Tag Archives: Italian wine

Buon Natale and Christmas: Holiday Traditions and Celebrations in Rome

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Italians embrace the holiday season with many seasonal market, events and festivals. There are many religious holidays between December and January.  The festivities generally begin on December 6th with “La Festa di San Nicola” to honor St. Nicholas, the patron Saint of the Sheperds and end on January 6 with “La Festa dell’ Epifania” ( The Epiphany).  After Emperor Constantine adopted Christianity, instead of ending the holiday at the New Year, it was extended to the Epiphany. The Epiphany is the 12th day of Christmas when the three Wise Men gave gifts to Baby Jesus. December 8th is the Feast Day of the Immaculate Conception, a national holiday. Rome celebrates with floral wreaths and a ceremony at the Spanish Steps by the Pope.

Get a “Vino con Vista” tour of Rome while you listen to Dean Martin singing “Arrevederci Roma” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XlqTwYGCW8A

English: Nativity scene

English: Nativity scene (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The primary symbol of the Christmas season is the “presepio”, the nativity scene.  They depict the birth of Christ. It is believed that in the 13th century, St. Francis, a modest monk, created the first replica of the scene by portraying the child born in Bethlehem. He placed an ox and a donkey next to a manger near the hermitage he built in Greccio, near the town of Assisi.

By the 18th century, the patronage of King Charles elevated the status of  “Il Precepio” to stratosperic levels. During the reign of Ferdinand IV of Bourbon, famous artists like Giuesspe Sanmartino were even commissioned to create the figures. Most of the prized figures made of terra cotta and wood are produced in the workshops of Naples on Via Gregorio Armeno.

Today, elaborate scenes are set up in churches throughout Italy. In some towns, living nativity scenes are usually staged when costumed participants wander through the streets.The first Christmas mass was conducted at the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore and the earliest known permanent Nativity Scene was created for the Rome Jubilee of 1300.

Vatican City erects a huge presepe in St. Peter’s Square for Christmas and is usually unveiled on Christmas Eve. A Christmas Eve mass is held in St. Peter’s square, usually at 10 pm.

In Rome, some of the biggest and most elaborate presepi are erected in Piazza del Poplo with 100 presepi on display from November 26th to January 6th www.presepi.it. Piazza Euclide, Santa Maria in Trastevere and Santa Maria D’Aracoeli on Capitoline Hill also host elaborate displays. A life-sized nativity scene is set up in Piazza Navona with a large Christmas Market from November 26th to January 6th with a Mercato della Bufana. The Church of Saints Cosma e Damiano has a large nativity scene from Naples on display all year long. It is located by the main entrance of the Roman Forum. Il Museo Tipologico is under the Church of Saints Quirico e Giulitta and has over 3000 figurines from all over the world. It is open each afternoon between December 24th to January 6th.

English: The three wise men, Santa Maria in Tr...

English: The three wise men, Santa Maria in Trastevere, in Rome. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Gifts are exchanged on the day of the Epiphany. Children hang up their stockings on the evening of January 5th awaiting a visit from “La Befana” a legendary old woman who flys around on a broom bearing gifts. According to legend, the Three Wise Men asked La Befana for directions to Bethlehem but she declined. It took an unusually bright light and a band of angels to convince La Befana that she must join the Wise Men, but she was too late. She never found the Christ child and has been looking for him ever since. So on the January 5th, she goes out on her broom delivering treats to the sleeping children of Italy. The Santa figure in Italy is called “Babbo Natale”, Father Christmas. Charlemagne’s coronation took place in Rome on Christmas day in 800 AD.

Tropenmuseum Amsterdam Crucifix with a christm...

Tropenmuseum Amsterdam Crucifix with a christmas scene, Peru, c. 1960 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Vatican Christmas Tree

Vatican Christmas Tree (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A trip to the Vatican City for Christmas is very exciting. The Vatican City erects a huge presepi in St. Peter’s Square and it is usually unveiled on Christmas Eve. On Christmas Eve, the Pope celebrates midnight mass at St. Peter’s Basilica. On Christmas day in St. Peter’s Square at noon the Pope gives his blessing from the window of his apartment overlooking the Square to the crowds gathered at the Vatican. On December 8th, the Feast Day of the Immaculate Conception, the Pope leads a procession to honor the Virgin Mary near the Spanish Steps.

Stay in Rome for the New Year Parade on January 1st and the Epiphany tradition when hundreds of people in medieval costumes walk along the wide avenue leading up to the Vatican, carrying symbollic gifts for the Pope. The Pope says a morning mass in St. Peter’s Basilica to commemorate the visit of the Wise Men bearing gifts for Jesus.

In Rome, the traditional dish of Christmas Eve is “Capitone”, a big female eel that is roasted, baked or fried. Common Italian Christmas sweets are Panettone (a cake filled with candied fruit), torrone (nougat), and panforte (gingerbread).

Christmas in Italy includes Nativity Scenes and other Christmas Celebrations.

Happy Holidays from Vino con Vista

Buon Natale and Happy Holidays from www.vino-con-vista.com

Nativity scene on the 2001 Christkindlmarket i...

Nativity scene on the 2001 Christkindlmarket in downtown Chicago (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Buon Natale and Christmas: Holiday Events in Genoa Italy

Genova, Via Garibaldi Palazzo Rosso
Image via Wikipedia

In northwestern Italy, on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, the 16th and 17th century “New Streets” of Genoa can be found in the historic city center. Le Strada Nuove and the system of the Palazzi dei Rolli became an inscribed UNESCO site in 2006. The elaborate Renaissance and Baroque palaces are located on Via Balbi and Via Garibaldi and present an excellent “Buon Natale” holiday experience.

The area around the Cathedral of San Lorenzo is medieval, but the 12th century Duomo is Romanesque. Genoa is Italy’s most important commercial port.  The “Lanterna” lighthouse is a vestige of Genoa’s medieval glory.  Genoa has the largest aquarium in Europe located in Porto Antico www.portoantico.it. Porto Antico also has a Childrens’ Museum with a lovely waterfront Promenade and shops. The restaurants offer outstanding “Vino con Vista” oppotunities.

