by SylviaItaly | Feb 5, 2023 | Italy, Veneto
The Carnival of Venice (Carnevale di Venezia) is different to carnivals which take place in The Netherlands for instance. It is one of the most famous carnivals around the world. The celebration takes place over 10 days. This year, the carnival in Venice will take place between February 4 and February 21.
Venetian costumes and masks
Many people use the Carnival as an opportunity to dress up in wonderful, colorful outfits. Most costumes are historical and handmade in the ateliers of the city Venice. There are costumes shops all over that rent costumes.
Each costume is one of a kind item, to guarantee its uniqueness. They are stylish, luxurious and noble.
It is not necessary to wear costumes at Venice Carnival. Many tourists opt for a mask. In Venice are many mask shops selling amazing Venetian masks during carnival and most visitors will buy one. Masks are part of the Venetian tradition. They have been used on many other occasions in the past.
Masks are made of papier-mâché, velvet and lace, decorated with gold and silver leaves, fabrics, jewels, colors, crystal and leather. There are different styles of masks in Venice:
- Bautta – the traditional Venetian Carnival mask –
- Moretta – a black mask worn by women –
- Gnaga – a mask traditionally worn by homosexual men –
Piazza San Marco
“Il salotto d’Europa a Venezia”. Piazza San Marco is one of the most fascinating salon in the world! Saint Mark’s Square is famous for its unique monuments, beautiful buildings and wonderful basilica.
Piazza San Marco is a great spot to view the Venice Carnival Costumes. There is also a daily parade featuring the best costumed participants. The parade in Saint Mark’s Square is a free event and ideal for photo opportunities.
Carnevale di Venezia is a unique experience. Venice is a magical lagoon city, a city of romance, beauty and historical importance. Venice is not like any other city in Italy. During the Carnival period the atmosphere creates glamorous costume balls, creative contests, regattas, water parades and feasts.
Caffè Florian in Piazza San Marco plays a central role in the Venice Carnival. It is the oldest caffè house in Europe and it attracts many visitors all over the world during the Venice Carnival. It is the place to be!
Carnival in Venice is not only masks and costumes, a big part of the celebration are the fried pastries, frittelle and the crostoli. During the Carnival, only at this time of the year, you can taste the typical Venetian goodies. This fried dish pairs excellent with the cold weather and the festive mood of Carnival.
And what wine is best to drink with frittelle? Prosecco! Prosecco Brut or Prosecco Extra Dry. The little sweetness works perfect with the frittelle. Cheers!
Available prosecco in our stock Toffoli Prosecco Superiore DOCG
My Carnival Experience in Venice
I have visited Venice during Carnival season multiple times. Venice is always breathtaking but during Carnival your view of culture and tradition will change. The extraordinary costumes and the elaborate masks make Venice’s Carnival a true Venetian experience. There is a huge amount to see and to do. For more information visit the website “Carnevale di Venezia“.
Happy Carnival everyone and buon Martedi Grasso (Mardi Grass) da Venezia!
by SylviaItaly | Feb 20, 2022 | Italian wines, Italy, Tuscany
We are at the end of the online course DipWSET4 – D1.
It were intense weeks with lots of posts, research, questions, wine tastings and group activities.
Many projects required a lot of effort!
In the first week of our course we needed to work alone on our vineyard establishment proposal. I choose for the wine area Bolgheri in Tuscany. This is my proposal I have submitted in the first week of our wine course.
I choose the territory of Bolgheri (Livorno) along the Etruscan coast, at the foot of the gentle Tuscan hills and a few miles from the sea.
The climate along the coast in Tuscany is more maritime than central Tuscany. The summers are dry, sunny and breezy. The weather is influenced by the sea. Temperatures in winter time are around 8-10 degrees, and reach rarely zero or less.
The sea and Apennine mountains moderate the temperatures in summer period. The driest months in Tuscany are July and August.
Bolgheri Rosso DOC
Bolgheri Rosso DOC is a blend of black grape varieties. The red wine can be made in different styles. I will plant the following grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Sangiovese.
The black grape varieties need sunlight and heat to ripen fully. The grapes do not ripen at the same time. Merlot ripens earlier than Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese for instance. The harvest of the grapes is spread out.
