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Florence during Christmas holidays

During the month of December, Florence has a magical atmosphere. When Christmas gets close, you can feel it everywhere. The streets are full of Christmas lights, different for each neighborhood, making the city very colourful.

For several days, in the squares there are a lot of Christmas markets, where the stands offer many products: crafts, food and warm beverages and many others. Among these, one of the most famous market is of course the international Christmas market in Santa Croce, which is part of Florentine tradition, with its typical small wooden houses, where you can find handmade pieces and gastronomic specialities from all over the world.

Another famous tradition is the big Christmas tree situated in Piazza Duomo, that is lighted during the official ceremony on December 8th, in occasion of the Immaculate Conception; next to the tree, on the church porch of Santa Maria del Fiore cathedral, is organized the Christmas nativity scene composed by handmade terracotta statues, which stays in the square until January 6th, Epiphany’s day, the last day of this magical holiday time.

Would you like to discover more about Italy and its culture? Check out our Italian culture courses!

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History of the Birth of Italian Language in Florence

Although Florence is responsible for the exile of Dante Alighieri, the city, still today, is living in the reflection of the poet’s glory. Dante is famous all over the world for his enormous contribution toward the spreading of the Italian language in literature. Before Dante began to use his vulgar language, Latin was the official language of writing.It’s thanks to him if Florentine language has acquired the status of standard italian. Whatever the merits of the claim, a modern standardised language only really started to gain ground in the 19th century. In his literary masterpiece, “I Promessi Sposi” (The Betrothed), Alessandro Manzoni, the novelist of Milan, struggled against Tuscan language in order to give to his writing a more broadly national appeal. From the end of the second world war the media have made use of a standardised Italian, making it known to the Italian public:from the north to the south of the peninsula.

Would you like to learn Italian language? Check out our Italian language courses!

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Discover Florence: The District of San Lorenzo in Florence

If your holiday in Florence has just started, it will suerly be the San lorenzo area to welcome you. A stone`s thow away form the Dome, the area around the San Lorenzo Church offers a wide variety of things to see and to do in a perfect mix of cultural and free time: from a peacefull stroll among the stands of the San Lorenzo market to a visit to the Medici chapels.

The best way to appreciate the atmosphere of the area is to take a walk along the streets of the famous San Lorenzo market. If you are looking for a a present or a souvenir of your stay in Florence, this is the right place: you`ll be able to find small gadgets but also dresses and first of all leather accessorizes that made the Florentine craftsmanship famous all over the world.

If you are up to try and cook an Italian meal to enjoy in your rental apartment in Florence , go grocery shopping to the Central Market, the most renowned and crowded grocery market in Florence.

In this two stores building you will Ifind meat, fish, fresh vegetables and fruits in aboundance, magnificently displayed on the stands: a wonderful spectacle to see and savour.

Some culture? You won`t find yourself in lack of suggestions here. You can start with taking a look to the Canonici closter and to the Church of San Lorenzo , the heart of the area, go on with a visit to the Medici Riccardi Palace, especially if one of the numerous exhibitions is underway and end up with the beautiful Medici Chapels , with the grand sculptures funeral by Michelangelo.

If you want to visit the district of San Lorenzo with a private guide, check out our Guided Visits in Florence!

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Italian Cooking: Fish Fingers and Sweet Potato Oven-Fries

Ingredients
4 sweet potatoes 700 g
2 egg whites
1 tsp salt, for the potatoes 4 g
ground pepper to taste [optional]
1 tbsp olive oil 15 mL
parchment paper, for the sheet
4 tilapia fillets, or turbot, cut into 4 x 8 cm pieces 700 g
1/3 cup mayonnaise 85 mL
1/2 cup bread crumbs 65 g
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper 1 g
1 tsp dried oregano 1 g
1 pinch salt, for the fish [optional] 0.1 g
vegetable oil spray
125 mL Tartare Sauce 1/2 cup

Method
Preheat the oven to 230°C/450°F. Line with parchment paper a large baking sheet and an ovenproof dish. Start baking the potatoes. Prepare the fish during the first 15 min of potato baking. Bake the fish with the potatoes during the last 15 min of potato baking.

