Saturday, September 7, 2013

Estate 2012 (Summer 2012)

I realize that it's September now, but it still feels like summer to me!  Temperatures in Italy are still quite hot (today it hit up to 93 degrees in Signa), so I thought that it would be a good time to do a summertime wrap-up post.

MUSICA (Music)

As usual, summertime provided us with some great music to use as a seasonal soundtrack.  Here are some of the ones that I gravitated towards:

JOVANOTTI - Ti Porto Via Con Me

I absolutely love this song.  Every time I hear it, it reminds me of all the little trips that Simone and I took this summer.  "Ti porto via con me", translates into "I'll take you away with me".  We heard it a lot this summer and it continues to put a smile on my face every time I hear it.  Jovanotti tends to have that effect on me though!


Yep, another one from Jovanotti.  I can't help it!  His songs are usually so cheerful, and "Estate" doesn't disappoint!  "Estate" is Italian for "Summer", and  you can definitely get the "summer" feel from this song.

MAX GAZZE' - Sotto Casa

I can never not like a Max Gazze' song.  I think it's impossible.  He was the first Italian artist that I really started to follow more than 3 years ago.  His "Sotto Casa" is such a catchy, up-beat tune.  It was a no-brainer to include this in my personal summertime soundtrack!


Two of my favorite female artists in one song.  "Passi" was one of my 'chill out' songs of the summer.  (Note, this isn't an official video, but one I found on YouTube.)

CIBO (Food)

Summertime is when we enjoy fresh, in-season vegetables as much as possible, and foods that are not so "heavy".


Nothing says summer to me more than a nice, cool salad.  In Italy, that means panzanella.  Tuscan bread, fresh tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, parsley, white wine vinegar, and olive oil combine to make an amazingly refreshing lunch!


Hot summers mean grilling meat in most parts of the world.  Italy is no exception!  Steak, fish, chicken, vegetables and pork all make an appearance on local grills.  We grilled some lovely pork chops earlier this summer, rubbed with fresh sage and rosemary, and accompanied with fresh asparagus cooked in a wonderful olive oil and some cooked apples.  Our neighbors asked what it was we were cooking because it all smelled so delicious!

SAGRE (Food Festivals)

Summertime sagre are everywhere in Italy.  Not a weekend goes by without at least two or three being held somewhere within an hour's drive.  We visited a few this summer: chinghiale (wild boar), porcini (mushrooms), and ranocchi (frog legs).

Fried ranocchi!  Delicious!


Summer means lighter foods, which in my book means fish and seafood.  We at a LOT of mussels this summer.  We would buy them at the supermarket which had them for less than 4 euro per kilogram.  We'd get a kilogram and split them between two meals.  They were super delicious and a great bargain!  We got several different fish over the course of the summer as well, frying some and poaching others.  


It's not summer (or fall, or winter, or spring) without gelato!  We enjoy eating gelato year-round (obviously), but in the summer, it's extra fabulous.  Whether visiting a gelateria or buying a tub at the supermarket and eating it at home, it's a summertime staple.

caffè, fior di latte e nocciola gelato
coffee, sweet cream and hazelnut ice cream

VIAGGI (Travels)

It wouldn't be summer without taking a few day-trips!  We hit the road several times this summer.  Here are a few of the places we visited:


The summer started out rather cool, but by mid to late June, it was getting rather warm, so we hit the beach.  The Mediterranean is absolutely gorgeous.  I'm not a real beach-lover, but even I really enjoyed digging my feet in the sand or wading out a little and letting the waves lap up against my legs.  The beaches we have gone to have all been extremely clean...and free!  Crowded, but not too bad.  If we lived closer, I'm sure we would have gone more often!


We visited Siena twice this summer.  We both really love that town and enjoy spending time wandering around it's ancient streets.  The folks there are friendly and there is a real sense of community there.  The hilly streets can be a bit of a challenge on super-hot summer days though!


This was the first time that either of us had ever been to Rome!  It was a short, whirlwind trip, but we saw a lot of really great things.  Unfortunately, not nearly as much as we had hoped to see.  Guess that means we'll need to go down again and see the things we missed!  Next time, I think we will try to go when it isn't the busy summer tourist season.  There were a LOT of tourists there!

LE MONTAGNE (The Mountains)

Another good way to beat the heat is to take a drive up to the mountains!  We visited Abetone once and climbed up to the top of the mountain, which rewarded us with spectacular views.  We visited lower mountains near Pistoia on several occasions.  The temperatures are cool and refreshing...and the views are amazing.

The mountains of Pistoia

FESTE (Festivals)

Italy knows how to put on a great festival!  There always seem to be some sort of festival going on every weekend & I've not been disappointed yet!

FESTA MEDIOEVALE MALMANTILE (Medieval Festival in Malmantile)

A medieval festival in an actual fortified medieval village.  It doesn't get much better than this!  Craftsmen demonstrating their skills, vendors displaying their wares, medieval goodies and treats...and did I mention that people still actually LIVE in this castle-like village?

Candle making demonstration at Malmantile

LA FESTA DI SAN GIOVANNI (The Feast of St. John the Baptist)

St. John the Baptist is a pretty big deal in Florence, since he is the city's patron saint.  So what else do they do but throw a huge bash on his birthday!  The day starts with mass, continues with the final of the Calcio Storico (except for this was postponed due to a thunderstorm that passed through the area in the afternoon), and ends with a spectacular fireworks display over the Arno.

FESTA DEL PANE DI PRATO (Festival of the Bread of Prato)

Prato's Piazza del Duomo transformed into a carb-lover's dream this past June with it's Bread Festival!  They put up some ovens and baked fresh schiacciata (and handed out pieces for free).  There were several booths from bakeries and flour mills present, selling and displaying their wares.  I tried so many baked goodies, I ended up skipping lunch!

These are just a handful of things that we did this summer.  Of course, we did more than just the above.  We spent a lot of time walking in Cascine or around other parks and areas around the neighborhood.  We enjoyed the good weather and tried to avoid the bad weather (one day when it was raining buckets in the Florence area, we headed down to Empoli and Vinci just because it wasn't raining there!).  We worked a lot and we played a lot.  That's what I love about Italy!  There is always something exciting going on!

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