Vine training system black grape varieties: cane pruned (single guyot), cordon trained. The vine’s cane and shoots are tied to the trellis for light and air circulation. Summer pruning will hardly take place as the leaves protect the berries from sunburn in (warm) summer conditions.
The soil is calcareous and contains a mix of rocks. There is a good drainage, which is important for grape growing. The altitude of the vineyards are about 100 – 400 m above sea level and the slopes are facing southwest.
The wine is full bodied with ripe red and black fruits, medium-high tannin, high acidity and high alcohol. Long aftertaste.
Suited for aging.
Super Tuscan wines have gained popularity in Italy and abroad since the 20th century. Especially the red wines. The wines are prestigious and sometimes also very expensive.
The average price for this wine is Euro 25.00*.
*average price of Sylvia Italy’s Rosso wine – not available in my shop.
Bolgheri Rosato DOC
The black grape varieties used for the rosé are Syrah, Merlot and Sangiovese. This wine is a blend and pairs good with fish dishes. For example with the local cacciucco from Livorno.
Bolgheri Bianco DOC
For a white wine from the region I will plant Vermentino grapes. Vermentino is often vinified as a single variety but can also be blended with other white grape varieties such as Trebbiano Toscano.
The vine training system for the Vermentino grapes are cane pruned (guyot). The sea has a positive influence and gives Vermentino a mineral and aromatic character.
The Vermentino wine is an appetizer wine and pairs excellent with local fish dishes.
For both young wines the average price per bottle is Euro 13.00-15.00*.
*average price of Sylvia Italy’s Bianco wine – not available in my shop.
Super Tuscan wines are produced also in other places in Tuscany, but Bolgheri is the birthplace of this wonderful wine.
by SylviaItaly | Feb 13, 2022 | Food, Italy, Recipes, Tuscany
Peposo is a traditional Tuscan pepper beef stew. It is one of my favorite Italian dishes.
I know, I have many favourite dishes, but my peposo recipe brings you right away to Florence!
Peposo is rich in flavour. It really has a delicious spicy kick from the black pepper, hence the name “peposo”.
This -500 years- old dish is easy to make. Peposo is still popular across Tuscany. It originally comes from the village Impruneta, a small town in the Tuscan hills. The former name of the recipe is “Peposo alla Fornacina”, but today it is called “Peposo”.
Sylvia Italy’s peposo is made with beef chuck for stew, NO garlic*, whole black pepper corns, black powder pepper, salt, olive oil, tomato sauce to give the sauce a bit body, and red Tuscan wine: Rosso di Montepulciano DOC.
*Peposo without garlic tastes equally good. I eat onions and garlic, but sometimes I prefer avoiding it. I don’t like the bad breath and lingering aftertaste in my mouth.
Serves 2 people
- 300 g boneless beef chuck for stew
- a handful of black pepper corns
- black pepper powder
- 1/4 liter of red wine (Chianti or Rosso di Montepulciano)
- tomato sauce*
*The original recipe peposo is more likely not to be made with tomato sauce.
For gentle cooking, like stews, I always use my cast Creuset iron pot.
Heat the olive oil in a pot over a medium-high heat and brown the beef for a minute of 3. Add the red wine, salt, pepper and the tomato sauce.
Cover the pot, lower the heat and cook the peposo for approximately 3 hours. Check it often and give it a stir occasionally. It is important that the meat remains covered in wine and adding water if necessary.
It says that cooking longer than needed doesn’t mean tender meat, but personally I prefer cooking it long.
When the peposo is ready, the meat should be tender (I love it when the meat is falling apart..yummy) and the red wine should have reduced to a sauce.
Season with more pepper if desired and serve warm on traditionally sliced bread (preferably Tuscan bread without salt) or polenta.
by SylviaItaly | Jan 15, 2022 | Food, Italy, Tuscany
Cantina Gattavecchi organizes a yearly fundraising dinner for the Breast Cancer Foundation “Io Sempre Donna“. Io Sempre Donna is in Chianciano Terme, a small village nearby Montepulciano.
Usually this annual charity dinner offers food from all over the world. But this time chef Lilian Gattavecchi decided to offer an Italian night with food from different regions, such as: Trentino – Alto Adige, Veneto, Calabria, Sardegna, Liguria, Toscana, Piemonte, Sicilia and Lombardia.