Oven «fried» potatoes

  1. Preheat the oven to 230°C/450°F. Line with parchment paper a large baking sheet and an ovenproof dish. Prepare the potatoes first and start cooking them. Prepare the fish while the potatoes are baking, then bake the fish with the potatoes during the last 15 min.

2. Peel the potatoes, then cut them into 1×8 cm pieces. It is important to cut them into pieces of similar size so that they will all cook evenly and be done at the same time.

3. In a deep dish, whisk the egg white with the oil, salt, and pepper to taste. Add the potato pieces and coat them well with the egg white mixture. Transfer them to the baking sheet. Don’t crowd the potatoes on the sheet or they will steam and not turn golden-brown.

4. Bake on the bottom oven rack 15 min, then turn the potatoes and bake an additional 15 min.

Oven «fried» fish

5. Cut the fish into 4×8 cm pieces.

6. Prepare 2 shallow dishes: put the mayonnaise in one dish, then combine the bread crumbs, Cayenne pepper, oregano, and salt to taste in the other dish. Spread each fish piece with the mayonnaise, then coat it with the bread crumbs mixture. Turn the fish to coat all sides.

7. Put the fish pieces on the prepared ovenproof dish and spray them evenly with a vegetable oil spray. Bake the fish for 15 min on the top oven rack.

8. Take the fish and potatoes out of the oven. Serve with the tartar sauce on the side.

If you wish to know more on Italian cooking or you’s like to take a few lessons to learn and improve your cooking skills with a professional chef, then take a look to our Italian cooking courses!

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Italian Cooking: Colomba – Easter Dove Cake

The Easter Dove (in italian la Colomba di Pasqua) is a cake from Italy and traditionally served at Easter. Here’s the recipe!

INGREDIENTS:
1 lb all-purpose flour
5 oz butter
4 ½ oz sugar
1 ¾ oz fresh yeast
3 eggs
5 oz mixed candied fruit
almonds, sweet to taste
coarse sugar to taste
⅛ oz salt

PREPARATION:
Dissolve the yeast in a little warm water and slowly work in half of the flour; allow the dough to rise in a warm place in a floured bowl.

When the dough has doubled in size, place it in a larger bowl and add the remaining flour, beaten eggs, melted butter, sugar and salt.

Work the dough gently until it stops sticking to the sides of the bowl, cover with a cloth and allow to rise for another hour.

Sprinkle flour on the raisins and the candied peel then shake excess flour away in a sieve.

Add the raisins and candied peel to the dough, place in a dove-shaped mould and decorate with almonds, baste with beaten egg and sprinkle with sugar crystals.

Cook in a moderate oven for 20-25 minutes.

If you want to learn this and many other recipes of our cuisine, remember that the Galilei Institute offers Italian cooking courses in Florence, all year round!!

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Wine Tasting in Florence

Florentine and Tuscan Wines are very famous all around the world, thanks to the wine production areas that surround Florence, like the most famous: Chianti.

Two of the main noble families of Florence, Antinori and Frescobaldi, began producing wine 8 centuries ago. They have been great rivals ever since.

In Florence you can visit a “Cantina” (Wine cellar) to enjoy a delightful wine tasting or winery tour inside an “Enoteca” (Wine bar). In these wineries you can taste: Chianti Classico, Brunello di Montalcino and many more wines!

Here’s some pictures of our clients:

If you would like to enjoy very good Italian wines we suggest you our Wine Tasting in Florence, an unforgettable experience for your palate!

website: www.galilei.it

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February: not only the month of Love but also the month of Carnival!

February in Italy means that just about every city on the Peninsula is invaded with masks, confetti, colors and lights that make for a very exciting and unique atmosphere: it’s Carnival! It is a party with ancient roots, and today has become a folkloristic rite in which traditions and fun work together to bring enormous life to this unique celebration.

