HOME SWEET HOME: BEFORE&AFTER

Hello!We’re really busy in these days ’cause we’re finally moving!I’m so excited! Now that new furniture are arrived, i can show you many details of our brand new home!I’m just in a rush, but I was impatient to show you some corners of our home, so let’s take a peek! Any first impressions? Any suggestions? Next week I’ll update the post with the photos before the renovation, i think you’ll be impressed by the “transformation”. (that’s why the post is entitled “Before&After!) Happy Week-end to You all! Cris

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BEFORE&AFTER UPDATE – 05/06/14

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NEW AWARD!

Hooray!! I’d like to thank Ada, More Food Please for nominating me for the Sunshine Award! What can I say? Ada’s blog it’s just a great collection of recipes and great places to eat well!When I read a new post, I’m always distracted by the pictures, that make me drooling!

SUNSHINE AWARD

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The rules are:
1. Include the Sunshine Award icon in your post and/or on your blog.
2. Link to the blogger who nominated you.
3. Answer 10 questions about yourself.
4. Nominate 10 other bloggers to receive the award.
5. Link to your nominees and let them know you nominated them.
6. Create 10 questions for your nominees to answer.

I will be answering as required the same questions choosen by Ada; the nominees, if they wish, can make the same as me:

1. What do you look forward to most when you first wake up? Sure a cup of coffee. If I don’t drink coffee I can’t really wake up.
2. Are you a ‘night’ or a ‘day’ person? I’m a “day” person: I’m more productive during daytime!
3. Why did you start blogging? I decided to start blogging to share the dishes I make, my trips all over the world, and speak about interior design and photography: i think i’ve combined all my passions here.
4. What would you like to see on my blog in the future? I’d love to see more and more good recipes to bookmark.
5. What was the last thing you Googled? “Eastpack backpack”…I’ll gift a purple one to my little sister.
6. Flowers or chocolates? Chocolates! (but i love flowers too)
7. What has been your favorite blog post to write? My favorite blog posts to write were the travel posts about Las Vegas and San Francisco, and also the posts about the typical recipes of my town.
8. When was the last time you did a handwritten letter, who was it to?I don’t remember! Sure it’s been a while…maybe to a friend.
9. What cheers you up on a dreary day? Being cuddled always cheers me up.
10. What can we expect to find from your blog in the future? Definitely more trip reports, more photos, more recipes..I’ll show you!

My nominations for the Sunshine Award are:

EverybodyLovesPretty
B as Blonde
Mélanie
Gocce di Zucchero
A Casa di Simi
PemberleyCupcakes
Pane Libri e Nuvole
MyFavouritePastime
FoodLoveCouture
MondoDelizioso

Thank you Ada for the award!

CITIES OF THE WORLD: SAN FRANCISCO

In this period I feel like I just want to travel: put something in the suitcase and leave for unknowed destinations . Maybe ’cause summer is arriving, and summer for me means the longest holidays in a year… Today I was thinking at my trip in California, three years ago, and I wanna share with you my photos and first impressions of San Francisco. I must say that for me it was love at first sight: I could live there one day.

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I think that San Francisco is renowned for its mixture of scenic beauty and unique culture that makes it one of the most vibrant cities in America, if not in the world. Great ethnic and cultural diversity shows itself in the city’s varied neighborhoods, from the crowded and exciting streets of Chinatown to the eclectic attitudes of the Castro Quartier. Each district of San Francisco carries its own unique and distinct culture.San Francisco prides itself on its openness to diversity in race, gender, sexual orientation and personal style.

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To understand the several souls of this city, you must know that it has been corrupted from several cultures: the first European settlement in the area was founded by the Spanish in 1776 as a mission community surrounding the Mission San Francisco de Asís, in what is today called the Mission Dolores in the Mission District. Upon gaining independence from Spain in 1821, the area became part of Mexico.In 1846, the United States claimed this area “California”. Over the next couple of years, California officially became part of the United States following the Mexican-American War, and the name of the town was changed from Yerba Buena to San Francisco.

