We've moved from Baltimore, Maryland USA to Venice, Italy in pursuit of living our dream!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Testing 1-2-3

Bear with me, please. I'm testing a new camera and want to attempt to upload a photo or two to my blog.

I ordered the camera about a week ago online after having checked out just about every camera store in Venice that I could think of. None carried the camera I wanted, nor would they order it for me. I did not bother to try shopping on the mainland, I just gave in and resorted to online, using an Italian website. This is often the kiss of death, as the Italians don't do online shopping like we do in the US. Not only is the purchase transaction difficult, but delivery is often difficult or even non-existant.  Amazon.it is a relatively new site which fortunately works moderately well, so I chose to use them this time. Still, delivery can be questionable.

After making the order, the item did not ship when they told me it would. In fact, 3 days after the expected ship date it still had not been sent out, so I did start to hold my breath and begin praying to the internet gods. Someone answered my prayers- my camera did get shipped out at the end of that day, and the delivery date was updated to today, April 26.  Around 11 am this morning, my doorbell rang. I let the delivery guy in, and there was my new camera!

Upon unpacking the camera, I discovered the menu system was all in French. Great. Snafu number one. After charging the battery, I was able to figure out how to change the language to English. I was on a roll now!! I continued setting menu options and ran around the house taking some sample photos to get my feet wet with several of the features of this camera that were new to me. 

I could not wait to get out on the street to try more shots. After a couple of hours practice, I can tell you I love the feel of the camera in my hand- it's lightweight, everything seems to be laid out well and is easy to use.  So far, my favorite thing about it is the incredible zoom capability. Check this out-

Here's the Campanile in St. Mark's square, this afternoon. I'm standing back at the far side of the square opposite the Basilica.   Can you see that little gold speck on the top of the Campanile???  That's the Archangel Gabriel.

Here is Gabriel from the exact same spot.  My former camera would have still had him looking like a little speck.  Love this! FYI- my new camera is a Panasonic Lumix fz150.

And one more for testing purposes-

I was completely across Bacino Orseolo when I snapped this one- alittle bit more zoom and I probably could have read the title on this gondolier's book!

 I already have a LONG list of things all over Venice I intend to zoom in on!!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

April 25, 2012 - Celebration of the 100th anniversary of the rebuilding of the Campanile

It's hard to believe, but 100 years ago on the 14th of July, the bell tower in St. Mark's square completely collapsed to the ground.  In the last few days a few photos of the event have surfaced on a few sites relating to Venice, and there are several of these photos lining the walls of cafe's and bars around the city. Yes, hard to believe, but the photos don't lie!

photo 1, shared from Venice International University

photo2 shared from  Venezia Today

In this second photo, nothing is left but a pile of bricks. I read that miraculously, no other buildings were damaged, nor were there any injuries to human life. Again, hard to believe!  After the building fell, the city held a design competitions in an effort to select a new building design. Venetians did a bit of protesting, using the familiar Venetian phrase, "Com' era, Dov' era" (As it was, where it was) as their reasoning for not wanting something more modern to be erected in the Bell Tower's place. The locals won this debate!

Over the last year or so, there has been an ongoing project to do some repairs to the foundation of the Bell Tower after some hairline cracks were discovered.  This work appears to be just completing- hopefully the problems have been resolved and the building has been shored up. I can't fathom what it would be like for this building to collapse again.

Tonight in St. Mark's square there is a special celebration, including a light show, to commemorate 100 yrs of the rebuilt bell tower. Auguri, Venice!

Today is a huge day here in Venice- Italian Liberation Day, St. Mark's Day, and also the 100 yr celebration of the rebuilding of the Campanile in ST. Mark's.  Lot's to write about-- I'm recycling a post I did back in 2009 that explains a wonderful tradition here in Venice that takes place on April 25- see below. More to follow on the Campanile celebration!

April 25 in Venice-- a day of Celebrations

Yesterday was April 25. All over Italy, this day commemorates Italy's liberation day following WWII. In Venice, there are additional reasons to celebrate--one, it's ST. Mark's festival, the holiday of the patron saint of Venice. And two, it's the Festival of the Blooming Rose. On the occassion of the Fest of the Patron Saint in Venice, men give the gift of the bocolo- the red rose bloom- to their beloved.

All over the city, you will see women carrying one single rose blossom, given to them by some man who loves them. What a great tradition! Men give them also to their mothers, not only to their inamorata.

There are several versions of how this tradition started, but the one I like most goes something like this:

There was a rose bed growing along side the grave of St. Mark the Evangelist. This rose bush was gifted to one of the two Venetian sailors, Basilio, who "stole" the remains of St. Mark and brought them from Turkey to the city of Venice. The rose bush was planted in Basilio's garden on Giudecca Island. On Basilio's death, his property was divided between his two sons,and the rose bush fell on the borderline of the two divisions. These two factions of the family became rivals, and it is said the rose bush stopped blooming as a result of the bad blood between the two brothers.

Many years later, on April 25, a love sparked between a girl on one side of the family with a boy on the other side. It's said that the two fell in love watching each other through the leaves of the rose bush on the edge of the properties. This love caused the rose bush to blossom again, and the young man gave a rose blossom to the young woman. This love brought the two sides of the family back together again.

