Archive for April, 2011
OHMIGOD! All this Royal Wedding coverage is making me wish I was getting married again lol. I hope all my engaged friends out there take notes and get inspired!
I literally have glued myself to “E!” and I am at the point where I think I may get up early to watch the wedding. OR DVR it at least.
I can sort of relate to the pre-wedding anxiety they might be going through tonight, minus the royalty part. Planning a wedding is hard enough, than add cameras, and than the added bonus of being a Royal. Yup, you know Kate is totally going to drink a big glass of wine tonight just to help her sleep!
Lets see, the night before I got married, I spent it it with my family, than my sister/maid of honor, future sister in law, my aunt and my flower girl went for a walk, stopped for ice cream in which I forced myself to eat half of a frozen fat free yogurt (because I didn’t eat all day due to nerves) and than relaxed in the backyard. When it came time for bed, I’ll admit, my nerves were so frazzled I took something to make me sleep. And the next morning, I woke up bright and early, jumped on the elliptical and worked out. Yes, I worked out. Because thats how I relieve stress lol.
I imagine Kate is probably not going to have time to work out. She is probably on a serious time line ( Francesca, my wedding planner, had me on a pretty tight schedule too, but its so worth it!) and she definitely has every thing including time to pee in that schedule. Poor girl. I guess its well worth it, considering she is marrying a PRINCE!
What I love about Kate is that she is as fashionable as Princess Diana, and I am happy that Prince William found himself a seriously beautiful, smart girl that his mama would be proud of. I just hope her gown does not disappoint. I hope she picked out something with a drop waist with a large skirt or better yet a mermaid because she has the shape for it! And she had better have a train. That walk down the aisle is LONG and we NEED DRAMA!
Not to mention I want to see what the very pregnant Victoria Beckham is wearing (cough cough and how David Beckham looks… He’s so hot) And the hats!!!! I want a friggin’ crazy hat!
So yay for the Big Friggin’ Royal Wedding! I’m so excited! Joey’s not excited, in fact, his only advice for Prince William is “Don’t Do It!” He’s joking but he says he’s happy that after tomorrow the TV will be his again. In the meantime, that TV is mine, as I am totally smitten with the idea of a Royal Wedding! Now if you will excuse me, I have to make some Tea, put my tiara on, and basque in Royal Wedding Overload.
The website I am obsessed with right now: http://www.eonline.com/uberblog/royals/index.html
Going to Italy was the best trip we ever took. It was a trip that changed our lives, and by going, we discovered more than just where our families came from. Italy certainly has changed our perspective of a lot of things. We hope we make the Italian Americans out there proud of this blog, and we apologies if we ever insulted any of you with the clichés that were directed our way. We think you will appreciate this blog, and maybe encourage those who never been to Italy, to plan a trip.
My father is my hero.
He came to America in the 1960’s, as a young boy, with my Grandparents and his twin sister. Prior to coming to this country, my grandpa Giuseppe (who I miss SEVERELY) came here to build an American life for his wife and children. He established a life here, got a job and became an American Citizen. He than brought his family here, so they can become American citizens too.
My father grew up in a small village in Frosinone, which is located on the outskirts of Rome. While in Italy, we visited his old house, on a hillside lined with Olive trees. This is where he spent many of his days on the farm, sitting under his favorite fig tree and playing with his donkey. The house is small and a little run down, yet you can still feel a huge presence of love.
It was one of the most memorable times in my life. My father took us through his childhood, being a boy growing up in rural Italy. It was vividly clear, although the house was run down, how much he appreciated where he came from. I was lucky to have Joey with me when we went to see the property, because it was the encouragement we needed to know that one day, good things do come.
I think it’s important to know where you come from. My father is now a successful man, and while his assets are abundant and plenty, he makes it clear that family is more important to him than material things. When he was in Italy, his family, which included 4 sisters and my grandparents, gave him all he needed. They didn’t need the lavish things so many of us claim we can’t live without.
Our visit to Italy was filled with family. I love them so much, and it was the perfect vacation in which to have Joey meet my entire family. We arrived in Rome, on a warm afternoon, and we were instantly greeted with hugs, tears and an overwhelming sense of worth.