The wines they served were local wines from winery Gattavecchi: Toscana IGT red and white; Rosso di Montepulciano DOC; Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG and Vino Santo di Montepulciano DOC.
The total amount of the dinner was euro 30.00 per person (including bread, water and wine).
Io Sempre Donna
Breast cancer is the second most common cancer among women. Io Sempre Donna helps women who are dealing with breast cancer and are in need of emotional support.
In Italy women who are 50 years or older (until 69) have screenings every 2 years. Women with a family history of breast cancer have a routine screening mammograms every year.
Io Sempre Donna means literally “Me always a woman”. Women diagnosed with breast cancer face a difficult time. Io Sempre Donna assist and support them before, during and after hard times.
Menu charity dinner
Toscana – nero toscano (chicken liver)
Calabria – BOMBA calabra (chilly peppers)
Umbria – salame al tartufo e crostini funghi mozzarella
Sardegna – pecorino cheese
Veneto – baccalà mantecato (stockfish)
Trentino Alto Adige – canederli in brodo
Campania – scialatelli alla sorrentina
Piemonte – la paniscia alla novarese
Lombardia – polenta con le quaglie (quail)
Toscana – peposo (red wine beef stew with lots of pepper)
Liguria – patate al forno con i funghi
Sicilia – melanzane (eggplants)
Toscana – fagioli bianchi (white beans)
Toscana – crostata / biscotti al Vino Nobile
Lombardia – tiramisù
The food was fabulous. We were a bit too full at the end but it was really amazing. A great experience!
by SylviaItaly | Nov 6, 2021 | Italian wines, Italy, Veneto, Wine tasting
The heroic grape harvest season of the Glera falls between the end of September and early October in Refrontolo. Refrontolo is a small town in the heart of the Conegliano Valdobbiadene and the Colli di Conegliano region.
Glera is the principal white grape variety of the prosecco sparkling wine. It is a late ripening grape variety. They are green and have a thin skin. The grape is classified as semi-aromatic with a high acidity, making it perfect for prosecco wine production.
The “vendemmia” in the province of Treviso is one of the most fascinating time of the year. It is a busy period when it comes to local harvest festivals and feasts.
Many tourists visit Italy especially in the fall season to discover the best (new) wines and food the region has to offer.
Summer 2021 in Italy was a warm growing season for the grapes. Warmer than average summer. The grapes didn’t suffer from water stress and sunburn, fortunately.
The quality of the grapes is superior this year. Due to the warm weather conditions the berries have accumulated more sugar than usual. The grapes are in good health and excellent in balance of sugar-acidity.
They say vintage 2021 is an outstanding wine year for prosecco. Good news for fans of this wine. Cheers!
Production process Prosecco Superiore
The area Conegliano Valdobbiadene is situated between Venice and the Dolomites.
All the grapes have to be hand picked. The vines are planted on hills with narrow ridges and steep slopes. This makes mechanized harvest impossible.
After picking, the tractor driver brings the next load to the winery for fermentation. But before they are unloaded, they are weighed by the winemaker in order to check that they do not exceed the production limits fixed for each vineyard every year.
The grapes are pressed gently in absence of oxygen and any skin contact.
The freshly pressed fruit juice is the must. The sugar concentration and the acid content will be measured before fermentation starts. Corrections/additions of yeast or acids can be needed and sulfites (SO2), are always be added during the wine making process.
Metodo Charmat / Martinotti
Prosecco is an Italian DOC and DOCG white sparkling wine.
The tank method “Metodo Charmat or Martinotti” is a very common method to make prosecco. The first fermentation takes place in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks to keep the fruity flavors in the wine.
While the second fermentation takes place, the large tank is sealed to prevent CO2 from escaping. This is a slow process.
The longer and slower the winemaking process, the more delicate the prosecco wine will be.
There are different qualities in prosecco. Production and quality of the grapes are definitely Superiore at Toffoli. Therefor their DOCG Superiore prosecco is often more expensive over the standard DOC.
Mind that prosecco is a wine to drink young, ideally within one year of its production. It is not a wine for storing.
Strada del Prosecco / Prosecco road
The Strada del Prosecco is Italy’s oldest wine route. At first it linked the towns of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene but now it winds its way through more communities between the towns Conegliano and Valdobbiadene.