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In 1848 the California Gold Rush started in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Waves of fortune-seeking immigrants arrived by boat in San Francisco, increasing the City’s population from a few thousand to hundreds of thousands.But in 1906, a devastating earthquake shook the city and a resulting fire destroyed much of the city. After World War II, San Francisco continued to grow in population. Aggressive urban planning projects led to a changing skyline, with the city adding more highrises to its financial district. With the demographic increase, some problems arrive, like the uptake in the crime rate, and the increasing number of homeless people – a problem still exhisting nowadays -.

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Speaking of attractions, San Francisco is well-known for its Victorian architecture, particularly in the central and northern neighborhoods (e.g. Alamo Square,Castro, Nob Hill and Pacific Heights). The city has one of the most restrictive building and planning codes in the world, which helps preserve the historical architecture in certain areas.In many ways a boat is the ideal way to approach San Francisco. The city’s spectacular skyline is best appreciated from the water: we took the ferries running from San Francisco to Sausalito, which is a unique and picturesque community, perched on a hillside between the San Francisco Bay and the Marin Headlands.

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San Francisco as you surely know, has some famous “landmarks”: one of the most famous bridges in the world, the Golden Gate Bridge, has been called one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World and is the first thing you see of San Francisco if driving in from the north, as it is one of the major road routes into and out of the city. A classic view of the bridge is when it’s surrounded by a thick fog that covers the upper part of the bridge.

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Within the center of the city, the famous cable cars run up and down the hills of San Francisco between Market Street and Fisherman’s Wharf and offer quite a ride. We make a long queue to take it, but finally we took a great funny ride standing up on a side of the cable car… a beautiful way to visit San Francisco.

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We stopped ourselves near Chinatown, that today is part a “tourist trap”, part an exhibit of local life. Sure builduings and shops mantein a characteristic aspect, but it’s not that the Chinese community lives and makes errands daily only in this quarter.

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Most tourists start the tour of the city with Fisherman’s Wharf; it is a great place to see amazing street entertainers, watch sea lions at Pier 39, visit museums, or take a cruise to the infamous Alcatraz Prison or to the pleasant Angel Island. Working fishing boats still come into the small harbor here, and the district is home to several excellent seafood restaurants. Don’t miss the chance to eat the famous “clam chowder”,  a seafood and vegetables stew, served in sourdough bread bowls.

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Nearby at the top of Market Street is the Castro Quarter, the center of San Francisco’s Lesbian/Gay/Bi/Transgender (LGBT) community, with numerous theaters and small shops and restaurants. Next door is the Mission District, home to the Mission Dolores Church, one of the oldest structures in the city, and a fantastic collection of murals of all sorts on the walls of many nearby buildings.

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Always speaking of landmarks, don’t miss the chance to visit,in the Civic Center Area, the San Francisco City Hall, re-opened in 1915, in its open space area. It’s a Beaux-Arts monument that epitomized the high-minded American Renaissance of the 1880s to 1917.

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Another prominent tower nearby is the Transamerica Pyramid, the tallest and most recognizable building in the San Francisco skyline, located among the skyscrapers and highrises of the Financial District. Perhaps the most famous view of that skyline is from Alamo Square Park in the Western Addition district, home to the famous Painted Ladies row of Victorian houses, with many other pretty Victorians encircling the lovely park.

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THE FRIDAY NIGHT RECIPE: RISOTTO GAMBERETTI&VERDURE

Hello! Last Friday I wanted to eat a good risotto, so I made a short version of risotto with shrimps, using the few ingredients I had at home. Risotto is just a great alternative to pasta dishes, I like it so much. The taste of this risotto is really delicate, with a light scent of lemon, and it’s perfect also for who doesn’t really like fish. Here the recipe:

INGREDIENTS (4 PERSONS)

– rice arborio 360 gr.
– shrimps (already cleaned) 250-300 gr.
– 1 lt vegetal broth
– extra-virgin olive oil
– half onion
– one lemon
– butter 40 gr.
– chopped vegetables mix of carrots, celery, zucchini (if you like them), onion
– chopped mix of parsley, rosemary, garlic, salt
– salt and pepper

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PREPARATION:

