GIADA VALENTI - FROM ITALY TO NYC WITH LOVE

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From a Turkish acrobat to an Angel: a Venice tradition
02/19/17
Coriandoli e stelle filanti “confetti and streamers” launched in the air by children and adults, plenty of events and masqueraded balls everyday: Carnevale, the iconic celebration that defined Venice for centuries, that started last week is still unfolding.
My beautiful hometown, the city of love with the streets of water is during this week filled by thousands of people walking around Venice wearing beautiful handcrafted masks and costumes posing for the joy of the photographers and of the thousands of tourists gathering from all over the world to experience this magical and joyful event.
Tomorrow there will be one of my favorite events “Il Volo Dell’Angelo” the “Flight of The Angel. The Event was originally held on Shove Thursday, Giovedi Grasso, but it is now held on the weekend before and marks the beginning of the carnival.

Would you like to know what it is?

It is a traditional event that goes back to the time of the Serenissima, in the 16th century.
During an event in honor of the Doge, a Turkish acrobat did something that stupefied the Venetians: with the only aid of a pole he walked on a rope from a boat tied in Riva degli Schiavoni to the top of St. Mark’s Tower and then from the Tower to the Doge’s Palace balcony.
It was the beginning of a tradition that has been held every year with various changes. First it was made only by professional acrobats and later by common people that wanted to show their ability and bravery.


​The exhibition’s name changed from “Flight of the Turk” in “The Flight of the Angel” when for the first time an acrobat dressed with angel wings tied to a rope was let down the tower where at the end of the descent the doge himself gave the “angel impersonator” a gift.
The event changed its name again into “Volo della Colombina” (“The Flight of the dove”) in 1759. In that year the acrobat dressed as the angel fell down over the horrified crowd. Since then a wooden dove substituted the men.
After the fall of the Republic, 1797, the event was banned (as many other traditions) until recent years.

Starting from 2001 “The flight of the Dove” become again “The Flight of the Angel” with the reintroduction of a real person instead of the wooden dove, staging the old ritual of the homage to the Doge. This announced the beginning of the Carnival of Venice with a triumph of confetti and colored air balloons.

Since 1999 after the re-installment of another traditional event “Festa Delle Marie", the winner of that competition will have the honor to be the Angel of the next year "famous flight" .

The girl winner of the 2016 edition of the “Festa delle Marie” wasClaudia Marchiori and she will be this year Angel. She will be wearing a beautiful dress made also this year made by Stefano Nicolao, of the famous Nicolao Atelier of Venice.

While I’m looking forward to see this year dress here are some pictures of last year beautiful Angel, Irene Rizzi dressed also by Nicolao.

On the top of the Tower a few minutes before the Flight : Mr. Nicolao last touch
Irene Rizzi, the 2016 Angel wearing Nicolao dress after the Flight 
Mr. Nicolao and the 2016 Angel Irene Rizzi taking a picture after the flight.
The magic of Carnevale in Venice is still so alive.
Join me on my official mailing list www.giadavalenti.com  (home page) to be part of my world of lovers of love. 

If you want to join me on the Giada Valenti “From Venice With Love” Cruise on the MSC Musica leaving from Venice on July 9, you can visit www.giadavalenti.com/Cruise to register and more info. If you register before February 14th you can make the chance to win $1000 on a cabin for two and some other prizes.
The most beautiful girl of Venice : Maria the Angel
02/18/17
The traditional “Festa delle Marie” will start today at San Pietro di Castello at 2.30 pm, with a Parade  along via Garibaldi and Riva degli Schiavoni that will reach San Marco stage at 4.00 pm, where the twelve “Marias” will be introduced to the crowd waiting for them. This is for sure one of the highlight of the Carnevale.
To participate also this year were 64 young girls between 18 e i 28 years of age residing in the province of Venice/ The selections  in front of the jury was also this year in the beautiful Ca 'Vendramin Calergi, home to the Venice Casino with an exclusive event organized by the driving force behind the  whole event and for that also called the Mom of all the Maria", Maria Grazia Bortolato, the President of the "Venice is ... history, art and culture".

But what is the history behind the 'Festa delle Marie?

This event evokes the homage that the Venetian Doge offered every year to twelve beautiful but humble Venetian girls, offering them magnificent jewels as a bridal dowry.

The “Festa delle Marie” is articulated in different days and it is the opportunity to admire the traditional Venetian period costumes.
This celebration was born in 943 long before the beginning of Carnival Celebrations to whom it was successively linked.
The feast is connected with an episode that happened during the purification of Mary ritual. 

For this ritual 12 brides were chosen amongst the poorer of Venice and their wedding was blessed in the San Pietro di Castello Dome. During the ceremony the richer family of the city gifted the young ladies with donations and the Doge lend them jewels from the city treasure. Then there was a procession to San Mark's square where the brides welcomed in the Doge Palace for a feast in their honor.
More celebrations were held after that also from the Rialto  to the church of Santa Maria Formosa.  
It is said that in 943 the 12 brides and their jewels were raped by pirates. The pirates were chased and engaged nearby the port of Caorle where they were killed and their bodies buried into the sea so no one could commemorate them.
In honor of the ladies the port where they were saved was called "Porto delle Donzelle" and still is.

This sad event was signing the birth of  the “Festa delle Marie”. At first the feast consisted on a boat procession along the Canals. During the parade there were several stops to allow the "Marie" to participate to religious functions and private feast with the citizens. It was considered a good wish to meet the Marie and it was a great opportunity to admire the beautiful ladies dressed like queens.

The celebration was held for many centuries, until 1349 when the real girls were replaced by wooden shaped figures. This decision was taken because the spirit of the celebration was more connected with the opportunity to meet the beautiful girls than the religious recurrence.

The decision became soon quite unpopular, and the citizen start to fire upon the “shapes” with various objects and vegetables. 
The celebration was then suppressed in 1793.


From those episodes comes a popular way the Venetians use to this day to describe  a woman with a little chest: “Maria de Tola”, literally “Mary the wooden plank”.

The feast has been resumed in 1999 by  famous director and cultural operator, Bruno Tosi and proposed within the Carnival program.

The penultimate day of Carnival, Monday, February 27, in a Grand Gala in the Apollonian Halls of the Gran Teatro La Fenice will be chosen among the 12 most beautiful girls the “Maria” and the next day, Shrove Tuesday February 28, in Piazza San Marco the Maria 2017 will be presented to the city and the public.
The winner of the Feast of Marie, will be the star of the "The Flight of the Angel" the next year. This is another iconic event reminiscent  of the traditional homage for the Doge. A thrilling flight from the top of St. Mark's bell tower to the center of the square. 

This year February 19th  to jump from the bell tower will be Claudia Marchiori, last year winner.
She will be wearing a beautiful dress made by Stefano Nicolao.


From Venice With Love,
Giada

Join me on my official mailing list www.giadavalenti.com  (home page) to be part of my world of lovers of love. 

If you want to join me on the Giada Valenti “From Venice With Love” Cruise on the MSC Musica leaving from Venice on July 9, you can visit www.giadavalenti.com/Cruise to register and more info. If you register before February 14th you can make the chance to win $1000 on a cabin for two and some other prizes.
Making Sgroppino with Venetian Chef Marika Contaldo Seguso
02/17/17
I’m so happy to share with you today the delicious recipe of “Sgroppino” a refreshing Venetian treat, like a cold “digestivo” that we served after a meal in Venice.

​And here is how to make it at home, recipe courtesy of my dear Venetian friend and celebrity Chef Marika Contaldo Seguso. Marika will be sharing weekly some of her delicious recipes with me and all of us in my BLOG.

​I’m very honored of this collaboration as Chef Marika is an incredible woman and a very accomplish Chef.
She is the Chef and the Owner of “Acquolina”, a catering company in New York and also of Villa Ines in Venice, a cooking School and a small and exclusive boutique hotel.

With her catering compamy “Acquolina” Marika has been organizing for almost 20 year upscale events of the highest level for the biggest names of international fashion world such as Ferragamo, Giorgio Armani, Bulgari, Dolce & Gabbana, Dior and Cartier, just to mention a few, in Milan, Venice and New York.

Since a few years she also shares her incredible talent and passion for good food, inherited by her parents and skilled grandmothers, giving cooking classes at Villa Ines in the beautiful Lido of Venice. 
Villa Ines is a splendid Liberty villa surrounded by an historical garden and it is not only the site of the Cooking School and of the small and exclusive boutique hotel, but also her home where she lives with her husband and four children but also a real gem in Venice. 
I was lucky to experience her incredible talent and also the charm of Villa Ines, last year, while I was invited to surprise some special fans in Venice at their wedding day with a few songs.

Villa Ines is also the prestigious residence of the family Seguso, as Marika is married to one of the Seguso children, one of the most prestigious family of Glass Makers in Venice.


I will have to share more about this on my next BLOG and soon on my Youtube serie “One Minute In Venice”.


To stay connected with Chef Marika Contaldo Seguso and know more about her:

And here is the Marika’s recipe of the Sgroppino:

For the Lemon Ice cream:

INGREDIENTS
200 gram of heavy cream
170 gram sugar  
200 ml Whole Milk
Juice of 3 Organic Lemon
Vanilla extract (1/2 tbs)


1. Mix in a bowl a little warm milk, the sugar and then add the cold heavy cream first, then add the fresh squeeze lemon juice. 
2. Place in the ice cream machine for at least 25 minutes. 
3. Pour in a deep chilled container and place in the freezer. 


For the Sgroppino:

INGREDIENTS
1 tbs Absolute Lemon Vodka
1/4 cup Prosecco Wine
1/3 cup Sprite
1. Add the Prosecco, Vodka and Sprite to the Ice cream and whisk with an electric blender to reach a smooth creamy consistency. 
2. Has to be creamy enough to be drink in a glass 
3. Serve in flute glasses.   
And here on the picture above the delicious “Sgroppino”, served in a very beautiful Venetian Seguso Glass .

Cin Cin e Buon appetito.
From Venice With Love,
Giada

And if you want to join me on the Giada Valenti “From Venice With Love” Cruise on the MSC Musica leaving from Venice on July 9, you can visit www.giadavalenti.com/Cruise  to register and more info.

Join me on my official mailing list www.giadavalenti.com  (home page) to be part of my world of lovers of love. 
Venice Carnival : Bauta , Larva, Moretta
02/09/17
The Carnival of Venice is one of the most famous in the world. The history of the Venice Carnival is thousands of years old and still retains something magical and mysterious also thanks to the clothes, the masks and the music to which they are coupled.

The mask, in fact, is the ever-present element of my hometown Carnival. They are work of art of very talented and creative Venetian craftsmen and the beauty and the variations of the masks and the costumes that you see in Venice is incredible. 


​The history of the traditional Venetian Masks can take pages to be said in details. It has been a tradition that was and still is part of my hometown. "Good Morning Miss Mask", “Buongiorno Siora Maschera”, was the typical greeting used in Venice during the Carnival along the streets and the canals. The reason? Well wearing masks, was offering the chance to hide, at least once a year, your own identity, gender and social class. 
The mask in Venice was so important because it was offering the illusion to everybody that they could be whoever they wanted to be while in Venice. In Venice you were able to be free.

​The masks were used not only during the period of Carnival, but they were also permitted on Boxing day, Santo Stefano, during the fortnight of the Ascension and during major events such as official Republic holidays or banquet.
If you look carefully you will recognize some in the variety of costumes and mask some very recurring. Among the typical, old and famous Venetian masks, are certainly the following, and if you look carefully next time you re in Venice for the Carnevale you will see that they are still the most recurring:
LA BAUTA
The Bauta is to be considered the traditional Venetian mask for excellence. The bauta was also the mask wore by the famous Casanova.

The one mostly used to cover your features, made in a way that it was still possible to eat and drink without having to take it off.

The Bauta was always white, and it was not only a Carnival mask. In old times it could also be used all year long, to protect one's identity. It consisted not only of the mask covering the face, but the finely woven lace, and the black hat with three tips (tricorno).

The name bauta does not have up to now, a definite interpretation: it may came from the German "behüten"(to protect), as well as from "bau" (or "babau"), typical Italian representation of the monster, or bad beast, used by adults to scare children:
"Se non te fa’ el bravo vien il babau e el te porta via …
(if you do not behave, the “babau” the beast will come over and take you away …)"


In a way, the Bauta was some kind of a social leveler. All ages, all social statuses could get together, all of them wearing a mask and concealing their true identity.


It was mandatory all year long for women who went to the theater and forbidden to girls waiting to be married.


Light and "confortable", because of the narrow nose, the mask sort of modifies the voice pitch, and of course romantic encounters were a lot simplified, this way.

The Bauta was often wore with a coat with a cape called “tabarro”.  
The tabarro was usually in cloth or silk, which doubles over the shoulders and was decorated with fringes, frills and a military bow. His color changed depending on the occasion: black for the Bauta, white or blue for the summer events and scarlet for the gala evenings. It was also used by women: dark in winter and white in summer. Il Tabarro, however, was often also worn to hide weapons, reason why the use of the masks with the Tabarro was banned in some situations. 

THE VOLTO  (or LARVA)
Meaning face’  this was a white mask of fine wax cloth with a protruding topology that gave it a three-dimensional, beaklike appearance when viewed from the side. 

It was therefore more comfortable to wear than other varieties, and its simple design, usually accompanied by a three-cornered hat and cloak so as to increase the aura of mystery, made it a very common feature of the Carnival over the centuries. 

Also called "Larva", with the possible meaning of "ghost", as it gives an eerie appearance to the people wearing it, just imagine ... at night, under a full moon ... in those narrow streets ...
LA MORETTA 
Originating in France this mask was mysterious and intriguing: these were probably the reasons of so much success of this mask  in Venice. The Moretta, (meaning "Dark", because of its color) was used by women only. It was an oval mask layered with black velvet often complemented by a similarly black veil. 

This mask  covered the entire face and required the wearer to clasp a small bit between their teeth to keep it secure. This prevented the wearer from talking, yet such muteness tended to add to the mask’s enigmatic allure

The forced silence to which these women were forced especially pleased the male counterparts. It’s said that the Venetian women were known for being too talkative and opinionated.
The mask was also rather uncomfortable, but that's the way fashion has always been.


There are also a few more traditional masks, with a slightly different origine. You will hear all about it in my next BLOG. 
From Venice with Love,
Giada 
Join me on my official mailing list www.giadavalenti.com  (home page) to be part of my world of lovers of love. 

If you want to join me on the Giada Valenti “From Venice With Love” Cruise on the MSC Musica leaving from Venice on July 9, you can visit www.giadavalenti.com/Cruise to register and more info. If you register before February 14th you can make the chance to win $1000 on a cabin for two and some other prizes.
The Grand Opening of Venice Carnival: The Festa Veneziana
02/07/17
2016 by Nu' Art and Gabriele Rizzi. 
The opening of the Carnevale is a major event in Venice produced and organized to perfection by big professional entertaining company that requires month of preparations.
2016 by Nu' Art and Gabriele Rizzi. 
A real show that take place in the water with light, music and dancers that really will take your breath away. This year it will take place on Saturday, February 11th and just like every year it will be in the Rio of Cannareggio. 
2016 by Nu' Art and Gabriele Rizzi. 
As usual the show is free and happened twice: at 6:00 and at 8:00pm. Just need to get there on time to get a good spot to see it. The Rio di Cannaregio will turn once again into a stage made of water where floating boats transfer on water the theme of Carnevale, putting on a magic show that delights thousands of visitors each and every year. 
2016 by Nu' Art and Gabriele Rizzi. 
Thanks to this magnificent pictures of the Carnevale opening night of last year you surely can get an idea of the beauty and entity of the event.
2016 by Nu' Art and Gabriele Rizzi. 
2016 by Nu' Art and Gabriele Rizzi. 
Here is also the official video of the Festa Veneziana of last year. 
But I can assure you that to see it for real will take your breath away : no picture and neither video can ever get even close to the real experience of my Venice. 

Venice is like Love: you need to be "In Love" to really know what love is. 


From Venice With Love,
Giada 

If you want to join me on the Giada Valenti “From Venice With Love” Cruise on the MSC Musica leaving from Venice on July 9, you can visit www.giadavalenti.com/Cruise to register and more info. If you register before February 14th you can make the chance to win $1000 on a cabin for two and some other prizes.
Ice skating in Venice
02/06/17
Carnevale in Venice will start this year on February 11th and ends on February 28th. There are so many wonderful old traditions and events and also so many parties going on in my hometown around Carnevale. 
And among those old traditions they have also a very nice "new" one since a few years: ice skating.  Thousands of Venetians and tourists from across the globe enjoy ice skating in Campo San Polo each winter. 
The 450 square meter egg shaped rink, was officially open on December 9th 2011 in the historical Centre. 
The rink is surrounded by a village of stalls and Carnival markets, with locally made arts and crafts items, but also delicious food and wine.

During the evening they also have live music performances and a DJ’s.

Gliding across the ice in the middle of the city of Venice is a very cheerful experience and could be the perfect way to spend a very romantic winter day


They are open every day, with skate rental service. Dress up well it can be cold !


From Venice With Love,
Giada 

If you want to join me on the Giada Valenti “From Venice With Love” Cruise on the MSC Musica leaving from Venice on July 9, you can visit www.giadavalenti.com/Cruise to register and more info. If you register before February 14th you can make the chance to win $1000 on a cabin for two and some other prizes.
Secrets places of Venice : Isola di San Francesco del Deserto
02/03/17
There are few places in my beautiful hometown and in the Venice lagoon that are spectacular and that most of the tourists are not even aware of. One of them is for sure the Island of San Francesco del Deserto, the “Island of Saint Francis of The Desert”.
This little Island is nestled between Burano and Sant’Erasmo and houses a tranquil monastery, where only 4 monks live. The garden has 4,000 cypress trees, an idyllic monastery gardens and the medieval cloisters, that can be visited under the guide of a monk who shepherds visitors through the grounds and tells the story of St Francis’s arrival on the island in 1220.
The former owner of the island In the thirteenth century was Jacopo Michel, a Venetian nobleman. He had had built a church dedicated to St. Francis who was the he first in Northern Italy.
Legend has it that Saint, Francis returning from the East, had passed through here, making some miracles. He also planted his stick into the ground and it grew into a pine tree where the birds flocked in to sing to him.
In 1233 Jacopo Michel donated the whole island to the Franciscan friars.
The original name of this Island was “Isola delle due Vigne” “Island of two vineyards”. The name changed in Desert Island of St. Francis in 1400 when the island remained for a few years deserted because of the unhealthiness of the lagoon.
The Monk were also pushed to abandoned the Island between 1808 and 1858, when the French and then the Austrians turned it into a military fortress.

