Monthly Archives: April 2013

A sad goodbye

I’m downloading the photos taken on our recent bike trip, and while organizing them I realized I had some on my pc that I never posted here. At the beginning of april, our closest neighbours (a nice couple living upstair from us) told us they were leaving because he got a very good job offer in Switzerland. They knew it for a while but they wanted to be sure it all was organized before telling anyone. It was a bad news for us because they are very nice people, always so smiling and sociable, always ready to have a little talk. They rang our bell one evening with a sad smile on their faces, inviting us out for lunch the next sunday. We knew something was up but we didn’t expect this…. They said they wanted to spend a little time just with us before having a big goodbye party….we choose a restaurant we all enjoy from now and then, in the city center…

It was cold outside and it was nice to just sit quietly and talk….until we realized the waiters were setting the tables for dinner…..maybe it was time to go!

Few days later they hang an invitation card in the main entrance of the building for a party in their home, a sort of long happy hour…. luckily for them, beside the bedroom and the kitchen, everything else was already out of the way, and each one of us brought a chair, but we also contributed with these (my daughter’s work)

and this is my mom artichokes pie

I offered to help setting the tables and the food………

and while G and F were busy in the kitchenette

everyone else was having fun (sorry, last pics from my cell, not the best)

Now I have to think of them there……….not so far from here and on a road we have to go on our usual way north on vacation, so maybe sooner or later our paths will cross again….


Posted by on April 30, 2013 in Uncategorized


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Happy birthday Mr Pietro

In every town there are people who made history, for one reason or another. In mine, over the years, we had a few men and women to remember. Today it would have been the 100th birthday of one of them, Pietro Barilla, his name forever linked to our food habits….

2013 marks also the 20th anniversary of his disappearance, so the family – that still has the ownership of the company – will celebrate his founder all over the year. The company helped the building of the local Children’s Hospital, a new concept on how children can live their life at the most while being cured, with their families near. Obviously the new hospital was named after Mr Pietro, as anyone in town called him, whether they knew him personally or not, and his sons inaugureted it last january, symbolically giving the key to the head physician of the hospital.

Yesterday night, the eve of Mr Pietro birthday, a big event was held at the Regio Theatre, the main in town, broadcasted live by a local tv, and shown on a big screen in the main square of the city. It was called “Pietro, a hundred years ahead”, based on a book with the same title written by Francesco Alberoni.

From a local newspaper: “Everything is done for the future, go ahead with courage,” said Pietro Barilla. One hundred years after his birth his motto is always alive and the event strongly wanted by children Emanuela, Guido, Paolo and Luca, his wife Marilena was dedicated above all to the young. Grandchildren who are growing and many, many others, have recognized and acknowledged the values of the man Pietro Barilla, before the entrepreneur. This morning at the Bocconi University in Milan will be presented the project ‘Barilla for young people’, which will award up to ten scholarships – € 40,000 each – to as many students. The project, conducted in collaboration with CentroMarca and Parma Union of Industrialists, is aimed at young people between 18 and 28 years who can suggest, from April 16 to 30 September 2013, on, an idea on how to improve the planet and the lives of people, also including the training they’d aim to, that must belong to one of the following areas: business management, quality and innovation , art, communication and design, nonprofit. The best ideas will be awarded with the scholarship. “My whole life has revolved around two pillars: family and work. I always thought that a united family is not only the safest of refuges, but it is an invincible force with which you can deal more calmly many difficult moments.  For many people today the family is only a burden: children do not get married, do not have children, they behave like perpetual adolescents. But without roots you can’t built and can’t leave anything. Instead, I believe that the family is the foundation of individual and social life, in many cases, a solid company, honest, that continues over time, from generation to generation.”  These are the words of Pietro Barilla written by Francesco Alberoni, presented yesterday at the Regio Theatre as a show dedicated to Pietro Barilla involving the journalist Giovanni Minoli (the narration voice), Luca Zingaretti (voice of Pietro Barilla), Margherita Buy (Marilena Barilla) many other actors and musicians (Renzo Arbore, Tosca), and creative as Gavino Sanna (“Where there is Barilla there is home” famous ad), employees as the Director of the plant Giovanni Zoni and many more, impossible to mention them all. At the Theatre there were all those who have known Pietro Barilla, true friends and followers. Not the ones who as pointed out by Guido Barilla when his father ran gave up selling the company to the american giant Grace “changed the sidewalk.”  Pietro Barilla bought the company  back and who “changed the sidewalk” had to think it back. With the quality of the pasta “al dente, always,” and with “Barilla, and is always Sunday” and then the baked goods, sauces, biscuits and snacks Mulino Bianco, the company won the Italy preference (and many competitors, from Voiello to Pavesi) and european markets. Remembering eighty years of the life of a captain of the industry as Pietro Barilla, means speaking about many business, but also lots of friendships (Cesare Zavattini, Attilio Bertolucci, Enzo FerrariFederico Fellini, Riccardo Muti and Renzo Piano and others), passion (for art and culture), and of course a good part of the country’s history, the liberation from fascism (with the communists of Nilde Iotti that confiscated the factory), the boom of the ’60, with the first advertising with Mina signed by Valerio Zurlini, through the years of protest and the economic crisis of the following decade. The proceeds from the show were donated to the New Children’s Hospital of Parma entitled to Pietro Barilla.Seated in the stalls, among others, the singer Laura Pausini, Umberto Veronesi, Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, the mayor of Florence, Matteo Renzi, and former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