According to legend, this may have been the childhood home of Christopher Columbus whose memory permeates the town. Genoa’s historically impressive “urban development projects represent plans by the public authority to parcel out a system of lodging based upon legislation.” UNESCO

On Via Garibaldi, Genoa’s most beautiful street, the 16th century Palazzo Bianco houses an outstanding collection of Ligurian art from 1400 to 1700 including works by Luca Cambiaso, Bernardo Strozzi and Giovanni Benedetto.  At the Palazzo Bianco, one of my favorite Caravaggio’s paintings “Ecce Homo” (Behold the Man of Sorrows) can be viewed; as well as frescoes by de Ferrari and Domenico Piola. The Gallery of Palazzo Rosso has a fine collection of furniture, ceramics and Chinese pottery. The Museum of Oriental Art houses treasures brought to Genoa by her famous navigators.

Genova, Via Garibaldi Palazzo Carrega Cataldi ...

Genova, Via Garibaldi Palazzo Carrega Cataldi – interno (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The “Rolli” palaces were patrician residences built by the wealthiest and most powerful aristocratic families of the Republic of Genoa.  These dwellings were built at the height of Genoa’s seafaring prowess.  Palaces are generally three to four stories high and feature spectacular staircases, courtyards, and loggias overlooking gardens.  The owners of these palazzi were obligated to host official visits of State as decreed by the Senate in 1576.  These formal visits contributed to the dissemination of their architectural model, which attracted famous artists like Peter Paul Rubens.

Italiano: Genova, Via Garibaldi; Palazzo Podes...

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Holiday Events in Genoa:

Christmas Market “Mercatino di Natale di Porto Siberia” at Porto Antico until January 9th

18th Century Navity Scene in Palazzo Rosso Museum until February 6th

St. Nicholas Market in Piazza Picca Pietra where vendors will be dressed in Medieval costumes December 5-23

“Natalidea” Festival at the Fiera di Genoa from December 7-19

“Pontedecimo Nativity” wIth outdoor Christmas stalls and Nativity Scenes at the Villa Serra di Comago on VIa Carlo Levi in Genoa Pontedecimo

To learn more about Italy read www.vino-con-vista.comTravel Guides.

Genova, Via Garibaldi Palazzo Podestà

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Buon Natale and Christmas: Feast of Saint Ambrose and Holiday Events in Milan Italy

Skull of Saint Ambrose, archbishop of Milan, i...
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Milan was founded by the Gauls in the early 4th century B.C. and grew rapidly following the Roman conquest in 222 B.C.  By 1277, Archbishop Otto Visconti imposed hegemony over the city and 130 years of Visconti rule ensued. Gian Galeazzo Visconti (1351-1402) was a generous patron of the arts and initiated the construction of the magnificent Gothic Duomo made of white marble with 135 spires www.duomomilano.it.

December 7th is the Feast Day of Saint Ambrose, the Patron Saint of Milan. He was born in 339 and consecrated as the Bishop of Milan on December 7, 374. He served as the Bishop until his death in 397. This eloquent bishop was instrumental in spreading

Crypt of bishop Ambrose and two marthyrs, Sain...

Crypt of bishop Ambrose and two marthyrs, Saints Gervase and Protase. Basilica of Sant’Ambrogio, Milan. (bodies aren’t totally sharp because they are behind a bad quality sheet glass) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Christianity and you can visit his mortal remains in the crypt of the Basilica of Sant’Ambroglio.

Drawing based on a statue of St. Ambrose

Drawing based on a statue of St. Ambrose (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He is also the Patron Saint of Bologna. St. Ambrose is one of my favorites because he is the Patron Saint of learning and students., The “Honey-Tongued Doctor” is portrayed with a beehive and bees in his iconography which symbolizes wisdom. He is also the patron saint of  candle-makers and bee keepers.

The “Fiera di Sant’Ambroglio” is the city’s antique fair and takes place in Piazza Sant’Ambrogio from December 7-22. This event coincides with “The Fiera degli Oh Bej-Oh Bej.”  This is a traditional annual outdoor street market held in Milan to honor Saint Ambrose from December 5th to the 8th. For 400 years it was held in front of the Basilica of Sant’Ambrogio, built by Ambrose between 379-386 which is one of the oldest churches in Milan.

Benefattori dell'Ospedale: i Duchi della Milan...

Benefattori dell’Ospedale: i Duchi della Milano quattrocentesca (Francesco Sforza e Bianca Maria Visconti) nell’atto di donare al Papa (Pio II Piccolomini) il bozzetto dell’erigenda Ca’ Granda (Photo credit: renagrisa)

This year the Festival will be held in The Square in front of Castello Sforzesco on Via Dante. Francesco Sforza, husband of Bianca Maria Visconti, became lord of the city in 1450. He ruled from the imposing Castello Sforzesco fortress until 1535. Today, the castle serves as a museum. Francesco Sforza built the present castle where the Visconti castle originally stood. The palace contains several art museums. The Torre del Carmine serves to enclose the fortress of the Visconti family. Michelangelo’s famous “Rondanini Pieta” (1564) can be admired in the Castello Sforzesco.

Castello Sforzesco

Castello Sforzesco (Photo credit: viiruone)

Mangia and have a “Vino con Vista” at the festival where you buy interesting gifts from over 400 stalls and can enjoy a porchetta sandwich, cioccolato con panna montala (hot chocolate) and some “Vino Brule” (mulled wine).

Here’s a recipe for Vino Brule

A bottle of red wine

1/3 cup sugar

3 cloves

1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg

1 stick of cinnamon

1 lemon peel

Stir wine over medium heat. Add sugar to dissolve. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil until sugar is completely dissolved. Salute!!

The Teatro alla Scala in Milan, by night

The Teatro alla Scala in Milan, by night (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

December 7th is the official opening of the Opera Season in Milan at Teatro alla Scala which opened in 1778. Visit the Museo Teatrale that features vintage opera posters and a remarkable array of opera costumes. For tickets visit:  www.teatroallascala.org

Attend the Epiphany Parade of the Three Kings from the Duomo to the Church of Sant’Eustorgio on January 6th.

