Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Italian Food

Italy is World famous for it's diet. Pasta is a common element throughout the various regions of the country. Divided into two types, lunga (long), such as spaghetti and linguine and corta (short) which includes penne (tubes) , conchiglie (shell shaped), fusilli (corkscrew shaped) and many others.

Pasta sauce ingredients vary quite dramatically from region to region and there is an obvious difference between north and south. In the north, sauces are traditionally richer and often contain red meat e.g. ragù or as it's sometimes known bolognese. As you head south sauces tend to contain more vegetables and on the coast lots of seafood.

Freshly grated cheese is used to top most pasta dishes. Common types include parmigiano, grana padano, pecorino and ricotta salata. The type of cheese used also varies between regions.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Civil Weddings in Italy

It is possible for foreign nationals to have a legal civil wedding in Italy. It has recently become much easier for foreigners to marry legally in Italy, however Italy is notoriously bureaucratic which can make it a complicated and time consuming task.

In most regions of Italy civil weddings can take place in hotels or villas as an alternative to the registry office. There are however some restrictions, e.g. a wedding cannot be held outdoors. Some cities only allow weddings in a registry office, but as these are usually located in historic and beautiful buildings this is not as bleak an option as it would be in some other countries.
By law in Italy an official interpreter must be present at all marriages between foreign nationals. The registry office will supply you with a list of interpreters in the area.

Publication of Banns: For marriages between Italian nationals it is a requirement that banns be posted for at least two weeks (it varies by region) before a wedding licence is issued. This requirement may be waived in the case of marriages between non-nationals, but it is important to check this with the registrars office in the area where you plan to marry.

Documentation: Birth certificates, Valid current passport, A Certificate of Freedom to Marry. This should be completed and returned to the registry office where you will marry not less than 8 weeks and not more than 12 weeks before the marriage takes place. In Italy a divorced person cannot marry until at least 300 days after the issuing of a Decree Absolute and will need to supply a copy of the Decree Absolute. In some regions an affidavit by a 3rd person drawn up in the presence of a solicitor, stating that since the date of divorce you did not re-marry may be needed.

A widowed person will require the Certificate of their first marriage and the Death certificate of the deceased spouse. An affidavit by a 3rd person drawn up in the presence of a solicitor, stating that since death of former spouse you did not re-marry may be asked for.

There is no legal residency requirement in Italy, but local regulations vary and some registry offices require that you register 2-3 days before the wedding takes place.

A Marriage Certificate will be provided by the registrar immediately after the wedding.

You can find out more about weddings in Italy in 'A guide to weddings in Italy' available now from

Monday, February 26, 2007

Shopping in Rome

Rome offers shopping opportunities for all budgets. Individual neighbourhoods have their own corner shops, butchers, bakers and bars, however most of the city's quality and speciality shops are located in specific areas.
Via Condotti and it's surrounding streets (located in front of Piazza di Spagna) contain most of the big names in fashion, accessories, jewellery and luxury goods. Here you will find Gucci, Prada, Christian Dior and alike.

Via del Corso is where you will find mid-range clothes, shoes etc... Here you will find stores like Miss Sixty, Diseal etc..

Should you wish to venture out of the centre take the metro A to Subaugusta. Here you will find a small shopping centre but also Via Tuscolana, a long road full of mid-range to inexpensive shops. There are many zones like this in Rome so if you have the time, move around the city a bit and discover them. It'll be worth your while.
There are also several markets in Rome worth visiting. Porta Portese is the largest and takes place on Sunday mornings. You will find bargains galore. Happy shopping!

Friday, February 23, 2007

Visiting Italy

Included in this blog is various information about Italy, especially Rome, and tips for tourists. As personal experience plays an important role in the type of tips and information a person can give about a place, I thought I'd add this post so that you can all add your own tips drawing on your own personal experiences.

Did you use a particular tour company during your visit? were they any good?
Do you know of a hidden treasure worth visiting?
Do you have tips for saving money during your trip?
Did you eat at a particularly good/bad restaurant?

Add a comment to this post with a tip for others planning on visiting Italy.

Thursday, February 22, 2007


This monument is the tomb of Caius Cestius, Praetor and Tribune of the plebeians during the reign of Emperor Augustus. Cestius, having visited the pyramids in Egypt, decided to create one for himself as a tomb.
It is made from white marble and incorporated in the Aurelian walls. During the second half of the 17th century, while the base of the pyramid was being cleaned, various pieces of columns were found, along with marble bases with the names of the descendants of Caius Cestius engraved on them, and a bronze foot. Inside the monument, there were no precious objects, probably because a law had been passed forbidding excess luxury and the burying of gold. As a result, the gold-embroidered clothing belonging to Caius was sold, and the heirs used the money to erect the large bronze statue, of which just the foot remains.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Political crisis

As you have probably seen mentioned in the news Italian politics is in crisis. Since becoming the President Romano Prodi has been under pressure from the population (regarding mainly the increase in taxes) and other politicans (regarding mainly the troops in Iraq).

