Posts Tagged With: italian

Part 3: Fried Green Sage at the San Salvador Hotel

Buongiorno a tutti,

Well this is the final part of my Bellaria Blog Tour Trilogy! If you haven’t seen the others yet have a look:

The Blog Tour was hosted by the San Salvador Hotel run by the lovely Poggi family. The hotel is practically on the seafront, just a minute’s walk from the beach, if that. The common areas of the hotel are bright, clean and well-maintained and the owners and staff are very friendly and welcoming (and speak English!).  There’s a lounging area outside with comfy seats and swinging chairs where you can relax with a drink from the bar.

The buffet style restaurant is on the first floor. I was really impressed with the quality and range of food and even more so by their vegetarian and vegan friendly dishes. The hotel takes great pride in their cuisine – most of it being freshly made at the hotel using their own produce. In fact, have a look at their own write-up here, their photos are better!

Now, I could turn my nose up at buffet style places – you never know how long the food has been out and it’s a bit exposed to the elements eh? But the food was always obviously fresh and the buffet style meant you could take whatever you fancied and go back for seconds.

These are a few snaps from the restaurant. I was particularly impressed by the juicer which clients could make use of. You can eat as healthily or as unhealthily as you want. They even have chia seeds to have on your breakfast.

Life as a vegetarian in Italy is sometimes a challenge for me – my options can sometimes be limited to just pasta with tomato sauce. At the hotel though they were serving stuff I didn’t think you could actually get over here: different dishes including tofu, soya and tempah.  See below for some of my meals.

The hotel offer cooking courses on occasion and on one rainy morning we learnt how to make biscuits called ‘Gialletti’ (the name coming from ‘giallo’ which means yellow, the yellow tinge coming from the polenta used to make them) and piadinas Emilia-Romagna style. For those that haven’t come across piadinas before, they’re a sort of flat bread – a fat tortilla. Italians heat them up in a frying pan and put tasty thing inside like rocket and squaquarone cheese (squaquarone is a very tasty soft cheese). Our piadinas contained lard so I didn’t get to taste the final result but it did encourage me to give it a go at home (using oil!).  The bottom right hand photo below shows our final efforts with the rocket, squaquarone and slices of meat.  I was particularly impressed with the biscuits – we got to keep them and my pack of 30 or so biscuits lasted for all of about 2 days.

I mentioned above that the food in the restaurant was made using local produce – well the bulk of it comes from the Poggi family’s own land a few minutes drive away from the hotel. On our final day we were given a tour of the estate and given the opportunity to harvest some of the food for that evening’s dinner. It was good to see how vegetables should be grown properly. I’m currently growing just salad which keeps getting eaten by slugs and herbs which are looking suspiciously brown. During our harvest, we collected marigold flowers, fennel fronds, courgette flowers and sage leaves to be fried in batter for our dinner later. In fact, it seems there’s nothing that they don’t fry in batter (I didn’t see mars bars admittedly).

And this is the end result of our harvest – fried things in batter (highly recommended – particularly the sage!) and vegetable pasta with some marigold leaves to garnish and some purple flowers (I can’t remember what they’re called).

The hotel rooms were bright, spacious and clean with comfy beds. My room had a large shower but other rooms had baths.  I had a balcony complete with clothes horse to dry clothes. All in all, a nice place to come back to after a day at the beach or touring around the local area.

The hotel also provided entertainment…. Outside the hotel there are various dance clubs and places running karaoke nights etc. Back at the hotel though, it was nice to chill out in the seating area downstairs. On one night I discovered just how stressful Connect 4 can be – who knew?! It’s very strategic and our ‘board’ was huge!

On our final night a local dance group came along and showed us their moves, and dragged us onto the dance floor with them! It was great fun. Some of the group dances reminded me of Zumba – in fact, it was the same music and almost the same moves! I really should start that up again.

So I think that about sums up my stay. I really enjoyed it and I’m so pleased to have been invited along. Thank you San Salvador Hotel!

If you want to see what some of my fellow bloggers had to say, check out their blogs here:

Forchetta e Valigia

Profumo di Follia

Giorni Rubati

Martinaway

I’ll b right back

21 Grammy

Petali di Margherita

Big Shade

Viagem na Italia

Non Solo Turisti

x

PS. I am available for all blog tours. I would particularly encourage luxury hotels in the Maldives to make use of my reviewing services.

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The horrors of learning a new language…

Buongiorno a tutti!

How is everyone?! Today’s discussion will be dedicated to language learning, a subject close to my heart!