Milano castello sforzesco natale

Milano castello sforzesco natale (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Milan has an interesting wine bar called La Cantina di Manuela on via Cadore with outdoor tables for people-watching or a nightcap. Try a Rosso della Costa Collina del Milanese or Bianco dell Costa Collina dell Milanese with some Castel Magno cheese. The Lombardy region’s specialty wine is fizzy Franciacorta. Most of the wineries in Lombardy are outside the heavily industrialized city limits in towns located between the Alps and the Apennines including Bergamo, Sondrio, Brescia, Pavia and Mantua.

Milan Duomo

Image by underflowR via Flickr

Bloomingdale’s Christmas Tree

Buon Natale and Happy Holidays from www.vino-con-vista.com

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Buon Natale and Christmas: Interesting Holiday Events in Florence Italy

Piazza Santa Croce
Image via Wikipedia

Florence is the world’s celebrated jewel of Renaissance art and architecture. It is famous for perfect voluptuous domes and  intimate restaurants with perfect steaks and wine. The Uffizi is the perfect art museum and and the Palazzo Pitti has the perfect Royal apartments. The Accademia has the perfect sculptures and the Baptistry has the perfect doors. Even the tombs are perfect at Santa Croce. The leather is perfect, the silk is perfect and the perfume made at Santa Maria Novella is perfect.

Accademia - DSC 1177 ep

Accademia – DSC 1177 ep (Photo credit: Eric.Parker)

Via Tornabuoni is a perfect street  for shopping with  designer powerhouses like Salvatore Ferragamo, Gucci, Enrico Coveri, Roberto Cavalli and Emilio Pucci willing to sell you holiday goodies. Even the Piazzas are perfect! Florence is the perfect UNESCO site with many perfect “Vino con Vista” opportunities.

English: Loggia dei Lanzi

English: Loggia dei Lanzi (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Florence rose to economic and cultural pre-eminence under the mighty Medici dynasty in the 15th and 16th centuries. The churches, galleries and palaces contain the world’s largest concentration of Renaissance art and sculpture.

loggia dei lanzi florence

loggia dei lanzi florence (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Perseus holding the head of Medusa, b...

English: Perseus holding the head of Medusa, by Benvenuto Cellini, Loggia dei Lanzi, Florence; Italie Français : Persée tenant la tête de Méduse, par Benvenuto Cellini, Loggia dei Lanzi, Florence, Italie. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Palais Pitti, Florence

Palais Pitti, Florence (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The city was built on the site of an Etruscan settlement, and has 600 years of extraordinary artistic activity. It is an incredibly compact city for walking.  Walk to the Piazzale Michelangelo at sunset for a perfect glimmering moonlit cityscape.  Marvel at Florence’s panoramic glory as the cloak of darkness descends over her dimly lit splendor.

"The Rape of Polyxena", sculpture by...

“The Rape of Polyxena”, sculpture by Pio Fedi (1816-1892), in 1866 : Loggia dei Lanzi, Florence, Italy. Photo by Thermos. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Natural and man-made disasters have threatened the city’s wealth of art history and perfection.  In 1966, the Arno River’s devastating flood destroyed or severely damaged Florentine treasures.  In 1993, a mafia bomb exploded near the Uffizi and severely damaged the gallery. The Ponte Vecchio was the only bridge to escape Nazi bombs.

Loggia dei Lanzi.

Loggia dei Lanzi. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Her glorious past is evident in the monumental grandeur and perfection of her structures:  the 13th-century cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore, the Church of Santa Croce, the Uffizi, Santa Maria Novella, the Galleria dell’Accademia, the Bargello and the Pitti Palace.  Works of art history grace every public building. Landmark cloisters, chapels and refectories are galleries of perfect Renaissance art.

The façade of Santa Maria Novella, completed b...

The façade of Santa Maria Novella, completed by Leon Battista Alberti in 1470. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Loggia dei Lanzi

The Loggia dei Lanzi (Photo credit: **Mary**)

Stroll the Via dei Calzaiuoli, between Piazza del Duomo and Piazza della Signoria and imagine the creative genius that flourished in this city; evidenced by the works in the Loggia dei Lanzi. The Loggia was originally designed to shelter dignitaries watching civic ceremonies.

The Rape of the Sabine Women by Giambologna, i...

The Rape of the Sabine Women by Giambologna, in the Loggia dei Lanzi in Florence. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This elegant, compact city, is bounded on the southern side by the glistening Arno River.  Distinctive works of great masters such as Giotto, Brunelleschi, Botticelli and Michelangelo adorn every nook and cranny of this perfectly majestic city. Visit Florence during the holidays for the perfect vacation.

Perfect Holiday Events in Florence:

German Christmas Market in Piazza Santa Croce from December 1- 19

“Florence Noel” at the Stazione Leopoldo from December 4-12

“Fierucola di Natale”  in Piazza Santo Spirito on December 19th

Christmas Party in Gambassi Terme on December 4-5

Annual “Sagra Antichi Sapori di Toscana” at Lastra a Signa December 3-8

“Sagra del Tartufo e Antichi Sapori del Mugello” in Borgo San Lorenzo December 8-12

Happy Holidays from Vino con Vista

Buon Natale and Happy Holidays from www.vino-con-vista.com

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Buon Natale: A White Christmas in Valle d’Aosta

A view of Breuil-Cervinia slopes.
Image via Wikipedia

Valle d”Aosta is located in an extremely mountainous area. It is the smallest Italian region and borders France to the west and Switzerland to the north. It is dominated by some of the highest majestic mountains in Europe called the “Four Queens of the Alps” including Mont Blanc, Monte Rosa, Cervino and Gran Paradiso.