The serenity and beauty of this place when you visit it will leave a memory that will never leave your heart. I love this place.
The island's charm through the centuries has inspired artists and poets.
The island is open for tourists and offers opportunity for a historical-religious culture visit , but also to enjoy the peace and quiet that the place offers.

The monks also offer the possibilities to pray with them, in what they call the Orari della Fraternita’ and for those who want The Franciscan Fraternity offers also hospitality for a few days, upon request.
Opening hours: are 9:00 to 11:00 /15.00-17.00. Closed on Mondays. They are also closed on the morning of September 17 (feast of the Stigmata of St. Francis) and on the morning of 4 October (Feast of St. Francis). The tour is led by a Franciscan and is a free offer.

From Venice With Love,
Giada

If you want to join me on the Giada Valenti “From Venice With Love” Cruise on the MSC Musica leaving from Venice on July 9, you can visit www.giadavalenti.com/Cruise to register and more info. If you register before February 14th you can make the chance to win $1000 on a cabin for two and some other prizes.
A brindisi in Brindisi
02/01/17
There is something about a beach, a harbor, and the coastline in general that make us feel free and give us a sense of awe. Sunsets and sunrises on the coast lines are always something magical that takes our breath away. 

In the south of Italy there is much coastline to take in and see. 

One such spots is for sure the ancient city of Brindisi. This will be the first stop of the Giada Valenti "From Venice With Love" Cruise, departing from my Venice on the elegant MSC Musica on July 9th.

I can’t wait to share this beautiful adventure with all the wonderful friends and fans that will be joining me.
Brindisi is in the Puglia region of Italy, on its south-eastern coast, just north of Lecce. It is an integral part of the  Salento peninsula, serving as the capital of the province of Brindisi and right on the Adriatic Sea.
Brindisi has been known as the «Gateway to the East» since ancient times, when it became an important port, first for the Roman troops, and later for the merchants of Venice.

This port in Apulia even today provides important travel connections to and from a long list of sea and airports making Brindisi one of Italy’s most important ports.


Like its neighbors to the north and south, this area has also been touched in the past by the influence of ancient Greece, as it was founded by Greek settlers. The Romans took the town from the Greeks in the middle of the 3rd century BC and set about maximising the town’s potential.  Brindisi was also connected to Rome through the Via Appia and Via Traina.


With the fall of the Roman Empire, Brindisi passed into the hands of the Ostrogoths, the Byzantines, the Lombards, the Saracens and then the Normans, who arrived in 1070. Badly bombed during the Second World War, Brindisi spent many years rebuilding, and, especially in the last decade, the city has undergone a significant makeover. As with many Italian cities, Brindisi has seen its share of conquerors, earthquakes and destruction from World War II. But, in true Italian fashion, the city has risen from its ashes and managed to harmonize what was left from the past, with the new.

The center is home to wide, palm-tree lined boulevards, a revamped seafront promenade with beautiful restaurants and bars, a great many winding streets, some fine Baroque churches (including the cathedral) and, last but not least, the mightily impressive fortress.

The city of Brindisi played an important role during World War II, especially in the last years of the conflict: in fact, between September 1943 and February 1944 the city functioned as the temporary capital of Italy, when the king, Vittorio Emanuele III, his entourage and the head of the military abandoned Rome after the fall of the Fascist régime. 


The city's name derives from the ancient LatinBrundisium, which comes from the Greekbrentesion meaning "deer's head", referring to the shape of its natural harbor. The symbol also appears in its coat of arms, which includes a war cross for the civilian victims of World War II.
As we move south, Italy changes a little. Dialect change, the coast changes, even the food takes on a more Greek-like, Mediterranean flavor, which I personally found delicious. 
Some of my favorite “Orechiette con le cime di rapa” Orecchiette Pasta shapes with broccoli rabe or puce con le olive, a typical bread with black olives from the Salento region, or the taralli. 

Easy, healthy and delicious I will share some recipe from this region of future Blogs.
You will find also different languages spoken here, as well. But one thing is certain, you will sure fall in love with the beauty of this part of the country. 

Here are some of the  sightseeing attractions in Brindisi : 

1. The Castello Grande built by Frederick II, typifies much of the ancient buildings here. It was built in the 13th century with massive square towers and a unique trapezoid plan. 

It has seen many uses over its long history: it was even used as a penitentiary in the 1800s.
2. The Castello Aragonese was built in 1491 on the Sant' Andrea Island facing the port. Called the "Sea Fort" (to distinguish it from the "Land Fort"), it dates back to the 1490s.
3. The signature structure of Brindisi, though, has to be its two ancient Roman columns of which only one is still extant. The other crumbled in 1582, and the ruins were given to Lecce to hold the statue of Saint Oronzo (Lecce's patron), as the Saint was thought to have cured the plague in Brindisi. The columns were once thought to mark the end of the Via Appia. There is a small stretch of the old Via Appia still travelled by many today, although paved over: that stretch opens up in downtown Brindisi, highlighted by giant steps and the two columns. Many take advantage of the downtown area to take a stroll down the very steps that the ancients have walked, although today it is usually for an ice cream and not to chase down Spartacus and his friends. 
Those wanting a better feel for what life was like during Roman times may take a look at the nearby archeological site of Ignazia,which does showcase part of the Via Appia.
Other sites worth taking in include the Duomo built in the 11th and 12th centuries and restored in the 18th after an earthquake. Parts of the original mosaic flooring can still be seen. 

The  Church of Santa Maria del Casale, with its façade of geometrical patterns, as well as the Portico dei Templari, both built in the 1300.


Something off of the sacred architecture tour path worth a visit is the natural reserve of Torre Guaceto and the Grand Fountain. 

The Romans loved their fountains which they built along the Via Appia. This one is still in perfect conditions and was restored in 1192.
Brindisi in modern Italian language means “Prost or “Cin Cin”.

So I can't wait to have a brindisi in Brindisi with all the people joining me on the From Venice With Love Cruise.
For info and to register for the Cruise visit www.giadavalenti.com/cruise.


If you register before February 14th you can have the chance to win 1000 dollar off of a cabin for 2.


From Venice With Love,
Giada

The Italian tradition of La Befana
01/03/17
On the night of January 5th and during the day on January 6th in Italy we celebrate la Befana. She is an old woman who delivers gifts to children the night of January 5 in a similar way like St. Nicholas or Santa Claus, Babbo Natale in Italy.
Some people believes that the name"Befana" is derived from the Italians' mispronunciation of the Greek word  "epifania"  or  "epiphaneia" (Greek, επιφάνεια = appearance, English: epiphany ). Others  think that the name derivative of Bastrina, the gifts associated with the goddess Strina. 


There are three legends regarding the origins of the "Befana" :

One tells that the Befana was approached by the biblical Magi  (“The Three Wise Men” or “The Three Kings, in Italy called "Re Magi"),  a few days before the birth of  baby Jesus. They asked for directions to where the Son of God was, as they had seen his star in the sky, but she did not know. She provided them with shelter for a night, as she was considered the best housekeeper in the village, with the most pleasant home.
The Magi invited her to join them on the journey to find baby Jesus, but she declined, stating she was too busy with her housework. Later, La Befana had a change of heart, and tried to search out the astrologers and Jesus. That night she was not able to find them, so to this day, La Befana is searching for the little baby. She leaves all the good children toys and candy ("caramelle") or fruit, while the bad children get coal ("carbone"), onions or garlic.

​Another Christian legend as a darker tone. It stats that La Befana was an ordinary woman with a child whom she greatly loved. Unfortunatelly her child died, and her resulting grief maddened her. Upon hearing news of Jesus being born, she set out to see him, delusional that HE was her son. She eventually met Jesus and presented him with gifts to make him happy. The infant Jesus was delighted, and he gave La Befana a gift in return : she would be the mother of every child in Italy.
An another commonly heard Christian legend of la Befana starts at the time of the birth of baby Jesus. La Befana spends her days cleaning and sweeping. One day the Magi, came to her door in search of baby Jesus. Befana turned them away because she was too busy cleaning. Later she regrets her decision and goes out in search of them. Sadly, they have long since left the area, so she fills her arms with gifts and, after climbing aboard her broomstick, she takes to the skies. She began her search for baby Jesus but never found him. La Befana still searches today, after all these centuries. On the eve of the Epiphany, La Befana comes to a house where there is a child and leaves a gift.  Although she has been unsuccessful in her search, she still leaves gifts for good young children because the Christ Child can be found in all children.

The tradition of La Befana appears to incorporate other pre-Christian popular elements as well, adapted to the Christian culture and related to the celebration of the New Year.  The old lady character should then represent the old year just passed, ready to be burned in order to give place to the new one. In many European countries the tradition still exists of burning a puppet of an old lady at the beginning of the New Year, called Giubiana in Northern Italy, with clear Celtic origins. You can see many fires an people gathering around on the night of La Befana all over the Venice region. 

We called them 'falò par brusar la vecia", fires to burn the old lady". Everybody can bring something old to burn and a big pile of stuff is build and lit up the night of the 5th. Everybody is happy and excited to burn the past ready for the new year to star.
In popular folklore La Befana visits all the children of Italy on the eve of the Feast of the Epiphany to fill their socks or stocking "la calza" with  candy and presents if they are good, or a lump of  coal or dark candy if they are bad. Traditionally, all Italian children may expect to find a lump of " coal" in their stockings (actually rock candy made black with caramel coloring), as every child has been at least occasionally bad during the year. 


Popular tradition tells that if one sees La Befana one will receive a thump from her broomstick, as she doesn't wish to be seen. This aspect of the tradition may be designed to keep children in their beds.
Being a good housekeeper, many say she will sweep the floor before she leaves. To some the sweeping meant the sweeping away of the problems of the year. The child's family typically leaves a small glass of wine and a plate with a few morsels of food, often regional or local, for the Befana.


She is usually portrayed as a hag riding a broomstick through the air wearing a black shawl  and is covered in soot because she enters the children's houses through the chimney . She is often smiling and carries a bag or a hamper filled with candy and gifts.
She is also referred to as the Christmas Witch.


The Befana is celebrated throughout all of Italy, and has become a national icon. But there are three places in Italy that are nowadays associated with the Befana tradition:

Piazza Navona in central Rome is the site of a popular market each year between Christmas and the Epiphany, where toys, sugar and sugar charcoal  and other candies are on sale. Romans believe that at the midnight January 6 the Befana shows herself from a window of Piazza Navona, and they always go there to watch her (it's a joke everybody tells while going to the feast to buy candies, toys and sweets). 
The town of Urbania in the Provincia of Pesaro e Urbino in the Marche region where the national Befana festival is held each year, usually between January 2 and 6. A "house of the Befana" is scheduled to be built and the post office has a mailbox reserved for letters addressed to the Befana, mirroring what happens with Santa Claus in Rovaniemi in Finland. 
In Fornonovo di Taro, a little town by Parma,  they held of of the 5th and 6th of January the national meeting "Raduno Nazionale delle Befane e dei Befani”, a meeting for female and male hags.

There are many popular saying regarding this celebration. One of the most popular is 
"l'epifania che tutte le feste porta via" meaning "Epiphany's Day that takes away all the holidays" referring to the end of the Christmas celebrations.

And there are also many filastrocche, nursery rhymes. 


The one I have learned is:
"La Befana vien di notte
Con le scarpe tutte rotte
Col vestito alla romana
Viva, Viva La Befana!"
The English translation is:
"The Befana comes by night
With her shoes all tattered and torn
She comes dressed in the Roman way.
Long live the Befana!"

I still put my "calza", "stocking", on the Epiphany night with only difference that nowadays I filled it myself with some of my favorites candies and a little gift I buy myself  to give to myself.
I guess my inner child will never leave me when it comes to La Befana.


Buona Befana a tutti,
Giada

Saint Lucia and the Cuccìa: a delicious Sicilan tradition
12/13/16
Today December 13th, it is Santa Lucia, Saint Lucy who was a young Christian martyr who died during the Diocletianic Prosecutions. 

Lucy's Latin name Lucia shares a root (luc-) with the Latin word for light, lux. This has played a large part of Saint Lucy being named as the patron saint of the blind and those with eye-trouble. The relics of Saint Lucia rest in my Venice after they have been moved and stoled many times in history.


They rest now safely in the Church of Saint Geremia in the sestiere of Cannaregio. They were transferred there when the church of Santa Lucia was demolished in 1861 to make way for the new railway terminal. The train station in Venice is for that called Santa Lucia.

It is said, between history and legend, that around the seventeenth century the Sicialian people were hit by a severe food shortage when a ship arrived in Palermo bearing wheat and grains on Santa Lucia’s Day, December 13th. There was not time to make flower and they started to eat it as it was: in it’s grain form.


To this day in Sicily people eat a variety of dishes made with wheat berries or barley that is called Cuccìa. The word itself is Sicilian and means crock or grain. So on this day Cuccìa is the only wheat eaten… no bread or pasta.  
Cuccìa is typically made with wheat berries or barley and it is prepared differently from family to family and regions. Some make Cuccìa as soup, others as a pudding. 


This tradition is especially celebrated in the Sicilian city of Palermo, and also in Syracuse where Santa Lucia was born.
You can vary the recipe as Sicilian do. Everyone tweaks it to their own taste.


Here below you can find the family recipe as I have learned to make it from my dear friend from Palermo, Angela.

I ngredients:

1lb Barley
½ lb dark chocolate
2 and ½ ounces of bitter cocoa powder
4 spoons of sugar
1 quarter of a gallon of milk
3 and half ounces of heavy cream


Preparation:

Put the barley in a large bowl, cover with water and let it sit for 1 hour. Rinse it and pour it into a saucepan, cover with cold water. When the water starts to boil, leave it to cook for 1 hour.
Drain and allow it to cool.

Pour the milk, the bitter cocoa and dark chocolate and the sugar in a saucepan, and stir with a whisk, on low heat until the chocolate does melt completely. Finally add heavy cream an cook for another 10 min, till warm.
Add the barley to the milk and chocolate, stir it.
The Cuccìa is ready. Let it cool in the refrigerator and serve the Cuccìa preferably in individual bowls.


From Venice with Love,
Giada 

A delicious Christmas treat: Baci di Dama
12/10/16
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, so today I want to share with you a simple recipe for a sweet treat I make every Christmas with my mom in Italy.

They are called Baci di Dama “Lady Kisses”. 


It is an easy and simple recipe. You know me, I’m always on the run,  working on my music projects, doing Concerts and writing songs. But I love to eat delicious food so it needs to be delicious and fast to make.
So here is a faster variation of the recipe, where you can buy the amaretto cookie instead or making them from scratch like n the original recipe. 

The Baci di Dama is a typical recipe of Piedmont cuisine. The origin of these sweets is an open battle between those who support their origin from the city of Tortona in Piedmont and those who makes them go back to an invention of a pastry chef of the House of Savoy in 1852.

The name of these little pastries seems to derive from their shape that recalls two lips kissing. It was my grandfather Ruggero favorite sweets, and he was indeed from the Piedmont region and of coursed believed it was  from there.


Here how to make them:

I ngredients:

- 120 amaretti (macaroons)
- 3 to 4 tablespoons of Nutella 
- 1 to 3 cups of coffee mocha (coffee is fine without sugar)
- Grated coconut

Preparation:


1.. In a bowl pour the coffee (the coffee needs to be cold) and have some grated coconut ready for the decoration. Have the Nutella ready and a little spoon.

2. Spread now the amaretti cookies with the Nutella. Put the Nutella on an amaretto cookie, on the straight part, then take another one and do the same. Now push them together gently to avoid breakage.

3. Take the stuffed amaretti cookies and dip them one by one in the coffee and then in the grated coconut. Then place them in a baking dish or tray. I love to staple them in a circle so to recreate little Christmas trees.
4. When finished, put the “Baci di Dama” in the fridge for at least half an hour, so all the ingredients will marry beautifully with each other. When it's time to enjoy them, take them out of the fridge and serve them immediately. 
The “Baci di Dama” with coconut and Nutella are perfectly paring with both coffee, tea or herbal tea. Are also excellent on their own, and if you love sweet wines, even with some Marsala.

One little variation to the recipe: You can also add to the cream some mascarpone.  In this case you need to mix together 125 grams of mascarpone and add 1 tablespoon of Nutella. Mix them together in a bowl until you get a smooth cream. Then proceed from point 2.
I hope you will enjoy making them and eating them with your loved ones.


Let's hope it will be a Christmas filled with love for all of us.


Giada 

The omelette roll with zucchini, ham and spreadable cheese
11/04/16
Picture : Mike Ferrante
Thanks to my job I get to experience often delicious food in fancy restaurants. And I really love that, as I can really appreciate well made food. 

But that said, I really love to cook and eat healthy delicious food every time I can. Most of my recipes are easy and fast to make. Most of them are recipes I have learned to make in Italy with my mom, my aunts and my grandmothers. Being my two grandmothers one from the North, Venice  and one from the South, near Rome, I have learned to cook many recipes so different one to another. As you may know recipes are very different from region to region in Italy, as we cooked with fresh ingredients that are available in the season and with ingredients typically available in the region.


So I can make fish and delicious risottos, typical of the region of Venice, but also delicious spaghetti all'amatriana with pancetta and pecorino romano. I can make polenta as we make it in Venice with liver and onions, but also as they make it in Rome with tomatoes, sausage and boneless ribs.

Today I want to share with you a recipe that I learned to make in Italy from one of my aunts, who being a nurse used to make delicious food she could take with her and eat in her launch break in the hospital. 
The omelet roll with zucchini, stuffed with ham and soft spreadable cheese (I love in Italy the Stracchino and the ricotta). It is very tasty, easy to eat warm or cold. It’s not too heavy and the ingredients are simple. The cooking of the omelet in the oven requires a minimum of manual skills, but the result is very tasty. And then again if I can make it, you surely can too.

