Monthly Archives: December 2013


See you next year

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Posted by on December 31, 2013 in Uncategorized




To you all out there…………

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Posted by on December 24, 2013 in Uncategorized


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Long walk, long post….and a bit of history

Last sunday it was sunny and not so cold as the days before. Hubby had his weekly appointment with the football match (an important one, that marked the 100th anniversary of the team foundation). All the Christmas gifts were already wrapped and some even delivered, the tree was up and so were the season decorations, so me and daughter M had nothing urgent to do. What’s better than a walk through town then, to enjoy the sun, our beautiful town, and exercise as well?

We choose to pass through the Ducale City Park to reach the town center……

See the initials LM under the crown on the gate? Those are Marie-Louise’s, Duchess of Parma, as well as the the second wife of Napoleon I, who choose the park and the inside palace as her summer residence. The Ducal Garden , which has once again been transformed back to its 18th century aspect, was an idea of Ottavio Farnese, Duke of Parma and Piacenza towards 1560, who requested a park for the villa that had once been an ancient manor land with rosemary and myrtle bushes, oak, sycamore and pine trees, fruit trees and vegetables, many potted citrus trees that were placed in heated rooms in the wintertime, and also fish ponds and small woods. The construction of the big fish pond, the lake at the park’s center, was made upon request by Ranuccio II in 1690, a naval battle representation in occasion of the marriage of his first-born son, Odoardo with the daughter of the Palatine Elector. In 1745, during the war of Austrian Succession, the century-old trees in the garden were cut and burned to fuel troop fires.Only in 1749 with the arrival of Filippo di Borbone the park was completely redone upon the project of Ennemond Alexandre Petitot (who contributed so much to the city architecture of the time), with sculptures of Jean Baptiste Boudard and Pierre Costant.

The Trianon Fountain (1712-1719) was constructed on the little island found at the center of the lake originally for the garden of the Colorno Royal Palace by Giuliano Mozzani, and only in 1920 was it placed in its
current position favoring the theatrical taste of the French parks. It represents the Parma and Taro Rivers and the name is only a reference to the fountain of the Versailles gardens, which Mozzani tried to emulate

After the national unity, the park changed into the Town’s hands and was then open to the public. In order to be more accessible to public use, the wall was torn down and new entrances were created among which the one that opens onto the Verdi Bridge (Ponte Verdi) connecting the park with the city center. The improper use of several areas of the park and the lack of upkeep unfortunately accelerated the degradation of the park necessitating the complete restoration. Now the park is clean, the trees and the green are well taken care of, and the people is enjoying it the whole year.

We got out through the gate that leads to the Verdi Bridge, along the Parma river, near the Rocchetta (tower)…………..

…..just in front of the Pilotta Palace.  Its name derives from the game of pelota (spanish for ball) that was played in its courtyards at the time of the spanish domination. Built around 1583, during the last years of reign of Duke Ottavio Farnese, it developed around the corridor (Corridore) which connected the keep (Rocchetta, traces of which can be seen next the river Parma) to the Ducal Palace: the latter, begun in 1622 under Duke Ranuccio I, was never completed. the façade on the Piazza della Ghiaia is missing and the annexed Dominican church of St. Peter was demolished only in recent times. The existing complex includes three courts: the Cortile di San Pietro Martire (now best known as Cortile della Pilotta), Cortile del Guazzatoio (originally della pelota) and the Cortile della Racchetta. The Pilotta was to house a large hall, later turned into the Teatro Farnese, the stables and the grooms’ residences, the Academy Hall and other rooms. After the end of the Farnese family the edifice was sacked starting with Duke Charles I, who moved all the Farnese assets to Naples.Presently the edifice includes: the National Archaeological Museum, the School of Art Toschi (which my daughter attended), the Palatine Library, the Bodoni Museum, the Farnese Theatre and the National Gallery.

After that we walked along narrow alleys and winding streets in the very heart of town….. keeping our noses up….or poking our heads inside hidden courtyards (we decided that if caught, we could spoke in english pretend to be tourists….lol)

We found ourselves in a very colorful streets, where the shops there sold their items also outside………

At the end of that street we passed before the Oratory founded by Father Onorio………..

The small clouds that veiled the sky magically disappeared and the sun was shining again, coming with us till the Citadel.