It’s been a while since I’ve moaned about how impossible learning Italian is. My lack of moaning is not because I’ve improved so much as because I’ve grown accustomed to my abilities (or lack thereof!). I will add a disclaimer here – to all those that don’t speak Italian, I will sound, without a shadow of a doubt, absolutely fluent. And I will also add, that it’s not often that I can’t make myself understood or that I can’t understand what someone else is saying. If “ability to communicate” is the goal of language learning, then yes, I probably have that nailed. And that is a fine goal if you don’t live here. However, that is absolutely not my goal. I am not content to just communicate,  I want to do it well! I want to come across as the same person when I’m speaking in English as when I’m speaking in Italian. That’s what being fluent is to me.

Our opinions, thoughts and beliefs are what make us who we are. Yet when you’re learning a new language, you’re taught how to order food, book hotel rooms, provide some basic personal information. Quite rightly too. And of course for holidays etc., that’s more than ok. But imagine you’ve moved to your new country and you want to integrate with your new community: try making friends with that rather limited vocabularic repertoire! Expressing yourself well requires a reasonably good understanding of how to string sentences together.  You can get away with pigeon English in English speaking countries – people will know what you’re talking about but it’s not quite the same in the Italy.  In Italian there are 90+ different ways of saying “run” depending upon who by and when it is being done. It’s the same for every verb. You can’t just use one of them in a sentence and expect people to know what you’re talking about. With every single noun, not only do you have to learn how to say it in Italian, but also whether it’s female or masculine  (my little mental dictionary has images of chairs wearing skirts etc.) because that effects all the other words in the sentence. My point is, you may hear me ordering food and think I’m fluent, but I would find it a challenge to discuss the intricacies and potential impact of the upcoming Brexit referendum.  It requires a vocabulary that I still don’t have and a mastery of the congiuntivo verb tense that I don’t have. I could get by but until I can do that comfortably, I feel like the person that I am here is still just a shadow of who I actually am.

However, I wouldn’t change it for the world. I enjoy speaking Italian. Thinking in a new language is not only interesting, it gives a new perspective on everything. Nobody becomes fluent overnight and I give it a good go and, well, life continues.  Sometimes though, something will bring my inadequacy with the language to the forefront: a silly mistake or a comment from someone.And with any other subject matter, that would be like water off a duck’s back. I can take criticism or mickey-taking on every subject without taking great offence. But my Italian, that’s different. Language learning requires such a lot of time, dedication and in fact, courage that it can be a very touchy subject for a lot of people, an Achilles heel. I’ve known people that, despite understanding the language, refuse to speak it because people have been unknowingly insensitive in the past. To put yourself out there and speak to people when you know you’re going to make mistakes, particularly at the beginning, can be an incredibly daunting prospect. Yet, there is no other way of improving other than to speak the lingo and to have someone correct you. Making mistakes really is the only way you can get better.

I must be getting marginally better because comments are generally rare these days. But last week, I received my biggest insult yet! I was in a shop, asking if they had any digital pianos. Alas, that shop didn’t but the owner recommended a shop in the next town that did. Then he added “is there someone that could go with you that speaks Italian?”. I was mortified! It’s not that I was speaking in English to him! So, in need of reassurance, I spoke to a couple of Italian friends who confirmed that “technically” I can speak Italian but that my accent “fa fatica” (is a struggle) for anyone that hasn’t known me for ages. I am a struggle to listen to!!!!!  I mean, I was not expecting to be accent-free but I hadn’t ever imagined that people would find it tiring to listen to me!

After a few days of giving myself a hard time, on further discussion with others, I think in fact the shop owner might have had ulterior motives. I have thus reviewed my decision to no longer speak Italian lest I make people’s ears bleed as they struggle to understand me.

However, my ability to communicate as a result of that experience, has been stunted by the appearance of ‘Evil Sue’, my nasty, judgemental imaginary sidekick. ‘We’re our own worst enemy’ as the saying goes and`Evil Sue` only crops up when I’m feeling “Italianly vulnerable”. During conversations she gives the increasingly `Flustered Sue`, such helpful feedback such as: “why did you SAY that? You KNOW that chairs are girls, you KNOW that you go and FIND someone in Italy and not SEE them (it makes me think the entire country is playing an eternal game of hide and seek). What are you, an amateur?! You’ve been here 3 years!!!”. Meanwhile the conversation with the real person understandably gets increasingly nonsensical whilst I am being harshly remonstrated by ‘Evil Sue’. It’s a terrible vicious circle and ‘Evil Sue’ ends up with an exhaustive supply of ammunition.