Ingredient:


-      4 eggs
-      1 pound  of zucchini
-      5 ounces of soft cheese (Stracchino like) or ricotta Cheese or any spreadable cheese of your choice.
-      3 and half ounces of ham
-      half cup of Parmesan cheese grated 
-      salt and pepper to taste


Preparation:

Wash the zucchini and grate them with big part of the grater in a bowl. In another bowl whisk the eggs and add the Parmesan cheese with salt and pepper.
Pour the mixture into a baking dish or baking mold the size of 8x20 inch lined with baking paper. Bake in oven at 250 F for about 20 minutes.
Once the omelette is ready, roll it with the help of the baking paper and let it cool. When cold, being very careful not to break it, spread on the pie the cheese and  the sliced ham on top of the cheese.

At this point rolled up the omelette once again and let in the refrigerator to cool for an hour or so.
Slice it and serve it cold or warm. Both way delicious.


Buon appetito and I'm looking forward to see you at one of my upcoming Concerts.

From Venice with Love,
Giada

5 things to make your Holidays more Italian
10/25/16
The Holidays are always the moment when I miss my family and my hometown, my beautiful Venice the most. Just like the song says “I’ll be home for Christmas”,  that’s where I love to be and I always try to work my calendar and my Concerts in a way so I can be back home. But when I cannot make it, I always try to bring “Italy to me” no matter where I am in the world.

Here are five things you can do too to make your Holidays more Italian:

1. Have the traditional Panettone or Pandoro.

The “Panettone”, is a type of sweet bread loaf originally from Milan usually prepared and enjoyed for Christmas and New Year. There are many legends about the origin of the name. My grandfather Ruggero, a baker himself, loved the 15th-century legend from Milan that tells that the invention of the cake belong to  the nobleman falconer Ughetto Atellani, who loved Adalgisa, the daughter of a poor baker named Toni. 
To help her, the nobleman disguised himself as a baker and invented a rich cake to which he added flour and yeast, butter, eggs, dried raisins, candied lemon and orange peel. The duke of Milan at that time, Ludovico Il Moro Sforza agreed to the marriage, which was held, as the legend says, in the presence of Leonardo Da Vinci and encouraged the launch of the new bread-like cake: Pan de Toni (or Toni's cake). There are many Italian brands that you can also find  in the USA, like Melegatti, Bauli, Motta, Moina and Paluani.

The “Pandoro”, is a traditional Italian sweet yeast bread. Most typically a product of Verona,  the “Pandoro” is traditionally shaped like a frustum with an 8 pointed-star section.

It is served dusted with vanilla powder sugar (zucchero a velo) to resemble the snowy peaks of the Italian Alps during Christmas.

The first acknowledgment of a dessert identified as “Pandoro” dates  back to the 18th century. The “Pandoro” is the product of the ancient art of bread making,  as the name Pan d'oro literally "Golden Bread", suggests. 

Throughout the Middle Ages, white bread was consumed solely by the rich, while the common people could only afford black bread and, often, not even that. Sweet breads were reserved for nobility. The dessert was for sure served in the cuisine of the Venetian aristocracy. Venice was the principal market for spices as well as for sugar that by18th century had replaced honey in European pastries and breads made from leavened dough. It was in Verona, in the Venetian territory, that the recipe for making “Pandoro” was developed and perfected. The modern history of this dessert bread began on October 30, 1894, when Domenico Melegatti obtained a patent for a procedure to be applied in producing “Pandoro” industrially. You can find the Panettone and Pandoro in many supermarkets or gourmet food stores these days, or you can find them online.

 2. Cheers the holidays with a Bellini.

It is a cocktail mixture of Prosecco (sparkling Italian wine) and peach puree or nectar. This cocktail originated in my Venice too.

The Bellini was invented sometimes between 1934 and 1948  by Giuseppe Cipriani, the founder of the Harry’s Bar in Venice, Italy. He named the drink the Bellini because its unique pink color reminded him of the vestments of a saint in a painting by 15th-century Venetian artist Giovanni Bellini. The drink started as a seasonal specialty at Harry's Bar, a favorite hang-out place of Ernest Hemingway, Sinclair Lewis and Orson Welles. Later, it became popular at the bar's New York counterpart,  after an entrepreneurial Frenchman set up a business to ship fresh white peach purée to both locations.
3. Have a delicious piece of Torrone Natalizio

Torrone is a traditional winter and Christmas confection in Italy and many varieties exist. The traditional versions comes from Cremona, Lombardy region in Italy and ranges widely in texture (morbido, soft and chewy, to duro, hard and brittle) and in flavors (with various citrus flavorings, vanilla, etc., added to the nougat) and may contain whole hazelnuts, almonds, pistachios or only nut meal added to the nougat. Some  versions are dipped in chocolate. The popular recipes have changed with time and differ from one region to the next. You can find several Italian brands in the United States these days. My favorite is Sperlari.
4. Make a Green White and Red Christmas Tree

Red, white and Green are the Christmas colors but also the colors of the Italian flag and looks so pretty on a Christmas tree and for the Christmas decorations.


I love my green tree with snow like sparkles and I decorate it with beautiful red, green, white, silver and gold decorations.

5. Make some delicious Venetian cicchetti and tramezzini to welcome your guests and some cake pops as favors when they leave.

The cicchetti are little snacks, easy, heathy and super delicious and you can make them with basically everything. Here some of my favorites for Christmas.

Cut some bread in stars shapes and toast it to light brown. Make also some polenta (polenta is a typical venetian ground cornmeal. You need to make it in advance and refrigerate it so it will have a  a solid consistence). Cut the solid polenta in star shapes or any desired shapes.  Grill it with some olive oil. 

Now you are ready to make the cicchetti with meat, fish or vegetables, or your favorite topping.
Here some of my favorites :

-  Cicchetti with salmon mousse:

Ingredients:

8 ounces of smoked salmon - 8 ounces of ricotta cheese- 3.5 ounces fresh heavy cream – 1 sprigs of chives

Preparation:


Mix 6 ounces of the smoked salmon, the ricotta cheese and the chives. Add the fresh whipping cream Add a bit of salt if needed it. Put the mousse on the star shaped bread. Decorate with the rest of the smoked salmon and little sprigs of chives.

- Cicchetto with prosciutto and mascarpone cheese (or Philadelphia cream cheese)

Ingredients:


- Half pound prosciutto 
- 1 quarter pound Mascarpone cheese or Philadelphia cheese 
-  P
arsley   

Preparation:


Spread the mascarpone or Philadelphia  cream cheese on the toasted star shaped bread, put a slice of prosciutto and same parsley to decorate.

​​- Cicchetto with Polenta, mushrooms and cheese

Ingredients:


- 1 package  of ready Polenta (1 lb) 
- 1 cup of grated parmesan cheese
- 2 package of mushrooms 
- 1 garlic clove 
- 1 cube vegetable bouillon 
- olive oil
- chilly pepper.
       
Preparation:


Prepare the mushrooms. Wash them and cut them in small pieces. Place in a frying pan a clove of garlic and some olive of oil until golden brown. Add the mushroom and chilly pepper. Add some water and the vegetable bouillon cube. Cook till ready. Spread the mushrooms in the grilled polenta and add some grated parmiggiano reggiano. Brown them in the oven till golden. Serve it cold or warm.


If you make polenta from scratch, when ready add some parmesan cheese and the cooked mushroom. You can also add some dry tomatoes and thyme. Mix all together and flatten the polenta on large surface until cool.  When cold give the polenta mixture a star shape and grilled it till golden. Serve cold or warm.
Tramezzini are delicious white breadlittle sandwiches and you can make them with egg salad, tuna salad or with atchoches pasta and mayonnaise. You can stock them one on top the other to form a little Christmas tree. 
Delicious and sparking.
  Tortini of beats and goat cheese

Stack beats and goat cheese, decorate with parsley. You can cut them round or star shaped. You can also serve them in a little cocktail glass over a rucola salad dressed mayonnaise.

    Palline di Torta - Cake Pops

This is something I used to make as a child with my grandmother and mother all the time to decorate the table, as children we loved eating them before dinner, even though they were were designed to be given as favors for our departing guests.

The cake pops are delicious little balls of cake covered with chocolate, or Nutella and decorated with colored sugar on a stick, which recall, by its shape, lollipops.  The cake pops are so much fun: you start by getting a prepared cake mixed with some jam (but you can also use Nutella or mascarpone). Then you form little balls that will be covered with dark or white  chocolate or Nutella. Put them on a skewers. Last step: use your imagination and creativity to decorate the cake pops in the way  you like them with sprinkles of sugar red,  green and white with grated coconut. The cake pops are a perfect recipe to prepare for a party,  for your kids or as a gift package to give to your guests before they leave.

Ingredients:


- 1 lb of sponge cake 
– 5 spoon of Nutella, or mascarpone or jam of choice 
- plastic lollipop sticks or wooden sticks
- grated coconut and colored sugar sprinkles 
- styrofoam base.

Preparation :

Break the cake with your fingers, possibly eliminating the crust if it becomes too dry and place the crumbs in a bowl. Now add about 4 tablespoons of your favorite jam (one at a time) or Nutella or Mascarpone, kneading with your hands until you get a fairly firm dough to form "balls". Formed with the mixture a ball little smaller than a walnut ball.  
Pose them on a baking sheet and let them harden in the freezer for about half an hour. Melt in a double boiler or microwave the chocolate and the white (in two separate containers) or some Nutella at room temperature. Get the sticks and insert  the cake balls . Immediately after dip the balls in chocolate (dark or white) or Nutella covering them completely.
Then cover them with grated coconut and colored sugar sprinkles ) red and green and let them dry stick them on a styrofoam base. You can make them as creative as you want when it come to decoration and presentation. You can even make a Christmas tree sticking them on a pyramid styrofoam form to resemble a Christmas tree or place the on Christmas mugs. Or decorate them with ribbons.

To get a more crunchy chocolate coating I recommend you keep the cake pops in the refrigerator. You can put them in little Christmas mug and also prepare some wrapped in clear plastic paper to offer to your guests as favors when they leave.
And of course play your favorite Christmas songs and sing along with me with some of my favorite tunes, such as "Astro del Ciel", "Tu Scendi dalle Stelle", "Mary Did You Know" and all the traditional American Christmas songs over and over...

I'm ready for Natale. Sono pronta per Christmas.


From Venice with Love,
Giada 

FUN FACTS
A Venice hidden gem: 

10/26/16
The ceiling of La Fenice Theatre in Venice is full of symbolic representations. Among them you can also spot three female figures painted on the ceiling, representing the music and the dance. The first has a red dress, the second a green dress and they both hold on to the third woman who’s holding a white sheet that floats around her. The three colors are also the colors of the Italian tricolor, although at that time Venice was under the Austrian domain.

Legend has it that this allegory was nothing but a subliminal form, where the implicit message that could be read was precisely: "You can dominate us but the music and the dance will always remain Italian’.


From Venice With Love,
Giada

secret spot in venice
09/08/16
My beautiful hometown still has some secret spots and unbeaten paths. I have recently discovered one myself, that I was really fascinated by: Ca’ Zappa

It is a stunning Dutch villa that sits alone on the south of the lagoon of Venice. It is difficult to reach, and you would need to have or rent your own boat to get there. Built in 1925 by an emigrant from The Netherlands the white façade has red windows and gables, which top a beautiful portico. It gives this part of the lagoon a magical fairy-tale touch. This part of the lagoon is called Zappa Valley and is one of the fishing valleys and it is located in the territory of Campagna Lupia. In this fascinating landscape they breed eels, sea bass, sea bream that you will then buy at the Rialto Market in Venice and other fish markets of the Veneto region.


From Venice With Love,
Giada

Are you looking for the love or your life or want to make sure your love will be eternal?
08/22/16
Then while in Venice you have to touch the Stone Heart. Couples come here to touch the stone in hopes of blessings for eternal love whereas singles come here to find the love of their life.

The magic of the stone heart comes from one of the legends of Venice. 
It is said that once a Venetian fisherman, called Orio, caught in his net a mermaid, called Melusina. They fell in love and they met up: every night when he was going out fishing she would fill his nets with the best fish. They finally got married and had three children. But Melusina was cursed and once a week she turned into a sea serpent. She kept this hidden from his beloved Orio. After Melusina died she was returning secretly everyday to cook and clean for Orio, as she was so in love with him. But one day he came home to find a sea serpent in his kitchen and killed it, not realising it was Melusina back from the dead. 


Despite this tragic end their love was eternal and the stone heart commemorates where their happy home was located.


The legend goes that if you are in a relationship you have to touch the heart together and your love will be eternal. If you are single touch the heart alone and you will find love within one year. Or so the legend goes.
How to find it ? The street name is Sotoportego dei Preti. It is more a small passageway between two houses and the heart is just above the low arched entryway. To get there find Campo de la Bragora off the Riva degli Schiavoni (the promenade which runs from San Marco along the lagoon). From Campo de la Bragora head up to Calle del Dose, to Via Salizada del Pignater. From here you’ll find Sotoportego dei Preti. 


From Venice With Love,
Giada
ONLY 24 HOURS TO SEE VENICE ? 5 SUGGESTIONS
08/13/16
To avoid stress  and to enjoy Venice, I suggest this 5 break ground rules:

1. YOU CANNOT SEE EVERYTHING IN ONE DAY: You can visit my hometown 10:000 times and never run out of things to see. So it is very important that you make clear to yourself from the beginning that you can not see everything in one day.

2. MAKE A LIST OF MAX 5 THING YOU REALLY WANT TO SEE AND ENJOY WHAT COMES TO YOUR PATHS WHILE GOING. It takes more time than you think you get around: first because you will stop for a picture almost every 5 minutes, second you will be distracted in a different direction also every 5 minutes and the streets in Venice are very small and crowded and you can't walk fast anyway.  So make the list and spend the day walking and getting lost, that’s the best way to experience Venice. It’s an Island and you can never get too far. You will find anywhere the signs with the famous locations like St Marks, The Train Station etc., if you need directions. Look for them only when you really need it.  Walk towards areas popular with locals to experience the ‘real’ Venice. Enjoy the little campielli (squares) with children walking around and drinking at the fountains: yes that water is drinkable, fresh and delicious. 

3. START EARLY IN THE MORNING WITH BUSY LOCATIONS : early in the morning is the best way to see Venice. The quiet before the storm.  Nice in the morning is a panoramic view of Venice from San Marco’s Bell Tower. You get a beautiful view of Venice from above. There are no queues to get in if you make it there before 9.30 am. If you get there later you will waist tons of time in line. 

4. DONT LOOK FOR A SPECIFIC RESTAURANT OF BAR SUGGESTED IN TOURIST GUIDES: for breakfast there are many little bar with a delicious croissant. Make sure you look for locals inside. We Venetian have “Colazione al Bar” "Breakfast at the Bar" almost every morning. Many of the best bars don’t even have seats. We love to have cappuccino’s or coffee and delicious sweets while standing: those are the best places with the best prices. A cappuccino and a sweet will cost you something like 3 Euros. After noon those places offers delicious savory pastries as well. Around lunch time stop at places where you see locals, normally located in the most tiniest streets. Get familiar with the way the venetian talks and stop for food where they are. If you see gondoliers inside, go in those ae the best places. There are “6 Sestieri”, 6 districts, in Venice, they are all different and nice. They all have great restaurants with local food, where you can enjoy delicious lunch and dinners. Again don’t go crazy looking for something that was mention in a guide book. There are many great ad delicious places that don’t even get mentioned….as they are local gems and kept secret. Unless they are suggested to you by a local, don’t go out of your way for it.

5. TAKE A GONDOLA RIDE AND SEE VENICE AT NIGHT: those are two must. The gondola rides are not cheap but will give you the feeling of what Venice is all about. Take it from Gondolas stops in quiet areas….no waiting line and you start you ride in the little canals…the magic of Venice. And to see Venice at night it is another thing that will stole your heart. After dinner take a stroll at the pier near San Marco (Riva degli Schiavoni) is very crowed during the day and it is spectacular and quiet late at night: Gondolas bobbing on peaceful waters, the midnight moon peeking out from the clouds and the majestic San Maggiore cathedral all lit in the distance. The reflections of the lights on the water, the silence…..have fun in my magic Venice and come back often to see it over and over again.

From Venice With Love,
Giada
A STROLL IN VENICE : RIVA DEGLI SCHIAVONI
07/14/16
Like all Italians, also we Venetians love our after lunch and dinner strolls – “passeggiata”, as we call it in Italian.

Venice’s most famous promenade is the Riva degli Schiavoni, situated just off St Marks square. The Riva Degli Schiavoni commences outside the Doges Palace and ends near the Arsenal. Along the way the promenade is lined with numerous hotels, restaurants, bars, and a number of notable historic buildings. Some of the hotels once functioned as palaces. For example, the Hotel Danieli used to be the Palazzo Dandolo, home to the aristocratic Dandolo family.


It was originally built in the ninth century from dredged silt and was named for the Slavic men who brought cargo to Venice from across the Adriatic Sea. The walk along here is lovely, particularly on a fine summers day when the canal is buzzed with life. The view from the Riva across to the island of San Giorgio Maggiore is magnificent. This is pretty much a part of most Venice touristic itineraries, but it is well worth doing.
Quiet and beautiful early in the morning and late at night. Magic of a full moon night.

From Venice With Love,
Giada
THE SIX DISTRICTS OF VENICE
06/29/16
My beloved hometown has six Sestieri (Venetian name given to its districts) which constitute the old city centre. They all have different characteristic and people even express themselves differently believe it or not. Get lost in all of them to get the vibe of what Venice is all about it : magic.

1.Cannaregio: the most populated sestiere. There is the Jewish Ghetto, the small area in which Jews were confined;


2. Castello: the largest Venetian sestiere. It's in eastern Venice and includes the Arsenal.


3. Dorsoduro: it's one of the most comfortable areas of Venice. The name (Italian for "hard ridge") is due to the fact that it was the only part of the city characterizes by a stable and less swampy land.


4. San Marco: the most famous sestiere, due to the homonym square and basilica.


5. San Polo: takes its name from the homonym church; it's linked to San Marco by the well-known Rialto bridge.


6. Santa Croce: the road bridge Ponte della Libertà links this sestiere to the mainland, so Santa Croce is the only sestiere where car circulation is partially allowed.


From Venice With Love,
Giada
WHEN IN ROME : THE TAILORS OF THE POPE
07/01/16
Rome the capital of Italy and my dad’s hometown. Just like Venice every corner has some history.

