FlorenceItaly - news and stories about Florence and Tuscany

Italian slang: “In bocca al lupo!”

The Italian language is full of typical words and expression that foreigner people usually do not understand. Let’s try to learn some of them!


Coming to Italy, you will hear for sure this common expression. Literally translated as “in the mouth of the wolf”, it’s the common Italian way to wish good luck. It’s a scaramantic term: to go “into the wolf’s mouth” means, in fact, to go directly into troubles. As answer, the Italians usually say “Crepi il lupo!” (wish that the wolfs dies!).

The origin of this funny expression is not clear; it probably came out from the rural world, where farmers used to consider the wolf as a big danger, because wolves eats the other animals. Another possible origin can be found in the Romolo and Remo story, who were saved by a she-wolf which take them into her mouth.

So, when someone tells you “In bocca al lupo” don’t be scared! He’s just wishing you good luck 🙂

In our personalized programs at Institute Galilei in Italian language courses all the aspects of the Italian language can be axplored, according to the students’ interests and needs.

FlorenceItaly - news and stories about Florence and Tuscany

Italian modern painters: Valentino Monticello

Nowadays, everyone’s personal expression can be free with Art: drawings, paintings, sculptures created with all kinds of material.

Developing a personal style is something that can make an artist’s name last for the ethernity: that’s what the Maestros from Renaissance teached to our era with their masterpieces and what contemporary and modern artists keep in mind to make of their artworks always something special.

Not just a particular way of painting or drawing, but also the used materials can become a logo of the artist: that’s exactly what we can see in the colourful and original works of Valentino Monticello.

The Italian-native artist grew up literally into his profession – his family run a hotel where he was brought up between food and wine – Valentino worked for many years as sommelier in prestigious London’s restaurants. He was continuoulsy exposed to wines from all over the world and at the highest levels (like Bordeaux and Burgundy) and was working all night long to his other biggest passion: Art. Since the beginning, his work has been always prestigious.

His personal unique style came out when he obtained his first commission as artist: he should have done a common mural painting but – surprise – he ended up doing a wonderful collage using the most obvious tool of his trade: wine labels. By cutting out and an arranging the labels in incredible detail he created a fascinating scene which brightened up the lives of all the residents. It also got Valentino thinking that perhaps his talents could best be employed on this type of art form rather than painting or drawing.

We can easily recognize his particular works: a serie of collages showing detailed scenes, with people, flowers, where drawing and painting are not involved at all; wine labels are the absolute starrings.

In his collages you can often find also a strong symbolism coming from the world of Opera, his third passion. Valentino carefully looked through many different Opera scores to find references relating to wine. Once he found a specific scene, he would illustrate it using wine labels from the country where the Opera was set. For example “La Boheme” by Giacomo Puccini uses only French wine labels. Other Operas are specific to wine regions for example Il viaggio a Reims by Gioachino Rossini features only Burgundy Wine Labels.

Thanks to his original style, he had the chance to expose in some of the most important art galleries like Ergon and National Gallery in London.

(source: http://www.valentinomonticello.com/theartist.html )

Art as a passion and life-style, where developing personal features will let you express your soul. The Institute Galilei offers drawing & painting courses held by experienced and innovative artists.

The Institute Galilei also offers Wine Tasting individual and small group programs, held directly in a famous restaurant of Florence by a professional sommelier. To have more informations, please send and e-mail to info@galilei.it

FlorenceItaly - news and stories about Florence and Tuscany

Traditional recipes from Florence: the “Ribollita”!

The Italian Cuisine is famous all over the world for its full tastes and unforgettable dishes: how could someone forget the taste of Lasagne, Pizza or Pesto?
With hundreds of different recipes, which can be different from region to region, lovely smells and genuine
ingredients, coming to the “Belpaese” will be a wonderful experience for your palates!

But why not learn how to prepare something by yourself? It’s easier than it seems! Let’s start with a special recipe coming directly from Tuscany, the heart of Italy: ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you the “Ribollita”.
Well, the name could sound quite strange and actually means “re-boiled”, beacuse during the poor periods the Italian farmers used to cook it on Friday and to reheat it on Saturday in order to have something to eat until Sunday. It’s a simple stale bread and vegetable soup.

500 g stale Tuscan bread (not salty, really important)
300 g dried white beans
250 g ripe tomatoes
3 carrot
1 Tuscan black cabbage
3 potato
1 onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 stalk of celery
a few springs of parseley
extra-virgin olive oil
salt & pepper
chilli powder

There are many versions of this traditional Tuscan dish, depending on the season and the availability of the ingredients. Start by preparing a good bean soup. Leave the dried beans tio steep for at least 12 hours, then drain them. Cover with fresh water and cook over a low heat in a covered pot. Meanwhile in a pan cook the diced onion, carrot and celery in a little oil. Add the crushed garlic, the skinned and chopped tomatoes, the red chilli and the thyme and after about 5 minutes add the potatoes cut into small cubes and the thinly sliced cabbage. Cook over a low heat, adding a little water. Pass the beans and their liquid through a food mill and add this mixture to the vegetables. Check the seasoning just before removing from the heat, after about 20 minutes. meanwhile, in a large ovenproof dish arrange two thin layers of bread and pour the soup over them. Make another two layers of bread and cover with more soup. The ribollita is obtained by reheating the soup over a very low heat. Make a dent in the centre, add some olive oil and boil very slowly, protecting the pot with a heat-diffuser plate.

Try it and you will be surprised – absolutely delicious!

This recipe is included in the Italian cooking courses offered by Institute Galilei.

FlorenceItaly - news and stories about Florence and Tuscany

Art history in Florence: The Bargello museum

Yes, right: Florence is the best town in Italy where people can get directly in touch with Art, and everyone who comes here knows for sure, also only by name, museums like the Uffizi Gallery, the Accademia Gallery or Palazzo Pitti. But only few people know that here in Florence there is much more to see – without standing in a queue for hours and hours.

The Bargello Museum is one of the less-known museums in Florence, but it really worths the visit. Its strange name comes directly from Latin: the word “bargillus” means, in fact, castle or fortified tower; that’s what the Bargello Palace, also known as Palace of the people, actually is.

Originally used as a prison, this middle age palace is nowadays hosting a rich art collection which includes the masterpieces of artists like Michelangelo, Donatello, Gemito, San Sovino, Della Robbia, Cellini.
Going there, you will also have the possibility to see a fine collection of ceramics, textile, tapestries, ivory, silver, armours and old coins.
If this is not enough for you, let me tell you that this museums also features the competing designs created by Lorenzo Ghiberti and Filippo Brunelleschi to win the contest for the doors of the Florentine Baptistery.

This museum is just one of the visits included in the Institute Galilei’s art history program.