Improving requires correction and so I like to be corrected. I have a friend who tries to help with my accent. Apparently I mispronounce my ‘t’s in some words. She’ll say a word with ‘t’  in it, I’ll copy it exactly, she’ll tell me it’s nothing like what she just said and repeat it, I again copy it exactly and so it goes on. On one occasion another English speaker was listening in and he found the whole conversation amusing as he couldn’t tell the difference either. It would make for a good comedy sketch show I think. By the end of these sessions, myself and my friend are both about ready to kill each other. I’m comforted by the fact that my English learning Italian friends also struggle with the English accent. They find it difficult to differentiate between the sound of “bed” and “bad” and “growing” and “groaning”. On moaning to my mother about it, she found this interesting article about how adult brains just don’t differentiate certain sounds.  I’m marginally more comforted that it’s not me being inadequate so much as it being difficult for everyone when they’re older!

So the point of this blog? Firstly to try and explain to people that think I’m fluent, why  I don’t feel remotely fluent and why it’s important to me to be a lot better at Italian than I am! Secondly, to explain to my Italian friends why during some conversations it must seem like I’m having a stroke (please don’t frown and look bemused, try not to let on that you’ve noticed and then it might improve!). Thirdly, to provide a bit of solidarity to the other language learners out there that are struggling with the same internal ‘Evil’ sidekick. I shall certainly be trying to speak to myself in a more constructive, less scathing tone in future! Fourthly, to warn people of the dangers innocent comments can have. It’s a very fine line indeed and I have absolutely no doubt I must be guilty of hurting people’s feelings too (apologies to those if I have)! I mean, some of the mistakes people make are so hilarious one can’t  help but laugh and in general that’s ok. Everyone has war stories of the time when they asked someone if there were “preservativi” in the jam for instance (“preservativi” does not mean preservatives in Italian, it means condoms)!!! If you’d learnt a new language without embarrassing yourself on at least several occasions I don’t think you’d be human. In summary, it’s a minefield but what I think I’ll do personally is to be more flowing with the positive feedback with my language learning buddies in the hope it tames their ‘Evil’ sidekicks and I think that really is half the battle!

LagodiFiastra (3 of 6)

Italian learning might be a challenge but when you wake up to such beautiful scenery every day, it’s all worth it

 

 

 

 

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Liquor, Ice Pool of Death & Planning

Ciaooooooo,

Come stai everyone? Not much to update on this week and nothing particularly Italy related either but here’s what’s been going on:

Liquor progress

The liquor is going well I think. Alcohol is an amazing preservative. I thought the corbezzoli would be all mushy and horrid by now but they’re pretty much exactly the same as when they went in (I wonder if I spent my life immersed in alcohol whether it would prevent me aging/becoming mushy and horrid). The colour from the corbezzoli has gone into the alcohol now though. They’ve got another 15 days or so to be soaked and then I need to make some syrup thing and mix it together. EXCITING.

Image

Next up: steep myself in alcohol to test its anti-aging properties…

Teaching “progress”

Well Monday went marginally better than it did last week – the one nightmare class was only a bad dream compared to normal nightmare levels. I’ve learnt to use “colouring in” and threatening them with not playing “Simon Says” if they don’t stop being horrible. It partially works.  They like Simon Says and Colouring in.

When I was at school, the adults around me would say “kids don’t have common sense these days”. Well, I’ve discovered something. Kids THESE days don’t have any either. And, what’s more is that I think my common sense levels are ok so, I’ve come to the conclusion that it probably comes with age in fact. As an example of their common sense deficiency levels:  one of the activities I get them doing is to produce a table which has their friends names in and a column for various food stuffs. They have to ask if their friends like the various food stuffs and put yes/no in the boxes. I draw the table on the board for them so they can see what it should look like but if I don’t stipulate exactly how many little squares in their exercise books they should use, they allow about 2mm to write their friends names in. When they start writing the names down, they don’t seem to think “hmm. I have totally underestimated how much space I’ll need” and instead write microscopically. Excellent for paper saving but I will need to buy a magnifying glass if this continues. Honestly, you should see the “wordsearches” that I have them doing – it puts a new perspective on it. Before you even get to the words you have to search for the thing in the first place! I might try and take a photo next time (hmm that should probably be something for the anonymous teaching blog).

Today I got a bracelet with a flower on from one of the kids though. That was cute. I actually got a kiss on the cheek from one girl today.