 wife Marilena

 daughter Emanuela

 sons Luca, Paolo and Guido

Thursday, April 18, starting at 9 am, in the auditorium of the Central Building of the University in Parma, will be held “The teaching of Pietro Barilla: our way of doing business”, a conversation with the Barilla family, four generations of the Made in Italy in the world, with the students of the University sponsored by the degree courses in Economics and Management and Master in Marketing Management of the University, and visible live on the web. The event will be an opportunity to meet with the youngs and tell about a business model, always been inspired by the social, economic and environmental issues, with a passion for taste and for the nutritional balance of good food.

It was an amazing performance which I saw on tv, and it moved me so much, so many people attended and each one had only so good words and feeling for this incredible man, not just a entrepreneur, but a family man and a untiring benefactor.

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Posted by on April 16, 2013 in Uncategorized


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Salsa & Merengue

There are some places that you learn to love step by step, some that you dislike and never be back again, and some you fell in love with at first sight. The last one was my case….I went there for the first time celebrating a friend’s birthday and felt at home.

It’s usually calm and quiet if you go there on week days to have some very tasty latin foods…..

It can become a very different place on friday and saturday nights, when lots of people meet there, especially if the manager is particularly inspired….and he is almost all the time! Point in case, last saturday night, dinner with friends and……..well, lots to drink too! The best part? Watching some very talented people dance after dinner on the prepared areas…and singing along!

My daughter and her friends are frequent visitors (we all like spicy foods) and she told me to have a light lunch that day………and I’m glad I followed her advice!


The heart and soul behind all that? These are two of the terrific guys in the kitchen….

As soon as we thought that we could never move a finger…….the dances began……

Ok, I have to admit I gave it a try….and fell on a couch soon after the first dance….too much to eat…but not to drink, I had 3 of my favourite drink in the world…..

It was a great night, even our friend G (the one we call “three-toed sloths” and I don’t think I have to explain why, right?) was very alive and kicking that night, a sort of miracle. Ahhhh…the power of music and food “muy caliente”….


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Posted by on April 15, 2013 in Uncategorized


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Another busy weekend

Some time ago I promised my friend PP (recently moved back here from north Italy) that we would spend a whole day together, like we used to do when we were younger (much younger….) and without family obbligations….So last saturday morning I finished my weekly groceries shopping very early, and then took the bus to one of our local market where I met her.

We bought some marmalade, some cheese and she bought a beautiful bag for her sister-in-law birthday. After a while we got hungry and looking at my watch we realized it was well past lunch time….we looked into each other’s eyes and with a laugh we walked toward a well known place here, established some 3 decades ago, and a must for a fast lunch or break…don’t get fooled, fast doesn’t mean cheap or cheap quality, and the crazy crowd usually there is a sign….we used to go there after school, almost every day and the place isn’t changed in all these years….still a very small place, just a handful of seats, and the crowd out, in the street, eating sandwiches (the best ever!) or its famous “carciofa” (artichokes pie) even under the umbrella when it’s raining! It was a big surprise to me that now they have also corn bread, but I had to miss the carciofa…..sigh….

