Summertime… and the livin’ is easy…

Ciao a tutti!

Last time I told you about the Finnish summer traditions that we have in Finland and that Finns apply more or less (I would say more…). If you missed that blog, check it out here! This time instead, I would like to write about what we have been doing lately here in Italy. And I am now talking about summertime, when living has been easy… As you already might have noticed, it’s all about food and traveling (and working a bit, while not on holidays)!

Let’s begin with the Sagra del cinghiale: a traditional food party in a tiny village on the Apennine hills where everything turns around wild boar. 

  • First course: Orecchioni al ragù di cinghiale
  • Second courses: Salsiccia di cinghiale and Stufato con costole di cinghiale e patate
  • To drink: a large beer

You see, it’s all about meat, good meat, wild meat, an unusual meat. There was also a dessert with wild boar but luckily/unluckily we were already too full to eat anything more. 

In July I was also lucky to be able to fly to Spain for one week and finally meet my family after seven months! Obviously when I came to the airport of Malaga, the train I was supposed to take was canceled and immediately I felt like home in Italy. I would have been fine waiting 1 hour for the next one, but my Finnish counterparts were too eager to see me (or not used to these minor delays) so they told me to get in a cab and that’s how my week with my loved ones started. During the week, I also managed to meet our previous beloved Spanish volunteer Javier! He kindly accepted to give us a tour in the city center of Malaga, and a real guide as he is, it was amazing. Besides all the traditional churches and monuments, he also took us to eat tapas, wine, to rooftop terrasse, to the beach…

You might remember that in a previous post I mentioned the orecchiette we bought from Bari with Györgyi. Yes, it’s true that we hadn’t yet eaten them, and especially not without telling you! So, we finally found time to cook and dine together. We were told to eat this pasta with cime di rapa (turnip greens) but we got scared after reading that the recipe includes anchovies. Okay, let’s admit, I got scared. So, as a compensation, I cooked alone, and we ate together with Györgyi a really good ragù. Both happy. It was so wonderful to see the traditions of making orecchiette still alive, I really hope the younger generations are going to take it over after these talented ladies are not here anymore.

Talking about my actual activities in Faenza, I have been working for my personal project regarding the local dialect / language romagnolo. It was an idea from my personal project mentor Laura to write an article about my project to the local newspaper. Obviously, I took up the challenge, since this is a topic I am really passionate about. This was also the first time in my life I wrote an article in a newspaper. She told me she could translate it to Italian from my English version, but I wanted to challenge myself even more, and so I did it myself. After a review it was sent to the paper and got accepted. With my contact information alongside with the article, I already got a few contacts and requests for collaboration. I will tell you more about this later when everything is more clear.

Last week, my hosting association SE.M.I. organised an Erasmus+ training course in Faenza: How to quality label? It was aimed for people who would eventually like to host ESC volunteers (like us) in their associations in the future. In order to be able to do that, the association needs a quality label from the EU, and so this course was about how to successfully write the application and how to prepare for everything related to volunteering and volunteers’ life. Me and Györgyi, were asked to participate in organizing the training course and it was a good way to gain experience in preparing this kind of intercultural events that last more than one day. We helped with carrying out some of the activities, we helped with the logistics, and of course we were there to tell our point of view as volunteers if the participants wanted to ask us anything about our local life. We were also “responsibles” for the cultural visit day. With the help of an app called Actionbound, we created a “treasure hunt” tour in Faenza for the training course participants. Through the tour we showed them the most important places for us in Faenza, for example Piazza del Popolo (the main square), our house and office, Palazzo communale (the town hall where some of us are sometimes working), la migliore gelateria (the best ice cream place in town) just to mention some. As the tour started from Piazza Nenni where there is the town hall and Teatro Masini (the local theater), we took advantage of the location and organized a visit also to the theater. We were received by the charming technician of the theater Maurizio who has been working there for more than 35 years and who had so many stories to tell about the place. He even took us behind and under the scene! In the afternoon, we went to, finally, to MIC – Museo Internazionale delle Ceramiche (the International Museum of Ceramics), the jewelry, crown and pride of the city. Obviously, for a long time it was closed due to Covid, but for most of us, it took almost a year to actually go there. And it was a cool place – if you are interested in ceramics. There you can find all kinds of ceramics from the traditional plates from the 15th century till the modern art of nowadays. I even found a piece of art made by a Finnish artist, Hilkka-Liisa Ahola, that had won the 26th Premio Faenza in 1968. She is a Finnish ceramic artist, now 100 years old, who has worked also for a very well known Finnish ceramic trademark Arabia. Because of the recognizable style that I have been used to seeing in Finland, I also paid attention to it in the museum and found out that the work was actually made by a Finn. 

Besides working, we got to familiarize with some of the towns here “nearby”. With my double trouble partner Györgyi we visited Modena, the capital of traditional balsamic vinegar (ABTM = Aceto balsamico tradizionale di Modena; the one and only!). This was the first time for me in the city and we were lucky to be able to actually do things and go inside places (one always has to take into account the covid situation). As I had done well my research about the city (#QueenOfResearch is my new nickname by Györgyi), we went to the most curious place I’ve been for a while: Acetaia comunale di Modena. This is basically the place where they “do” balsamic vinegar. It is in the attic of the town hall, so we also got a glimpse of the magnificent old palazzo as well. For only 2€, we got a one hour visit with all the explanations and we also got to taste two differently aged balsamic vinegars (12 and 24 years). But the thing that was most peculiar for me, is that the place is owned by the municipality. You take for example vineyards, they are always privately owned, you take a dairy, they are privately owned. But in Modena and the surrounding little towns, also the municipalities are making their own balsamic vinegar. They have a few professionals and a lot of volunteers working for the common, public cause. Then during important official visits, for example if the President of Italy comes to pay a visit to Modena, they can give the precious vinegar as a gift, how genius! Btw, if you ever have a chance to try ice cream with balsamico, go for it. Fior di latte, mascarpone or other quite neutral taste and then you add a few drops of the real balsamic vinegar, it is really worth it!

Lately we also went to Firenze, where we have been before. I vaguely remembered that that was one of the cities in Italy with the most tourists, and this time I could confirm it. Like there was no pandemy. The majestuous Duomo with the white and green facade was also as impressive as it was the previous time. I also enjoyed a lot of the funny, involved and eye-catching street art, often combining the past with modern, actual society. I don’t think I would lie, if I said that we went to Firenze just to eat a good fiorentina (at least from my part)! When in Firenze, eat like in Firenze, eat fiorentina. (fiorentina before / after kuva)

As an ultimate highlight of the month, I have to mention the latest pasta workshop at Angelo, where we made tagliatelle al tartufo. Or it would have been if I wasn’t cutting the pasta – instead it became pappardelle, a slightly wider type of pasta, though a good option as well. Anyway the result, thanks to Angelo, was as great and delicious as always. Here are the best parts, enjoy! 

Tagliatelle al tartufo

Yours truly,
The Finnish pasta lover, Laura

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