Buone Feste!

And now, scroll down...

I haven't forgotten, even in the Holiday rush...

Here you go...

Jose Maria Manzanares - bullfighter


Thursday, 11 December 2008

13 Italian Christmas Foods

13 Italian Christmas Foods

It's the most wonderful time of the year! It's time to sit down at the table with family and friends and enjoy delicious meals to celebrate the holiday season.

In Italy, of course, it's the same - except for how it's different. The food, I mean - I've mentioned some of these dishes in my guest blog on Shelley Munro's site, but I think they bear repeating here.

So I present to you 13 Italian Christmas Foods! Enjoy!

1) Baccalà - better known to the US as Salted Cod.

It starts like this:

and often ends like this:

Then there's arrosto. Meaning "Roasted", this can be one of several types of meat, including:

2) Vitello - Veal

3) Coniglio - Rabbit

Two other meat dishes, which are similar to each other, are

4) Zampone - a sort of sausage made of a pig's trotter (hoof)

5) Cotechino - another salty sausage.

6) Capitone (also known as Anguilla) - Eel

For reassurance, we often eat all of this with

7) Patatine Fritte - Chips/French Fries

There's pasta, too, of course.

8) Tortelli Erbe - Ravioli with spinach filling

or 9) Cappelletti in brodo - small half-moons of pasta folded over a meat-and-cheese filling (which are said to resemble the navel of Venus), and are served in a chicken broth.

Sometimes you'll have

10) Polenta - a sort of corn bread which can also be served fried

The desserts are fantastic, as you can likely imagine:

11) Panettone - eggy bread with raisins and candied fruit baked in.

12) Pandoro - a tall, golden cake with powdered sugar sprinkled on top.

13) Panforte - a specialty of Siena, this is a sort of dense gingerbread cake
- very sweet and quite intense.

The eye candy this week is a little different. I think it's still quite enjoyable, though, and I hope that you'll agree...

So, just scroll down...

Keep going...

Here he is ladies (and gents):

An unknown (to me) Alpino.
(One of the elite mountain warfare soldiers of the Italian Army).

Thursday, 4 December 2008

13 Presepi (Nativity Scenes)

13 Presepi (Nativity Scenes)

Some of my fondest childhood memories of Christmas include setting up the Nativity scene. Whether on a table or under the tree, each year, my sister and I would meticulously arrange the figures, attempting to find the most reverent display possible.

One year, I recall painting a set of figures made of some sort of chalky ceramic material in my Sunday School class. We had to paint them gold, though, which I was none too fond of (I wanted to do more realistic details. DENIED!). Those remained in the family for a long, long time, even though the gold paint wore off and the figures got small chips in them from being in storage.

Even though I'm not so into that aspect of the holiday season anymore, I find myself fascinated with the Italian approach to the Nativity scene. Called a "Presepe" or "Presepio", Italians really do these creations with style, particularly in the area around Napoli. They go all out, putting in amazing amounts of detail into each and every figure of the display. Some go so far as to include scenes of normal, everyday life, in addition to the depictions of the birth of Christ. Made of every sort of material imaginable, they are often positively breathtaking.

Today, I present to you Tredici Presepi, or, Thirteen Nativity Scenes. Enjoy! (Don't forget to click on the pics for better detail, okay?)



3) These next three are all of the same Presepio, just to show you the detail and the inclusion of everyday life as depicted therein.


5) Yes, playfulness is allowed...

6) And so is simplicity.

7) And so is... Chocolate!

8) Oh, and so is...Sand!



(This was actually another detail from #1, I believe. I'm not completely certain, because the figures are bought in shops - it's up to the creator of the artwork to design however he/she wishes.)



And don't forget, I'll be doing a guest blog on Shelly Munro's site next Monday!

And now, for something completely different...


Clement Poitrenaud - rugby player


Monday, 1 December 2008

Bella Venezia Sotto Aqua Alta!


Beautiful Venice Under High Water!

Well, Alle and I nearly went to Venice this past weekend with a friend, but changed our minds, understandably, when the weather turned to rain all over the peninsula. Good thing we didn't go, eh? ...sigh...

Venice Suffers Worst Flooding In 22 Years

VENICE, Italy (AFP) – Venice suffered its worst flooding in 22 years on Monday as water in the Renaissance city stood more than 1.5 metres (five feet) deep before beginning to recede.

A change in the direction of the wind helped the "acqua alta" (high water) water start backing down from a high of 1.56 metres (5 feet, 2 inches), the tide monitoring centre said.

Authorities had warned that the sea lapping at the lagoon city threatened to rise to 1.60 metres, a 30-year high mark, and warned residents and tourists to stay indoors.

"It's an exceptional 'acqua alta,' and unless you absolutely have to, don't go out," Venice mayor Massimo Cacciari said in a statement.

Nearly all the streets of the city, including the central tourist district, were already under water by mid-morning -- the famous Piazza San Marco by 80 centimetres.

Workers set up elevated walkways as sirens and loudspeaker announcements reinforced the alert. Under a new system, warnings and updates were also being sent out by text message.

The tidal centre predicted earlier that floodwater would fall back to normal levels by 7:00 pm (1800 GMT), but said another surge was expected in the small hours of Tuesday.

The situation was complicated by a national transport strike affecting the city's "vaporetto" water bus service.

Experts said the surge in the sea level was caused by a combination of persistently high southerly winds and heavy rain and snowfall in northern Italy over the past few days.

Venice was flooded 50 times between 1993 and 2002, with the worst incident on November 4, 1966, when the city was submerged by 1.94 metres of water amid catastrophic flooding throughout Italy.

More recently, in February 1986, levels reached 1.58 metres above normal. The last time the waters passed 1.60 metres was in 1979 when they reached 1.66 metres.

The city has for years been wrestling with the problems posed by the threat of rising sea levels. In March, local authorities confirmed they were looking at a scheme to raise the city's buildings to meet the problem.

Under Operation "Rialto", local officials and engineers were looking at using piston-supported-poles placed at the bottom of each structure to lift buildings by up to to a metre.

They calculated it would take around a month per building if each structure was raised by eight centimetres (3.14 inches) a day.

In April 2007, the United Nations cultural organisation UNESCO warned that Venice was one of its designated World Heritage sites that was threatened by climate change.