Not far from the Pantheon, in a small square in via Santa Chiara, 34 there is one of the oldest shop in Rome, Ditta Annibale Gammarelli. They are the tailors to the church for more than two hundred years and certificates signed by John Paul II, John XXIII and Paul VI declare Gammarelli a purveyor of vestments to the pope. Six generations of the family have fitted out thousands of priests, hundreds of Bishops and Cardinals and has outfitted every pope of the past century except one, Pius XII, who decided to use his family tailor. They are proud to serve His Holiness Pope Francesco, who was not their client as a Cardinal. 


The dynasty started in 1798 when Giovanni Antonio Gammarelli began work as a master tailor. He was followed in business by his son, Filippo, and his grandson, Annibale, who, in 1874, transferred the business to its present premises, as part of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy. Inside the wood-paneled shop, pictures of the last six pontiffs hang from the wall, black and red cloths are shelved behind the counter and priests come and go, as the store is a bit of a tourist attraction for clergymen passing through.
​​
6 fun facts:

1. During a conclave, Gammarelli is providing outfits in three different sizes (small, medium and large) for the prospective pope. Pope John XXIII, who died in 1963, was the last pontiff to wear an XL.


2. When John Paul’s died on April 2nd 2015, they lost a client of 26 years, the third longest in the history of the Catholic Church. 


3. When Pope John Paul II died, Gammarelli cleared his storefront, to put in the Pope’s honor the ‘ Zucchetto,’’ the white silk skullcap that only Popes’ wear, that that they had made for him, but that he never had the chance to wear.


4. There are also for the Pope some fashion trends and Vatican rules. There has been a trend toward simplicity in priestly garments.The Vatican has reduced the number of colors to five: violet, red, black, green and white. There are some fabric colors that are no longer used, such as rosy pink. Although vestments are dictated by the church, there is some room for personal taste for the Popes. On an interview the Gammarelli family said that John Paul II was very easy to please and that he preferred to always have very light outfits, because he was Polish, and therefore he was used to a colder climate than the one in Rome.


5.International fashion snobs comes here to buy top quality socks for their suits. Very popular are their red and purple socks.


6. The most challenging item are the type of shoes also for the Pope and the ecclesiastics in general, as confort needs to meet the Church rules.


From Venice With Love,
Giada 

THE "FANCY CARS" OF VENICE
06/29/16
Gondola’s have become a city’s symbols of my hometown, even more than the official winged lions.

But did you know that the Gondola was originally invented as private transportation vehicle for the upper classes? You can say that they were “the fancy cars” of Venice.


Until the 1930s, the gondola was fitted with a small cabin, that we call “felze” which served to protect passengers from the weather and also to give them some privacy, something that has always being a big concern for the Venetians.The windows of the felze could be closed with shutters, the original Venetian blinds. They were accessorized with beautiful sofas chairs and gold accents.


A good example of such a gondola survives in the courtyard of the Ca'Rezzonico.


Until the 18th century there were up to 10,000 gondolas. Today there are barely more than 400.


Yes very touristic and expensive, but I think a ”must” while in Venice.

From Venice With Love,
Giada
Place TO RELAX IN VENICE
06/28/16
2. San Lazzaro degli Armeni

You will need to take the number 20 ferry which leaves from the San Zaccaria stop along Riva degli Schiavoni at 3:10pm to arrive to one of the most quiet and beautiful little Island of the lagoon: San Lazzaro degli Armeni.


Named after St Lazarus, the patron saint of lepers, this small island in the Venetian lagoon served as a leper colony in the 12th century. It was subsequently abandoned until in 1717, when an Armenian monk, Manug di Pietro , known as Mechitar, fled his Turkish persecutors and came to Venice. The Venetian government, that famously was welcoming foreigners, gave San Lazzaro to Mechitar who founded an Armenian order on the island. Mechitar and his 17 monks built a monastery, restored the crumbling lepers’ church, and quadrupled the tiny island’s area (originally 7000 square meters).


The monastery-island became a centre of learning, with a printing hall that produced works in three-dozen languages. Full of admiration for the monks’ academic lifestyle, in 1816 the Romantic poet Lord Byron repeatedly visited the island to study Armenian. It is said that Lord Byron spent six months here in 1816 helping the monks to prepare an English-Armenian dictionary and he could often be seen swimming from the island to the Grand Canal.


Today, monks give visitors guided tours to the monastery, the church, the art library, and the museum that contains some incredible collections of treasures, including more than 4,000 Armenian manuscripts, some of them nearly 1,300 years old, a Koran created after the death of Mohammed, an Indian papyrus from the 13th Century, an Egyptian sarcophagus and a mummy from the 15th Century B.C and thrones, tables, statues, paintings, tapestries, gold, silver, jewels, and other items that the monks either bought or received as gifts over the centuries.
The island hosts also a spectacular gardens with flowers, cypresstrees, and orchids.


The Mechitarist monks at San Lazzaro are known also for making a delicious jam from rose petals around May, when the roses are in full bloom. Besides rose petal, it contains white caster sugar, water, and lemon juice. It is called Vartanush, literally translating to “ weet rose”. Around five thousand jars of jam are made and sold in the gift shop in the island.


From Venice with Love,
Giada
Planning on marrying in Venice?
06/27/16
There are everyday many weddings, wedding proposals and renewal of vowels taking place in the city of love. I grow up seeing people kissing and hugging in Venice. I guess that’s what made me the very romantic person that I Am and shaped my love for music and romantic songs. For sure it made me a believer that LOVE is really one of the most beautiful thing to possess.

Many celebrities get married in my hometown. I was lucky to experience the wedding of George Clooney and his beautiful Amal two years as I was in Venice filming segments for my own PBS special the same week: paparazzi all over for that one fore sure, and yet so romantic if you ask me.


You can get married in beautiful palazzi and hotels in Venice or the quiet islands all around, and you can splurge in super delicious buffet with your family and friends.

Or you can just married on a quiet Gondola.
Generally there are three types of weddings ceremonies on a Gondola:
– The classic and traditional one
– Wedding ceremony with a gondolier in White livery
– Luxury one with 2 gondoliers in White and Gold livery
There are many wedding planners you can use and that can help you to organize your special day of love.


They will give you all kind of informations about documents and rates.
To get marry on a Gondola will not be cheap either, but for sure it will be unforgettable.


From Venice With Love,
Giada
HiDDEN JEWELS OF VENICE : THE SNAIL HOUSE
06/25/16
If you look over the rooftops of Venice from a high vantage point, such as the bell tower of St Mark’s, you will see a beautiful and curious round brick tower decorated with a series of white arches.

It’s the Scala Contarini del Bovolo , literally, "the staircase of the snail".
Although external staircases were the norm in Venetian houses of the 14th and 15th centuries, this staircase stood out from the crowd in terms of its size and shape.


After the 16th century staircases were generally sited inside the houses. The staircase of the Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo is connected to the main structure by a beautiful side addition made up of four loggias and leads to an arcade, providing an impressive view of the city roof-tops. This palazzo can be visited with a 5€ entrance. The design of the Palazzo is attributed to Giovanni Candi and Giorgio Spavento is believed to have been responsible for the addition of the grand spiral staircase on the exterior in 1499.


The palazzo is located in a small and quiet calle near Campo Manin very close to the Rialto and Campo Santo Stefano.


The Palazzo del Bovolo was chosen by Orson Welles as one of the main locations for his 1952 adaptation of Shakespeare’s Othello and the staircase is prominently featured in the film.


From Venice With Love,
Giada
SYMBOLS OF VENICE : THE GODDESS OF FURTUNE
06/23/16
The Punta della Dogana is the south entrance on the Grand Canal of my beautiful hometown, Venice. It have the shape of triangle and it divides the Grand Canal from the Canal of the Giudecca. On the point of the triangle there is the Dogana da Mar, the Customs House, which was built between 1677 and 1682 by Giuseppe Benoni.

Since Venice was once one of Europe’s busiest ports, ships from all over the world were docking here while awaiting clearance from customs to unload. The top of the Dogana was hosting once a watch tower to guard against foreign invasion. Later the watch tower was replaced by one of my favorite symbols of Venice: a golden globe known as the palla d’oro, the golden sphere created by Bernardo Falconi . It has the form of two kneeling Atlantids, who support on their backs a gilded sphere that represents the world. On top of the sphere stands the goddess Fortune, who is known as 'Occasio'. She holds a gilded sail and a steering-oar, rotating to indicate the wind direction and, symbolically, the mutability of fortune itself.


It is said that when the palla d’oro was erected the winds of fortune started blowing very strongly in Venice’s direction. After standing empty for many years, the Dogana da Mar was bought by François Pinault, a French billionaire and collector of contemporary art, who hired Tadoa Ando, a Japanese architect, to revamp the interior. It is now a beautiful gallery of contemporary art.


From Venice With Love.
Giada
Places to relax in Venice in Venice
06/22/16
1.Parco delle Rimembranze

My hometown is a small little city with millions of tourist visiting every day. At first sight it may look like a very crowed place. But there are so many places you can visit more peaceful, where silent will be almost the only sound you will hear.


Happy to share with you some of my favorite place to escape the crowds and experience the real charm of Venice.


1. The public park on the Island of Sant’Elena: a haven of tranquility and greenery.


The park is dedicated to the Venetian soldiers who died in World War II, and it is said that every tree in the park was planted in memory of one of the fallen.


You can crisscross the pathways between the trees, around benches and to find the statues of notable figures, such as composers Giuseppe Verdi and Richard Wagner.


You can relax in the open air, have a quiet pick-nick time enjoying the spectacular views of the Venetian lagoon. Stay tune for more.


From Venice With Love,
Giada
A must see in Venice : books in a Gondola.
06/16/16
On a tiny backstreet called Calle Lunga Santa Maria Formosa in the Sestiere Castello you’ll find Libreria Acqua Alta. Its name translates as “High Water Bookstore” and its entrance lies on one of the most famous canals of my hometown. This is for sure one the most incredible and interesting bookshop you will ever see. Books are kept in boats, canoes, bathtubs and even a full size gondola, to keep them safe from the regular floods of Venice. So when the water is high the books just floats . Not a bad idea right?

The store sells both new and used books in many different languages, and has been open for about 10 years. The owner is 72-year-old Luigi Frizzo speaks five languages and travelled all over the world before he decided to set up this shop in Venice.

Books are not only for buying. Some of them have been turned into true object of furnitures. Old unsaleable books, like outdated encyclopaedias, have literally become part of the building, acting as walls and even as steps. One the little outdoor patio there is a big staircase made of books that you can climb to enjoy the view. The ambiance and the atmosphere makes this place fascinating and mysterious and the huge selection of books in so many languages makes this place loved and appreciate by tourists and also Venetians. About 60% of the books are new in the first room, books about Venice but also arts, cinema, food sport, second hand atlases, dictionaries,, biographies,history books and music. Then second room is packed with bestsellers and comics books,. There’s something for every one, you just have to look long enough. And among the shelves you will also find cats wander up and down, begging for attention or just napping on the printed paper.


A must see in Venice for his uniqueness and a quiet place to visit just a few steps from the crowded St. Marks Square.
It’s close to Piazza San Giovanni e Paolo, but every local in the area knows the place and will show you the direction.


From Venice with Love,
Giada
Masks: a Venetian love affair.
06/15/16
Venetians loved to wear masks at any given opportunity, to the point where, for security reasons, in the second half of 1200 laws had to be put in place to specify where, when and who was allowed to walk around masked.

Venetians wore the masks primarily to hide their social standing more than for hiding their own identity, that way allowing even the noble man to be kind of in incognito. Any servant could be mistaken for an aristocrat, and vice versa. Men and women could be flirting more freely, without the fear of moral judgment and have less inhibitions. You often could not even tell women from men!


The history of the Venetian masks might also be founded on the nature of this maritime town and by the characters of its inhabitants.
Venice was one of the most important and wealthy powers of the time, with a high standard of living even for the average citizen.
Venice was also a small community, inside a town of narrow roads, both of water and stones.


On the other side, the Venetians were seamen, merchants, adventurers. They ruled over a big part of the eastern Mediterraneo and they were used to the openness and freedom of the sea.
So wishing to keep that feeling of freedom once they were at home, they loved to wear a mask.


Towards the last decades of the Venetian Republic, the Venetian were allowed to wear masks only during the Carnival and parties.
The penalty for not observing those laws were strong sanctions.


From Venice With Love,

Giada
Before there was a “Venice,” there was Torcello.
05/31/16
Six miles from Venice across a vast stretch of water, lies a mysterious island with only 75 inhabitants: the island of Torcello. Torcello was the first island to be settled in the lagoon, long before Venice. Under threat in the 5th century from Barbarian invasion the people from the Roman city of Altino, fled and settled in this Island that they called Torcello. Until the 10th century Torcello was the greatest commercial centre in the lagoon, full of palaces, churches and even a grand canal. In its prime the population of Torcello was about 20,000 but it fell into decline after it was struck with a series of natural disasters.
From the 12th century Torcello rapidly deteriorated as malaria spread causing the population to turn to the more accessible area around the Rialto - the heart of the spectacular new Venice that was emerging. Today Torcello is largely deserted. Apart from a few farmers with small holdings most of the people who work here are involved with the tourists who come to see the few places of interest remaining on the island. Venice scavenged the ruins for building materials, so most of its buildings and palaces have now utterly vanished .
But worth the visit are still two churches: Santa Maria Assunta, the cathedral of Torcello and the little church of Santa Fosca, a simple but charming Romanesque construction often used for romantic weddings. The is also a small archeological museum and the island is also home to a world-famous restaurant, famous because Hemingway loved it, called Locanda Cipriani.
There are also some Medieval ruins and two palaces, Palazzo Dell’Archivio and Palazzo Del Consiglio, a campanile (bell tower) that you can climb for some really nice views and a very popular attractions is the Atilla’s Throne, a big stone throne that was probably the seat of Bishop of the Island. And of course Il Ponte Del Diavolo, the Devil Bridge, one of the only two bridges of Venice without “spallete”, railings.

It is a small island with a mysterious and bewitching atmosphere that you will not easy forget and worth a visit.

From Venice With Love,
Giada

Pozzi "Wells" of Venice
05/26/16
Venice was surrounded by salt water but did not had drinking water, so they built wells to collect rainwater.

The wellhead, "vera da pozzo", is the only exposed part of the well system in Venice and it is a typical Venetian word that represent the visible stone that covers the well itsel. The wellhead served as a cap on the well to prevent debris from falling into the well and contaminating the fresh water supply. Some of these " vere" show effigy of the family that built them. The largest one is located in campo San Polo and measures 320 cm in diameter (10 ft.). They were a centerpiece of many public squares in Venice and were always at the center of socialization and interactivity among Venetians. Churches were once responsible for locking and unlocking the well at certain times of the day to prevent just anyone from retrieving water from the well at any given time.


in 1858 the Municipal Technical Office of Venice estimated the presence in the city of nearly 7,000 wells.


But after after the aqueduct construction in 1884 many wells were destroyed.


Today Venice has about 600 wells, of which none is in use. Some of them are true magical treasures in some beautiful quiet campielli (little squares) all around Venice. A lot of them are private but you still can see them from the closed gates.


From Venice With Love,
Giada

Feeding pigeons in Venice
05/20/16
Feeding pigeons is not allowed in my hometown Venice. Yes it is against the law. The law went into effect April 30 2008.

Fines for ignoring the ban start at 50 euros ($56). The battle against the birds is part of a broader campaign to improve decorum and cleanliness in the Unesco World Heritage Site of my home town which welcomes more than 1 million tourists a month.


One study estimated that cleaning up monuments and repairing the damage caused by pigeons cost each Venetian taxpayer 275 euros ($310) a year.


From Venice With Love,
Giada

Is Tiramisu' Venetian?
05/19/16
It's one of the most popular desserts served in many Italian restaurants and easy to make also at home, as it does not require backing. It means "pick–me–up" ( or "cheer me up" more freely translated). It is made of lady’s fingers (Italian: Savoiardi) dipped in coffee, layered with a whipped mixture eggs, sugar, and mascarpone cheese, flavoured with cocoa.

There are a few different versions about its origins and often disputed among Italian regions such as Veneto, Friuli Venezia Giulia and Tuscany:


- Some people say the history of "tiramisù" dates back to the Renaissance, when Venetian women gave the desserts to their men because they believed it improved love-making.


- Others believe that Venetian courtesans used "tiramisù" to pick–themselves–up during the night .


- Other sources report the creation of the cake as originating towards the end of the 17th century in Siena, Tuscany in honor of the Grand Duke Cosimo III.
- Other believed that the cake originated in 1960s in the region of Veneto, Italy, at the restaurant "Le Beccherie" in Treviso, Italy. Specifically, the dish is claimed to have first been created by a confectioner named Roberto Linguanotto, owner of "Le Beccherie" and his apprentice, Francesca Valori, whose maiden name was Tiramisu.

- Another story is that a man while visiting a Bordello, a brothel, in Treviso asked the madam for something that would pick him up The madam made a a mixture of mascarpone, sugar, eggs, espresso, and amaretti biscotti. This picked the man up, and made him a satisfied customer of the bordello Later the amaretti were replaced with the more readily available savoiardi biscotti we see today.


So I guess we don't really know who made it first, why and when. For sure it is a feast for the mouth and a boost of energy. Who ever invented it, I will say : THANK YOU.


From Venice With Love,
Giada

Why is a Lion the symbol of the Serenissima Republic of Venice?
05/19/16
My hometown Venice is filled with symbols and sings full of meanings, beautiful, interesting and colorful stories. A symbol you simply can’t get away from in Venice is the winged lion. On statues, palaces, the city’s flags, paintings, sculptures that lion is just everywhere. It is you can say the LOGO of Venice.

Did you ever wonder why?

The reason goes back to the ninth century, when Venetian merchants stole the body of St. Mark the apostle from his tomb in Alexandria in Egypt. When a storm almost drowned the merchants boats and their precious cargo, it’s said that St. Mark himself appeared to the captain and told him to lower the sails. The ship was saved, and the merchants said they owed their safety to the miracle.
Once they got to Venice and told the story to the Doge, the city voted him their patron saint. There is also another tradition telling that St. Mark had himself once stopped on the Venetian coast to avoid a storm and that an angel appeared to him, saying the locals would one day venerate him.

And what’s usually used to represent St. Mark in Christian iconography?
Yes, a winged lion.


From Venice With Love,
Giada

Cardinal points of Venice
05/18/16
There are five cardinal points in my hometown Venice: Ferrovia, Piazzale Roma, Piazza San Marco, Rialto and Accademia. Knowing where they are on the map will help you navigate the city. If you get lost, prominent yellow signs throughout the city will direct you to those locations. Follow them only, really ONLY if you absolutely need to. Half the fun in Venice is to get lost in its labyrinthine self and discover a new hidden treasure around the corner.