The area has a number of biking,- hiking trails and good restaurants to eat. It is a unique and magnificent place where past and present come together.
Since 2019 the Conegliano and Valdobbiadene hills are UNESCO World Heritage site.
Visitors are welcome at winery Toffoli to taste their wines. It is recommended to call or e-mail in advance to book a date and time.
The prosecco wine tasting takes place at the winery. Before you taste the wines the wine maker will guide you through his vineyards and the wine cellar.
Family Toffoli is happy to welcome you in Refrontolo!
Online wine tasting
A Taste of Veneto! is a unique wine experience with the winemaker himself Sante Toffoli and an Italian sommelier.
This online tour and tasting is the perfect way to get to know the winery and the wines from Veneto.
The tasting can be organized at any date and time of your choice. All wines from Toffoli will be sent from our distribution centre in Holland.
Getting excited? For more information about this online wine experience visit my website “A Taste of Veneto!”
by SylviaItaly | Oct 6, 2021 | Food, Italy, Tuscany
Foiano della Chiana is a small village in the province of Arezzo. It is home to a few thousand inhabitants
I have never visited the historic centre of Foiano della Chiana, but I do know that they have the best meat restaurant in town!
Fierli is an organic farm. They keep 200 Chianina calfs and 300 Cinta Senese pigs. The animals have 100 ha agriculture land for grazing.
A few years ago I visited the farm. The agriculture land is really impressive and nice to see.
Nicola, Cecilia, Francesco, Atos and Eros Fierli are all responsible for running the farm and the restaurant. It is a good place to eat and popular with locals who come to enjoy the bistecca and other high quality meat dishes.
The farm and restaurant are located in the centre, not far from the Valdichiana Outlet in Foiano della Chiana.
The restaurant is open seven days a week for lunch. Only indoor dining is offered. Dinner is saved only for special occasions or a private dining event.
The shop is open at 9 am every day. I often buy meat at the Fierli’s butcher shop for new local recipes with wine I sell in my webshop.
The Cinta Senese pigs and the Chianina veals are merely slaughtered only by competent personnel at specialized established slaughterhouses.
Son Nicola and daughter Cecilia are committed to serving you amazing food. The restaurant offers dishes that showcase fresh local produce from their own farm.
The restaurant’s wine list consists of a small selection of local Tuscan wines. Cecilia is a certified FISAR sommelier and she loves to guide you through the range of wines and advice you on the perfect food pairing.
Cecilia is a good friend of mine, I have known her since our FISAR wine study in Italy.
Bistecca Chianina IGP
Chianina meat is protected by the IGP mark (Protected Geographical Indication). This means quality guaranteed.
IGP is linked to the place of origin where it is being produced, processed and prepared. The average weight of one bistecca is 1 kg and meant to serve 2-3 people.
Chianina is one of the finest meat. It is the oldest breed of cattle raised in Italy. Chianina is also called the “gigante bianco”, the white giant because of the size and the color.
Its territory of origin is the Val di Chiana in the province of Siena. You can find the Chianina breed in central Italy.
In ancient times the Chianina was used only for work, but since the ’30 in Bettole (Valdichiana) the breed is raised for meat production. The Chianina veal is not made for fast growing and slaughtering.
Chianina is the largest and oldest breed in the world. The meats are extremely delicious and healthy!
Cinta Senese DOP
The indigenous Cinta Senese pig is native to the Tuscan region and in particular nearby Siena. The breed is medium sized, with black skin and a white belt. They have been raised for centuries.
The pigs live in maximum freedom throughout diverse forests. The Cinta Senese pigs can eat whatever they want.
The meat has a DOP classification, which means local products of high quality. It has a unique and surprising flavour.
The main cured meats produced with the Cinta Senese breed are dry-cured ham, capocollo, finocchiona, salami, pancetta and so on.
Chianina and Cinta Senese Experience
Fierli organizes a Chianina and Cinta Senese Experience 2-3 times a week. Enjoy the possibility of high quality, organic, wholesome and KM zero food.
The chef prepares the best meat dishes for your lunch. It is an amazing experience when you’re on holiday in Italy. Also nice for children.
For more information and bookings: ChianinaItaly