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My bracelet…

We’ve started singing my revised We Wish You a Merry Christmas song. I really do need to start using a capo (for non guitar players – it’s a sort of gadget thing you put on the guitar to raise the tone) – as it is, the song is either insanely high or insanely low. I have a perpetually husky voice at the moment due to a never-ending cold so though I can do somewhere approaching insanely high, I’m much better at doing insanely low but the kids can’t sing at insanely low levels (I think basically it’s just me with my cold and Barry White that can sing that low) and well, can I get them singing insanely high whilst I sing insanely low? No, no…it makes for a very painful lesson and it’s probably why my voice remains husky. I need to rest my voice – I always thought pop stars were being wimpy when they said that but no, it turns out it’s true! I am EXACTLY like a pop star.

Car

My car is acting suspiciously. When it rains and if I’m on a hill and I want to turn a corner, it judders and seems to try and go in a different direction or just goes back down the hill. It has a mind of its own. It’s either the tires (it doesn’t look like it’s the tires), or the clutch (I’ve just had a new one – how could that be?), or it’s haunted. I hope it’s haunted – it would be cheaper and less daunting. I’m going to ask the friendly but slightly pervy man (he has naked women calendars up in his office) at the local garage if he could put new “four season” tires on for me.

Apartment

The apartment is FREEZING. FREEEEEEEEEEEZING. This could be another factor in my cold never going. I was hoping to conduct an experiment into money saving by not turning the heating on. I was scared off by an old student telling me that it cost her something like 80 Euros a week for heating this flat. Others have also confirmed heating is extortionate here. So I did what any other miser would do – I decided that I’d live like we did in the old days and not use heating. However, on further reflection, I’ve come to the conclusion that I can’t think of any “old days” that didn’t involve some form of heat. Even cave men had fires surely? I’ve decided I don’t want to provoke the “natural selection” process and kill myself off by freezing to death so I’ll probably turn the heating on and live with the consequences.

Meanwhile there’s supposed to be hot water. However, the hot water isn’t even tepid and takes approximately 45 minutes to rise to not-even-tepid and I swear it’s getting worse. The bath is massive, metal and seems to have liquid nitrogen properties; freezing anything that comes into contact with it be it water or skin. I used to look forward to having a bath (particularly given the shower has one of those flesh clinging shower curtains) but it’s just unbearable now – I’m going to start calling it The Ice Pool of Death instead.

So this week’s task will be to work out how to put the heating on and to raise the matter of The Ice Pool of Death with the Landlord.

Planning

I’ve been doing some planning for next year – I will NOT be teaching at state schools again. No-sir-ee. Instead, I’ve worked out I can have a reasonable frivolity fund if I do 4 private lessons a week. I want to sell some paintings, and I want to sell some articles to magazines, and I want to do some portrait drawing. I’ve set myself what I think are reasonable targets and hopefully I’ll supersede them e.g. become author of a bestselling series of novels which are subsequently turned into blockbusting movies. However, I am keeping expectations and budget setting in check (i.e. one bestselling novel and blockbusting movie in the first year).

In other planning news, I shall be doing snowboarding locally in January/February. I shall be doing some travelling in June. I will be driving the Haunted Car back in August for it’s MOT. I shall be buying a house of some sort here in Autumn. I shall be making money doing something that does not make me want to jump off the balcony and that concludes my planning…

Ok. Onwards and upwards. The Ice Pool of Death awaits <sigh>.

Have good weeks!

X

Ps. News in Slow Italian – it’s great! www.newsinslowitalian.com. It disappointingly costs money. You can get some free stuff. I might have a go at that and if I keep it up, then I’ll pay for a subscription ($44.90 for 6 months for a basic membership which I think would do for me)

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Language Swaps, Water Park Therapy and After Eight drinks…

Ciao a tutti!

Had a great week this week, alas not remotely productive but fun 🙂

Last Sunday there was a party downstairs in the garden for the block of flats and I had a lovely night chatting to everyone. They have a party every year and everyone brings something along – I made biscuits which they were a bit intrigued by. It doesn’t fit in with the usual “biscotti”. People seemed to like them but I think they could have been improved had I actually had scales to measure the ingredients rather than guessing!

I’ve been working my way through the language swap ad responses. I’ve got a “pen-pal” thing going on with one now – we use Microsoft word to write to each other in our non-native language and then use the track changes to correct the other’s errors and then add another letter/note. That’s been working really well actually – having someone correct your writing helps with the speaking too.