Valle Geiranger

Valle Geiranger (Photo credit: lecu_lillas)

It’s the perfect place for a “White Christmas”; and nobody does it like Bing Crosby http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PA45TnJQxhU. In Italian, listen to “Bianco Natale” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p0HT7D7JCTQ

There are four languages spoken in this autonomous province: French, Italian, Valdotain and German. Many feudal castles were constructed in this area to serve military functions.

English: Gran Paradiso summit and Cresta Gasta...

English: Gran Paradiso summit and Cresta Gastaldi; Gran Paradiso massif; Graian Alps; Aosta Valley; Italy Italiano: La vetta del Gran Paradiso e a destra la Cresta Gastaldi; Massiccio del Gran Paradiso; Alpi Graie; Valle d’Aosta; Italia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Tresenta summit, Gran Paradiso Massif...

English: Tresenta summit, Gran Paradiso Massif, Graian Alps, Aosta valley, Italy Italiano: Vetta della Tresenta, Massiccio del Gran Paradiso, Alpi Graie, Valle d’Aosta, Italia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This region of Italy is a haven for skiiers; with 23 ski resorts and 170 ski lifts. Mountain climbers, rock climbers, snowboarders and winter sports enthusiasts flock to this area. The region is famous for “Torchlight Processions” around New Years’ Eve. In this province, Christmas Markets are called “Marche Noel.”

Holiday Events and Torchlight Processions

“Noel au Bourg” at the Fortress of Bord until January 6th.

“Marche Vert Noel” in Piazza Severin Caveri in Aosta until January 6th.

The 2oth annual “Courmayer Noir in Festival” through December 13th. www.noirfest.com

A ski competition in Pila December 18th-20th.

“Fiera di Sant’Orso” in Aosta January 30-31 that originated in the year 1000.

Italiano: Plan Maison, Valle d'Aosta

Image via Wikipedia

There are many “Torchlight Ski Processions” on December 30th and 31st in this area. Some of the places to see these pocessions include in the towns of: Ayas-Antagnod, Breuil-Cervinia, Chamois, Champorcher, Courmayeur, Etroubles and Gressoney-Saint-Jean.

The Valle d’Aosta Alpine vineyards are Italy’s window to Switzerland.

There are many “Vino con Vista” opportunities on the  “Route des Vins.”  This is a regional circuit of wineries. The vineyards are generally terraced and follow the “adret” that are located on the southern, sunny side of the mountains. The highest vineyards in Europe are located in Morgex-LaSalle.  Stop in the village of Morgex and have a glass of the prestigious Blanc de Morgex. The village houses a chalet with a tasting room and a restaurant. There are 22 DOC wines in the “DOC Valle d’Aosta

The Aosta region of Italy

The Aosta region of Italy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Orchards and vineyards line the valley. Fresian cows graze in the pastures. Fontina cheese is produced in this region. Regional specialties include beefsteak alla valostana that is breaded, fried, topped with fontina cheese and ham an reheated in the oven on a slice of polenta.  Order a cup of Valle d’Aosta coffee with a shot of grappa to accompany your yummy chocolate dessert or regional tegole and torcetti almond cookies.

The Buon Ricordo destination in Valle D’Aosta is Hotel Ristorante Casale in Saint Christophe on Fraz Condemine www.hotelrestaurantecasale.it. The signature dish is Scaloppa alla Valdostana cooked with prosciutto and fontina cheese. The collector plate shows three Fresian cows grazing in the sunny pasture.

Bloomingdale’s Christmas Tree

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Filed under Alps, Buon Natale, Buon Natale Italy, Christmas in Italy, Dolomites and Alps, ebooks, Italian Food and Wine, Italian Wine, Italy, Italy Travel Guides, Noirfest in Italy, Northern Italy, Saint Orso, Torchlight ski processions in Italy, Travel and Tourism, UNESCO, Valle d'Aosta, vino con vista, Wine, Wine Festivals, Wine Festivals in Italy, World Heritage Sites

Ospitalita Italiana: Top Chicago Italian Restaurants certified “Authentic”

Equestrian statue representing Garibaldi, La S...

Image via Wikipedia

English: Italian statesman Giuseppe Mazzini

English: Italian statesman Giuseppe Mazzini (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Giuseppe Garibaldi in 1866, four years after s...

Giuseppe Garibaldi in 1866, four years after surviving a bullet wound misdiagnosed by Partridge (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Leonardo da Vinci replica at Fabio Piccolo Fiore in NYC

Leonardo da Vinci replica at Fabio Piccolo Fiore in NYC

Rome: Spanish Steps

Rome: Spanish Steps


phil stefani's 437March 17th was the official date of the 150th Anniversary of Italian Unification (1861-2011).

Happy Birthday Italy

Chicago celebrates Italy's 150th birthday

The Risorgimento was a movement led by heroic Italian patriots like Camillo Cavour, Giuseppe Mazzini and Giuseppe Garibaldi. Their efforts resulted in the establishment of the Italian nation. Although Napoleon attempted to unify Italy, his defeat led to oppression and dismal economic and political turmoil. Today Italian national brands like Armani, Versaci and Ferrari are a reflection of Italian ingenuity and quality craftsmanship.

Thank God they didn’t unify the culinary traditions that celebrate the diversity of the historical influences and regions of Italy. The cuisine is the cornerstone of signature dishes around the world.

Coca Pazzo's Tarimi Su

On March 17th,  Fulvio Calcinardi, the executive director of the Italian American Chamber of Commerce in collaboration with the Milan Committee of Chicago Sister Cities International awarded 18 Chicago-area restaurants with the “Ospitalilita Italiana Quality Seal.” Here’s a video from the Chamber of Commerce that describes the Award Criteria http://youtu.be/NFzOZmZ-a0I

Chicago Osptalita ItalianaThe Italian Quality Seal Award recognizes authentic Italian Restaurants and is granted by the Italian Government. This honor is bestowed for their authenticity and culinary contributions to Italian Culture. I love that this event took place on St. Patrick’s Day. Did you know that St. Patrick was the son of a Roman?

The Quality specifications are determined by Italy’s National Institute of Tourist Research and was launched in Italy in 1997.  The project was extended beyond Italy’s borders and each establishment must meet 10 stringent criteria and submit proof of their authenticity.

The award ceremony took place at the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame in Little Italy on Taylor Street in Chicago. Participants were able to taste the cuisine of many of Chicago’s premier Italian restaurants where the chef’s lovingly prepared some of their signature dishes.

Taylor Steet in Chicago

Italian American Sports Hall of Fame

The seal was created in 1997 and generated a list of criteria that includes proof of authenticity. It is like a “Baldrige Award” for authentic Italian restaurants and esteemed Italian chefs. Each restaurant must employ at least one Italian speaking employee and the menus must be written in proper Italian. At least 20% of the wines must be DOP-certified and the head chef must be proficient in authentic Italian cooking . They must submit at least five recipes with the region and ingredients that inspired the menu.

The 18 Chicago-Area Restaurants that earned the coveted award are:

Ospitalita Italiana Chicago

I love these Italian Restaurants!

  • Spiaggia Restaurant, 980 N. Michigan (Chef/Partner Tony Mantuano)
  • Piccolo Sogno, 464 N. Halsted (Chef/Owner Tony Priolo)

Piccolo Sogno in Chicago

piccolo sogno quality award

  • Coco Pazzo, 300 W. Hubbard (Executive Chef/Partner Chris Macchia)

Coco Pazza Quallity AwardCoco Pazzo in Chicago

  • Merlo on Maple, 16 W. Maple (Chef Luisa Silvia Marani)


Merlo on Maple in Chicago

  • Tocco, 1266 N. Milwaukee (Chef/Owner Bruno Abate)

Tocco in Chicago

Tocco Restaurant in Chicgo

Porchetta cooked to Perfection at Tocco

Vivere at The Italian Village, 71 W. Monroe

Taylor Street Italian Festival 2012

Taylor Street Italian Festival

Italian Expo 2011 121

Volare, 201 E. Grand (Chef Massimo Campagnini)

Volare Restaurant in Chicago

Volare Restaurant on Grand in Chicago

  • Pelago Ristorante, 201 E. Delaware (Chef/Owner Mauro Mafrici)
Pelago Ristorante in Chicago

Mauro’s Pelago Restaurant is one of my favorites in Streeterville on Delaware

Pelago Restaurant in Chicago

Mrs. Mafrici from Pelago Restaurant in Chicago

  • Quartino, 626 N. State (Chef/Partner John Coletta)
Quartino Restaurant in Chicago

John wrote a great CookBook

Phil Stefani’s 437 Rush, 437 N. Rush (Executive Chef Federico Comacchio)

  • Riccardo Trattoria, 2119 N. Clark (Chef/Owner Riccardo Michi)
  • 312 Chicago (Chef Luca Corazzina)

312 Chicago's Chef Luca Corazzina

  • Via Carducci La Sorella, 1928 W. Division (Chef Luis Hernandez)
  • Vivere (at Italian Village), 71 W. Monroe (Chef Robert Reynaud)
  • La Cantina (at Italian Village), 71 W. Monroe (Chef Robert Duerscheidt)
  • Ristorante Agostino, 2817 N. Harlem (Chef Anna Fiasche)
  • Sergio’s Cucina Italiana, 280 N. Rohlwing Rd., Itasca (Chef Sergio Abate)
  • Gaetano’s, 7636 W. Madison, Forest Park (Chef Gaetano Di Benedetto)
Ravioli at Phil Stefani's 437 Rush

Ravioli at Phil Stefani’s 437 Rush

Linguini at Phil Stefani's 437 Rush

Linguini at Phil Stefani’s 437 Rush


The wine and Prosecco were provided by Casa Vinicolo Zonin

Italian Wine and Prosecco

Italian Wine  A great time was had by all!!!

Here are a few Italian restaurants that I like with alfresco dining that were not recognized with a formal award:

1. Anteprima is located at 5316 Clark Street in Andersonville


2. Zia’s in Edison Park and Zia’s Lago Vista on Ashland in Lakeview are both outstanding! The latter has plenty of outdoor seating


3. Club Lago’s northern Italian cuisine has been around for over 60 years at 331 W. Superior in River North.


4. Viaggio At The Park on Fullerton in Lincoln Park also has an outdoor seating area


5. Topo Gigio in the heart of Old Town on Wells Street has plenty of outdoor space. It has been around for over 25 years.


6. Autre Monde in Berwyn, was founded by four Spiaggio alums has a patio and greenhouse. http://www.autremondecafe.net/

7. Due Lire on 4520 N. Lincoln in Lincoln Square http://www.due-lire.com/


Buon Appetito!!

Dr. EveAnn Lovero loves her Ducati Motorcycle

Dr. EveAnn Lovero loves her Ducati Motorcycle

Dr. EveAnn Lovero writes Vino con Vista Travel Guides @ www.vino-con-vista.com.

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Vino con Vista Pisa: A UNESCO Site in Italy

The Leaning Tower of Pisa, one of the most fam...
Image via Wikipedia

Pisa was a former Roman naval base and commercial port. Trade with Muslim Spain, North Africa and Lebanon generated tremendous wealth for this maritime power from the 11th to 13th centuries  Arabic numerals were introduced to Europe through Pisa.  By 1406, the city was conquered by Florence.

The iconic Leaning Tower of Pisa, and its spiral staircase of 294 steps is one of the most famous Italian monuments in the world. The Piazza dei Miracoli or Piazza of Miracles, hosts four gleaming Medieval masterpieces: the Leaning Tower is also the Bell Tower, the Camposanto (the graveyard), the Baptristy and the Cathedral. The Baptistry and Cathedral ; Duomo of Santa Maria Assunta are Pisan Romanesque.” It was constructed with the intention of preserving “holy land” from Palestine.

The UNESCO  World Heritage site stands in a large green expanse, known as the “Field of Miracles” and was inscribed in 1987. The Piazza del Duomo houses a group of splendid monuments known throughout the world.

