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!
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!
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.
Ingredients: 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)
*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.
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.
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.
Recipes for ossobuco vary wildly. Although the “Ossobuco alla Milanese” from Lombardy may be one of the most famous and well known Italian secondo piatto.
My favorite recipe is: Ossobuco di Chianina al Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva!
Ossobuco di Chianina IGP
You can pair ossobuco with other dishes. I am talking about delicious saffron risotto such as: Risotto alla Milanese.
As a side dish you may choose to eat ossobuco with polenta or with mashed potatoes.
The Italian ossobuco is a beef shank from the cow’s leg. It is a cut of meat butchered from a cow’s or bull leg.
Much is written on which part is best. It’s been said that veal shanks from the hind legs are the best! Meat from those parts is more voluminous and fleshy.
Ossobuco literally translates to “bone with a hole” with meat. You can prepare ossobuco from veal but also with other kinds of meat such as pork.
However, the finest meat for cooking, in Tuscany, is Chianina breed. It is high valued meat with a more intense taste.
For this recipe I bought the ossobuco di Chianina at the Fierli farm in Foiano della Chiana. Fierli is an organic farm. The animals have a long life and they are treated well.
The Ossobuco di Chianina al Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva is a true Tuscan recipe. Many people don’t prepare it at home. Some cuts of veal from the store may be chewy.
Tip for buy-in, first look for shanks that are > 2 inches. If they’re too thin, they’ll braise too fast.
My style Ossobuco di Chianina al Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva needs the following ingredients:
Recipe for 1 person
1 ossobuco di Chianina
red wine “Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva DOCG” – Il Convento
1 clove of garlic
1 onion (soffritto)
1 celery (soffritto)
1 carrot (soffritto)
1 bay lief
When braising the ossobuco you may as well use meat broth or any other liquid (water). I prefer to use only wine. I do not mix the wine with other liquids. That would be a no-go, especially when it’s a high quality wine.
Also mixing tomatoes or tomato paste with red wine is not what I recommend. But that’s my personal opinion.
What else do you need
How to cook
Chop the onions, carrots and celery.
Peel the garlic.
Heat the pot until the olive oil is well heated. Instead of olive oil you may also use butter.
First stir-fry the garlic. When the garlic begins to colour reduce heat. Add the soffritto and cook the vegetables until they begin to soften and caramelize.
Meanwhile cover the Ossobuco with the flour.
Ossobuco di Chianina IGP
When the soffritto has a golden wheat color, remove it or move it to a side. It depends on the size of the stew pot. Sear the ossobuco on both sides until nicely browned. Sprinkle the ossobuco with salt and pepper.
Pour the red wine over the ossobuco and bring it to boil to evaporate the alcohol. Reduce the heat and add the bay leave and cloves.
Cover the pot and check occasionally. When the wine is absorbed just add a little extra. The meat should be left at a low temperature for about 2-3 hours.
When the meat is tender it will fall off the bone. The marrow in the hole of the bone is the best part of the ossobuco. It is a real delicacy and super yummy!
Serve the ossobuco on a plate and the warm wine sauce on top of it.
Ossobuco di Chianina al Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva DOCG
What to serve with ossobuco
Due to its massive taste ossobuco goes well with a creamy risotto, mashed potatoes or polenta.
If you’re cooking beef or stew Vino Nobile di Montepulciano (sangiovese) is your friend. It affects the taste of the dish. The ripe flavors in this wine give complexity to the sauce and the meat. Chianina is a traditional and genuine meat with an intense and pure taste.
Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is a full bodied wine. It is best when paired with the right food. In particular Chianina beef.
Nothing beats the magic of a brilliant wine and food pairing!
Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva DOCG is recommended by Dutch wine critic and journalist De Grote Hamersma. This wine is available in my webshop.
Watch this video recipe to see how to cook Ossobuco di Chianina al Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva.