Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Current Events in Italy: How to Stay Connected

It is important to understand global current events, especially when traveling abroad. Although Italy was the first country I visited overseas, anecdotes from my peers and professionals lead me to believe that cultural awareness is important even for the leisure traveler.

When visiting abroad, understanding how the country's political, economic and social structures is important. You can connect with the sights and history on a new level, and forge positive relations with locals, ending any tourist stereotypes they may have.

As an aspiring communication and digital marketing professional, I am a student of the news. My favorite way to stay tuned to Italian news and global events is through Twitter. Some of my go-to resources are:

  • @RachelDonadio - Rachel Donadio, The New York Times' Rome Bureau Chief, reports on current affairs in my favorite country. I really enjoyed her constant updates during events such as the Italian elections and Conclave and NYT articles about Italy, Greece and the Vatican. 

  • @AJEnglish - Al Jazeera, originally an Arabic news channel, has a site in English and is present on various social media platforms. It is great for a general world news, politics and of course, calcio updates! 

  • @la_stampa - La Stampa, one of the largest Italian newspapers, has an English portion online. They only tweet in Italian, but what a great way to get some language practice!! 

I am working on Twitter lists for Italy travel resources and World News and will post those soon! Stay tuned for short posts on the social, political and economic happenings in Italia.

Sunday, April 28, 2013


This post is worthy of a one-word title because the topic is so great.

Gelato is the single greatest culinary experience in Italy. While cooking styles vary by region and city, gelato stays the same. For the most part. Not all gelato is created equal, but they come close. 

For only a few euros, you can immerse yourself in total happiness. Combine flavors, add some "crema" or fruit, eat it in a cup, cone or on a Belgian waffle. True Italian gelato is a reason in and of itself to visit the country. 

Photo Credit: gelateriaoldbridge.com
Five weeks in Rome certainly taught me that some gelaterie are better than others. My rule of thumb when choosing which sweet wonderland to fork over your Euros to is to try to pick a small business. The chain shops are more expensive and you do not get more for your money. 

My favorite gelateria in Rome? 

Old Bridge Gelateria. 

If you ever go to Rome, write this down and go there. Located next to Vatican City, this shop offers delicious flavors, large quantities and low prices. My go-to combo? Stracciatella e Ricotta con crema. 

I visited many gelaterie in other Roman cities. In my family's hometown, Marostica, we visited the shop near the piazza and I had a delicious Cioccolato. Florence was home to some magnificent gelato and waffle combos. A town near Bari had a gelateria with karaoke at night! 

Aside from how delicious ice cream's Italian counterpart is, gelaterie are a gathering place for visitors and locals alike. Many of these businesses sell crepes with Nutella, wine and apertivi and are open until early morning. 

There are few places in the U.S. that emulate the atmosphere and quality of true Italian gelato, so savor it during your visit! 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Bocce - An Italian Pastime

One of my favorite memories from my high school Italian class were days when we played bocce as a reward for our hard work. I heard about the game growing up, but never learned the rules. After re-discovering this long-standing Italian pastime, my family ended up purchasing a bocce kit.

Commonly played in Italian American communities and popular with older audiences, bocce is a game anyone can enjoy. Derived from ancient Roman games, it is played with miniature bowling balls, and a smaller ball called a pallino. Game lengths differ, but the basic rules are as follow:

  • Form two teams. 
  • Determine which team is going to throw the pallino to the center of the court. 
  • The team that successfully throws the pallino bowls first, then the opposing team. 
  • The goal is to get as many balls close as possible to the pallino, points accrue each time a player successfully bowls. 
  • The team with the most balls closest to the pallino win!

Source: disalvostrattoria.com

I did not have the opportunity to play bocce during my study abroad experience, but it is a way you can bring a piece of Italy into your life if you are unable to take a vacation. Bocce is a fantastic summer game, I look forward to playing when the weather gets better! Until then, there are also a few mobile game apps for practice.