From Venice With Love,
Giada

Venice and water allergy fun fact
05/15/16
Venice was founded to escape the assaults of Attila and the Huns , which the story tells were “allergic" to water “.

From Venice With Love,
Giada
Legends of my hometown Venice: el Sior Rioba
05/15/16
This legend of Venice is set in the district of Canareggio, particularly in Campo dei Mori, where you’ll find the Mastelli Palace of the Camel. Along the walls of this building you will find 4 stone statues embedded in the wall.
Legend tells of three brothers who fled from Greece (called in those at times Morea, inhabited precisely by the Moors, so called because of their dark skin) Rioba, Sandi and Afani and their servant.
Once in Venice, the three brothers with their servant, called themselves “ Mastelli” which later became the name of the palace. They were skilled cloth merchants, but also rascals and swindlers deceiving and stealing money from those who turned to them for business.
Tired of their behavior, St. Mary Magdalene decided to punish them. One day went by the three brothers, in disguise, to buy from them some fabrics.
The three villains were eager to deceive such a naive lady. So they were raving about the cotton fabric as the best quality fabric and sumptuous Venetian so to justify the exorbitant price they we asking.
It is said that the “Sior Rioba”, one of three brothers,addressing the Lady said “This is the best yarn of Venice and May the Lord transform us into stone if we do not tell the truth!”. After these words the woman, paid the exorbitant sum requested and before leaving she said, “I thank you so much gentlemen! May the Lord have towards you the same care and attention that you had for me.”
Suddenly that the three merchants with their servant were turned into stone.
Of the three statues the most famous is that of Rioba, just called in Venetian dialect “Sior Rioba”. It is also said that during particularly cold nights the spirit of the Sior Rioba trapped in the statue cry and the beating of his heart can be felt by those pure in spirit if they put a hand in his chest.
In 1800 the statue of “Sior Rioba” lost his nose that was replaced with an iron nose and since then it is said that to touch his nose brings good luck.
And next door you will find the house where famous painter Tintoretto lived. Every corner in Venice has a story.


From Venice With Love,
Giada
The bell towers of Venice
05/15/16
Venice has over 200 churches.
This is an amazing fact considering the compact size of Venice. There were also the same number of bell towers.
Unfortunately, some of them were demolished because they were considered useless or unsafe. So we can remember those that are no longer there just in the paintings or drawings made centuries ago. However, there are still 140 bell towers and there are still more than 80 only in the historical center of the city. In addition to mark the hours and to call the faithful to religious functions, Venetian bell towers were also used as lighthouse for ships. The bell tower of St. Mark, for example, was covered with reflective sheets. The towers were also used as to control fire from the top of the belfry where the “guardie del fogo”, the firefighters were positioned.
Nowadays, you can still climb to the top of some bell towers and their only use is to see the breathtaking panorama with your love ones.


From Venice With Love,
Giada
Bridges of Venice : did you know?
05/15/16
My hometown Venice has still visible 417 bridges, of which 72 are private. Among them 300 bridges are made by stone, 60 made by iron, the other 57 made by wood. There are only two bridges without railings (spallette). The first one is located in Torcello and is called Ponte del Diavolo (the Devil’s Bridge), and the second one is private and is located in Rio di San Felice in Cannaregio and it's called Ponte Chiodo. All the ancient bridges in Venice were originally builded without railings.

From Venice With Love,
Giada
Venice Masterpiece : the Torre Dell'Orologio
04/28/16
The Torre dell'Orologio in Piazza San Marco in Venice (the The Clock Tower on St. Marks' Square) is of huge importance, both practical, historical and symbolic in the history of Venice. The clock displays the time of day, the dominant sign of Zodiac and the current phase of the moon and it’s an extraordinarily elaborate timepiece.
The clock tower was created by the father-and-son team of Giampaolo and Giancarlo Rainieri, engineers from Reggio Emilia in Italy. They were commissioned to create ‘the most excellent clock of extraordinary beauty”. 
Upon its completion, on 1 February 1499, the two master mechanics became its custodians, the start of a five-century tradition whereby the keepers lived with their families inside the tower. And this rather contradicts the legend that the Senate, the Doge, had the creators blinded on completing the clock, jealous that they would go on to repeat the marvel elsewhere. 
With a restoration of the clock mechanism by Swiss clock-makers Piaget in 2001, the 500-year-old timepiece is still going strong, keeping perfect time and continue to be a true beautiful masterpiece of St. Marks Square.

From Venice With Love,
Giada
The collapse of the Bell Tower of Venice
04/19/16
The 323-foot (98.6-meter) campanile of St. Mark’s dates back to the 9th century, but it had to be rebuild 1903. On July 1902 the north wall of the tower began to show signs of a dangerous crack that in the following days continued to grow. 

On Monday, July 14, around 9:47am, the campanile collapsed completely with disbelief of the Venetians in the square. Although it buried the Basilica’s balcony in rubble, fortunately, the church itself was saved. Remarkably, no one was killed, except for the caretaker’s cat. The same evening, of the collapse, the communal council approved over 500,000 Lire for the reconstruction of the campanile. It was decided to rebuild the tower exactly as it was, with some internal reinforcement to prevent future collapse. The rebuild of St. Mark’s Campanile started on July 22nd, 1902 and lasted until March 6, 1912. The new campanile was inaugurated on April 25, 1912, on the occasion of Saint Mark’s feast day, exactly 1000 years after the foundations of the original building had allegedly been laid. It was a sad piece of Venetian history that to this day is talked about in Venice, due some controversial dispute about the reasons why the tower collapsed.
St. Mark’s Campanile has a very long history of accidents, before its’ collapse. The towers first run in with mother nature occurred on June 7th, 1388 when it was struck by lightning. Then on October 24th, 1403 the upper portion of the tower was burned after fires lit for a celebration got out of hand. After its reconstruction, St. Mark’s campanile suffered damage from an earthquake in 1511. In the next 500 years, the tower would be struck by lightning and partially burned a total of seven more times. The most damaging of these lightning strikes occurred in 1745 and resulted in three deaths and a large crack running from near the top of the tower down to the 5th window. Finally in 1776, a conductor was installed on the tower rendering it safe from further damage due to lightning strikes.

According to eye witnesses, the first sign of problems with the tower appeared a few days before the collapse. Early in the morning on the 14th when a large crack formed near the northeast top corner of the Loggia Sansovino (the structure at the bottom of the tower) and rose diagonally across the main corner buttress of the tower. Just before the collapse, the sound of falling stones within the bell chamber warned the people in or near the tower to flee, so that no life was lost by the accident.” 
The exact cause of the collapse is unknown, but there are a multitude of probable factors that led to its collapse. First and foremost, the tower’s original foundation “was built on a platform of two layers of oak beams, crossed, which platform itself rests on a bed of clay, into which piles of white poplar were driven.” [5] This foundation was only intended to support the weight of the lower, more solid portion of the tower and was therefore not adequate to support extra weight when the tower was expanded upwards. Experts also believe that the foundation could have been negatively affected by the dredging of the Grand Canal and even more so by the frequent flooding of St. Mark’s square. Other causes for the towers collapse are attributed to its extreme old age and long history of damage from lightning strikes, fires, and earthquakes as mentioned above. All of these disasters took a major toll on the structural integrity of the foundation, internal structure, and exterior masonry of the tower. St. Mark’s Campanile is also believed to have been repeatedly weakened by its constant restorations and renovations throughout its long history. Different materials and methods of construction were used in each successive attempt to mend the tower. There is also theory that all this reconstruction may have took the tower out of balance and weaken it.


The new tower would differ only in terms of its structural support. The new design would replace the foundation beams with cement and iron, and the frame would consist of a large iron framework with iron clamps fastened into the masonry. 


From Venice With Love,
Giada

Le "Boche De Leon" in Venice: mailboxes with a meaning.
04/15/16
After the attempted coup tented by Baiamonte Tiepolo, in 1310, were
built in Venice several “Bocche di Leone ” (Boche de Leon) or Mouth of
the Lion for the secret complaints. It is so called because in the reliefs of white marble was carved an image of a face of a lion, to remember the lion of St. Mark, the symbol of the Venetian State, or a bad face expression. In place of the mouth there was a hole to insert sheets of paper with the secret complaints. The letters would have been kept secret but they could not be anonymous and needed to have at least two witnesses to be accepted.


They still  can be seen in Venice, despite dating back to the times of the Serenissima Republic, in the Palazzo Ducale, on the wall of the church of S. Mary of the Visitation (Maria della Visitazione a Zattere), in the Church of St. Martin ( Castello), and St. Moses (in the San Marco district).

The complaints could relate various types of crimes including the non-compliance to health, blasphemy or tax evasion . Were distributed at least one in each district, near the Judiciary places, the Doge’s Palace or the churches, and were used to collect information, reports or accusations against those who did the various crimes.


Only the heads of the District could go to the back of the wall where the various cassettes were, whose keys were kept by the Magistrates, and each of them picked up the accusations for a different type of offense: on charges of tax evasion, related to the blasphemers, and various others.


Sometimes the accusation were without foundation, due to envy or hatred of a
person and those were just burned, otherwise these reports were reported to the Serenissima, the State.

Il Consiglio dei Dieci 'The Council of Ten" were accepting anonymous complaints only if at stake was the State safety, and with the approval of the five/sixths of the voters. But it was not so easy as you may think to accuse someone. In 1387 the Council of Ten ordered that anonymous allegations sent without signature of the accuser and without reliable witnesses for the prosecution on the circumstances reported, were to be burned without take no account .Unless the secret denunciations were presented with charges of treason and conspiracy against the State. Through the mouths of the lion and the secret complaints were discovered many crimes that would have never come to the attention, that could have caused serious damage to the Republic of Venice. 
Probably , however, were also accused and imprisoned some innocent people.


The Council of Ten scrupulously applied the law established by the “Avogadri dello Stato” the "investigators of the State" saying that it was necessary  to conduct a thorough investigation to establish the truth, justice and clarity, and do not judge anyone on the basis of suspicions, but research evidence in practice , and at the end a true judgment. If accused anyway the accused could ended up spending months in prison, the infamous prisons under the Ducal Palace, prison of the Piombi or the Pozzi. And they were often tortured that some were confessing crimes they had not even done.

Thank God things have changed and nowadays also in Venice you can simply send an email with your denunciations or complains directly to the “Comune di Venezia”, the Town Hall of Venice.
I often wonder though if anyone still checks the "bocche" for random grievances left by some funny "veneziani" in the dead of the night.


From Venice With Love,
Giada

Bocca del Leone "San Martino"

Bocca del Leone "Ducal Palace"

Boccal Del Leone, "Santa Maria della Visitazione"

Venice Fun fact of the day: Il Gobbo di Rialto
04/14/16
Il Gobbo di Rialto, The hunchback of Rialto, opposite the Church of San Giacomo, has an intriguing history. Dating back to 1541 it was originally intended as a place of official proclamation. It is in fact known as the Column of Proclamations. But it was also used as the finishing point for a punishment for minor crimes: the guilty party would be stripped naked and made to run the streets from Piazza San Marco to the Rialto, saving themselves further humiliation by kissing the statue. By the 19th century in 1836, the statue was restored with funds provided by the civic authorities. The block above the hunchback's head now bears a Latin inscription with the date of the restoration.

From Venice With Love,
Giada



One of my favorite Venetian Primi Piatti : Risi e Bisi- Rice and Peas
04/13/16
My favorite Venetian Primo Piatto: Risi e Bisi -Rice and Peas

HISTORY: the fame of this dish is linked, beyond its delicacy, also to fact that the Doge of the Serenissima, (the chief magistrate and leader of the
Republic of Venice), used to serve it as good wishes for the party of the Republic of Venice, at St. Mark's day. Combining rice, cereal symbol of fertility (reason why is often handfuls thrown on brides) with peas, springtime fruits for excellence cultivated in the lagoon’s gardens, this delicious dish was offered to all members of the Venetian government. It went on to be imitated in taste and sense also at the popular level ,and nowadays rice and peas is considered among the most internationally known dishes of the Veneto region.

INGREDIENTS (2-4 people)
1 small package of frozen peas
1 white onion medium diced
Vialone Nano or Arborio ( in Italy we use 1 and half small espresso cup a person as portion)
1 slice of bacon or lard
Fresh parsley ( 2 tablespoons when chopped)
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste if necessary for the broth
To thicken: a knob of butter and cheese Grana Padano (grated (to taste)

PREPARATION
Cut the onion in small pieces and cook it till lightly brown in extra virgin olive oil, about 5 minutes.
Add bacon or lard, also cut in small pieces, cook 2 minutes without browning.
Add the frozen peas with chopped parsley stretching with a little by little of broth until almost cooked.
Add the rice, toasting and extending hand to hand with the addition of broth warmed up already.
When ready add to thicken a knob of butter and cheese Grana Padano (grated (to taste) and serve it.
You can also make it with fresh peas. In that case you need to shell the peas and bring to boil the pods in a pot of salted water. Let it boil for about twenty minutes and then pass through a sieve. To stay on my diet I often skip the bacon or lard. It is still very tasty and quiet delicious with the butter and the cheese anyway.
You can also add a half cup of white wine with the broth to give it an extra kick.


Buon Appetito.


From Venice With Love,
Giada

The "Festa Del Boccolo" in Venice
04/12/16
April 25th is the is the patronal feast of Venice, celebrated in memory of Saint Mark the Evangelist. This day is celebrated with a gondola race across St Mark’s Basin, between Sant’Elena and Punta della Dogana, a procession in Basilica San Marco and some other activities. But in our city, another customary practice on April 25th is for Venetian men to give a ‘bocolo‘, a rosebud (preferably red) to their wives or lovers. This practice is believed to have originated from an 8th century legend involving Tancredi, a troubadour of humble origin, who was in love with Maria, the Doge’s daughter. Of course the Doge did not approve of the relationship due to the low social standing of Tancredi. Maria suggested to Tancredi that he could prove his valour and win her father’s approval by distinguishing himself in the war against the Arabs in Spain. Unfortunately Tancredi was mortally wounded and fell bleeding on a rosebush. But before dying he managed to pluck a rose and asked his companion Orlando to deliver the blood-stained rose to his lover. On April 25, a day after receiving the rose, Maria was found dead in her bed with the blood stained rose across her heart. Since that time, a rosebud is offered to the women of Venice on St Mark’s Day as a symbol of love.

From Venice With Love,
Giada

The mosaic in St. Mark's Basilica
04/11/16
Fun facts about Venice:

There are more than 85,000 square feet (or 8,000 square meters) of mosaic in St. Mark’s Basilica… or enough mosaic to cover over 1.5 American football fields! The mosaics were done over 8 centuries, mostly in gold, and the result is astonishing. Enter the basilica at different times of day to see how the light makes the colors, and scenes, look different.


From Venice With Love,
Giada

The pink columns of the Ducal Palace in Venice
04/05/16
Did you know?
Millions of people are at St. Mark’s Square in Venice everyday and so many are taking pictures in front of the Basilica and the Ducal Palace. But only a few people realize that two of the columns of the “portico” of the porch of the Ducal Palace are pink and not white like all the others. The reason? From the space between the two pink columns of the Ducal Palace, the Doge, the Duke, was announcing the death sentences, and the scaffold was placed precisely at that hight , looking at the clock tower so that the condemned could see the time of his death. The rose would symbolize the blood of the convicted.


From Venice With Love,

Giada

Discover Venice: Dorsoduro
03/23/16
Discover Venice: 
A breath of fresh air after the crowds of tourists in the San Marco district, this is the real Venice, a place where Venetians still live it's the district, "Sestiere" di Dorsoduro.
It is also a part of Venice that has one of the most magnificent buildings in the whole city.
Parts of the Dorsoduro - such as L’Accademie and Zattere are considered amongst the most exclusive parts of Venice by modern day Venetians and contain some beautiful villas owned by rich Venetians and international celebrities.
There are a fair number of significant buildings and churches around here, like Ca' Rezzonico, Chiesa di Santa Maria della Salute, Venice's Guggenheim Museum. To really get the feel of the district I suggest you Campo Santa Margherita, a buzzing 9th century piazza and one of the biggest in Venice, full of life and color. - During the morning the market is filled with the smells and sounds of the fish and fresh produce markets and in the evening the piazza gives itself over to Venetian families and the young students and artists who live in this part of Venice.


From Venice With Love,

Giada
Music fun fact: emotional attachment
03/23/16
Monday Music fun fact:
An emotional attachment could be the reason for your favorite song choice. Favorite songs are often context-dependent. Even though many people often change their favorite song depending on the most recent releases, it is proven that long-lasting preferences are due mainly to an emotional attachment to a memory associated with the song. 
La Vie En Rose of Edith Piaf would be one of my long time favorite. It reminds me of tea time as a child in Venice with my grandmother best friend, an old french lady and her stories about her life in Paris and this iconic singer that she had met. I was fascinated about it and it was this music, and Edith voice and her story that made me already at 4 years old sing and fall in love with music.
What's your favorite song ? What's your memory?

From Venice With Love,

Giada
Venice’s Fun Fact: Acqua Alta
03/23/16
Venice’s Fun Fact:
Acqua Alta occurs when certain events coincide: the high tide forms an alliance with low pressures and that their windy friend, Sirocco, participates with our friend the Moon, la Luna. These elements together trigger the across-the-board flood of waters of the lagoon in Venice. 
Acqua Alta has nothing to do with “the sinking” of Venice, which certainly is existent but in the amount of less than a millimeter a year. 
Today, they can count up to fifty Acqua Alta a year! The period at risk is from September 15th till April 15th every year.
In case of serious Acqua Alta, foghorns (which still date to the last world war), will shout a warning signal.
To read more you can visit: www.giadavalenti.com

From Venice With Love,

Giada
St. Patrick's day FUN FACTS
03/23/16
St. Patrick's Day with some fun fact 1: dry holiday
Let's celebrate St. Patrick's Day with some fun facts:
St. Patrick's was a dry holiday in Ireland until 1970. 
Irish law, from 1903 to 1970, declared St. Patrick's Day a religious observance for the entire country meaning that all pubs were shut down for the day. That meant no beer, not even the green kind, for public celebrants. The law was overturned in 1970, when St. Patrick's was reclassified as a national holiday - allowing the taps to flow freely once again.
Cin cin....cheers....salute....


From Venice With Love,
Giada 


Fun Fact 2 about St.Patrick's day:

St. Patrick wasn't Irish.
Patrick's parents were Roman citizens living in modern-day England, or more precisely in Scotland or Wales (scholars cannot agree on which). He was born in 385 AD. By that time, most Romans were Christians and the Christian religion was spreading rapidly across Europe. 
So since Romans were Italians...more reason to love all my Irish friends!!!

From Venice With Love,
Giada


Fun Fact 3 St. Patrick's day: Blue or Green?
Fun Fact 3 about St. Patrick's day:
Everyone knows that the official colour of St Patrick’s Day is green – representative of the rolling hills of Ireland. 
But did you know that the colour originally associated with St Patrick was blue? There’s even a colour named “St Patrick’s Blue” in his honour. However, green came to be associated with St Patrick’s Day around the 17th century, when people began to celebrate the day with shamrocks and green ribbons.
Let's the celebration go on....

From Venice With Love,

Giada
Did you know? Pearls and pain
03/23/16
Did you know?
Oysters make pearls so they can feel better. When a grain of sand or debris gets stuck in their bodies, they ease the pain and irritation by coating it with a mute layers of nacre, the mineral that lines inside of their shells, and pearls being to form. Basically, pearls are like blisters, only much prettier. 
It's incredible how much beauty can arose out of pain. More reasons to love pearls and value them.​

From Venice With Love,

Giada
Venice Fact of the day : did you know?
03/23/16
Venice fact of the day:
did you know that there are 417 bridges in Venice? And 72 of those are private?
Love,
Giada 

Venice Fact of the day : did you know?
03/23/16
Venice fact of the day:
did you know that there are 417 bridges in Venice? And 72 of those are private?
Love,
Giada 

Venetian Gondola’s Fun Fact 4
03/23/16
That decorative hood ornament at the prow is called the ferro, and it’s full of symbolism. 
I’s in an S shape which represents the curve of the Grand Canal as it bisects the island of Venice. 
The six prongs (pettini) represent the six districts of Venice, known as the sestieri: San Marco, San Polo, Santa Croce, Castello, Dorsoduro, Canareggio).
The one backwards facing prong symbolizes the island of Giudecca which is just south of the main island of Venice.
The embellishment at top of the ferro echoes the shape of a Doge’s hat (an elected magistrate of the republic)
The little arch between the flourish and the top prong represents the Rialto Bridge.
In more modern ferro’s you can see also three little embellishments that represents the three main island of Venice : Murano, Burano and Torcello.
Beyond its symbolic/ornamental touch, the ferro also serves as a kind of protective bumper in case the gondola collides with other boats or walls, plus it’s a bit of a counterweight for the gondolier standing at the back.


From Venice With Love,
Giada 

Italian word of the day : tifosi.
03/23/16
That's how the fans of soccer, F1 fans and Italian cycle, especially in the Giro d' Italia are called. It meaning “carriers of typhus". That's because their devotion is like fever.
Funny how being so passionate about something can be seen as a negative thing. Even the word "fan: in English is a short version of the word "fanatic". We artists love our fans and love to give them different and more positive names: I called mine "Angels" as they are the wings that make my music fly!!!

From Venice With Love,

Giada
Music Monday "Cinema Paradiso"
03/23/16
It's music Monday and here is my piano and vocal rendition of the beautiful love theme of "Cinema Paradiso" written by Maestro Ennio Morricone. Maestro Morricone received the Honorary Academy Award at the Oscar in 2007 and last night he won his second Oscar for Best Original Score for the "The Hateful Eight" directed by Quentin Tarantino. 
Grazie Maestro Morricone : 87 years old and sill writing music that make us dream!

From Venice With Love,
Giada 

Music Fun Fact: Volare
03/23/16
Monday Music Fun Fact:
At the first Grammy Awards, held on 4 May 1959, Domenico Modugno beat out Frank Sinatra and Peggy Lee for the Record of the Year, with “Volare.”
It's 2016 and the song still brings so much joy to my audience everytime I sing it...music is timeless!! I can't wait to sing it alone with you soon at my Concerts around the USA!!

From Venice With Love,
Giada 

Fun Facts about the streets of Venice
03/23/16
Fun Facts about the streets of Venice :
Most of the streets names in Venice where given by proximity with churches or shops and were usually related to professional arts, commercial activities or the origin of the inhabitants. 
Therefor there are 31 “Calle del forno”, where “forno” means "oven" and 16 “Calle del magazen”, where “magazen” means "warehouse".
How will the mailman in Venice find an address? 
Well houses in Venice are numbered according to the districts, (6 of them plus the Island of Giudecca), not the streets. Only the delivery people really knows how to move around quickly....for all the others get lost is Venice is part of the fun!!!

From Venice With Love,
Giada 

Fun facts about Venetian blinds
03/23/16
Venetian Blinds were invented by the Persians.Venetian merchants brought them to Europe and give them that name. European artists used them in their works, making them extremely popular there in the 15th and 16th centuries. Why they became so popular in Venice? Well a very valued occupation in Venice was to spy the neighbors and this shutter with fine small strips was protecting from the sun without keeping them from doing that. The need foranonymity was very serious in venice reason why carnival and masks were always so popular in Venice.
How do they arrive also in America?
An English craftsman, John Webster, introduced the Wooden Venetian Sun Blinds to the New World. Originally from London, he came to open an upholstery shop in Philadelphia, PA. His business became a raving success that he became the known as “The Blind man of Philadelphia”. He made the first print advertisement for these wooden blinds which appeared in the Pennsylvania Weekly Journal and Advertiser on August 20, 1767.

From Venice With Love,
Giada 

Fun facts : The Republic of San Marino
03/23/16
Did you know?
Italy’s Republic of San Marino, is the world’s oldest republic (A.D. 301) and holds the world’s oldest continuous constitution.
1. It has fewer than 30,000 citizens 
2. It is the only country with more vehicles than people. 
3. Its citizens are called the Summarines
4. It's an enclaved micro state surrounded by Italy, on the border between the regioni of Emilia Romagna and Marche
5.It's the third smallest country in Europe, with only Vatican City and Monaco being smaller.
6. It has no flat ground; it is entirely composed of hilly terrain.
7. It has had more female heads of state than any other country: 15 as of October 2014, including three who served twice.
8. To try while there is Torta Tre Monti (“Cake of the Three Mountains”), a wafer layered cake covered in chocolate depicting the Three Towers of San Marino.
9. It's currency is the EURO
10. It is one of the wealthiest countries in the world in terms of GDP (per capita), have a highly stable economy, with one of the lowest unemployment rates in Europe, no national debt and a budget surplus.
In my experience : It's a delight to visit. It's like a DREAMLAND!!

From Venice With Love,
Giada 

Venetian proverb of the day
03/23/16
In Venice we have many proverbs and sayings that we use everyday. You can almost say that it is a Venetian way of speaking, much more, I think, than any other region in Italy. The proverbs can be very funny, but also very true, For sure they give you a good insight of the way we think about life, family, politics, love, family, friends and so much more.
I grew up hearing them and they have for sure influenced and shaped my personality and way of thinking.
- Eat and drink because life is a flash.
That's why in Venice we don’t need an occasion to celebrate with drinks and food : life is a celebration of life itself.

From Venice With Love,
Giada 

Venice Fun Fact of the day: origin of the word CIAO
03/23/16
The word CIAO (pronounced CHOW) It can mean “hello” and “goodbye".
But did you know that it is a word that comes from the Venetian dialect? It was the greeting that the slaves were saying to their owners.They word was: s-ciào vostro” that means “I am your slave”.“ Over time, the phrase was abbreviated to simply s-ciào, while retaining the same meaning. 
Because of this history you’ll find especially with older generations that CIAO isn’t an innocuous greeting to be thrown around to anyone you meet. So if you want to offer a polite greeting to a shop owner, a waiter, or just someone you pass in the street, here are some alternatives.
My favorite is Salve, (pronounced SAL|veh) .You can greet someone with salve day or night but it only works for “hello.”
Buongiorno (pronounced bwon|JOR|no “good day,”
Buona sera – pronounced bwon|ah SEH|rah. “good evening",
Arrivederci – (pronounced ah|ree|veh|DEHR|chee) only means “goodbye,”
If you want to get really fancy with your time-of-day greetings, pull a "Buon Pomeriggio" It’s “Good Afternoon,” used roughly from after lunch until evening. This one also works as a “hello” and “goodbye.” It’s pronounced bwon pom|eh|REE|jo.

From Venice With Love,
Giada 

Venetian Gondola's fun fact 3
03/23/16
Gondola's have a purposely off-kilter design so it doesn't row in circles. Each gondola is 35′ 6″ long and 4′ 6″ wide, but the left side is 10 inches longer than the other. This asymmetry helps counterbalance the weight of the gondolier who stands at the back. It also compensates for the tendency of the boat to sway left as the gondolier continually rows on the right. The sleek and stable design of this flat-bottomed boat is well-suited to the shallow conditions of the Venetian lagoon and the occasional mud flats in the canals as it can navigate in only a few inches depth of water.

From Venice With Love,
Giada 

Venetian Gondola's fun fact 2
03/23/16
You’ll notice that all gondolas are painted black – at least 6 glossy coats’ worth. It’s actually the law. Back in the 16th-century when the canals were chock full of 10,000 gondolas, various noblemen tried to one-up each other with fancy designs and bright colors. All that egotistical extravagance started to look a bit garish. So the city passed a law decreeing that all gondolas must be standardized and painted black. No more bells and whistles beyond a curly tail, a pair of seahorses and a fancy ferro at the front. You do see the odd gondola with a little more bling from time to time. Some choose to decorate the interior with golden details, velvet upholstery, carpets or plastic flowers – especially those used for weddings or special occasions. But other than that, they’re all basic black.

From Venice With Love,
Giada 

Venetian Gondola's fun fact 1
03/23/16
The modern banana-boat gondola we see today is the design of 19th century master craftsman Domenico Tamontin, whose descendants still run a Venetian boatyard today. A city ordinance prohibits any modifications to this design and they are all hand-constructed using age-old traditional techniques. There are some customizations according to the height, weight and punting style of the gondolier, but for the most part based on the uniform design. Measurements are not taken in meters or feet but in “venetian feet”, a special unit used since the 1400s.

From Venice With Love,
Giada 

Fun fact about LOVE
03/23/16
"It only takes up to 4 minutes to decide whether you like someone or not"
If you want to make a good impression on someone, you’ve only got about 4 minutes to do it. It is believed that it has far more to do with your body language, tone and speed of your voice rather than exactly what you say.

From Venice With Love,
Giada 

Venice's fun fact: characters carved in the arches of Palace Cemerlenghi
03/23/16
Nobody believed the it was possible to build the Rialto Bridge out of stone. It was a common phrase for a man to say “It will be constructed when I have 3 legs” or a woman to say that she would set herself on fire if the construction were ever completed. From these two proverbs, today you can see these two characters carved in the arches of the building besides the bridge, the Palace Camerlenghi: a man with 3 legs and a woman sitting on a flaming brazier!

From Venice With Love,
Giada 

Street's of Venice Fun Fact: Calle
03/23/16
The real streets of Venice were the canals – that’s why the “Calle”, or alleyways, are so narrow. The main entrances of palaces and normal houses were on the canal-side. Today, Venice also has a parking problem of its own, (Funny, isn’it?) due to too many boats and too few docking spaces. So often nowadays Venetians are more often choosing to walk than taking a boat to do chores.

Happy Monday,
Giada 

Venice's fun food : cicchetti
03/23/16
Pronounced “chee-KET-eeh,” cicchetti are Venice’s answer to Spain’s tapas. They’re small plates of food, usually nibbled among friends in the evening or at lunchtime. Served at bàcari (“BAH-car-eeh”), small, local bars hidden all over Venice, they’re also cheap, ranging from about €1 to €3. What’s on offer depends on the place; some bàcari lean toward fried offerings, while others specialize in fresh fish, meats, cheeses… the list goes on. Cicchetti are usually accompanied by a small glass of local white wine, which the locals refer to as an "ombra" (shadow).

From Venice With Love,
Giada 

Venice Fun Fact of the day: first female gondolier
03/23/16
There are a little over 400 gondoliers in Venice.
But Venice got its first female gondolier in 2010 ending 900 years of male dominance in the profession.
Giorgia Boscolo, 24, has become the first woman to pass the Italian city’s strict gondolier exam and be granted a full license.


Love,
Giada 

Venice Fun fact of the day: Elena Lucrezia Cornaro Piscopia.
03/23/16
The first woman to graduate in the world was Venetian: Elena Lucrezia Cornaro Piscopia. She was the first woman in the world to receive a university degree of any kind! Elena Lucrezia Cornaro, a member of a noble Venetian family, received the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in 1678 from the University of Padua, Italy. It was an accomplishment unparalleled for the time.
You can find a small plaque remembering her on a wall of the building where she was born on the Grand Canal (now the town hall of Venice),


Happy day and love,
Giada 

Venice's fun fact : The Bridge of Sights
03/23/16
Did you know?
The Bridge of Sighs was built to connect the old prison in Doge’s Palace with the new one across the river. The name sighs indicate the last breath of the prisoners in the free world because, once convicted in the kingdom of Dogi they never could go back. One of the rare people escaping the prison was famous lover Giacomo Casanova.
Today, its symbol is over-romantic and it is perhaps the biggest attractions in Venice. It is said that if a couple passes under the Bridge of Sighs their love will last forever.


Love,
Giada 

Venice fun fact - Streets of Venice
03/23/16
It’s almost impossible to find an address in Venice. Houses in Venice are numbered according to the districts, not the streets. That is confusing even for a postmen there. The easiest way for orientation is to look the proximity of some monument, shop or famous building.

Love,
Giada 

Venice's fun fact: Gondola's and kisses
03/23/16
According to a Venetian tradition, the couple riding in a gondola should kiss under each bridge and they will stay in love forever.

From Venice With Love,
Giada 

Did you Know: Pietro Cesare Alberti
03/23/16
Did you know? 
Pietro Cesare Alberti (1608–1655), a Venetian immigrant, was the first Italian American settler in what is now New York State. A small stone in New York City's Battery Park, near the bronze statue of Giovanni da Verrazzano, commemorates Pietro Alberti's arrival and declares June 2 to be "Alberti Day"..


From Venice With Love,
Giada 

Some numbers of Venice
03/23/16
Some numbers about Venice: 118 islands, 417 bridges, 177 canals and 127 squares.
And only 1 home sweet home!!!
"Time goes by, but the magic remains”.
Jim Smith 


Happy Friday,
Giada 

Venice's fun fact of the day: Calle Varisco
03/23/16
Streets in Venice can be really narrow… But there’s one that is VERY narrow. It’s called Calletta Varisco and it’s just 21 Inch wide.
:-)


Love and have a fun day,
Giada 

Venice Fact of the day : did you know?
03/23/16
Did you know that there are 417 bridges in Venice? And 72 of those are private?

Love,
Giada 

Eat pasta as the Romans do
03/01/16
PASTA CACIO E PEPE

INGREDIENTS (SERVE 2 PEOPLE)

Sea salt
6 ounce pasta ( such as spaghetti, egg tagliolini or bucatini)
3 table spoons unsalted butter
1 table spoon freshly cracked black paper
3/4 cup finely grated Grana Padano or Parmesan 
1/3 cup Pecorino Romano, finely grated 

PREPARATION

Bring 3 quarts water to a boil in a 5 quart pot. Season with salt; add pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until about 2 minutes before tender. Drain, reserving 3/4 cup pasta cooking water.
Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add pepper and cook, swirling pan, until toasted, about 1 minute.
Add 1/2 cup reserved pasta water to skillet and bring to a simmer. Add pasta and remaining butter. Reduce heat to low and add Grana Padano, stirring and tossing with tongs until melted. Remove pan from heat; add Pecorino, stirring and tossing until cheese melts, sauce coats the pasta, and pasta is al dente. (Add more pasta water if sauce seems dry.) Transfer pasta to warm bowls and serve. Buon appetito.

SPAGHETTI ALLA CARBONARA

INGREDIENTS

5 oz guanciale (unsmoked cured hog jowl) or pancetta
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 lb spaghetti
3 large eggs
1 1/2 oz Parmigiano-Reggiano, finely grated (3/4 cup)
3/4 oz Pecorino Romano, finely grated (1/3 cup)
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt

PREPARATION

Cut guanciale or pancetta into 1/3-inch dice, then cook in a deep 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring, until fat begins to render, 1 to 2 minutes. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is golden, about 10 minutes. If you can skip the onions if you don't like it, like LOL. Add wine and boil until reduced by half, 1 to 2 minutes.
Cook spaghetti in a 6- to 8-quart pot of boiling salted water until al dente.
While pasta is cooking, whisk together eggs, Parmigiano-Reggiano , Pecorino Romano (1/3 cup), 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a small bowl.
Drain spaghetti in a colander and add to onion mixture, then toss with tongs over moderate heat until coated. Remove from heat and add egg mixture, tossing to combine. Serve immediately.
THE ETERNAL LOVE STORY THAT NEVER GROWS OLD
02/18/16
Today I want to take to one of my favorite cities near Venice :  the very romantic Verona.

Verona is one of the most beautiful cities of the north of Italy in my opinion. A walk around the city is like stepping back in time. 
The historic city of Verona today contains elements representing its 2,000 year history: the Roman period, Romanesque, Middle Ages and Renaissance which have survived intact until the 19th century.  Although Verona’s buildings suffered significant damage during World War II, the post-war reconstruction plan (1946) maintained its original structure and the reconstruction process was carried out with utmost care.

There are many things to see in Verona, like the Arena, the Roman amphitheater, the Castle Scaligeri, the Castelvecchio, the Piazza delle Erbe, the Lamberti's Tower, the Verona Cathedral. 
And of my favourite attraction, is for sure  the ‘Casa di Giulietta’ or ‘Juliet’s House’ the home of one of Shakespeare’s favourite, though decidedly unlucky, heroines. 


La Casa di Giulietta), Via Cappello (just off the Piazza delle Erbe) is supposedly the location of the famous balcony love scene from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. The house is a major destination for tourists, as the tiny courtyard is normally packed with lovestruck teenagers photographing each other on the famous balcony. Being there done that and I hope you will do it too.

However, did you know?

1. Juliet never lived here, she is a fictional character and never ‘lived’ anywhere.

2. The house was bought from the Cappello family by the city of Verona in 1905, and the similarity of their name to Capulet (Juliet’s surname in the famous play) resulted in the city burgher’s declaring that it was ‘Juliet’s House’ and so the famous tourist attraction was created.

3. Tiny love notes cover the courtyard walls. It is said that if you leave a declaration of your love at Juliet’s House you will be together forever.

4. However, thanks to people sticking their notes up with chewing gum and damaging the structure of the building, if you stick a note there now you can be fined 500 euros!

5. If you touch the right breast of the statue of Juliet, it will bring you luck in finding your own true love. Perhaps a safer option than love notes today.

6. People still write letters to Juliet, asking for her advice in love. A team of volunteer ‘Juliet’s secretaries’ answer them. They work out of an upstairs room in the house.

7. The house, and letters became the subject of a film ‘Letters to Juliet’ starring Amanda Seyfried and Vanessa Redgrave.

8. The house does in fact date from the 14th century, and is a wonderful example of Gothic architecture.

9. You can see the famous balcony where Juliet stood as Romeo serenaded her.

10. The balcony is not however an original feature of the house, a former inn, but was cobbled together from pieces of a 17th century sarcophagus, and attached to the wall specifically to provide Juliet’s House with a balcony

11. The rooms are filled with authentic pieces from the time of Romeo and Juliet, allowing you to really get an idea of life in a well to do house in Verona in their lifetime.

So, if Juliet lived here, what about Romeo? A couple of streets away the house at 4, Via Arche Scaligere has been designated as his home. It is private, so other than a sign on the wall there is nothing much to see unfortunately. Each year, thousands of people visit Juliet’s House, and real or not, it’s a beautiful place to visit on a romantic break. 

I guess we all want to believe in fairy tales of an eternal love story......I surely do!!

From Venice With Love,


Giada 


IS THIS PLACE IN VENICE AFFECTED BY A TERRIBLE CURSE ?
02/11/16
We Italians we have maybe the tendency to believe more that other people in superstitions. One of the most popular superstitions is for sure the “malocchio” (mal=bad occhio=eye) or the evil eye. 
 
It’s the look that one person gives to another if they are jealous or envious. According to Italian folklore, those giving the malocchio can cause harm to someone else. Legend says it’s just another way of putting a curse on others that can cause physical pain such as head or stomach aches or even cause misfortune.

Are they real things or legends? Who knows right?  But then you hear stories about certain places and you start to wonder.
 
Like this one from my own Venice.
 
Cà Dario, is a house built between 1479 and 1487 for Giovanni Dario (a secretary of the Venetian Republic senate), and it is located in Dorsoduro on the beautiful Canal Canal Grande. It is often called “Bellezza Maledetta” “Cursed beauty”. In Venice they say that if you are inside you can feel some “inquietudine” anxiaty.
 
It is one of the most beautiful and caratteristic buildings of the Grand Canal. I’ve always heard bad things about this building. In fact, the building is famous for a curse: according to the legend, its owners are destined to bankruptcy or to die.

Let me tell you a little more about it.

Marietta, Dario’s daughter, inherited the house together with Vincenzo Barbaro, her husband. Later, he lost all of his possessions and died under mysterious circumstances (probably stabbed). Marietta, couldn’t afford such a loss and killed herself. Their son Giacomo also died during an ambush on the Island of Creta. Barbaro’s family then sold the building to a diamond merchant, who lost his wealth because he couldn’t afford to keep the palace and died later on.

What’s next? An American millionaire, relocated in Venice after the war because he was accused of being gay, killed himself. His lover had the same faith in Mexico.
 
We’re not done yet:

•  In the 1960s, an Italian tenor, Mario del Monaco, had a car accident (luckily, he survived) on his way to Venice to buy Cà Dario. After the accident, he refused to buy it.

•  Filippo Giordano delle Lanze bought the house in the 1970s and was killed there by his boyfriend, who also died in London. 

•  Christopher Kit Lambert, manager of the band The Who, fell in love with the building but ended up using drugs and was arrested in 1974. He also revealed that he was persecuted by ghosts inside the house.

• In the 1980s, Fabrizio Ferrari bought Cà Dario from Kit Lambert, but his sister Nicoletta died in a car accident.

•  In the 1900s, Raul Gardini, a businessman, bought the palace: he was involved in a financial scandal and suicided in Milan.

• Also actor Woody Allen was considering buying the Palace in the 1990’s. But he decided not to do it after hearing the history of the Palace.

•  Last episode, in 2002. A bass player, John Entwistle, suffered a heart attack a week after he rented the building.

What now? The property is owned by an American company since 2006. The buyer is unknown.
 
Some venitians pointed out that on the façade of the palace overlooking the Grand Canal, may be read “Urbis Genio Joannes Darius”, which means “Giovanni Dario to the genius of the city” but the anagram of the Latin phrase becomes: “Sub ruina insidiosa genero”, which means “I bring treacherous ruins to those who live under this roof”. Other says that the building was build on the ruins of a cemetery.

So next time you are cruising on the Grand Canal look for Cà Dario and see if you can feel something spookie…….I always watch it from a distance and I wonder.

Cà Dario’s is one of the few buildings that is often for sale on the Grand Canal……just in case you want to take the chance.
 
From Venice With Love,
 
Giada
CUPIDON IS COMING TO TOWN ONCE AGAIN!
02/06/16
And for his arrival all around the world, every February 14, restaurants make special menus, red candies and heart shaped chocolates pop up in grocery stores and hotels in the most romantic destinations, included my lovely Venice, fill up. 
 
Music has always been a way for me to express my feelings and how I felt in some situations. And love is often the focus of my songwriting. Love is also the key work for me to choose songs for my concerts. Love is also the way I live my life.

Is there any better festivity for a hopeless romantic like me?
Answer: for sure no.
Even thought I think we should celebrate love everyday, to have a day dedicated to LOVE gives us “romantics": the chance to make it as lovely and unforgettable as we can.

Nowadays lovers exchange chocolates, candies and expensive jewelries. But how did Valentine’s Day become what is today?
They say that Its roots go all the way back to an ancient Roman ritual called Lupercalia, a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture and to Romulus and Remus (founders of Rome). Lupercalia was later outlawed because of its un-Christian nature and Pope Gelasius declared February 14 St. Valentine’s Day in honor of a martyr who lived in the 3rd century.
But it was during the 14th century that St. Valentine’s Day became connected with love.  Scholars say Chaucer was one of the first who linked the festivity with romance. Also, in medieval France and England it was believed that birds mated on February 14, that is why Chaucer used birds as symbol of lovers. By the 18th century, people started exchanging hand-made Valentine cards: it officially became the day of love.
 
Personally, I love intimate dinners or long walks, but usually the most appreciated gifts are said to be romantic escapes (what about a getaway on a beach in the Caribbean or a gondola ride in Venice at night?), Concerts (people often propose during romantic songs!) and dinners in beautiful restaurants are also very popular. Another perfect date to me, would be to watch a romantic movie. 50 First Dates, Sleepless in Seattle and Roman Holiday are some of my favorites.

I did some researches because I love quick facts and Buzzfeed-like lists. So here are some numbers:
 
Valentine’s Day facts:
 
     1.According to a Hallmark research, more than half of the U.S.population celebrate Valentine’s Day by purchasing greeting cards.
     2.150 million cards are exchanged each Valentine’s Day.
     3.More than 35 million heart-shaped boxes of chocolate are sold.
     4.More than 220 million roses are produced for the holiday in a year.
     5.All together American spend more than 20 billion dollars for Valentine’s Day.
     6.6 million couples are likely to get engaged on February 14.

There are also many Valentine's Day Superstitions. Here some of my favorites:

     1. On Valentine's Day, the first guy's name you read in the paper or hear on the TV or radio will be the name of the man you will marry.
     2. If you see a goldfinch on Valentine's Day, you will marry a millionaire.
     3. If you see a robin on Valentine's Day, you will marry a crime fighter - maybe they mean Batman!
     4. If you see a flock of doves on Valentine's Day, you will have a happy, peaceful marriage.

In Italy for the love’s day we usually go on a date or book a weekend somewhere. My top choices would be Florence, Rome, Positano and - guess what - Venice.  
 
And if you are in Venice on Valentine’s day here are three wonderful things to do you will never forget:

    1. Grab your loved one for an impromptu dance under the moon in St. Mark Square.
    2. Walk over the Bridge of Sighs hand-in-hand with your loved one while you visit the Doge’s palace.
    3. Leave the crowds and take a wander down less well-known alleys where lay the places to stumble across the real deal in some delicious           Venetian cooking.
    4. Get lost in the rainbow color island of Burano. A dream in a dream!
You can’t go wrong with them.

 
And if Cupid has not sent his arrow to your heart yet and you are single? No reasons not to celebrate and here’s what you can do:
 
    1. Pamper yourself and buy yourself cute Valentine's Day gifts which could be flowers, a cute teddy or a dress you have been planning to buy since long or shoes. You may also indulge yourself by going in for spa or head to toe beauty treatment. Indulging in books, CDs, and gourmet meals can be a good way of enjoying the day for some.
    2. Have a fun extravaganza night  with friends: plan out a dinner, a movie or a Concert with best friends. You may also throw a “singles party” or “Un-Valentine's Day Party” at your home and have a blast. You will know that life is fun in the company of loving friends.
    3.  Express Gratitude for friends and dear ones: instead of feeling depressed and ashamed for not having a significant other to spend the day you can spend Valentine's Day in a constructive manner by expressing love and affection for people around you. One can thank and greet Valentine's Day to one's parents, friends, colleagues, neighbors or anyone dear. Visiting hospitals and giving roses to sick can also be a touching way of experiencing bliss on Valentine's Day, or  visiting an orphanage or old age home who are always in need of love and affection.

 
And as for me this year on Valentine’s Day?
I will be in Roanoke Virginia sharing love and music live in the studio of Blue Ridge PBS where my television show “From Venice With Love” will air at 7PM. 
 
So what can you do also on Valentine’s Day if you live in Roanoke, Virginia ?
Have a nice dinner for two ready, with a nice glass of prosecco,, candlelight the TV tuned in on Blue Ridge PBS ad enjoy my super romantic television special From Venice With Love with your loved one. 
 
You don’t live there?
You can play my DVD of “From Venice With Love” or my CD……and love will be in the air .
 
Let the countdown starts……
 
From Venice With Love,

Giada

 
WHERE TO EAT LOCAL IN VENICE
02/01/16
Being Italian I have a love affair with food and what and where to eat is always something I need to know and plan ahead.
I don't just eat food .....I eat because I love food. And it has to be good!!!

It’s not always easy to find a good restaurant when you’re abroad. You end up eating in a place for tourists where quality can be poor and prices are high. I have to admit that Venice is not one of those low-cost destinations, but a good “osteria” can work the quality/price magic. 
What traveling has taught me is to ask a local what are their favorite restaurants. And guess what?
That’s always the best way to find something awesome. That’s the way I started to find my way around in NYC when I started to spend a lot of time in the city.
 
What I’ve learned from my travels is also to never judge the place for its appearance: most important thing are the people inside: locals or tourists?
That’s what I’ve learned a few years ago when I was vacationing in Italy on the island of Ischia. For two weeks I was choosing restaurants on the main promenade with my eyes. I was leaning for the restaurants that had fancy table clothes and nice lighting, and fancy people sitting inside. And I was always skipping this little one that had red and white table clothes and a super uninviting bright light.
The last night when I had already been to all of the others I decided to try that one. The best food for half of the prize and so much fun as the waitress and everybody inside knew one another. So ask around to some locals or do some research before you visit a city and look for locals in restaurants.

So if you are going to my Venice, since I cannot send you to my mom’s kitchen, I will suggest you to try these restaurants I love.
Calm your tasting buds... This is my top 4.
 
RISTORANTE AI TRE ARCHI

It’s a family-run restaurant and pizzeria in Cannareggio. After being run by his mother, since a few years the restaurant is in the hands of Andrea Mazzucato. Andrea is the most funny and entertaining owner you will find in Venice. He reminds me a lot of actor Roberto Benigni. The food is outstanding and very well prized. You can eat fresh fish everyday, delicious meat and their thin crust pizzas are to die for. We ate at this place for 7 days straight while I was filming in Venice parts of my television special for PBS “From Venice With Love”. The whole crew could not stop raving about how delicious the food was everyday. They could not wait for lunch or dinner to see what Andrea had ready for us.
And they are located on a quiet side street on the canal so you will enjoy a meal like a real Venetian will do: peacefully.
Where:  Cannaregio 552
Website : www.aitrearchivenezia.it 

 
VINI DA GIGIO

It’s a family-run osteria and another one of my favorites. Food here is so good I couldn’t recommend a better place. Their secret? Ingredients are freshly bought at the Rialto market every morning.
A first course (pasta) is € 14-15 - you can check their website for a detailed list of dishes and prices. They also have a huge wine selection
I suggest you to reserve a table via e-mail.
Where: Cannaregio 3628/A
Website: www.vinidagigio.com

 
DA FIORE
It’s one of the most famous restaurants in the city and it was once an old Venetian tavern. Even though it’s pricey (a lunch menu of 3 courses costs € 50), their creative cuisine will amaze you. . And one of their table is on a cute little balcony on a small canal with flowers on the deck and the gondolas are passing by...it’s a dream!!
Book ahead for the table on the canal side. Oh, and you can’t miss their cakes. To die for….
Where: Calle de le Boteghe, 3461, 30125 San Marco
Website: www.dafiore.net

 
CAFFÉ CENTRALE

It’s located in an ancient dwelling that dates back to the 1500s and it’s a great choice if you’re in Piazza San Marco because it’s just one minute walk from there. If you don't know what you want to order, they have iPads: just scroll the menu and you’ll see all the photos and descriptions for an easier understanding. Pasta is € 20-25. 
Where: Calle Piscina de Frezzaria, 1659/B, 30100 San Marco
Website: www.caffecentralevenezia.com

Some more restaurants if you’re on a budget (€ 10-20 per person)
•      Da La Marisa (lunch only) - Cannaregio, 652
•      Il Nono Ristoro - Sotoportego De Siora Bettina, 2338
•      Cantina Do Spade - San Polo, 85

Buon appetito ,

From Venice With Love,

Giada
  
Giada wearing the Queen of Love dress  in Venice
IT'S CARNEVALE IN VENICE.
01/21/16
Dear Readers,
 
It is that time of the year when we are ready for Carnevale.

There are many famous celebrations of Carnevale around the world, and even in Italy there are a few.
 
But amongst the most famous Carnivals in Italy and I dare to say also around the world, is for sure the Carnival of my own Venice. 
I heard the first official document in which the Venice’s Carnival was declared a public holiday dates back to 1296. Crazy that we still celebrate this amazing tradition.
 
During the Carnival, which attracts more than 1 million visitors a year, Venice boasts with history, colors, quirky masks and thousand of people flocking on the streets. The thing I love the most of this festivity is the creativity of the artists: Venetian masks can be made of many materials like porcelain or leather and it’s incredible how they never repeat themselves. Some masks have also names based on their styles. Bauta, Colombina and The Plague Doctor to name a few.  I think this last one is a little bit scary…
 
One of the most famous events during the Venetian Carnival is the Flight of The Angel (Il Volo dell’Angelo), a tradition that goes back to the 1500s: an artist hangs from a cable and goes down to the Doge’s Palace from the top of St. Mark’s Bell Tower.
I had the chance to see it in person and believe me, it’s magical! 

If you’re in Venice in January, the Flight of The Angel will be held on Sunday 31 at 12:00 pm in Piazza San Marco. 
 
I almost forgot to say that you can also have the chance to participate to the many balls held in the city.
 
The most exclusive is Il Ballo Del Doge but there are many more.  They are fun and you will get to wear beautiful costumes. The dresses for my television special were made for me by a famous designer that makes the costumes for "Il Ballo Del Doge".
 
When: from January 23 to February 9
If you want to check all the events:  www.carnevale.venezia.it

I hope you can all experience the Carnevale in Venice one day.
 
And in the mean time I hope you enjoy my television special From Venice With Love and hope to see you at one of my Concerts so I can take you on a magical "virtual" journey to Venice with my music and my stories.
 
I’m going to book a flight to Venice right now. Be right back...if only right??
 
And Valentine's Day will my next BLOG!!
 
Love,

Giada 
  
WHERE TO STAY IN VENICE AND LIVE LIKE A VENETIAN.
02/12/15
Dear Readers,
 
2014 was a wonderful year and it looks like 2015 will be an even more adventurous and exciting one. Today’s BLOG is dedicated to my own beautiful Venice. 

If you are planning to visit Venice you are of course looking for a nice place to stay. Most people know the names of some of the fancy hotels as they are the places were the movie stars stay, but there are also some very nice smaller hotels. There is also a large selection of very nice and often very affordable apartments that are for rent.  To stay in these little apartaments will for sure give you a different feel of Venice. You’ll be feeling like a real Venetian and living like one.
 
In October 2014 I was in m own Venice where I filmed a part of my television special “From Venice With Love”. We had such an awesome time and we were lucky with the weather. No one single day of rain and sunshine everyday !
 
Today I want to share with you where my crew and I stayed in Venice while filming.
 
My director and his assistant, the Dutch crew, stayed at the apartment of my friend Chantal Fresco; the Ca’ 5393, situated in the historical center of Venice. She has three apartments that she rents out. They are all in the same building, between Fondamente Nove and Rialto. My director and his assistant stayed in the Orange apartment, which can accommodate up to 4 people. It has an independent entrance at the ground floor, which came handy as they had a lot of equipment that they had to bring in an out every day. 
 
It is composed by a very well equipped kitchen, has two bedrooms and one bathroom with a large shower. Chantal has also an apartment for 6 people and 7 people.  
 
The apartments have all Wi-Fi and are close to everything you need like coffee bars, restaurants, bakeries, supermarkets, and shops. For more information visit www.ca5393.com Chantal is a very nice young lady and speaks also great English. She will be thrilled to have more of my friends staying in her apartments.
 
My photographer stayed at the apartment of the mother of a dear friend of mine, in a building that is over 500 years old, behind the Rialto Bridge. For this apartment require normally a longer stay, but they were so nice to help me and accommodate my photographer Mike.
My parents and I stayed at the apartment of my friend Cristina Briselli.

