Friday, December 29, 2006

And the winner is...

A huge thank you to everyone that sent in comments for the Roma 360° competition. I had a great response and a hard job to pick a winner. After re-reading the comments several times over I came up with the answer, so as they say at the awards ceremonies "The winner is.....Bing Taylor from East Sussex".

Bing won a free copy of my ebook 'IL DOLCE NATALE: Christmastime in Italy' and his comment will be featured in my soon to be released book 'Roma 360°'.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Interview- Guilt trip

Author Patricia Harper has kindly agreed to answer a few questions about her latest book 'Guilt trip' and how Italy inspired her as a setting.

In “Guilt Trip” the main character, Susan Clayfield, goes on a trip to Italy with her new boss and tours Rome, Sorrento, Pompeii, and Mount Vesuvius. How did you research this book?

My research came from the University of Life, or to put it another way, happy memories of holidays spent in Italy with my husband Tony. We took a camcorder with us and recorded all the relevant events which came in very useful for my writing. I used the internet, various travel guides, brochures, maps, entrance tickets to sites etc to verify the facts. Most of it was just personal experience.

What made you pick Italy for the setting of the book?

Most of us put to our favourite charities according to our means and then move on, but Susan Clayfield in “Guilt Trip” couldn’t stop. She gave everything, until her job, her home and finally her health were at risk. Italy is a beautiful country, with warm, friendly people, a great place to recover from illness, to rest and recuperate, and a good one for me to use as I have a lot of recorded material from my visits which is very helpful. The first time we went to Italy we went by coach, which in itself was quite an experience as it took over thirty hours to get there, from Birmingham to Dover and through the channel tunnel, as we all travelled overnight, sleeping when we could, and arriving stiff and bleary eyed next day in Fiuggi, and in just four days managed to get round Sorrento, Pompeii, The Isle of Capri, Castel Gandolfo (the Pope’s summer residence), Frascati and Rome. Needless to say each trip was brief, but a wonderful experience.
On our next visit we flew from Birmingham in the UK to Naples, stayed for a couple of weeks, and managed to see everything in much greater detail. We actually managed to climb to the top of Vesuvius, something I had always wanted to do. We also went inside the Colosseum, the Vatican, Navona Square, the Catacombs of San Calisto and the Trevi fountain. We also spent much more time at Pompeii, so Italy as a setting for five or so chapters of “Guilt Trip” was a good choice.

Guilt trip is available to buy at
You can also find out more about the author at her blog

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Buone feste!

Merry Christmas Comment Graphics

Auguri - Best Wishes
Buon Natale - Happy Christmas
Felice Anno Nuovo - Happy New year


Publishing Industry Interview with Jo Linsdell
Joanne Denise Feliciani, or her pen name, Jo Linsdell, is a professional freelance writer in not one language, but two. She was born in Gillingham, Kent (UK) in September 1980, but married an Italian and settled in Italy. She now works full-time as a freelance writer for various magazines, newspapers and websites as well as writing her own books.
Jo writes in both English and Italian. Her first book, “Italian for Tourists,” is a phrasebook for the Italian language designed especially for tourists. She self published the book using At her website,, Jo also hosts a weekly chat and has regular guest speakers who share advice and tips about various topics related to the writing industry
As our first bilingual interviewee, Jo was gracious enough to answer my questions about her unique career perspective and her thoughts on freelance writing as a whole. My questions are in bold followed by Jo’s response.
How long have you been fluent in Italian?
I came to Rome over 6 years ago and didn’t speak a word of Italian when I arrived as I was planning on only being here for 3 days. Three days turned into 6 months and I decided I was destined to stay. I’ve never been great with languages but living here meant I picked it up quickly. I needed to know Italian as few Italians spoke English and I couldn’t get a proper job without at least the basics. I probably became fluent when I met my now husband. He didn’t speak English so the only way to talk to him was for me to learn Italian. Love is a great motivator!
Is it challenging to write in two languages?
It’s most challenging when I have to use both languages together. If I’m writing in Italian I think in Italian. Same with English. Occasionally I get confused when I have to do both at once but I’m getting used to that too now.
What writing avenues are you currently pursuing?
I’ve self published two books, ‘Italian for Tourists’ and ‘A guide to weddings in Italy’ with along with several ebooks. I regularly write articles for ‘The Florentine’ (a newspaper for English speakers in Florence) and also write for various websites. I’ve recently started my own blog about Italy that provides information about Italy including; Italian traditions, the culture, the language, tips for tourists, different points of view about Italy and Italians and more…I have several new projects coming up in the New Year including working with a new magazine here in Rome called ‘Voci in Città’. It’s a magazine, in Italian, for foreigners living here.
What was your most rewarding project?
That’s a hard one to answer. I’m most proud of either ‘Italian for Tourists’ as it was the first book I published or my first article, ‘How to complete the paperwork’, to be published in a newspaper. The most rewarding though is the chatroom I started on my website I host a chat every Saturday with guest speakers where everyone can join in a learn more about the writing industry. I like that we can all come together and help each other move forward in our writing careers.
What is your dream as a writer?
I’ve already realized several of my dreams but I never stop dreaming so I’m always adding to my list. The big one is to write a best seller and become known internationally as a writer. I’d also like to write a fiction in Italian.
What advice can you offer writers just breaking into a serious writing career?
There’s so much more to being a writer than just writing. Do some research. Visit websites for writers and join groups where you can meet other writers and learn from their experience. The marketing, queries etc can be overwhelming if you’re not prepared and can mean your writing career is over even before it began.
Is there anything you wish you had been told earlier in your career?
Here I could write an endless list! Number one would have to be to have more faith in myself. If you don’t believe in yourself you won’t get very far. Just because one person rejects you doesn’t mean another won’t think you’re great.
Thank you again, Jo, for sharing your thoughts with me. I have visited Rome and it is a fascinating city in a beautiful country. Your comments here as well as your efforts on your own website will help countless writers hone their skills and find their niche in the world of writing. Thanks again!