Giorgio Napolitano, the President of the Repubblic, has ordered a vote of trust to be carried out in the chambers. There has been a lot of talk of Prodi being forced to resign. The results of the vote should be final by next Wednesday.

A recent survey on yahoo Italia shows that the population (57%- 2218 votes) think the best thing to do to resolve the situation is to hold new elections.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Pronunciation guide

Italian pronunciation might pose some difficulties for beginners however it is not difficult if certain basic rules are followed:

  1. All letters, both vowels and consonants, must be pronounced, with the exception of h

  2. If 2 or 3 vowels follow each other in a word, each one is pronounced and retains its own individual sound.

  3. If a word contains a double consonant you pronounce both consonants

To find out more about the Italian language and learn the words and phrases needed when visiting Italy, get your copy of 'Italian for tourists' from today!

Monday, February 19, 2007

Arco di Constantino

One of Rome's most important victory arches, Arco di Constantino can be found on the western side of the Colosseo. It was constructed in 312AD in honour of Emperor Constantine following his victory over Maxentius at the battle of the Milvian Bridge (north-west of the Villa Borghese, in zona Olimpica). The arch was made in marble taken from other constructions.

Friday, February 16, 2007


The Colosseum or Colosseo was orignially known as the Flavian Amphitheatre or Anfiteatro Falvio. Construction was started in 72AD by Emperor Vespasian in the grounds of Nero's private Domus Aurea.

The massive construction could seat more than 80,000 people. The games held to mark the inauguration of the Colosseo lasted 100 days and nights, during which time thousands of people and animals died.
Gladiators were prisoners of war, slaves sold to the gladiator schools or volunteers. Fights were not necessarily to the death as a defeated gladiator could appeal to the crowd and the presiding magistrate, who would signal whether he had fought well and deserved to be saved or if he should be killed. Successful gladiators became popular hero's and would live to enjoy a comfortable retirement.
With the fall of the Roman Empire, the Colosseo was abandoned and later became property of the Church. There are in fact a few graves located inside the Colosseo.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Trevi Fountain

The Trevi Fountain or Fontana di Trevi, is one of Rome's most famous monuments. Designed by Nicola Salvi in 1732 this high-baroque fountain dominated the tiny piazza. It's water is supplied by one of the cities earliest aqueducts.

The famous custom is to throw a coin into the fountain (over your shoulder facing away from it) to ensure your return to Rome.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

February 14th

Originally, celebrated in honour of the Juno, Queen of the Roman Gods, February 14th has always been a lucky day for love. Juno was also regarded as the Goddess of Women and Marriage, and her holiday was observed on the eve of the annual Roman fertility festival called the Feast of Lupercalia which was dedicated to the Gods of Agriculture, Lupercus and Faunus along with Romulus and Remus – the legendary founders of Rome.
You can find out more about Valentines day in Italy in my ebook 'The Patron Saint of Lovers' which is available to download now at

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Phoning in Italy

The country code for Italy is 0039.

Should you want to call home when in Italy you have several choices.

1) Use a public telephone. This is likely to be very expensive and is therefore not recommended.

2) Phone from one of the many Centri Telefoni or call centres located throughout most cities. These tend to be equipped with banks of phones and (occasionally) staff. You normally speak first and pay later, however some phone booths require a prepayment.

3) Buy an international call card. These are sold in most bars and newsagents. e.g. Edicard, allows you 300 minutes calling time for just €5,00. You can use the card at public phone booths or fixed land lines. This is the most cost effective option.

Monday, February 12, 2007

And the winner is....

The blog comment competition is now over. Thank you to all of you that took part. All names were put into a hat and one was picked out and the winner of a free copy of my latest ebook 'The Patron Saint of Lovers' is Sandy Wells. Congratulations to Sandy!
To receive your prize please send me your email address or contact me at

Friday, February 9, 2007


Lent or la Quaresima. Abstinence from traditional pleasures; maybe wine, tasty Italian deserts (dolci),or not speaking swearwords (parolacce). How do Italians prepare for 40 days of self-inflicted deprivation? Throw a party that lasts for weeks!