English: Interior view of the duomo of Pisa

English: Interior view of the duomo of Pisa (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Leaning Tower of Pisa

Leaning Tower of Pisa (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here are some UNESCO photos of Pisa, Italy: http://www.ourplaceworldheritage.com/custom.cfm?&action=site&regionid=9&site_country=ITALY&site_name=Piazza del Duomo, Pisa &siteid=49


Pulpit (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

These four masterpieces of medieval architecture were influenced by Islamic architecture.  They include:  the Cathedral (1064), the Baptistry (1154), the Campanile (1173) which is the famous gravity defying “Leaning Tower of Pisa” and the cemetery (1277).  The unstable subsoil caused the Tower to tilt and sudside.  The cemetery houses Roman sarcophagi and frescoes damaged by WWII bombs that have beeen restored.

The Duomo of Pisa in the Piazza dei Miracoli, ...

The Duomo of Pisa in the Piazza dei Miracoli, showing the Baptistry. The Leaning Tower cannot be seen. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pisa’s Duomo is considered the finest Pisan-Romaneque building in Tuscany with its tiered façade, colonnades, arcades and beautiful bronze doors. Giovani Pisano’s magnificent carved pulpit represents the life of Christ (1301-11).  The Museo dell’Opera del Duomo contains casts of the fountain stones of each of the buildings beginning in 1064.

English: Cathedral of Pisa (Duomo di Pisa), Pi...

English: Cathedral of Pisa (Duomo di Pisa), Pisa, Italy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Andrea del Sarto’s “St Agnes and Lamb”; Tino da Camaino’s “tomb of Emperor Henry VII, as well as Cimabue’s 1302 mosaic “Christ in Majesty” are housed in the Duomo.  In the Duomo Museum, Giovanni’s “Madonna and the Crucifix” was carved in ivory in 1299; the natural shape of the tusk contributes to her stance.





The Baptistry of the Cathedral of Pisa.

The Baptistry of the Cathedral of Pisa. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The white marble Romanesque Baptistry was designed by Diotisalvi in 1152 and completed in 14th century. It was structurally renovated between 1990 and 1999. It contains a beautiful pulpit by Nicola Pisano and a central font by Guido Bigarelli of Como. The cylindrical structure has amazing acoustics.  The roof of the Baptistry is double-domed..

Pisan artists had a great influence on monumental art in Italy from the 11th to the 14th century, which is reflected in the work of Bonanno and Giovanni Pisano. The National Museum of St. Matthew on the banks of the Arno River, has a wonderful collection of Tuscan painting and sculptures including: Francesco Traini’s “Scenes from the Life of St. Domenic”, Fra Angelo’s “Christ” and Donatello’s bust of San Rossore.

There are many Events in Pisa:

Attend the annual  “Unica Terra di Vino” in December.This wine Festival will be held at the Stazione Leopolda and features 60 producers from the Pisa Province.

The International Pisa Marathon is on December 19th and starts at the Piazza dei Miracoli.

Corso Italia and Borgo Stretto are draped with holiday lights. There are Holiday Markets on Via Paparelli, under the Logge di Bianchi and at Largo Ciro Menotti.

Attend the Pisa Gospel Festival in December.

Christmas concerts are held in many churches: the Church of San Nicola on December 5ht, Santo Stefano on December 10th and the church of San Francesco on December 19th featuring the music of Bach and Vivaldi.

Opera Primaziale will perform on December 18th in the Cathedral of Pisa in Piazza dei Miracoli.

The Church of San Martino will host a presepi exhibit until January 9th.

On December 29th attend the Volterra Mercato & Gusto.

Attend the annual Cigoli Artistic Nativity Scene and Market of Solidarity at the Santuario Maria Madre dei Bambini in Cigoli Miniato. This is one of the largest nativity scenes in Tuscany.

English: Leaning Tower - Pisa.

English: Leaning Tower – Pisa. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are many “Vino con Vista” opportunities at the cafes near the Leaning Tower.  In Marina di Pisa, have some lunch and a glass of Bianco Pisano at Miracles Café on Via P. Agostino da Montrefeltro on the seafront terrace.  Visit the Castellina Maritima Winery on Via Bagnoli (www.terriccio.it).  Order a Foresta on Via Litoraneaz for a great view.

There is a newly renovated Bagni Di Pisa Natural Spa Resort (www.bagnipisa.com).  It was the former summer resort of the Grand Duke of Tuscany.  For a real treat, stay at the Relais dell’Orologio on Via della Faggiol (www.relaisdellorologio.com).

There are two Buon Ricordo restaurants to in Pisa:

Ristorante Enoteca Dante e Ivana in Tirrenia @ Viale Tirreno.  Enjoy the “Tomato Soup with Tyrrhenian batarga” to get the charming collector plate.  It works well with a glass of Bianco Pisano di San Torpe. The seaside veranda is a lovely place to dine and enjoy the view.

Ristorante-Enoteca Del Duca inVolterra @ Via di Castello, 2.  The signature dish is “Ribollita with wood pigeon and volterra truffles.” This soup should be accompanied by a glass of red wine.  The restaurant is located in the prestigious Palazzo Inghirami.

Happy Holidays from Vino con Vista

Dr. EveAnn Lovero writes Travel Guides @  www.vino-con-vista.com

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Taormina’s 60th Annual Film Festival 2014 in Sicily

View of Isola Bella from above the beach.
Image via Wikipedia

Explore the historical allure of Sicily’s Taormina SicilyVista opportunities. It is located in the Messina province.  The east coast of Sicily overlooks the Ionian Sea and is considered part of the Ionian Riviera.


Taormina has inspired many famous authors. D.H. Lawrence wrote the erotic and scandalous book, Lady Chatterly’s Lover in 1928. This story involved an aristocratic English woman’s affair in Taormina. She was married to a wheelchair-bound World War I hero. Goethe recorded his love of Sicily in his travel diary in 1787, Journey to Italy. He stated, “To have seen Italy without having seen Sicily is not to have seen Italy at all, for Siciy is the clue to everything.”