Published on December 2006

Friday, December 22, 2006

Documents- Cittadinanza Italiana

Dario di Teodoro works at 'Agenzia dell'emigrato' in Rome. The company gives advice on how to get documents and in particular helps foreigners with the paperwork involved in getting Italian citizenship or cittadinanza Italiana.

Dario informed me that it is possible to apply for cittadinanza Italiana after over 6 months of marriage to an Italian or after 6 years of living in Italy. Dario said "this agency was set up to help make it easier for foreigners to deal with the process of getting documents here as the bureaucratic system in Italy can be confusing".

For more information please contact Dario at the agenzia dell'emigrato
Via F. de Roberto 27
00137 Roma
Tel: (+39) 06 823 569
fax: (+39) 06 9725 2743

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Christmas vocabulary

Here is a short list of some Christmas words:

Christmas- Natale
Father Christmas/Santa- Babbo Natale
Christmas tree- l'albero di Natale
presents- regali
reindeer- renna
sleigh- slitta
angel- angelo
snow- neve
snowman- pupazzo di neve
star- stella

Italian Christmas- Religion

Italian traditions are heavily based on the religion of Christianity and celebrations begin in early December and continue throughout the month.

A strict fast is observed 24 hours before Christmas after which a meal with many dishes (but no meat) is served. Eight days before Christmas a special Novena of prayers and church services begin.

For those attending Midnight Mass on Christmas eve in churches throughout the country there is normally a presepio, enthusiastic singing, lots of ceremonial splendour and candlelight.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Roma 360° Competition

For your chance to win a free copy of the ebook “IL DOLCE NATALE: Christmastime in Italy” and be featured in the soon to be released “Roma 360°” all you have to do is fill out the short form at my website on the competition page.

Send me your comment about Rome. You could write about a holiday you had there, your favourite memory or place you visited. What you did/ didn’t like about the City or the thing you missed most when you had to leave. The people, food, transport…basically anything you can think of.

All information must be entered for your entry to be valid.

Closing date for submissions is 21st December 2006
The winner will be notified by email.

Monday, December 18, 2006

An interview with Peter Carusone

Peter Carusone, author of 'Where’s the Minestrone? An Italian American Explores Italy' has kindly agreed to be interviewed about his Italian experience.

1. What made you decide to visit Italy?

The opportunity presented itself to teach there for a semester and continue to draw my regular pay from the University. I'd always thought about visiting the land of my family heritage and my new wife (wed less than a year) was very supportive.

2. Where did you visit while you were in Italy?

I taught in Torino where I spent most of my time but I also visited Rome, Florence, Pisa, Venice, Milan, Sorrento, Amalfi, Cinque Terra, Alba, Asti, San Gimingano, Sienna, Verona, Lago Maggiore. On later trips I spend time also in Tuscany and Sicily.

