EN: Are you looking for a special and original gift to put under the tree this Christmas? Give the gift of a photo shoot and your loved ones’ memories will last for a lifetime.*Effettuo servizi a Torino e nelle zone limitrofe. / I offer photo shoot in Torino and surrounding areas.
IT: Ecco alcune foto di Alessandro, un bimbo carino e attivo di sedici mesi, scattate al Parco Valentino a Torino. Gli piaceva giocare con mamma e papà e il suo sorriso illuminava la giornata coperta.
EN: Here are a few photos of Alessandro, a cute and active sixteen-month old baby, taken in the Valentino Park in Torino. He had fun playing with Mom and Dad, and his smile brightened up the cloudy day.
Yesterday I went hiking in the southern part of the Orsiera-Rocciavrè park which stretches over a vast area of the Alps in Piemonte. It was a beautiful hike with spectacular scenery at every turn. We covered about twenty kilometers on foot (about twelve and a half miles), most of which was steep and some of which was very steep. It was a great workout. Some of the ascents and descents had to be scrambled up/down using feet and hands.
We were out there for about nine hours, and the gps thingy said we were in motion for 5 hours and 13 minutes and still for about 3 hours and 50 minutes! So obviously we also spent a good amount of time taking pictures, admiring the scenery, eating lunch and even having a little nap in the warm sunlight at the top. The highest altitude we reached was 2381 meters (7,812 feet), but it was warm and sunny until we started descending and it started getting late and chilly.
The air was crisp and clean and breathing it, along with the physical exercise, reinvigorated me and made me feel better than I have in a while. Moving my body and observing the beautiful surroundings lifted my spirits and relaxed me.
When we were heading back down the mountain, the sun started to set and I watched an extraordinarily beautiful sunset. At this point the birds came out and I saw groups of large black birds soaring through the sky and little brown birds flitting from tree to tree.
Right at the beginning of the sunset, my point and shoot camera’s battery died and I couldn’t take any more photos. Believe me, there was a lot to photograph and the colors were extraordinary, but I didn’t care. I just watched it with my eyes and heart, and that was nice.
Here are some photos of the day:
The white square building is the mountain refuge/lodge, called the Rifugio Selleries, at 2023 meters (6,637 feet). People can eat and sleep there. There was a fountain outside with very cold refreshing mountain water.
Yikes, look at these cakes. This bakery has definitely gotten into the spirit of Halloween, which is starting to get more popular here in Italy. I think the funny thing is how the signs just say “Chocolate and Chantilly cake” and “Hazelnut cake”, without any mention of, say, “Giant Bloodshot Eyeball”, “Bloody Brain”, and “Freaky Undead Fingers Emerging from the Grave”. How appetizing.
It’s fall! The weather has been really nice here in Torino. Sometimes I dread the arrival of fall because I like the summer so much, but I am enjoying the beginning of the season this year. We’ve had some chilly rainy days, but we are also enjoying many warm sunny days and generally pleasant weather.
I’ve been feeling a strong urge to cook traditional Italian seasonal dishes this fall. I’ll tell you something about myself: I like to cook but even though I live in Italy I don’t always cook Italian food. Many of my staple dishes are international ones like Pad Thai, spicy Moroccan fava beans, and squash curry. I also like to make American vegan dishes like black bean burgers, and when I don’t feel like cooking I’ll eat french fries and salad or frozen minestrone soup.
That said, I love going to the market and buying what’s local and in season and what looks interesting. Torino has a famous and very large outdoor market called Porta Palazzo and when I go there, I want to buy everything I see. There is a section in one corner of the market where the local Piemontese farmers sell their produce, and that is my favorite part. The prices are slightly higher than the regular part of the market, but I like to buy from the local farmers and the selection is vast and changes with the season.A random shot from the Piemontese farmers’ section at Porta Palazzo. The cavolo nero you see is dinosaur kale which is in season now.
So, with the fall weather, the scrumptious local ingredients available, and my desire to cook seasonal foods, I have decided to get to work making some classic Italian dishes. I started today.
Around this time of year you can find roasted beets and onions in the markets. I didn’t know what they were at first and I must say they aren’t that attractive, so I stayed away from them initially. Curiosity eventually got the best of me and I brought some home.
The first time I bought them, I peeled the beets with a knife and made beet salad, which is made with the beets cut into strips, olive oil, salt, and oregano. It was pretty good.Roasted Beets and Onions What they look like peeled Beet Salad with olive oil, salt, and oregano
The beets have a subtle roasted flavor which is very good, and I prefer it over the taste of canned or vacuum packed beets.
I didn’t really know what to do with the onions. I baked them with oil, salt, breadcrumbs, and capers, but they weren’t fantastic since they are already cooked and take on a unique flavor from their original roasting. If anyone knows how these onions are usually prepared, I’d love to hear about it!
A couple days ago, I bought some more roasted beets and onions. I just so happened to have all of the ingredients at home that are used to make a Northern Italian mountain recipe, Red Beet Pie, so I went for it.
I love recipes like this, local fare made with just a few simple ingredients. There’s nothing fancy about potatoes and beets, but the end result gives surprising satisfaction. It’s also a vegan recipe in it’s original form, so I didn’t make any changes.
The pie was pretty easy to make. Boiling the potatoes took the most time. I used a store bought puff pastry pie crust (the soft rolled kind), but if you feel up to it you can make your own.