Eating and remembering the old good days was good, but the weather not that much, the sky promised rain, so we crossed the park in a hurry

towards PP (new) home…..she’s recently divorced, no kids, and her only company is Lulù, a lady cat who posed for me on PP bed…

We talked about a lot of things (her ex, most of all….) my daughter, and all the dreams we had back in the school days….and as if what we had for lunch wasn’t enough, we had this for snack…(she made those in the morning with gluten-free flour, isn’t she lovely?)

We had a great time and we promised to meet more often………and leaving her home I asked myself how I could possibly deal with that evening dinner out with friends….luckily it was all fish and veggies, mostly steamy cooked…..

but I couldn’t resist their gluten-free strawberries pie….

I felt very guilty, but I forgave myself thinking that on sunday I had a walk planned with my daughter…..we strolled around our neighborhood, as always

But obviously after a hour and a half of walking, we couldn’t resist to stop by to our usual ice-cream shop…..

no sugar and not lactose, still……oh damn!

And before leaving for our walk, can you guess what me and my daughter baked? And someone maybe can guess why?

yes………….peach cobbler……………lol………..


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Posted by on April 11, 2013 in Uncategorized


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Easter weekend

Let’s talk about food………..again………because that was a big part of my Easter 3-days-weekend, along with some cultural outing and friends’ gathering, really the best part.

On saturday me and my daughter decided to visit an exhibition, and her friend L and her mom E – one of my best friend – came along. We left in the late morning, and the first stop was a pastry shop where I bought a gluten-free, lactose-free dove as the Easter lunch dessert.

Then we moved on to a cozy place for lunch, an old farmhouse renovated to become a restaurant and organic food shop

We just had some pasta and some cakes, but it was so delicious….

Then we were ready to visit the exhibition, dedicated to Paul Delvaux

It was forbidden (for the first time in this museum) to take photos of the works there, these ones are from the catalogue of the exhibition my daughter bought

On Easter we didn’t do anything beside hanging out at my mom for lunch and  watching tv afterward…….my daughter took a pic while I was helping do the table

and this is what we bought at a local market as a centrepiece, made by kids with Down syndrome…..

My family has an Easter tradition for lunch, so this is what we had (and we knew we were having…..) boiled eggs with tuna and Easter pie as starters

pumpkin filled ravioli as first course

and rabbit roast as main dish, so good….

and obviously, our dove as dessert!

So, after a while I left the company and this is what I did, laying on my bed trying to read (thanks Stacey for introducing me to Jo Nesbo) and to put up with all that food, walking wasn’t an option, it was raining like hell!

On Easter Monday we met with our friends E&L and with the ones from Modena, who made a reservation to a new place, in the hill mid-way between our hometowns….

the restaurant is very bright, very swedish style don’t you think?

and my friends know that they have to pose for some photos, always….

hubby and our “american” friend S (she lived in Chicago for 15 years)

the food was really wonderful….

We are all bikers, so can you guess what we did after lunch? Drove to a nearby circuit, of course……….

eventually it started to rain (again!) so we made it to the circuit bar to have some coffee – and more talk….

They were three busy day (and now I REALLY need to diet!) but I’m glad I had the opportunity to spend some quality time with my family and my dearest friends. Actually this is the best way to spend our days, right?

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Posted by on April 4, 2013 in Uncategorized


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Walking and Looking

The day after my daughter graduation, I had an appointment with my mother-in-law doctor. His office (and home) is in an old building in the city center, so I had to walk to go there. Going to the appointment I was in a hurry, but coming back I just took my time looking around………..and I still had my camera in my bag, so…………

This is the doctor’s fine building (and the office itself and the patients’ bathroom are nice either….)

Some people looked at me, and then at what I was about to photograph, as it was nothing. But I see beauty in these old buildings………..

After all, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, right?




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Posted by on April 4, 2013 in Uncategorized



Life on march…..(long post)

Collecting photos for this post I realized it was almost completely about food… I have a new reason to really start again my diet!