3. What was your favourite place and why?

There were so many!! I would have to say Amalfi, the Spanish Steps in Rome, and San Marco Square in Venice. They are special places that so many people enjoy and one can relax there, watch the tourists, shop, eat and drink Italian wine. The architecture and breathtaking views make Amalfi special. The people and little places like the fountain and the obelisk make the Scala di Spana so special. And the music at night, the lights and the shops and the church make San Marco Square very special.

4. "Where’s the Minestrone? An Italian American Explores Italy" is a chance to see Italy for the first time through the eyes of an Italian American who thought he knew what it meant to be ‘Italian.’ How did your opinion of Italy change after your visit?

I thought it was a lot more 'foreign' than before--quite different in many ways from Italian-Americn culture I was used to. The people were just as friendly and hospitable as I expected, but they also have a tough exterior that makes it very difficult to penetrate to the Italian psyche. Italians are truly a creative and innovative people, their artistry with food and many things is to be admired. Their accomplishments are legend, all the more so impressive because of their penchant for chaos and disorganization. The food is quite different than the recipes my grandmother brought here many years ago. They have changed.

5. While researching your book, you were a Visiting Professor at the University of Torino in Italy. What was it like working in Italy?

In some ways it was hard, due to factors like a more laid back, easy going work attitude, the constant, unpreditable sciopere (strikes), unfamiliarity with the system (having to go to the bank location the check came from to cash it), and unfamiliarity with how to get around the city by bus, metro, etc. In some ways it was easy. I always had the feeling that not so much was expected of me. I could dress in jeans and sweatshirt if I wanted but everyone would know I was a tourist, too. It was so neat to walk into a store for the second time and discover that they know my name already! Stopping at il bar on the way to work, or on the way home from work was always a new and exciting experience.

'Where’s the Minestrone? An Italian American Explores Italy' is available to buy at

Friday, December 15, 2006

Christmas food

Italy’s diverse traditions and multicultural background are best expressed in the cuisine of this festive period. The ingredients of the traditional Christmas dinner “Cenone” and the cakes served may present considerable differences among different areas of the country.
In the South the meals of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are based on seafood. In the North both meat and fish is served. What all Italians share, however, is dried fruit, including dried figs, figs with almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, and dates.
Regional desserts consumed through out the country are Panettone (leavened sweet dough filled with raisins, currents and candied fruits), Pandoro, (dough with a lot of butter to give it a golden appearance), Panforte (dough made of a mixture of ginger bread, honey, candied fruits, nuts and spices)and Torrone (almond nougat).
Italians are renowned for their culinary traditions and so Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are not the only times during the winter holiday that special meals are served. On New Years Eve there is the feast of San Silvestro and lastly the Feast of Epiphany. Lentils are traditionally eaten on New Years Day in Italy as a symbol of good luck and prosperity; their round shape, reminiscent of coins, is supposed to ensure riches for the coming year.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Christmas/ Natale

Although Italians have adopted some of the northern European traditions the season is less commercial than in America or the United Kingdom. Many families, especially in the north, now decorate a Christmas tree in their homes, however the focal point of decoration remains the presepio or Nativity scene which represents in miniature the Holy family in the stable. These are often handmade and as elaborate as the families can afford to make them. This model of a manger is an important part of the Italian Christmas celebration, as the manger scene originated in Italy. It is normally displayed on a triangular wooden frame, supporting several tiers of thin shelves, which is entirely decorated with coloured paper, pine cones, and lights or small candles. The presepio is placed at the base of this pyramid called a Ceppo (tree of light) and the shelves above it hold small gifts of fruit, sweets and presents.
Another old Italian Christmas tradition is the urn of fate, a large ornamental bowl filled with wrapped presents, everyone takes it in turns to pick until all the presents are distributed.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

A letter from the past

Here's a letter from a fellow writer, written in January 26, 1956. WWII had ended just under eleven years before, and much of Italy, and Sicily, still had not recovered. Dorien Grey was then a 22-year-old American and in his own words "probably was more insensitive to the suffering the Italians/Sicilians had gone through. But they were my impressions at the time". He spent a total of several weeks in and off the waters of Italy, including a trip to Rome and visits to San Remo, Genoa, and Naples.