This beach town is a haven for sun worshippers. Take the funicular (motorized lift) to the beach or hop on a cable car to Mazzaro and enjoy the Isola Bella Beach and nature reserve. Travel to Giardini Naxos to view the excavations of Sicily’s first Greek colony http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lmWVpfz0wgs&feature=related.  This seaside resort has a great beach and is loaded with cafes and bars.

The Alcantara Gorge is outside Taormina.  Go for a boat ride to see waterfalls and remnants of Mt. Etna’s lava flow from about 1000 years ago; fascinating cliffs were formed by incisions cut into the volcanic rock.

As you stroll along Corso Umberto you will find charming cafes and restaurants.  Head over to Piazza IX Aprile, the main square of Taormina. Visit the 13th century fortress-like Cathedral of San Nicolo embellished with an 16th century rose window and massive bronze doors.

Visit the church of Santa Caterina d’Alessandria with a Baroque interior built over a Hellenistic temple. Inside the church, the ruins of the ancient temple can be seen under the floor. Try to catch one of the local weddings that seem to take place daily.

Taormina’s lovely municipal gardens were designed by Florence Trevelyan and other women from England in the early 1920s. They are meticulously landscaped with beautiful structures, statues and fountains.

In this province of Messina Sicily, I love the well-preserved Greco-Roman Theater in Taormina. Built by the Greeks in 300 B.C. and remodeled and enlarged by the Romans, it is the second-largest ancient theater on the island. Visit Siracusa to see the largest one. The historic Greco-Roman amphitheater is carved out of the hillside and has a panoramic view of Calabria and Mt. Etna. It has a natural terrace, overlooking the sea. It is amazing to watch some of the summer performances that are still offered in this 3rd century B.C. theater.

Vino Con Vista Sicily

Vino con Vista Sicily

In June, the theater is the venue for the Taormina Film Festival. The 60th annual Taormina Film Fest will take place from June 14th to 21st,  in the with stars like Melanie Griffith, Eva Longoria, Isabella Ferrari, Valeria Solarino, and Vittoria Puccini, the Taormina Film Fest celebrated his sixtieth birthday with a “festival entirely dedicated to women, featuring Claudia Cardinale, the muse of Visconti, Fellini and Sergio Leone, as the godmother of the event.” You can attend screenings and previews. On June 17th there will be a tribute to Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Food lin Sicily

 For details visit: www.taorminafilmfest.it
Sicilian Wine

To learn more about Sicily read www.vino-con-vista.com Travel Guides

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Top Attractions in Vino con Vista Venice: A UNESCO Site in Italy

English: Interior of the Basilica di Santa Mar...

English: Interior of the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute, Venice, facing the high altar. Photo taken by Necrothesp, 15 May 2004. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Basilica di San Marco, Venice

English: Basilica di San Marco, Venice (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: The Basilica of St Mary of Health in ...

English: The Basilica of St Mary of Health in Venice, Italy Italiano: Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute, Venezia Русский: Собор Санта-Мария делла Салюте в Венеции, Италия (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Prophet Baruch in Santa Maria della S...

English: Prophet Baruch in Santa Maria della Salute Venice by Tommaso Rues Italiano: Il profeta Baruch, scultura lignea attribuita a Tommaso Rues nella Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute a Venezia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Four Evangelists on the Church Santa ...

English: Four Evangelists on the Church Santa Maria della Salute (Venice) by Tommaso Rues Italiano: Quattro Evangelisti sulla facciata della Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute attribuiti a Tommaso Rues (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Piazza San Marco where you can find the elaborate St. Mark’s Basilica with 5 portals and magnificent mosaics. Saint Mark is represented by the winged lion surmounting one of the tall 12th century granite columns. Get tickets for the Basilica San Marco at

This enchanting city is an architectural masterpiece with domes, spires and campaniles. St. Mark’s basilica and the Doge’s Palace constitute the fulcrum of Venetian religious and civic life.

Saint Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco) is the location of some of the major attractions in Venice including: the Campanile Bell Tower and the Clock Tower, the Palazzo Ducale http://palazzoducale.visitmuve.it
the Correr Museum
and the Sansovino Library.

Lavishly adorned palazzi like Ca d’Oro and Ca’ Rezzonicone line the Grand Canal. These palaces are embellished with Baroque magnificence and elegant Rococo detail. Gondolas and Vaporetti (water buses) transport residents and exuberant tourists through paradise via waterways.

I love the cafes in the square. The Caffè Florian opened in 1720. It is the oldest cafe in Italy and has hosted Lord Byron and Casanova. This is the perfect place for a Vino con Vista!
Not far from Piazza San Marco lies Campo Santo Stefano with the church of the same name. The gorgeous church of Santa Maria della Salute has a prime location on the mouth of the Grand Canal.

Visit the Peggy Guggenheim Collection www.guggenheim-venice.it inside the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni. I love Gallerie dell’Accademia www.gallerieaccademia.org inside the  Scuola Grande de la Carita.

The Ca’ Rezzonico http://carezzonico.visitmuve.it is another fabulous palace that has been converted into a museum. Venice is a very popular tourist destination. Purchase a museum card or Museum Pass to avoid long lines at key sites in Venice.


Italiano: Collage di varie foto di Venezia

Italiano: Collage di varie foto di Venezia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Venice and its Lagoon is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Italy

“Founded in the 5th century and spread over 118 small islands, Venice became a major maritime power in the 10th century. The whole city is an extraordinary architectural masterpiece in which even the smallest building contains works by some of the world’s greatest artists such as Giorgione, Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese and others.” UNESCO

Ca' d'Oro, Venice facade. Français : Ca' d'Oro...

Ca’ d’Oro, Venice facade. Français : Ca’ d’Oro à Venise Vue de la façade. Italiano: Ca’ d’Oro Venezia Facciat. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

View to Santa Maria della Salute over the Gran...