In memory of this love story, Venetian men give a rose blossom- the bocolo- to their beloved on April 25 every year. I love this story!!!! Ok, I'm a sucker for a romance, what can I say?

It's very interesting also to me that Hallmark cards don't exist here, but the florists do a huge business.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Roast Cabbage- for Andrew

Before ....


This cabbage recipe is so simple- it's a wonderful way to use cabbage. Try it!

Recipe from Kayln's Kitchen  www.Kaylnskitchen.com  We have used many recipes from this site, all of them fabulous! Grazie, Kayln!

Makes 3-4 servings as a side dish, recipe adapted slightly from Roasted Cabbage with Lemon at Eat Repeat.

1 medium-sized head of green cabbage
2 T olive oil
2-3 T fresh squeezed lemon juice (I used 2 T for the cabbage in these photos, but next time I'd use even more lemon)
generous amount of sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
lemon slices, for serving cabbage (optional)

Preheat oven to 450F/232C. Spray a roasting pan with non-stick spray or olive oil.

Cut the head of cabbage into 8 same-size wedges, cutting through the core and stem end. Then carefully trim the core strip and stem from each wedge and arrange wedges in a single layer on the roasting pan (leave some space around them as much as you can.)  Karen's Note:  After trying this the first time, we now leave the core in, it makes it easier to turn the pieces later.

Whisk together the olive oil and lemon juice (use the larger amount of lemon juice if you like a lot of lemon like I do.) Then use a pastry brush to brush the top sides of each cabbage wedge with the mixture and season generously with salt and fresh ground black pepper. Turn cabbage wedges carefully, then brush the second side with the olive oil/lemon juice mixture and season with salt and pepper.

Roast cabbage for about 15 minutes, or until the side touching the pan is nicely browned. Then turn each wedge carefully and roast 10-15 minutes more, until the cabbage is nicely browned and cooked through with a bit of chewiness remaining. Serve hot, with additional lemon slices to squeeze lemon juice on at the table if desired.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Special delivery from Sant'Erasmo

When my friend Caterina suggested I try ordering vegetables directly from her friends who have a farm on Sant'Erasmo, I figured "What the heck, I'll give it a shot".  She emailed me the website address (http://isaporidisanterasmo.com/) , I logged on, registered, and proceeded to make my first order from  I Sapori di Sant'Erasmo di Carlo e Claudio Finotello. You have to select where you want the vegetables delivered, with choices of Fondamenta Nuove, San Giobbe in Cannaregio, Lido, Giudecca and San Trovaso.  I selected San Trovaso, which is the closest to our apartment.  They provide a weekly list of what vegetables will be available that week, you check off which ones you want and a quantity (kilo, bunch etc, depending on what is possible for each vegetable).  In addition, you may select a large or medium mixed bag for 10 or 5 Euros respectively.

For our very first order, I chose the medium mixed bag (or mystery bag as I have christened it), a kilo of spinach and a bunch of parsley. Caterina had warned me that the mixed bags were filled with stuff, so I decided not to overdo my order. We were late getting to San Trovaso last Friday, but the vegetable guys were there waiting.

I must report that my mixed bag was stuffed with a wonderful assortment of vegetables: a head of lettuce, a head of red cabbage, a kilo of spinach, a large bunch of swiss chard, a bag of mixed greens for salad, and a huge bunch of something we could not even identify. Figures there would be a mystery vegetable in my mystery bag!  And wouldn't you know it, we also had another kilo of spinach.  We have since identified that bunch of stuff -Rosalino, but we still have no idea how to cook or use it.

We ate alot of spinach in the coming days, including a wonderful spinach quiche, and spinach and ricotta cannelloni.  It was some of the best spinach I can ever remember eating, and even though I am taking a spinach break this week, I am eager to order more next week.

This week, I only ordered a kilo of cabbage, and some parsley. Since we discovered a roasted cabbage recipe recently, we have been having it often.   So, Friday evening around 7pm, Mike and I wandered over to San Trovaso to wait for the vegetable boat.  Not long ago a lovely little winebar  called Al Squero (perfect name!) opened up directly across from the squero at San Trovaso, and it's the perfect spot to sit for a bit while waiting.

Here's my view from the window of Al Squero last evening. Does it get any better than this?

A boat pulled up along the bank at 7:15 pm, exactly on time, and I went outside to check to see if it was the guys from Sant'Erasmo. Yes, Carlo and Claudio were there!  The boat deck was empty, but as the board coverings were pulled off the boat deck one by one, bags of vegetables were revealed. And, magically, out of nowhere it seems about 15 people also arrived, some toting their grocery carts, in time for their deliveries. Evidently what I missed the week before by being late was seeing this eager, and by the number of bags revealed, fairly large group of people who also enjoy ordering from Carlo and Claudio!

After all the bags had been revealed, the guy set up a little box for collecting money, then started pulling out bags and calling names off.  As much as I enjoy going to Rialto market, I am delighted to be able to  directly support this local farmer.  

Sant'Erasmo, an island off of Venice, not far from Burano, is predominantly a farm island. Artichoke is a primary crop.

A note from me: - Yes, I realize I have been a phantom for a few weeks. Many thanks for the emails asking if I am ok.  Yes, I am ok, just slower getting over the dogs than I ever expected.  Despite trying to keep busy, not much has worked to snap me out of the doldrums. This week I am trying a new approach, a little writing therapy. You've been forewarned!