Alessandro Farnese, the third Duke of Parma, towards the end of the 16th century, commissioned this fortress that is in pentagonal form surrounded with moats and bastions.He projected it to the last detail inspired by the fortress in Anversa by Francesco Paciotto. The “Cittadella” never once defended the city from invaders, who in fact, occupied it at times. Instead, it used its power against subversive individuals becoming a prison and torture chamber. It was transformed into a police barracks, but over the last years it has become a public park, maintaining parts of the ancient structure, such as the pentagonal base plan and entranceway.

Under the arch of the entrance there’s a plaque remembering Albert von Neipperg, Marie-Louise Duchess of Parma’s morganatic husband, married after the death of Napoleon I.

By the time we reached the river again, the sun was going for good, and it was time for a little cappuccino break……….

We met by chance two of daughter M friends there, so the break was longer than planned, outside it was already dark, and our walk towards home seemed longer than usual………

Luckily for me I already had cooked dinner before leaving, a ricotta and red radicchio pie………….

After dinner, my daughter checked on Google Maps how long we walked in the afternoon…..5,600 miles….but my feet already knew that………….










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Posted by on December 17, 2013 in Uncategorized



What happened and what’s happening around here

Ok, let’s start with the celebrations for the 100th birthday of our local football team, that plays such a big part in my life considering my husband is a die-hard fan and has a subscription for the championship for about 30 years…..This was the presentation to the fans and to the press of the book written for the occasion, all the team history from the beginning, a nice saturday afternoon spent with people with the same passion, drinking to many more years of victories with the team owner, the technical staff and the players……

Obviously hubby got a copy of the book, and he already told me to be ready for the biggest celebration at the main theatre in town……………..

Keep Calm & Learn English……….this is the title of a nice initiative of a welsh guy living here. Every wednesday, from 7.30 to 9.00pm at a bar in the town center, he hosts an aperitif gathering for people to come together and speak english. You must be in groups of max 4 person, he distributes an assignment to each group, he delivers advices and help, he corrects the pronounce and grammar mistakes, the only rule is you must speak only in english. The bar provides the refreshments, sometimes after that there’s a live music event, and it’s really so much fun! I was there just once (for now) but my daughter is a regular with her english teacher and some friends. It’s a nice way to meet new people and improve your language!

And finally, the Christmas Tree is in town, up and bright!



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Posted by on December 13, 2013 in Uncategorized


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Goodbye Madiba, and thank you

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

“The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”


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Posted by on December 6, 2013 in Uncategorized


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Funny, busy, nice weekend

Late september, one morning going to work, in the city main square…..

I got curious and came closer…..

I was right, it was one of the famous women of Botero…………..

As soon as I could get an internet access I tried to understand what that was about, and I found out that my hometown were about to house a Botero exhibition and that another of his sculptures was placed just before the main opera theatre in town………..So that evening, I passed the same square…..

to reach the other one and admire another of his fat creatures…..

I knew I had time because the exhibition would have been open till the 8 of december, and with daughter M we decided we had a date!

Finally the day was fixed and last saturday afternoon me and daughter M had a shopping spree for the last Christmas gifts around town….

When we were done, it was just the right time for a cup of coffee, so we met with our friends E and L at a well know cake shop in town….well, not just coffee….

Very satisfied, the four of us walked to the main square and the Palazzo del Governatore (Governor’s Palace) where the exhibition is held (sorry, few pics from inside, it was forbidden to take photos – don’t ask why – but I’ve stolen some with my cell)

The view from the upper floor was nice though…..

We were home late saturday evening and hubby was at the football match, so before leaving home I made these for dinner, they were just ready to eat as everyone was home….

Sunday morning we took the highway to Modena, where our friends L and S live. We had a nice talk and aperitif at their home ….

and then we drove to the restaurant where they had a reservation.

Hubby had a very tasteful (according to him) roasted pork while I had a typical local dish called “cappello del prete” (priest hat) for its form (it’s basically a variation of the cotechino but the pork meat is grinded more thinly with the addition of some wine. It’s cooked like the cotechino, boiled and it is accompanied with mashed potatoes).

After lunch we drove to the Modena Race Track to see the presentation of a new racing car………….

Two days before Modena mourned the loss of one of its great man, Umberto Panini, the last of four brothers who in the ’60 founded the italian (and not only) collectibles company. Every boy and girl in Italy is grown collecting their figurines…. His family owns also a farm for bovines breeding and milk and cheese production. Inside the farm, beside the family home, there’s Mr Umberto Museum dedicated to Maserati cars. Usually it can be visited by appointment only, but last sunday it was open because the family used it as a sort of funeral home for mourners……..

How do you finish a weekend like this? Quietly……….


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Posted by on December 3, 2013 in Uncategorized


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