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

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Buona Pasqua!

Happy Easter and Buona Pasqua!

Of all the things I've had to get accustomed to living here on the other side of the Atlantic ocean, learning about new traditions and how the locals celebrate holidays is one of my favorites.  I have learned that  somewhere around 2 -3 weeks before Easter I must make a stop at Drogheria Moscari near the Rialto Bridge (on the San Polo side) to check out their huge chocolate egg. Once I see their window display of chocolate eggs, chocolate bunnies and their one enormous chocolate egg covered with elaborate decorations, I know Easter is just around the corner. It's probably my favorite thing about this holiday.

Another Easter time favorite of mine is seeing all of the grocery stores and bakeries display the "Colombo" , a cake like dessert in the shape of a bird, in their windows.  This tastes a lot like the Christmas time Panetone, it has candied citrus baked in it, and almonds on the top, and has a consistency that is a cross between a bread and a cake.  Even though I see it in shop windows for most of the month preceeding Easter Sunday, I wait until a day or two prior to the holiday before I buy mine. The anticipation makes it so much more enjoyable. It isn't Easter without at least one Colombo!

Coloring hard boiled eggs is not a tradition here. In fact, I scouted all over this side of Venice the other day in search of white eggs. No luck. All I could find were brown eggs. I don't think those would be very good to color. I'm thinking Italian children might really like doing this. Did not find any Paas boxes of dye for eggs either.

Easter baskets are not common here either. Instead, children receive one fairly large chocolate egg about a foot tall that is already packaged and wrapped in fancy paper by some chocolate maker. Inside the egg is some little toy for the child.

And the Easter egg hunt doesn't exist here either. I mentioned it to a friend of mine the other day, and she told me she had only ever seen it in a movie. Sant'Elena has a lovely grassy park right in front of our apartment which might just become the site of a big American style Easter egg hunt next year. I'm already plotting!!!  

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Papa Francesco!

By now the world saw white smoke coming from the smoke stacks at the Sistine Chapel, and we've seen the appearance of the new pope at the balcony in St. Peter's square.

Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina has been elected the 267th pope and has chosen the name Francesco.

I suspect all Venetians were on the edge of their seats hoping and praying Cardinal Angelo Scola would be the new pope.  He had been the Patriarch of Venice for many years, and was quite loved by the people of the Veneto. Three other popes have come from Venice-  Pope Pius X, Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul I.  Having Cardinal Scola as one of the front runners of the papabile (those who are pope-able) made all of us sit up and take a little bit more notice.  When the bells around Venice started ringing tonight, we all held our breath. It wasn't meant to be.

So that's the not so good news. The good news is we do have a new pope, the waiting is over.

An hour after the bells rang for the new pope, the high water sirens rang out for Venetians. A little Aqua Alta due to arrive around 11:30 pm tonight. Only 110 cm, nothing to worry about, there won't be tourists swimming in St. Mark's tonight.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

News from the Conclave Day 1

Black smoke from the 1st vote - no new pope tonight.

The results of the first vote by the Cardinals holed up in the Sistine Chapel are in. They could not come to a majority agreement. I figured as much. I think getting a majority vote, 77  out of the 115 total cardinals voting, is going to be a difficult task.

Tomorrow morning the next two votes are scheduled. Stay tuned for my next smoke report. 

Friday, March 8, 2013

Buona Festa della Donna!

If you anywhere in Italy this week, including Venice, over the past few days you would have seen street vendors and florist shops selling small bunches of the yellow mimosa for Festa della Donna.  March 8 is  International Women's Day, a day which commemorates the 129 women who died in a factory fire in Chicago in 1908.   The day also commemorates a strike by women garment workers on March 8,  1857 in New York which prompted the first women's union.  The mimosa is given as a sign of solidarity and respect for women.

When I first came to Italy I remembered being very curious about all the mimosas, as I had never seen this in the US. I don't remember ever knowing about this special day. I know about Mother's day, but had not ever been introduced to International Day of Women, and I'd worked all my life too.
But here in Italy, it's a huge deal.  That I had never heard of this day bothered me enough to start doing a little research, and discovered that while the day has been celebrated around the world for over 100 years it has not yet gained that kind of attention in the US.

Seems like this is the perfect opportunity for another Hallmark occasion.  I'm going to need all of you in the US to chime in on whether this has become a bigger event in the US since I've been here. Are all  you ladies getting bunches of mimosas today?  We are in Venice.

Buona Festa della Donna to all of you, wherever you are in the world. I'm sending virtual mimoas.