Here is the recipe (photos after recipe):
Red Beet Pie
1 medium sized cooked beet, preferably roasted
3 medium potatoes
1 stalk of celery
1 clove of garlic
salt and pepper
1 puff pastry pie crust
1. Peel the beet if you’re using the roasted kind.
2. Boil the potatoes in salted water until soft. Let cool and peel the skins off.
3. Finely chop the celery and garlic.
4. Mash the potatoes and beets together, then add the celery and garlic. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Taste the mixture to make sure you’ve added the right amount.
5. Prepare a round pie pan with oil and flour, or use the oven paper that comes with a store bought pie crust. Lay the crust down in the pan. Spread the beet mixture evenly over the crust, and fold down the edges all around the pie.
6. Bake at 350°F/180°C for twenty minutes.
7. Let cool and enjoy at room temperature.
Mmmm this is really good. I can taste every ingredient that went into it. It has a subtle flavor enhanced by the celery, with the salt, pepper and garlic providing “oomph”. The potatoes give it a creamy consistency while the beet deepens the flavor and gives it an attractive rose color. Success! (Yes, I just tasted it after writing this whole post.)
Goodbye for now. I’m going to have another slice. Buon appetito!
Months ago my boyfriend was joking around and said (in Italian), “Nothing you say makes sense.”
I rose up in my seat to contradict that and exclaimed, “Faccio sempre senso!”
He froze, then burst out laughing.
Outcome not good. I figured I messed up somewhere and said something other than “I always make sense”, which is what I was going for.
He said fare senso means something like fare schifo (to be gross or disgusting) but with a slightly different meaning.
Well, I looked it up. I had proudly proclaimed to anyone who would listen that “I always give people the creeps!”
N.B.: We say ‘make sense’ and Italians say ‘have sense’, so ‘to make sense’ is avere senso (not fare senso).
I took these photos in a town called Farigliano, which is about an hour south of Torino in the province of Cuneo. It is in the Langhe, a famous wine-producing area in Piemonte. The landscape was beautiful, with vineyards covering the hills, and I couldn’t help taking a few shots.
For some reason they use a teddy bear to tell people to keep their arms clear of the closing doors. The unfortunate (yet still smiling) bear, arm stuck in door, is shouting “Ahiii!” which means “Owww!” in Italian. It’s not pronounced “Ah-heee!” like it looks, though. It’s more like a long drawn-out “I”, or “Eye-yeee” pronounced in one smooth syllable.
That’s how Italians vocalize when they are in pain, and they laugh when I say “Ouch!”
The second sign warns us not to lean on the doors, lest we risk losing our balance (or breaking into dance, it’s hard to say from the picture). This sign appears not just on the doors of the metro, but on the doors of every bus in the city. What I can’t wrap my head around is how, given the number of buses and the number of years they have been in circulation, no one has corrected the basic grammar mistake on the English translation, which is the case because the same sign appears on brand new buses and trams in Torino. (It should say “Do not lean on the doors”, rather than “to the doors”. “To the doors” is a literal translation from the Italian.)
However, apart from the entertaining signs, I think Torino’s public transportation system is really great. I don’t have a car, and I take the trams and buses often (other times I use my bike). The network goes almost everywhere, and each stop is clearly marked with a big yellow sign listing all of the stops on the line and the name of the streets on which those stops are located. The current stop is highlighted so you know where you are.
Sometimes the buses are really crowded, and sometimes you have them practically to yourself, but hey, it’s a big city.
The metro is fairly new and completed automated. Since there are no drivers, the ends of the first and last cars are made of clear glass, so you can see the tracks and watch your progress down the tunnel. The tires are made of rubber which means the metro is very quiet, which is my favorite thing about it. Also, no one can fall onto the tracks because they are closed off at every stop by glass doors, which open directly into the open doors of trains once they arrive. The only drawback is that there is only one line, so it doesn’t help the people who don’t live or have business near it.
What I’d really like to see, though, are more bike paths in the city. There are already a lot of people who use bikes in Torino, but safety and bike trails are an issue. If you speak Italian, check out the website of Bike Pride, which works to promote urban cycling, bike culture, cleaner air, and safety on the roads.
Here is a photo I took a couple weeks ago during a delightful sunny day which cheered me up after a few days of dreary weather. You can see Romano Canavese, a town about forty minutes to the north of Torino, with the Alps in the distance.
I know I haven’t posted in a while. Please forgive me. I was on vacation! I’m back in Torino now and I’ll be posting more about Italian life soon. For now, here are some photos from this August in the U S of A. I took them all with my amazing point and shoot camera, which was all I felt like carrying around with me, since I was there to relax. All of the photos I took of Philadelphia, I took with film, so maybe I will post them later after I scan the negatives.
A welcome change of scenery. These photos were taken on a camping trip in the Delaware Water Gap State Park, on the Pennsylvania-New Jersey border. It was beautiful. I didn’t even care that it rained most of the time.
The park contained hundreds of waterfalls. A house on the main (and only) street of Walpack, NJ, which is inside the state park. It looked like a ghost town with about five or six houses, a post office, two churches, and the ruins of a gas station on a single street.
OK, I do have just one digital photo from Philadelphia… and the most important one! Nothing beats a genuine Philadelphia soft pretzel bought from a food cart on the streets of the city. Price: 50 cents. Mustard on top is a must, in my opinion.
High Line Park, a park built on the tracks of an old elevated railway that passed high up in the city, really close to buildings and sometimes going right through them.
Barnegat Lighthouse, on Long Beach Island, New Jersey
Walkway to the beach at Cape May Point, New Jersey
An old World War II bunker built on the beach at Cape May Point, NJ