Seductive Venice

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Feb 11, 2021
Venice seduces us in so many ways–with her watery, curving reflections; her hidden corners shot through with light; her disguises, her artistic creations inspired by centuries of tradition.
Casanova once walked La Serenissima’s calle and drifted down her canals, on the way to a tryst or an adventure. Let these images take you back into your own Venetian memories, your dreams and your desires. You might spy glittering glass beads through a window or sumptuous Fortuny fabrics sailing overhead. You might peer through doorways into other vistas. You might repose within the cool marble walls of a bright white church or duck your head passing beneath an arching bridge.
Venice beckons in the shape of gondoliers, maskers, artists, violinists, welcoming you to explore her secret streets and mirrored canals. Play in the shadows and in the light as it bounces off stone and water. Then meet up with your friends for an Aperol Spritz or a cool raboso. As the light closes out the day, toast to love, to beauty, to history, to Venice, grateful that we get to enjoy her charms.
(Grazie mille to Kathleen Gonzalez, author of Seductive Venice: In Casanova’s Footsteps and other books celebrating and revealing Venice’s history and my dear friend Frank Yantorno for several of the dazzling evening photos.)

The Secret South of the Amalfi Coast

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Jan 10, 2021

It’s a secret. It’s just south of the tourist-packed jet-setting Amalfi peninsula.  From Naples, it’s about a 1.5 hour drive–  past Mount Vesuvius, Pompeii and Sorrento, heading to the small city of Salerno. Then you hit the “buffalo highway” where you’ll notice signs advertising mozzarella di bufalo, the very best in all of Italy. The landscape flattens a bit as farms appear on either side of the road. Tomatoes, artichokes, kiwis, figs . . . this is one of Italy’s most lush agricultural zones and a gastronomic paradise.

Welcome to Cilento, the undiscovered land south of the Amalfi Coast in southern Campania. Cilento has a rugged mountain interior and a pristine coastline dotted with fine beaches. It’s home to the temples at Paestum, the best mozzarella producers in Italy, the birthplace of the Mediterranean Diet, and a unique variety of fig called Dotatto Bianco. Also home to many of Italy’s oldest residents, the key to life here is the phrase “slowly, slowly” which may be the true secret to longevity.

Highlights:

~ Tenuta Vannulo, Italy’s best producer of buffalo mozzarella. The buffalos live stress-free lives where they receive massages and listen to Mozart in their pens.

~ The temples at Paestum, built in the 6th century BCE when this was a Greek colony dedicated to Poseidon.

~ Castellabate, one of Italy’s most beautiful, well-preserved villages.

~ Certosa di San Lorenzo in Padula, the largest monastery in Italy and an oasis of tranquility.

~ Santomiele, a confectionery devoted to Cilento figs located in the Cilento National Park; it feels like a Cartier showroom with figs and chocolates presented as though they were fine jewels.

~ Borgo La Pietraia, an agriturismo with a view framing both the Amalfi and Cilento Coasts. It’s also home to the Feast On History Food & Wine School (opening fall 2021)

Grazie mille to Danielle Oteri and Feast on History for the content of this post as well as many of its photos.  Post-pandemic, those of you in the NYC area might should consider taking one of Danielle’s fabulous Arthur Avenue Food Tours.

A Renaissance Christmas

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Dec 24, 2020

Tis the season of angels, heavenly music, and nativity scenes!

Christian or not, we all know the Christmas Story, its characters and incidents … but many of us don’t realize that it is, in fact, an amalgamation of only two of the four Gospels which have been cobbled together.

Matthew tells of a nativity full of pageantry and procession with the arrival of the Three Magi — scholars, wise men from far, far away, with their finest gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to pay homage to a newborn King; while Luke shares a story of humble simplicity — of a babe born in a rustic manger surrounded by animals, and of local shepherds who come to adore him.  Both gospels prominently feature angels in important roles as messengers who announce the arrival of the baby Jesus.

All of this has resulted in the creation of many a Renaissance masterpiece.  Please enjoy this holiday slideshow featuring some of my favorite paintings, by Italian Renaissance masters … naturally.  Photos features were either taken by me or sourced from Wiki-Commons and are in the public domain.

Wishing you all Buon Natale and Buon Capodanno as we all look forward to a brighter and more joyous 2021.