My parents have a house just outside Venice where I also still have my own apartment. But for the filming it was more practical to stay in the old center of Venice. Cristina’s apartment is walking distance from the train station, in the Cannaregio area. It’s a beautiful new renovated apartment in a building that was originally a factory. It can accommodated 6 people, has 2 bedrooms and two bathrooms. It has a beautiful kitchen with all new appliances. The apartment has also Wi-Fi and is close to the fruit, vegetable and fish market and every thing you need like coffee bars, restaurants, bakeries, supermarkets, shops. Cristina and her husband Marco have been an enormous help with the filming that we did in Venice. Without their great support we would have never been able to do what we have accomplished for my television special. I’m so grateful to them. We actually made Marco the official" location coordinator " as he really was bringing us around Venice with his boat, helped with many little details of the filming in Venice. Sometimes you need to be lucky in life, and I feel so blessed to have met two friends like Marco and Cristina.

For more information about Cristina’s apartment : www.homeaway.com. They speak English and are incredible nice people!! You will LOVE this place!!! I surely did.

In my next blog I will tell you about some good places to eat while in Venice.

Un affettuso saluto,
Giada 
THERE IS NO SNOW STORM THAT CAN STOP US...  
02/14/14
Dear friends reading this BLOG,

It looks like 2014 will be a wonderful busy year.

Even if we are still dealing with a very stormy and extremely cold winter, I had the chance to warm up my audience with a few special Concerts. And they made my dream coming true by being there with me to show me their love and warm up my heart!! There is no storm who can stop us!!! 
 
On January 29th, I did my first Concert of the year at the Piano Room of Etcetera Etcetera in NYC, in the heart of Broadway. It was a very special night. Among the dear friends that came to support me and celebrate also my birthday, I had also some important people attending the show.

The night was emceed, as always in a very excellent way, by my dear friend, or as I call him "my brother from another mother", Jim Masters, National PBS host.
His charm and warm personality always welcomes the audience making them already feel home.
 
And talking about PBS I also had the honor to have in my audience the beautiful PBS host Denise Richardson, often on screen with Jim, and Mark Cataldo, Director, On-Air Fundraising at WNET-WLIW-WNJ. In my audience I also had my dear friends, Ed and Judy Schloeman founder of Operation Warriors Wellness, a division of the David Lynch Foundation. With them I'm about to embark a series of Concerts to promote the benefit of Transcendental Meditation for the well-being of first responders and veterans, but also abused women and children. An incredible project I'm so honored to be involved with. SAVE THE DATE : May 1st at the Lorenzo's Cabaret in Staten Island we will hold the first event.  Incredible honorees and speakers that night!! Soon I will share with you all about it and I hope you will be all there to support this incredible cause.
 
After the Concert as always I enjoyed taking pictures and meet and greet everybody. I so love that part of my work. Thanks to my music I'm so lucky to have met so many incredible people who are now also dear friends and incredible supporters. I got to open some presents as well: beautiful flowers and a gift card from Jim, a wonderful perfume from my dear  friend Claudia, some nice cards and a sparkling pen from Rita. And after all of this with a wonderful group of dear friends, we went down to the restaurant Etcetera Etcetera to celebrate my birthday and the one of my dear friend Mike Ferrante, who took a lot of the beautiful pictures you see on the BLOG.

It was a magical night to remember. So cold outside but so warm and beautiful inside. Big thanks also to my dear friend Daniele Kucera, owner of this incredible place. If you are in NYC stop for lunch or dinner at Etcetera Etcetera....you will love his place!!
 
And last weekend I got to perform three Concerts in two days!! Yes a lot of songs and music. Last Saturday I was honored to perform with two of my musicians at the "Open Your Heart" Annual Fundraiser for the Children's Home of Poughkeepsie, at the beautiful Villa Borghese, in Wappingers Fall, NY. Established in 1847, the Children's Home provides a range of services and programs giving hope and healing to abused and neglected children in the Hudson River Region.  The Home is dedicated to providing a safe and nurturing environment that improves lives and empowers at-risk children and families in the Hudson Valley and surrounding communities. I was welcomed by the almost 200 guests that came to support the event. I had such a great time singing for such a warm and loving audience. Love was really all over the room. And I was so touched really by the incredible work they are doing. I have to thank from the bottom of my heart Erin Cafarelli and the whole staff for having me be part of this wonderful event. The Children's Home of Poughkeepsie is really a place for healing and hope!! What a great night!

Then, with a goody bag filled with delicious treats thanks to my dear friend Erik Moraibito, my connection to Poughkeepsie, we left filled with memories towards the hotel in Mahwah, NJ for a short night of rest.

Wake up call : 8PM ready to go to Suffern, NY at the beautiful hystorical Lafayette Theatre for the third Annual Valentine's Concert organized by celebrity chef and great friend Marcello Russodivito.
 
Sound check was already at 10:30AM! First Concert at 2:30PM and second at 6:30PM. Yes, two concerts in one afternoon!
Outside was very cold and the storm was ready to hit, but inside with the wonderful guys of my band, we were having some great fun! We had added some cool new songs, including Amore L'Amore, a song I wrote a few years ago in Europe. I was so excited to perform it in the USA for the first time. And I had for sell for the first time in the USA also my new CD "My Lullaby" !!

Both Concerts went great. Somehow the cold outside had made the audience inside even more warm and welcoming than ever. The 900 seat LaFayette Theatre was a happy place filled with a wonderful audience!

The first Concert, entitled "The Love Returns" had the whole audience in standing ovation at the end of it...what a view!! 
 
The MC of the night, my dear friend and beautiful presenter of the TV show "Brindiamo", Ornella Fado came of stage with promoter Marcello Russodivito to bring me flowers. The audience asked for an encore and it was so wonderful to sing a song for all of them and to have Ornella and Marcello with me on stage!!!

The second show was also wonderful and so special. The audience was warmed up by Claudio a very nice singer from Riccia in Italy and a performance by a young soprano from Suffern, NY on stage  that night for the first time!! So sweet!! The first part of the second Concert titled "Passione" was done by three incredible classical singers: mezzo Soprano Jennifer Roderer, Soprano Elisabeth Dreisig and Marie Dreisig Kalsmore, Elisabeth's beautiful and talented daughter both coming  all the way from Danmark!! They were accompanied on piano by Alan E. Kanopka. It was such a privilege to share the stage with a group of such a talented and wonderful people. It was blast!!! I closed
 
the Concert rocking the stage with my guys to yet another incredible enthusiastic audience!! It had started to storm again, as anticipated, so the Theatre was not completely sold out.....the audience was so incredible that they sounded like they were thousands and not only 400!!! Standing ovations, applause and meet and greet at the CD table once again...what a day!!!

After the Concert of course we ended with an incredible delicious dinner and many "CIN CIN" and "Brindiamo" of celebrations at Marcello's Restaurant. There are a lot of people that I need to thank: Marcello Russodivito is for sure at the top of the list. He and his beautiful wife Carolyn Russodivito are such a gift that music has brought into my life. I'm so grateful to God everyday and forever for them!!!
 
There I was,  ending such a wonderful day with some dear friends, talented colleagues and my musicians on a big table with great food and drinks!!! I was so happy!!!
 
As you can immagine Monday I was exhausted.  It had been an incredible busy weekend.....but no need to tell you that I will cherish in my heart forever such an incredible weekend!! And I cannot wait to start all over again this coming Saturday when with my guys we will be on the road again to bring love and melt some snow in Williamsport, PA!!!

Stay tuned for next week BLOG!!!

And if you cannot make it to one of my Concerts, you can buy a copy of my new CD My Lullaby on my website starting today !! 
 
Thank you to Pierre Baz and Mike Ferrante for the beautiful pictures of this BLOG and for being such incredible friends and supporters!!

Love and baci,
Giada


For more info about the Children's Home of Poughkeepsie please visit: www.childrenshome.us
  
MUSIC AND ITS GIFTS !!  
01/27/14
Dear friends reading this Blog,
 
I'm so grateful that every day I get to live my life, get to work on my dreams, get to spend time with people I love, and even if here and there life is tough, I always keep a smile on my face.
I'm definitely a lucky one. This doesn't mean that I didn't had to struggle at some point, that I don't get NO DAYS here and there: not everyday is a great one and just like everybody else to achieve something I have to work hard and sacrifice a few things.
But just the fact that I'm able to do it, is a reason to smile. I'm alive and I'm working hard for my dreams. That's great!!

Music as you know is my greatest joy. It makes me feel great. When I'm on stage I'm on seventh heaven. And I always feel so privileged and grateful to be able to bring all the emotions that music gives me to other people, and make them happy and emotional with me.

Last October, after my performance on the Red Carpet of the Columbus Day Parade for ABC Television, while having lunch in the beautiful building of the Columbus Citizens Foundation, I was talking to old and new friends. Always a great day of celebration.
I was somehow engaged in a conversation with an elegant gentleman, I will guess in his mid 60's. He was talking about an event he was involved with named "Change Begins Within".  The comedian Jerry Seinfeld was Master of Ceremonies and they were honoring actor Hugh Jackman and FDNY Commissioner Sal Cassano, who I had the honor to meet several times.
This gentleman was so enthusiastic to talk about the event and most of all about what they were promoting: wellness!  There were many people around and a lot of noise. So we exchanged business cards and that was it.
 
A few days later I saw his business card on my desk, and still thinking about the kindness and enthusiasm of that person I googled his name. I soon found out that Ed Schloeman, was a retired Chief Master Sergeant (E-9) from the New York Air National Guard and a Vietnam Marine Disabled Veteran (Sgt).  He was also the co-chair of an organization called Operation Warrior Wellness and they were associated with the David Lynch Foundation, which I had in the past heard about it, vaguely. A few days later I was doing a Concert in Queens, on November 10, on Veterans Day. So I called Ed and I invited him to come as my guest to the Concert. He was so happy to be invited and he wrote me a few emails in the next days telling me how much he was looking forward to come to the Concert with his wife Judy.

Since it was Veterans Day,  the day of the Concert we paid tribute at the end of the Concert to all of them present in the room, singing together with the audience standing "God Bless America".
It was very special as you can imagine. Ed was standing tall smiling with pride and yet humbly. A real soldier I thought!!

After the concert I was caught up signing CDs and autographs and I did not had the chance to talk to Ed. But, as kind as Ed is, he emailed me right away to tell me how much he loved the Concert and the day after he called me. It was the beginning of a wonderful friendship.
 
I had read in the mean time so much about the Operation Wellness Warriors and the David Lynch Foundation. How much this Transcendental Meditation technique could help reduce stress for the veterans and the first responders, abused women and children. Actually all of us, as all of us nowadays go true so much. It was am easy technique that was able to promote well being of the mind to everybody.

A few days after the Concert Ed invited me for lunch. To a wonderful Sushi place in Brooklyn. Ed was telling me how his life had changed after leaning TM. He shared with me so many details of his war memories. The stress and the despair he was going through before learning and discovering TM. He was telling me about his nightmares before, and how now, with 20 minutes TM a day, he was back in control of his life. I think nobody can really know what being in a war means, we can only try to imagine. But I was aware of the stress that the first responders go through and the PTS, Post Traumatic Stress,  being the daughter of a police officer.

 
I started to google who was doing TM. It was very interesting to discover that almost all my idols are meditating. Almost all the famous and successful people in the world we all love and admire are doing MT, to be more concentrated and less stressed.
 
Ed had told me something to describe what meditation can do, something that stayed with me and made me curious to learn it: he said that it is like we live everyday on the crest of the sea. All the stress of day to day , things to do and place to go, things we worry about, are like waves. We are all always busy with millions of things. We are all worry about thousands things. Stressed by thousand things.
But if we can get deep in the sea, deep inside ourselves, down there it is much quieter......no waves there.....
This got me to think about my own brain at night....I think that even when I'm sleeping I'm thinking about all the things I still need to do...sometimes I wake up still thinking about it.  Like it was in my dreams....maybe it sounds familiar to you too....

Ed gave me the greatest compliments I could ever receive. He said that during my Concerts ( he had at the time already saw two of my Concerts including my Christmas one in Staten Island) , he was so happy. He completely forgot where he was. He said "it was" like meditating. That was a great compliment: I was able to take him into the planet of love and peace.....I had accomplished my mission. I had touched his heart! And he had for sure touched mine!!

And it was decided. I wanted to be of help and be involved with this!!
 
So I will soon start to learn TM and with Ed, Operation Warriors Wellness and the David Lynch Foundations we will start to do benefit Concerts to collect funds to promote TM for the Veterans and the first responders of the FDNY and the NYPD.
My role will be to entertain and make all my audience dreaming of peace, love and romance and bring awareness about wellness, not only of the body but also of the mind and the soul.
Ed thinks I can be a great ambassador of it!!

We have a busy schedule of plans and things we want to accomplish with Ed and Operation Wellness Warriors. First event will be May 1st at the Hilton in Staten Island. 
 
We will have FDNY Commissioner Sal Cassano as our speaker  and we will honor some great Italian Americans. And after the dinner and all I will entertain everybody with my Concert!!! The first of many all around the USA!!!

I'm so honored and happy to be able to help others with my music!! This is a blessing!! I'm so grateful to God for it!!

I'm looking forward to share with you all about this new journey that music has brought into my life!!

I'm lucky and I'm grateful!!

And stay tuned for my next week BLOG.....first  Concert of the year : January 29th at the Piano Room of the Etcetera Etcetera! A special night!! Special guests in the audience!!

Love and baci,
Giada
 
For more about Operation Wellness Warriors
www.operationwarriorwellness.org
For more about the David Lynch Foundation
www.davidlynchfoundation.org

 
HEAVENLY HARP AND MY LULLABY : WHAT A START OF THE YEAR!!
01/17/14
Ciao a tutti carissimi readers and friends,

How much joy can music bring? 2014 has just started and so far I love it!!I have so many Concerts coming up and so many projects to work on. It looks like it will be a busy year, but you know how much I love what I do: so the more the better!!
 
Thanks to the requests of many fans, my wonderful "Angels",  I have decided to release also in the USA my CD Cristina. The CD is a collection of songs I have wrote in Holland. It will be titled 'My Lullaby". All the songs in the CD are very special to me. I wrote them several years ago and somehow are still so close to my heart! It was so nice to just realize that I'm still living happy and free, like in "Libera", still talking about love like in "Parliamo d'Amore" and following my dreams all the way like in "Come un Gabbiano"!! And wishing the same for everybody else like in  "Vivere Liberi".
 
I have decided to add to the new CD the two remixes of "Libera" and "Amore l'Amore" and a version of "Amore L'amore" done by the HitHouse. It is a mid-tempo ballad version of the song never  released before but that I always loved, as it has a romantic vibe about it!! Cannot wait for you to hear it!!
 
I always say that most of the people I love in my life, came to me through my music. And this is also the case with Gloria Galante. She's an incredible harpist. She was warming up the audience at my Christmas Concert in Newtown, PA last December.
I got to meet her after the Concert. There was a instant connection and while talking music we decided to make a Christmas CD together.
Harp and voice and of course other instruments to give different colors to the songs. Then and there a new music project was born. 
 
And yesterday it was Christmas all over again, as I went to Gloria's studio to start working on  the CD. First decision to make of course: what to sing. So many beautiful Christmas songs to choose from. So we were trying them all!! 

Time really went so fast while we were drinking English tea and playing harp and singing.
 
Besides having travelled the world as a musician, as a soloist and for big stars,  Gloria is also professor and creator of the WCU harp program and the director of the WCU College of the Visual and Performing Arts Harp ensemble. Since she knew the harp is my favorite instrument, she even gave me my first harp lesson!! She's so kind.....she said I'm a natural!! :-) Long way to go, but I would really love to learn to play it!! They call Gloria the "Heavenly Harpist" and I was for sure in Heaven!!
 
Time really flew so fast!! Gloria and I were joined by her talented and sweet husband Fred. They are both incredible people calming,  positive and so talented and creative. 
Fred is also a very accomplish jazz musician and a sound engineer in Atlantic City, so it was so nice to talk, art, music, sound and so much more.
 
We ended the beautiful musical day, treated by Gloria and Fred to a delicious dinner at The Historic King George II Inn  on the Delaware River.
Music is really a gift from God. I left and drove back with JJ and we were both so happy and grateful for so much and now we had in our lists of things to be grateful for , also Gloria and Fred!!

So stay tuned for more BLOGS about this Christmas CD. It will be like a dream. I'm already looking forward for Christmas!!!

And next week I will share with you all about some other incredible projects I'm working on. One of them of course my project for PBS "From Venice With Love", my dream coming true and also my new project with the David Lynch Foundation and Operation Wellness Warriors. To be able to help other people with my music is a blessing and I cannot wait to start this adventure that will help others!

Love and baci,
Giada
 
 
For more about Gloria Galante www.gmstudios.com
 
NEW YEAR AND I'M BACK BLOGGING : DREAMS AND GOALS
01/09/14
Dear readers and friends reading this Blog: Happy New Year to you all!

The new year has just started and somehow this makes all of us full of enthusiasm and ready to commit to work on things we want to do, things we want to change, places we want to go and dreams we want to make come true!


I too do it to every year, and somehow I tend to loose all of that enthusiasm after a while. I get busy with my day to day works and things to do and I forget about what I really had promise myself to do!! Not this year!
 
I'm committed to keep alive all my new year resolutions this time.

I'm committed to improve my life, to increase my personal grow, and finally make my big dream come true.
I want to loose the 15 pounds I keep saying I want to loose, to learn perfect Spanish, learn to meditate, go back to my yoga routine, finish all the songs I have written and never finished and finding the rest of the funding I need to film my PBS Special "From Venice With Love". This will allow me to live my dream, to bring my romantic music to many more people! All over the globe! When I'm on stage I feel at my best: I love to entertain and to touch people with my songs and stories. And the applause of my audience gives me the reasons why I love it so much: they give me back even more emotions that I give. And I think the world could use some romance!!

I'm so ready to see what this new year will bring committed to make it a beautiful one!!! One to remember!!
I have printed and put on my wall the list with all my Goals and Dreams for this new year and I'm so looking forward to make them all happen!

Stay tuned here and I will share my year journey with you!! I will take into my life, my dreams and my adventures .
 
Next Blog I will take you into the studio with incredible great harpist Gloria Galante as we will start work at our Christmas CD project together!!

And follow me on my Facebook and Twitter for my everyday adventures!!

Love and Baci,
G

 
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