I met up with another language swapper a couple of times this week – Matteo. Thursday he came over and cooked a delicious veggie carbonara (“prima piatti”), with re-fried beans (“contorno” – basically means sides/vegetables). I’d made a salad (another “contorno”) and a lemon mousse for desert (“dolce”). My lemon mousse was unusual. Firstly, I forgot to buy lemons. Not having lemons is a definite oversight when making lemon mousse. I improvised with mint syrup instead which turns out to be the nicest thing ever (see ‘What’s a bit weird’ at the end). And secondly, the recipe required whipped double cream which seems to be something that doesn’t exist in Italy. Instead, I selected the closest sounding thing having shaken every available cream container assessing “thickness” and realised when I got home I’d bought sour cream (“panna acido”). Sour cream is officially better in fajitas than dessert (who knew?). However, I think my creation was a rip-roaring success. Weird yes, but tasty! Having said that, I suspect Matteo thought it was just weird and weird.  Here’s Matteo in action (he even volunteered to be in the blog – nobody ever volunteers!).

Cooking in action...

Cooking in action…

I went to a water park called Aquafan on Friday with an Italian friend and his family. Apparently it’s the biggest in Europe (the park, not his family!). Lots of fun and incredibly interesting in terms if people watching and actually one of the most liberating places I’ve been to! Aquafan should be prescribed as a form of therapy. It emerges that I’m vain and lacking in body confidence: if I go to the beach, I’ve been working on the assumption that everyone on the beach looks around, takes note of my every lump, bump and blemish (I’m going to create an acronym – LBB) and feels a level of sickness as a result. But, at Aquafan it turns out a) everyone else has LBB’s, b) there are a lot of people that have more LBB’s than me and c) nobody cares – either about their own or other peoples! So, no more guilt inducing swimming costume wearing for me… So – feeling a bit unconfident? Find an Aquapark!!!

Aquafan...

Aquafan…

I went to another Sotto Le Stelle Cinema night in Camerano – W.E. – Edward e Wallis. Directed by Madonna and about the scandalous relationship between Edward III and his big love, a divorcee. This one was a difficult film to follow as it had two plots running through and I’m not sure I “got” all of it but it was a lovely evening again none the less. There’s only one more, next week, which is a shame. Meanwhile, there are a couple of classical concerts in the next couple of days which I’m hoping to get to.

I met up with my new artist friend in Ancona this week too with a view to going on mass (in two at least!) to the Azienda Entrata to sort out a Tessera Sanitaria for me and to see where her Codice Fiscale and Tessera Sanitaria have got to. They told us we’d come to the wrong place (despite it being the right place a week or two back!) so we did a bit of window shopping instead and visited an art shop where she’s now got some pictures on display. Very interesting – I’ve never had any art displayed publicly so it was an enlightening experience! We both got a free calendar out of it so all in all, it was a good visit.

I’ve also been over to Mezzavalle (The Beach of Naked Men) again with the American students but I can’t believe how busy it’s got – a couple of weeks ago it was positively empty apart from the sporadic naked man. This time, it was packed (with costume cladded people I should add). I definitely preferred it before (for the remote emptiness as opposed to the naked men of course).

Mum has been researching (thanks Mum) and has come to the conclusion that I should just buy healthcare insurance on the basis that she thinks becoming a resident is mandatory after 3 months (ah my 3 month “being in Italy” anniversary will be Tuesday!). So, I’m going to buy it. I’m too de-motivated with it to fight it any longer!

I had another “care package” from home arrive this week too with a delicious chocolate assortment – thank you Jo!!! 🙂 I’ve been disappointingly less controlled about rationing this lot!

Monday, I’m heading to the Summer Jamboree event in Senigallia. I usually get annoyed at music on websites – it’s a bit invasive eh? However, the music on this website has had me dancing around the kitchen. Italian swing music is fantastic! I’ve been trying to download the songs on the website but alas, I can’t find them to buy.

What’s a bit odd? Well, I’m getting quite fed up now of plain water. I WANT SQUASH!!! I decided to try the “sciroppo” (Syrup) which is an insanely sugary, unhealthy Italian version of “squash” which is incredibly expensive and comes in stupidly small sized bottles. I used to have orange squash or something along those lines but I followed a recommendation and went for mint and let me tell you, it’s great! And versatile too – if you have it with milk, well, it’s like drinking an After Eight. Mmm….

Camera 360

Mmmm

Right, that’s about it for this week. Hope you’re all well!

Ciao x

P.S. Has anyone seen this bug?! It’s about an inch long with a horrible nothingness waist and a massive backside and buzzes around in an aimlessly erratic fashion.  I really dislike them! WHAT ON EARTH IS IT?!?!?!

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Bug Watch – Has anyone seen this bug?

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