Of course the protagonist of Carnival is the costume or disguise, the mask that allows those who don it to transform themselves into whomever they wish to be – at least for a few days. The origins of Carnival date back to the Roman Saturnalia festival that rang in the new year (Julian calendar) – similarly to the Lupercalia and Dionysian feasts. The actual term “carnevale” however derives from the Latin “carnem levare” for “take away the meat”: indeed, in Antiquity the term indicated the banquet held the last day before the period of abstinence from meat, i.e. the Christian Lent. Carnival, according to the Roman Catholic Liturgical Calendar, is set for between Epiphany (January 6th) and the start of Lent.

Initially a feast characterized by unrestrained enjoyment of food, drink and sensual pleasures, and granted as a temporary escape for the lower classes – an opportunity to upend and subvert norms, especially in the way of social order – through the arc of time Carnival spread throughout the world and took on ever-novel shades and nuances, mutating into a singular form of entertainment and merrymaking. From north to south, Italy marks Carnival with long standing traditions that are internationally-known, and that attract thousands of visitors from around the world this time every year.

source: italia.it

Would you like to discover more about Italy and its culture? Check out our Italian culture courses!

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What to taste in Tuscany

The origins of Tuscan food are rather rustic, as we can see from its basic ingredients: bread, even stale bread, spelt, legumes and vegetables.

Some typical appetizers are crostini (toasted bread) topped by spreads like cream of chicken liver and spleen, panzanella, and salame, including finocchiona, a fennel-flavored salame.

The typical first course is soup, like the famous ribollita or bean soup, spelt soup, pici (a type of spaghetti from the area of Siena), or pappardelle with hare.

A famous fish dish is cacciucco soup, followed by mullets and the stockfish stew of Livorno.

Among meat dishes, the bistecca fiorentina (grilled T-bone steak) is the most popular; guinea-fowl meat, pork and game are quite common as well.

The typical desserts are castagnaccio (chestnut cake), buccellato (anise cake) and cantucci.
Wine production here is excellent for both variety and quality: Tuscany produces the finest wines in Italy, from Chianti to Vino Nobile Montepulciano, Brunello di Montalcino, Vernaccia di San Gimignano and many more. Vin Santo, a sweet and liqueur-like wine, is paired with cantucci (almond cookies, or what Americans refer to as biscotti).

source: italia.it

If you wish to know more on Italian cooking or you’s like to take a few lessons to learn and improve your cooking skills with a professional chef, then take a look to our Italian cooking courses!

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Luciano Pavarotti: an Italian operatic tenor

Luciano Pavarotti (12 October 1935 – 6 September 2007) was an Italian operatic tenor who also crossed over into popular music, eventually becoming one of the most commercially successful tenors of all time. He made numerous recordings of complete operas and individual arias, gaining worldwide fame for the quality of his tone, and eventually established himself as one of the finest tenors of the 20th century.

As one of the Three Tenors, Pavarotti became well known for his televised concerts and media appearances. From the beginning of his professional career as a tenor in 1961 in Italy to his final performance of “Nessun dorma” at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin,

Pavarotti was at his best in bel canto operas, pre-Aida Verdi roles, and Puccini works such as La bohème, Tosca, and Madama Butterfly. Pavarotti was also noted for his charity work on behalf of refugees and the Red Cross, amongst others. He died from pancreatic cancer on 6 September 2007.

source: Wikipedia

Would you like to discover more about Italy and its culture? Check out our Italian culture courses!

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Institute Galilei

The Galilei Institute is one of the most prestigious among the Italian language and culture schools in Italy for foreigners.

Our school of Italian language was established in 1985, in the centre of Florence, with the aim of providing high quality linguistic services to private people and multi-national companies in need to learn the basics as well as to improve the Italian language up to the highest levels in little time. That is the reason why the Institute Galilei specializes in one-to-one and small group courses with max. 4 participants per class.

After only a few years, the quality of our courses, the reliability of the programs, and the rigorous attention to the individual and her/his linguistic needs allowed us to establish a reputation for meeting the needs of some of the leading companies of the world, many of which have become our steady customers.

Today, the school also offers one-to-one and small group courses in Italian culture such as art history, Italian cooking, and drawing & painting (taught in Italian, English, and on request in other languages). These courses complete the services of the Institute Galilei allowing a practical and immediate approach not only to the Italian language but also to the main aspects of the Italian culture.

Institute Galilei