View to Santa Maria della Salute over the Grand Canal in Venice, Italy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After the fall of the Roman Empire, mainland refugees settled the sparse islands to escape waves of invasions. These residents harvested seafood from the canals of the Adriatic Sea for sustenance. Eventually, they became sailors and then wealthy sea merchants. This gateway to the Asia became a major maritime power in the 10th century. Exotic spices like saffron, cinnamon and curry fueled the Venetian Empire. Salt was a crucially important profit center for the Venetians. The term salary is derived from the Venetian practice of being paid in salt. The extraordinary profits earned through trade, filled the coffers of the patrons of the flourishing artists. Marco Polo (1254-1324) was a prominent Venetian explorer who traveled to Asia.


Venice. (Photo credit: Valerio “Dokka” D’Introno.)


English: Venice - Doge’s Palace – Porta della ...

English: Venice – Doge’s Palace – Porta della Carta. Italiano: Venezia. Palazzo Ducale. Il doge di Venezia Francesco Foscari inginocchiato davanti al Leone di San Marco (simbolo di San Marco evangelista, protettore di Venezia), al di sopra della gotica “Porta della Carta” (il gruppo scultoreo è però replica ottocentesca del rilievo originale, distrutto nel 1797). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The work of Giorgione, Titian, Tintoretto and Veronese adorn her magnificent buildings.

There are four bridges to cross the canal: the Ponte dell’Accademia, the Rialto Bridge (the oldest and most famous of the bridges), Ponte degli Scalzi (the Bridge of the Barefoot) and Ponte della Costituzione.

Walk to the top of the Bridge of Sighs for a great view of the lagoon. On the other side of the lagoon, you can meander around the Castello neighborhood where you will find the churches of Santa Maria dei Miracoli and San Zaccaria. While you are there, visit the Church of San Giovanni in Bragora.

I love to visit the islands: Burano is famous for its lace; Murano for glass;  Pellestrina, has sand dunes and Torcello, my personal favorite is one of the oldest human settlements in the area.

Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute, Venice

Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute, Venice (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Giusto Le Court, main altar in Basilica di San...

Giusto Le Court, main altar in Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute Italiano: Giusto Le Court, altare prinicipale in Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute from ...

The Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute from the Grand Canal. Taken by User:Reywas92. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)














Dr. EveAnn Lovero writes Travel Guides. To learn more about Venice and Northern Italy read www.vino-con-vista.com Travel Guides

English: Taken from the Rialto Bridge, a lone ...

English: Taken from the Rialto Bridge, a lone gondolier takes his gondola up the Grand Canal. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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What’s Special about the Cuisine in Vino con Vista Sardinia Italy?

Sardinia _Stintino

Sardinia _Stintino (Photo credit: Viola’s visions ◕‿◕❤)

Vacanze in Sardegna - Summer Holiday in Sardinia

Vacanze in Sardegna – Summer Holiday in Sardinia (Photo credit: Tofom)


Sardinia_Alghero (Photo credit: Viola’s visions ◕‿◕❤)

Pecorino sardo

Pecorino sardo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sardinia map

Sardinia map (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Cheeses and sausages from Sardinia Is...

English: Cheeses and sausages from Sardinia Island (Alghero Public Market) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sea urchins roe in Alghero Sardinia
Image via Wikipedia

If you have been following my posts, you may recall that I mentioned that the best meal I’ve ever eaten was at Andreini in Alghero, Sardinia.

English: 16th century catalan city walls, Algh...

English: 16th century catalan city walls, Alghero, Sardinia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Administrative and road road map of S...

English: Administrative and road road map of Sardinia (bilingual) Italiano: Mappa amministrativa e stradale della sardegna (bilingue) Sardu: Mapa de sas amministratziones e de sas carretteras de sa Sardigna (bilingua) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Sardinia (Photo credit: giannisl)

Flag of Sardinia

English: Pecorino Sardo cheese

English: Pecorino Sardo cheese (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I had pasta that was prepared in a flaming wheel of “Pecorino Romano della Sardegna” cheese with botarga as a first course and “porceddu” as a second course which is spit-roasted suckling pig.  Sardinia’s cuisine is influenced by its insular geographic position as well as its farming and pastoral roots.

English: Cheeses and sausages from Sardinia Is...

English: Cheeses and sausages from Sardinia Island (Alghero Public Market) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The island prepares a special paper-thin bread called “carasau” that is served warm. Sometimes it is sprinkled with oil, tomato, pecorino cheese and eggs. It is simple but delicious. For special events and holidays like Easter the bread is embellished to represent sacred objects or shapes.

The regional specialty in the pasta arena is “malloreddus” which are small elongated shells that are spiced with saffron and prepared “alla campidanese” with tomatoe, sausage and pecorino cheese. These little dumplings are still made by hand in many towns in Sardinia. Local restaurants also serve spagehetti alla ricotta e noci (with walnuts). Another interesting Sardinian specialty is “culurgiones” which are large ravioli filled with potatoe, mint and cheese.

English: Alghero skyline and beach of Lido sar...

English: Alghero skyline and beach of Lido sardegna – sardinia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the coastal regions, seaside restaurants serve pasta with sea-urchins or bottarga (sea urchin roe). In the summer, spaghetti with lobster is your best bet. Fish soups like “fregula con cocciula” or “ziminu” are quite tasty. The “filetti di spigola allo zafferano” offers sea bass with saffron. Tuna is plentiful on the Isola di San Pietro.

The island has more sheep than people so lamb and mutton are regional favorites. The “pecora bolita” is mutton stew and the “cosciotto di agnello alla vernacia” is leg of lamb cooked in wine.

For dessert, try some “seadas” or sebadas” which are round pastry disks filled with cheese and lemon zest that are fried and served with strawberry honey. I love the “amaretti” cookies made with almond paste. Don’t miss the “mirto” which is a dessert liquor made from the myrtle bushes that cloak the island.

On the western coast, many Catalans migrated to Sardinia and brought their wine making expertise with them which you can enjoy when you try the “Vernaccia d’Oristano.”  I prefer the dry red “Cannonau” di Sardegna.

The Nuragus vine is found exclusively in Sardinia to produce the white Nuragus di Cagliari wine. Don’t forget to visit the UNESCO World Heritage ancient Nuragi structures in Sardinia. To learn more about Italy visit www.vino-con-vista.com

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