The month started with an invitation to one of my new collegues home, she and her partner are bikers too, we already hit the road together, and we seem to get along well even if it’s not even a year we know each other…..She’s very careful about what she eats, she usually buys and cooks organic foods, so it was no big deal to serve a gluten-free dinner and very tasty too…..

The evening was over too soon even if it was well into the night when we left, after hours of chatting seated before the fireplace drinking a whole bottle of white wine …….

The next day was sunday, and the very first time we thought spring was just around the corner – and folks, how wrong we were! – so what’s best than a walk through the park with friends?

Obvioulsy talking about incoming bike trips and possible destinations…….

and ending up in a little old-fashioned pastry shop just opened…..

The next week was full of events to attend. One of my collegue was about to marry, she is from a little village in Sardinia, and she was leaving to be home and tie the knot there. Before that, a bunch of us had lunch together to wish her good luck!

We had a great time (she’s really the nicest girl on earth) and I will treasure her friendship forever…..Below, her wedding box of sweets for us, her grandma embroided about 200 for her!

Next was our friend S. 50th birthday, we had dinner at a nice restaurant just outside town…..

and this is our gift to her, a bracelet made of australian pearls…..

While we were celebrating, spring decided to get lost, this is what I woke up to, one morning, mid-march….

Luckily it didn’t last long, but I’m really tired of this crazy weather, cold, rain and windy days till now…… enough!

That night we were supposed to be at a local event, eventually we made it without much troubles driving along icy roads….The father of my daughter’s best friend is a wine dealer, he invited us to a wines’ tasting, italians and foreigners. I’m really glad they provided us some food too, otherwise I’m not sure we could make it back home safely…..

It was the first time for us to an event like this, there were several different rooms, for different kinds of wines (and the foods that went along better) with experts explaining each wine’s features and backgrounds……….at the end of the evening we were experts too (and a little drunk as well) and had a great time.

I guess the real experts had fun too, but they had a work to do as well, tasting the wines and give votes to the best ones….

while we had fun trying to emulate them….instead of paper and pens, we had cheese and fish….

and a sommelier who was on a mission that night, trying to convert me to red wines over my white favourite…..

but at the end it was not a wine I fell in love with, but this pumpkin and almonds soufflè……

The next sunday we had lunch with some friends in a well known (for truffles and mushrooms) village in the hills, luckily it was cold and windy but the sky was clear almost all day….

they even had a delicious gluten-free chocolate soufflè. I’m glad that the alleys were cleared of the snow, because after that lunch we really needed a walk!

It’s already several yearsthat  my hometown holds a much waited, 3-days fair/event/market, called Cioccolato Puro (Pure Chocolate) and I don’t have to explain you why, right?

But the real event of the month, the BIG one, the one we were really waiting for, was my daughter M. degree. Finally the D-day was here and I couldn’t believe it, it was 5 years I was dreaming about it. We woke up very early in the morning, at 7.00am her friend F. was there for make-up and hair dressing……bringing her the flowers bouquet to hold after the dissertation….

and then we were actually there, entering the university……

yes, I know, a little terrifying………….but then all her friends were there waiting for her turn to be called in, and the panic subsided….(sorry, the pics are blurry, but the light inside was really terrible and I hadn’t much time to get the people posing…..or maybe it was my hand trembling?)

and there she was, sitting before the board of professors, her supervisors (2 of them)  introducing her and her thesis “Post-mortem photography in the Victorian era England”

and now there she is, a new Doctor in Arts and New Media with her laurel wreath – yelling at me to stop crying…..

but, hey….. my mom was crying too, after posing for a pic with her only granddaughter…..(I really hope the photos taken by the official photographer will arrive soon)

the only ones laughing were her closest friends (maybe thinking about the after party at my mom’s, or about the jokes they planned for her in the afternoon around town – waiting to see those photos as well). Aren’t they all beautiful?

Right now she joined the crowd of the out-of-work, but I hope this will end soon…..

At the end of the month we had a 3 days long weekend, it was Easter and we celebrated it the last day at work with the usual easter dove and a glass of wine…..absolutely indispensable is a silly collegue as well…..

What we did on Easter will be the subject of the next post…………….




Posted by on April 2, 2013 in Uncategorized


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