The word Carnevale comes from the term carne levare since eating meat was restricted as an atonement while preparing for Easter (Pasqua). The celebration itself has roots in ancient pagan celebrations such as Saturnalia and Lupercalia. In Italy il Carnevale is traditionally a time dedicated to parades, dances, masquerade balls, entertainment, music and widespread merriment. One of the oldest remaining documents about the use of masks in Venice dates to May 2, 1268, when the citizens where banned from playing a certain game while wearing masks. Nowadays mischief and pranks are part of the festivities, children bombard each other with silly string spray and confetti (coriandoli), adults attend extravagant costume balls, and some towns have a series of parades with spectacular papier–mâché floats.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Largo Argentina

As well as being the home to the ruins of 4 Roman temples and the remains of pompey's theatre, located in Largo Argentina is the Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary. A no-kill shelter for homeless cats, of which Rome has many. Volunteers from different countries around the world, who created the shelter, work here 7 days a week.
If you would like to be involved you can give a home to a cat, adpot a cat at a distance or make a donation. You can also work with them looking after the cats, as a tour guide or administartive help.

You can find out more about the Cat Sanctuary at their website

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Why was the Roman Empire important?

Many of the things we do and have originated from the Romans:

Language. The language we use today was developed from the Romans. The Romans wrote and spoke in Latin and many of our words are based on Latin.

The Calendar. Started by Julius Caesar it is based on the Eaths movement around the sun. The names of the months where taken from the names of Roman Gods and rulers. July is named after Julius Caesar himself.

The Romans also gave us:
A legal system and laws
The Census
Straight roads
Central heating
Aqueducts (bridges for water).

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

When in Rome

Rome is an amazing city. Whether your into the churches, the art, the gorgeous food and wine or the handsome Italian's, this city has it all.
What to do depends on 1) if it's your first trip 2) your interests 3) how long you go for.
1) If it's your first time in Rome there are certain "must sees". The vatican, the colosseum, trevi fountain, Piazza Navona, Piazza di Spagna etc... Rome is actually very easy to get around and you should be able to cover all the big sites in one or two days. Make sure you get to the vatican early or you could find yourself in line for hours.
2) A lot depends on your interests too. There are churches everywhere which are worth a visit both for religous reasons and for the art. Monuments are everywhere too and you'll find you see a lot of art and history just walking around the city. If you're more into nature and relaxing, there are numerous parks (Villa Borghese is right in the centre and great for a picnic. From the Pincio you get a great view over Rome too).
3) How long you stay for will also effect how much you see. As the famous saying goes "A lifetime is not enough". If you have a couple of weeks check out the big sites in the centre and some of the lesser visited ones like St. Petro in vincoli (up the hill in front of the Colosseum which has in my opinion one of Michelangelo's best pieces), take one of the boat trips down the tevere river to Ostia (the beach), get a bus to Tivoli and go to Villa D'este (a beautiful villa with gorgeous gardens full of statues, fountains, and view of Rome from a distance)
make sure you eat at restaurants where Italians eat and not at the tourist restaurants in the centre. Although some tourist menus are ok they are nothing compared the Italian food prepared for Italians. Think about it, tourists menus are created for people who won't be coming back, proper Italian restaurant what the people to come back and therefore have better quality of food and service...and price!

Monday, February 5, 2007

Football banned for 2 weeks

All football matches have been banned for a 2 week period following the death of an Italian police officer. The Police officer was killed during the violence between fans and the police force that followed a match in Catania. This is not the first time a person has been killed under a similar situation. Unfortunately violence has been part of the history of football for many years however in the past it was fans vs fans. Now it's police vs fans and the attacks are becoming more and more violent. No one seems to know how to resolve the situation here in Italy but there has been a lot of talk about following the UK example of no tolerance to any form of violence. General public opinion here is that a 2 week ban will make no difference to the situation. There is talk that some matches will take place on Sunday 11th but this will only be valid for stadiums that meet certain levels of security.

Friday, February 2, 2007


1) Don't forget there's still time to leave comments and and take part in the blog commetns competition. For every comment you leave on this blog before february 10th, your name will be entered into the prize draw (*up to 3 times).

2) Remember that every Saturday at 6pm CET there is a chat in my chatroom at with different guest speakers dropping by every week to share their knowlegde and answers your questions. Don't miss out, join the chat!

3) If you want to be kept up to date on my latest projects, articles in press, interviews and other general news sign up for the free monthly newsletter at

Thursday, February 1, 2007

St. Valentines day is fast approaching and if you're looking for an original gift check out my latest ebook 'The Patron Saint of Lovers' which is out now and available to download from jolinsdell. It's cheap and easy to send to whoever is in your soft spot this year. More original than chocolates or flowers and will last a lot longer than both.

Ever wondered who St. Valentine really was? or How the Italians celebrate Valentines day? 'The Patron Saint of Lovers' has the answers to these and other questions.

Share the love, get your copy today!


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