Italian cooking: Italy, the Land of Taste

Italy has always been a synonym for “good food,” offering an unmistakable explosion of flavors, scents, and aromas. Aside from having one of the most famous cuisines in the world, it also proposes an immense variety of different regional dishes and recipes.

cucina italiana

Visitors cannot miss the culinary and wine itineraries – journeys through Italy’s enogastronomic culture, in search of ancient recipes, genuine products, and simple food inspired by classic Italian cooking and innovative creations. World-renowned products such as Parmigiano Reggiano (Parmesan) cheese, Parma and San Daniele ham, Modena balsamic vinegar, Genoa’s pesto, buffalo mozzarella from Campania, Alba truffles are just some of the symbols that make Italy the land of good food. And how could we forget pasta and pizza, universal synonyms for Italy?

cucina italiana

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!

Curious Florence: Florence and the Explosion of the Cart

Among the most characteristic Easter events in central Italy is the Explosion of the Cart in Florence, Tuscan Capital and UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1982.

The celebration dates back to the First Crusades, undertaken to liberate the Church of the Holy Sepulchre from the hands of the “infidels.”

Legend has it that a Florentine crusader that was the first to climb the Jerusalem walls was gifted with three splinters of stone from the Church; today they are held inside Florence’s Church of the Holy Apostles.
According to historians, once the crusaders liberated Jerusalem (on Black Saturday, no less), they gathered in the Church of the Resurrection to receive the “holy fire,” symbol of purification.

The Florentines’ Easter customs go back to this very ceremony: that is, the Florentines’ tradition has long been to go to the Church of the Resurrection and light a small torch of holy fire with the sparks that emit from the rubbing together of the stone flints. At such a point they undertook a procession through the city to then take the holy fire to each house.
In time the ritual came to include transport of the holy fire (burning coals) by cart. It was in the 14th Century that fireworks were thrown in the mix, resulting in the “Explosion of the Cart.”

The Explosion of the Cart

White oxen led the car from Piazzale del Prato to Florence’s Church of the Santissimi Apostoli, while a dove (in reality, a bird-shaped flare) sets fire to the fireworks in the cart.

The mechanism in detail involves a cord that runs the length of the Church, from its choir to the cart outside the church entrance. The dove flare slides along the cord, and bounces off the cart, thus setting off the fireworks before returning backwards on its own.
It is said that if the explosion goes off without a hitch and the dove makes its return to the altar unimpeded, it is a good augur for Florence for the rest of the year. The tradition is always a big draw for tourists, citizens and, especially in the past, inhabitants of rural areas that based their hopes and fears regarding harvest, flooding, etc. on the dove’s success. In fact, the devastating flood that hit Florence in 1966 coincided with the fact that the dove had not returned to the church altar.

If you want to learn more about Italian traditions and cultures, take a look to our culture courses!

Italian tradition: The Mimosa for Women’s Day

mimosa,
The mimosa

In Italy, to celebrate the International Women’s Day on March 8th, men give to women the mimose.

However.. Do you know why, of all the types of flowers , the mimosa was the one chosen as the “typical gift” for this special day?

As you can perfectly see, the flowers of the mimosa are very bright and cheerful! They look very delicate, but they are actually very strong! Just like women!

Its fame as the symbol of Women’s Day is also linked to many important historical events:
In 1946, the U.D.I. (Unione Donne Italiane = the Union of Italian Women) was looking for a flower that could represent the first Women’s Day, after the war. The choice was almost forced: the mimosa is one of the few plants that blooms at the beginning of March. Moreover, it had the advantage of being very cheap given the situation oh the period.

If you want to learn more about Italian traditions and cultures, take a look to our culture courses!