25 January 1956
One of those evenings when I feel unaccountably happy to be alive and proud to me a member of the human race (a young and slightly retarded species which occasionally shows signs of promise).
The tour today was nice, but not really worth the money—there was too much riding; two and one half hours to Catania, two and one half hours back, and another half hour to Syracuse, which is in exactly the opposite direction.
I drew several conclusions from it, however; the principle one being that Sicily is by far the most filthy, unattractive, and uninviting place I have ever seen (and in Europe, that's going some). Its towns are huddled clusters of hovels, their unpaved streets lined with the thick-walled monotony of crumbling buildings.
Like the rest of Europe, Sicily is a "land of contrasts," but the good is so outweighed by the bad that the contrasts are dulled by the realization that there is no hope for improvement.
Everything is old; even if a building has been recently built it is old. In the towns, bombed out and fallen buildings are everywhere. Those buildings still standing are being held up only by the tattered political posters plastered all over them.
Never in my life have I seen so many stones; even they are rough, crude, and cumbersome, the color of very dirty linen. Probably because of their abundance they are the chief—no, the only—building material.
Try building a house just by stacking stones on stones. The finished product is then covered with a very thin layer of plaster and painted some quick-fading color. It seems to be a contest to see whether the paint can fade faster than the plaster can flake off. I'd call it a tie.
Wood is completely unknown, except on the thick brown doors. These are always open, showing a dark, tiny interior, amazingly dull. Against the back wall, over a heavy brown-stained vanity, is a cross or other religious symbol. Most of the houses are step-down-into; invariably a woman is seated at a table in front of the vanity, or standing in the doorway, with a very small child peering out from behind her. Other children play in the streets, close in by the walls of the house. School children—all evidently between the ages of six and twelve (I saw none older)—wear black velvet-like smocks with a white collar and a blue string tie.
Women in solid black trudge the streets, coming from nowhere and going nowhere. Old women, all wrinkles and grey hair, sit stooped on crude, heavy wooden chairs, staring into the past.
Around the main square, if there is one, sit the men in baggy pants and dirty, patched shirts. Most of them wear suit-coats which may or may not give the impression they once matched the pants. They sit on the same crude chairs, propped back against a cracked wall, like the condemned at a mass firing squad, and watch our busses pass with no interest.
The young men have long hair and wear ungodly combinations of remnant clothing.
The war ended in 1945 but no one would know by looking at Sicily. German pillboxes line the roads, some with great jagged holes in the thick cement. The ruins of farmhouses stand gaunt and dead on the rocky ground.
And the most aggravating thing is that the people don't seem to care! At one point along the road, two ends of a large bridge reach for each other across a wide, dry river bed. Far below, sections of the bridge lie scattered about, and a large, broken arch leans as though it were wounded and falling. Grass grows on the edges of the bridge and weeds look down from the jagged ends.
Instead of rebuilding this bridge, the government has built a whole new road, which twists down the steep banks, runs across a new, lower cement span, and then winds back up, to join the road on the other side.

You can read more of Doriens letters at his blog

Monday, December 11, 2006

Traditional Christmas music

The most common Italian Christmas sound is the bagpipes. A particular atmosphere is created by the Zampognari , the shepherds who play the bagpipes. During the nine days that precede this holiday, the shepherds from nearby mountain areas stroll around the streets filling them with carols. They always go in pairs; one plays the zampogna (goatskin bagpipe) and the other the ciaramella (a wooden flute). The melodies are adapted from old hill tunes. Modern Zampognari wear traditional outfits of sheepskin vests, leather breeches and a woollen cloak. Legend says that the shepherds entertained the Virgin Mary in Bethlehem. Today, the Zampognari stop before every shrine to the Madonna and every nativity scene.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Babbo Natale and La Befana

Although the figure of Babbo Natale (Father Christmas) with his red suit and big white beard is becoming more widespread, the children of Italy hang up their stockings on the Feast of Epiphany on January 6th. Instead of Father Christmas the children anxiously await a visit from La Befana. She is a witch like character who rides around on a broom. According to Italian legend, the three wise men stopped at her house to ask directions on their way to Bethlehem. They invited her to join them but she refused as she was busy cleaning her house. She promised that she would catch them up when she was finished, but by the time she had finished the cleaning they were long gone. She frantically began running after them with presents for baby Jesus, still carrying her broom. Magically she began to fly on her broom but could still not find the wise men or baby Jesus. Since then, on January 6th, the feast of Epiphany, she flies on her broom leaving gifts for other children. She brings presents for the good and pieces of coal for the bad.