Food and Beverage in Italy:
After a long flight, I must say, my family (who we stayed with), really out did themselves with the food! What I love about Italy was that everything we ate was fresh. To help clear up a cliché, not everything is spaghetti and meatballs. In fact, there’s more to the cuisine than you may think. Now, depending on what region your in, there are traditional foods served. In my family’s case, we were served bread and prosciutto, home grown vegetables, and pasta from scratch. And everything is from the family farm; they dried their own prosciutto, they harvest their own blood oranges and tomatoes, and they collect the eggs used to make the homemade pasta. There is nothing artificial about what they eat.
Hence why when we came home, thinking I gained weight, I actually lost weight. We did a lot of walking, eating healthy, well-rounded food, and adapted a lifestyle I can only wish we could do here.
Joey’s favorite foods were prosciutto, cheese and homemade sausage, and he snacked on it everyday, all day. Is your mouth watering yet? Also, Joey and I are breakfast eaters, however, a simple espresso and a piece of toast with Nutella was considered breakfast there. Breakfast is not the most important meal of the day in Italy. Lunch is, which technically, is dinner. Dinner is light, similar to our lunches. It’s this kind of lifestyle that helps someone maintain their weight.
Homemade food and drink is very common in Italy. Joey had the chance to experience homemade Grappa at a party we went to at my Aunts house. Grappa is Italian vodka, and like the Polish Spiritus, it is very strong and has a bit of a bite. My Uncle, who was feeling rather celebratory, gave Joey a shot, which we all warned him of the Grappa. I don’t think Joey was expecting the four-alarm fire that engulfed his throat. However, the homemade Lemoncello made up for the unwelcoming taste, which is refreshing and cooling. Than, of course, there was the wine. There is nothing like homemade wine from Italy. I am a wine drinker, and I savored every glass like I would never have it again.
Coffee, especially Espresso, is very popular in Italy. In fact, I noticed a sort of pride when it comes to making Espresso. My cousin, Anna, makes an excellent espresso. Her secret is to sweeten the grinds before she brews it. Starbucks would never be able to come close to the amazing taste and aroma of her espresso. It never tasted bitter or burnt.
I may be talking a lot about the food, but the truth is, I wanted to help break you out of that food cliché. Fresh meat, dairy, vegetables and fruit from the farm were what we ate. Not to mention, Pizza in Rome differs from New York Pizza. Panini’s are even different. I prefer the Italian version any day, maybe with the exception with pizza, because, lets face it, NY pizza is delicious! I’ll call it a tie.
I think the best example of Italian cooking in the states is probably demonstrated by Giada De Laurentiis. Her cooking is very similar to the way my family prepares food. I have a true appreciation for her style of cooking, and for the simple fact that she really touches base with using fresh ingredients. I may not be one to talk about cooking (as we all know)…but she is as authentic as they come.
What to do in Italy:
Italy has some of the most beautiful churches in the world, in my opinion. The architecture is breathe-taking. The paintings, the statues and the colors are so vivid, and realistic. There is a ton of history in these churches. They have survived wars, nature and 100’s of years without necessarily showing it. Even if you are not a religious, I think any person could appreciate the beauty in these churches. Ladies, please remember that when visiting churches, do not wear anything that shows your shoulders or an over abundance of leg, and men should wear pants or jeans, not shorts.
My favorite church was The Pantheon, which is the Roman temple of all Gods. This particular church doesn’t even look like it was touched by time. There are tombs of the Italian Monarchs inside the church, as well as having an opening atop its dome that only lets light in.
Churches we loved and suggest to you:
1) St. Peter’s Basilica, San Pietro in Vaticano (Vatican City)
2) Santa Maria Maggiore
3) The Pantheon
4) San Clemente
5) Santa Maria in Cosmedi
Rome is not only known for the Vatican, although, I feel you should make it a point to go. There are many other sites that are almost rewarding to visit. Here are a few of our absolute favorites.