First of all, there are two things to make: to chop the vegetables in bits (carrots, celery, zucchini, few onion), and put the shrimps (already cleaned) into a food container full of water, extra-virgin oil and lemon juice (in equal parts). Leave the shrimps in this “solution” for a while. In the meantime, you’ll start preparing the risotto: peel and chop finely one onion, then fry it over low heat together with extra-virgin olive oil for some minutes. After that, you’ll add the rice, and you’ll let it toast for some minutes. If you wish, you can simmer it with white wine, then add some lemon juice. Keep on blending till the end of the cooking (more or less 30 minutes), adding a ladle of vegetal broth every time is necessary.

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At the same time, put the chopped vegetables in a separated frying pan; let them cook for a while, then add the shrimps (taken out from the water and dried) to the vegetables; flavour them with a finely chopped mix of parsley, rosemary, garlic, salt. When rice is ready, you can finally mix it together with the vegetables and the shrimps.Then remove it from the stove; add the butter to the rice, and keep cooking until creamy (in Italy we use the verb “mantecare”). If you wish, you can add some lemon peel. Finally, garnish the dish with some shrimps (previously taken apart), the vegetables and black pepper. 

Buon Appetito!Cris

BELLEZZE D’ITALIA: VAL DI CHIANA

Today I’ll continue our trip through tuscan countryside: Val di Chiana is the name used to denominate the country around Cortona and Arezzo. The valley gives name to a type of beef meat, the “chianina”, a local product tipically served everywhere”al sangue” (rare) with vegetables. To reach Val di Chiana from Val D’Orcia, there are about 20-25 km from Montepulciano to Cortona: Cortona it’s a medieval village developed on several levels, with beautiful churches and monasteries.

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The main square in Cortona is Piazza della Repubblica, placed on a higher level than the contiguous streets, which bring down to the town’s medieval doors.

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Cortona has just a special charme, with all these ancient sideways that you can glimpse strolling in the main street. To be lost in these tiny streets is just the best way to visit and appreciate the town.

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Close to the town doors, in few alleys, you can admire also some ancient medieval houses: with a little imagination, you’ll go backwards over the centuries.

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After that, following the main road by car, you’ll soon reach Arezzo (half-hour); Arezzo too is placed on several levels, and the most interesting part of the city is on the peak of the hill: so, you’ll start your “promenade” at the “feet” of the town, climbing littlle by little the ancient alleys till you’ll reach the main square (Piazza Grande, or Piazza Vasari) and the Duomo.

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Curiously, the main square is similar to Piazza del Campo in Siena: it has the same incline, and the main buildings (a church, Pieve di Santa Maria, and the CourtHouse) are surrounded by characteristic multi-level houses. Just on the right side of the church, you can admire the “Logge del Vasari”, a long colonnade that ran along the square.

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The Duomo, dedicated to San Donato, in its back is surrounded by beautiful gardens, and the gothic inside is perfectly preserved. In the church, Pope Gregorio X’s relics are on display, and you can admire the fresco paintings of Piero della Francesca and beautiful stained-glass windows of Guillaume de Marcillat.

BELLEZZE D’ITALIA: VAL D’ORCIA

Hello! Last week-end we made a short trip in Tuscany, in the heart of Val D’Orcia, a countryside place between several ancient villages around Siena, in the South of Tuscany.

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We built a beautiful itinerary (also culinary, of course!) trought the Val D’Orcia and Val di Chiana (Cortona, Arezzo) which is just bordering on Umbria and Trasimeno Lake.

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We started our tour from Montepulciano, well-know for its excellent red wines. The countryside all around is just splendid, and the position of these villages allows to have a great view all around.

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To arrive in Montepulciano and Pienza there are panoramic bow-road that will excite you while driving.

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Pienza is also famous for the production of the Pecorino di Pienza, a great cheese which in Tuscany is served with cold cuts.

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Following the main road after visiting Pienza, we arrived in San Quirico D’Orcia, a small village which exhibits some of the better places and countryside views around.

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Typical tree of tuscan countryside is the cypress, which stands in line one after the other, creating suggestive path to walk and hike.