Saturday, December 9, 2006

A guide to weddings in Italy


Jo Linsdell explains what you need to know to get married in Italy

DECEMBER 9th 2006— Jo Linsdell explains about Italian wedding traditions and what you need to get married in Italy with the publication of A GUIDE TO WEDDINGS IN ITALY in conjunction with Lulu (, the world’s fastest-growing provider of print-on-demand books.

A GUIDE TO WEDDINGS IN ITALY is a simple and easy to use guide that will help you plan your wedding in Italy. This guide will be a great help to anyone planning to marry in Italy and covers information about the types of weddings allowed, the documents you will need, Italian wedding traditions, and much more...

Following her own wedding in Rome, in July this year, Jo Linsdell wrote A GUIDE TO WEDDINGS IN ITALY to help others understand Italian laws concerning weddings and to give some background information about weddings in this country. She came to Lulu because she wanted to be in control of the publishing process and found Lulu’s print-on-demand tools to be fast, easy and, most importantly, free. A GUIDE TO WEDDINGS IN ITALY is available for purchase at

“Italy is considered one of the most romantic places in the world and has long been a popular wedding destination for foreign couples fixing to tie the knot” explains Jo Linsdell. “This trend continues to grow despite the fact that Italy tends to be little trickier in terms of wedding regulations than some other target destinations. Needless to say, it’s a good idea to start planning early”.

Link to Publication*:

Born in Gillingham in the UK, Jo Linsdell moved to Rome, Italy over 6 years ago. She was married to her Italian husband on 13th July this year. She has published several books through including Italian for tourists, Il Dolce Natale: Christmastime in Italy, Some risks are worth taking, La Befana, The Patron Saint of Lovers and INSIDE.OUT.

Founded in 2002, Lulu is the world’s fastest-growing print-on-demand marketplace for digital do-it-yourselfers. Please see for more information.

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How Italian's dine

Chi mangia bene, mangia Italiano! who eats well, eats Italian!
Italy is an incredibly diverse country when it comes to dishes, ingredients, cooking times and seasonings change dramatically from one region to the next. Italians take food very seriously. Each region, and sometimes even a city, will have regional specialties that they are very proud of. The basic philosophy of the meal however is generally seen as an occasion for friends or family to get together around the table and relax remains constant.
Breakfast normally consists of a coffee or cappuccino and a pastry. However lunch and dinner are considered important meals.
Traditional Italian menus have five sections and a full meal consists of an appetizer (antipasti), first course (primo) and a second course (secondo) with a side dish (contorni) followed by desert (dolce). It's not necessary to order from every course, but usually people order at least two courses. Italian meals can last one or two hours or even longer.
Italians usually eat fairly late meals. Lunch will not start before 1:00 and dinner not before 8:00.
Italian food is very healthy and balanced; carbohydrates from the first course and the bread, proteins from the first and second courses, vitamins and minerals from the vegetables and the fruit. Not to mention the extra virgin olive oil!
If you want to eat good Italian food when in Italy avoid restaurants offering tourist menu's and hunt out a place where locals go. The service and the food will be much better quality.

Travelling to Italy

Everywhere you travel in Italy you will find friendly, generous, people ready to help you enjoy your stay. Women may encounter men who whistle at them and call out "ciao bella" but the intentions are not harmful and it is very unlikely that you will be harassed, followed or threatened as, as soon as they see you're not interested you'll hear them calling out to some other girl exactly the same thing.
Keep your eyes on your bags at all times. There is quite a big pickpocket problem in Italy so be especially careful on buses and the metro.
Although some Italians speak some English it's a good idea to know some basic Italian before your trip. Check out my book "Italian for tourists" at
You'll find the food and drink amazing. Each region or even city has it's own specialities that are well worth trying. For the best food and service avoid anywhere with a tourist menu and head off to a local restaurant where Italians'll see.. and taste the difference!
Italy is part of the European Union and as such uses the Euro as it's currency. Coins come in 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 cents plus 1 and 2 euro coins. Paper money comes in quantities of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500 euro.
August is a nothing month in Italy as it's when most Italians go on holiday. A lot of shops close during this period and many cities empty. So if you're looking to relax come in August. If you prefer to see Italy as it normally is avoid this month. The best times to come are May/ June or September although Christmas is well worth it too.
For more information about Italy you can do a simple search on any search engine or buy yourself a guidebook like Lonely planet or Let's Go.


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