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Santa Lucia day, Dec. 13 | Print |  E-mail
December 13 is the day in honor of Santa Lucia.

Santa Lucia was a rich, young Christian girl who was martyred in 304 A.D. She chose to die rather than be married to a pagan, who then had her tortured and murdered. She died on the longest night of the year, December 13th, and is the patron saint of those who are blind and suffer with eye problems.  In fact, her name means "light".

There are several versions of St. Lucia's story and she is celebrated in other countries as well as Sicily.

One legend has it that during the great Sicilian famine of 1582, a large group went to the church to pray to 'Santa Lucia' for an end to the famine. While they prayed, a ship came into the Syracuse (Siracusa, Sicily) harbor filled with wheat and they were saved. They were so famished that they did not process the wheat into flour. Instead, they boiled the unprocessed wheat berries, and called it Cuccia or Cuccidata.

In Italy, a few towns, especially Siracusa Sicily, will have a big celebration.

Below is Rosanna Spallino performing at the Santa Lucia celebration at the Italian Club in Ybor City, December 2009.

Christmas markets in Italy | Print |  E-mail
Written by Larry Aiello   
Sunday, 05 December 2010 17:13

Here are some of the famous Christmas markets in Italy that bustle with holiday cheer:

Mercato di Natale
For all the procrastinators and last-minute types, this market begins on December 23,
Piazza Santissima Annunziata and lasts until Epiphany on January 6.

Famous antiques fair, “oh bej oh bej” - La Fiera di
Sant’Ambrogio, fills the streets from December 8
to 22.

Go to Via San Gregorio Armeno where artisans sell presepi (nativity
scenes) and figurines.

Go to Via del Circo, in the Centro Storico (historic town center) for the Mercatino delle Strenne
(literally, Little Market of Presents) from December 4 to 24.

The famous Piazza Navona turns into a Mercato di Natalte, where you can buy toys, sweets and holiday decorations
December 8 through January 6 (Epiphany).

Buone spese!
Happy shopping!

Thanksgiving in Italy | Print |  E-mail
Written by Larry Aiello   
Thursday, 25 November 2010 15:36
Hello friends! Ciao amici!

I just want to wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving (or Buona Festa del Ringraziamento in Italian). In actuality, it is not a holiday that is celebrated in Italy. Too bad, because it is probably my favorite holiday in that we all take time out to give thanks, count our blessings, and nothing else. Especially this year in light of the economic turmoil, unemployment, the war overseas, etc. No crowded malls to fight (yet), nothing to do but eat a good turkey and spend time with family and friends.
Let your credit card company know! | Print |  E-mail
Written by Larry Aiello   
Wednesday, 17 November 2010 01:53

Let your credit card company know your travel plans

If you are planning a trip to Italy, or any country for that matter, it is important to call your credit card company prior to your departure to let them know of your travel plans.

That way, if you use your credit card overseas, the transaction will go through.  If not, the credit card company may not process the transaction, or may try to get your authorization.

The credit cards widely used in Italy are Visa, Mastercard, and American Express (in that order).  Discover is not widely used, and thus you can pretty much leave that one at home.

Expedia Holiday Bonus!

Time change in Italy | Print |  E-mail
Sunday, 31 October 2010 15:23

Time change in Italy

If you are in Italy, please don't forget to change your clocks, as the time changed (Daylight Saving Time Ended) earlier today (1AM) for all of the European Union.  Fall back 1 hour.

In the United States and Canada, the time will change on November 7th, 2AM.

Therefore, Italy is now 5 hours ahead of New York time, and 8 hours ahead of L.A. for this week only.

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Agriturismo in Italy

What is Agriturismo? In Italian, it is actually a combination of two words - Agricoltura and Turismo - agriculture and tourism.

It basically means spending your vacation on a farm.  It started becoming popular in the 1980s when many Italian farmers were looking for other ways to supplement their income. At an Italian agriturismo you will usually have the chance to experience the foods prepared from raw materials produced on the farm.  Some will allow their guests participate in the activities surrounding the farm such as wine-making, cheese-making, olive production, milking cows, etc.  It is usually a very rustic experience.  Agriturismo can be another option instead of a typical Italian vacation that involves Italian hotels.  Most of them are located in Tuscany, Umbria and Sicily.


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