Sites of Rome, Italy that we loved:
Joey and my absolute favorite place to visit (we went twice) was the Colosseum. Imagine sitting within the amphitheater, watching gladiators battle lions, and each other. It must have been an insane sporting event to attend. I think it’s the main reason why Italians are so passionate about soccer; it’s in their nature. When we were there, it was being restored, and the chambers below the battlefield were exposed. Perhaps this is where they kept the lions and warriors before battle. Like many attractions in New York City, this place is crawling with tourist, and if you want, you can take pictures with the “gladiators” outside of the grounds. However, for us, it was being inside the magnificent structure that really astounded us.
The Roman Forum:
This is a must see. Why? If you remember anything from history class in school, like the Constantine Empire, this should ring a bell. This is history at its finest. And not only that, but the architectural details will blow your mind.
The Trevi Fountain:
First and foremost, for those who appreciate good black and white movies, please watch “La Dolce Vita” and than lets talk about the Trevi Fountain; its one of the sexiest, most romantic scenes in Italian cinema. And yet so illegal! If you actually swim in the Trevi Fountain, the police will give you a hefty fine. However, that is one of the most famous scenes from a movie. Visiting the Trevi Fountain is a “must do”, even though it is tourist infested for the most part. Be a little less dramatic than the characters in “La Dolce Vita” by just throwing a coin in the water and make a wish.
The Spanish Steps and the Piazza di Spagna
One of my fondest memories of visiting this site is sharing gelato with Joey and admiring how many people can fit on the steps! There is a wonderful gelato place across the way, which has 2 floors, and a large assortment of seriously mouth-watering gelato. It really is pretty cool, and you kind of forget you are in a big city.
There are some things you should keep in mind when visiting a city like Rome or any city: Watch out for pickpockets. They come in every shape and size; children do most of the dirty work believe or not. It’s sad, but true. Keep you bags zipped and wallets close to you. The police in Italy are very attentive to the situation, and will help you God forbid. But by taking precautions, you can prevent a serious nightmare. Also, traffic is as bad as New York City. If anything, take the train when you can (its similar to the Long Island Rail Road actually) and walk. And most people do speak English in Italy; so if you are lost, don’t be afraid to ask for help.
See a Soccer Game:
I’ve never really been a sports fan, maybe a little UFC and Boxing here and there, but I never got into any particular sport. I played lacrosse in high school. That’s my extent. And I like hockey although I never necessarily followed it. So when Sandra’s cousins took us to a soccer game, I wasn’t expecting the insanity that goes along with it. Allow me to do a comparison: Sports fans here paint their bodies, wear their team logos and skip work to watch a sporting event. Sport fans in Italy go to war.
The game was Frosinone versus Rome. Those there for Frosinone sat on one side of the arena, Rome’s followers on the other. Those there for fun or those who respectively stayed neutral stuck to the middle. I instantly noticed how high the fences were, and how many security guards there were. Once the game was set to begin, that’s when it was a scene straight out of “Brave Heart”. Fans were scaling the fence, lighting flairs in their team’s colors, chanting obscenities and going crazy. You would have thought they were playing.
The teams came out and the crowd went wild. The girls, I noticed were head over heels for particular Roman, Francesco Totti, who is the David Beckham of Italy. So between the crazy fans and the fanatics for Totti, I found soccer to be a very entertaining sport… the fans are friggin’ hilarious! The game itself was ok, but I found the energy that came from the fans the best experience ever! When you go to Italy, I recommend you go to a game. You will never see anything like this in America. Italians are passionate, like Sandra said, and they show it. That’s why you need to go to a game.
Other Towns to consider visiting that we went to and loved:
We were fortunate to have a family not afraid to take us places. Here are a few places to consider visiting if you have the chance.
This town belongs to the providence of Frosinone, and since it was so close to where we were staying, we spent time visiting this little yet amazing town. Veroli is something out of a movie, with its cobblestone streets, beautiful archways, and amazing views. There is something very special about this little town. It’s very romantic. There is a particular church there that will probably interest you. The Basilica of Santa Salome contains the holy stairs. It is believe that these are the actual steps that Jesus climbed the day he was sentenced to death.
Of course, wherever we go, we make it a point to find a beach. The Coast of Italy, from Latina to Gaeta, has amazing beaches. Our favorite beach is the one in Terracina. The views are worth the trip, the quant little beach town is comparable to the beach towns of Long Island, only better because it Italy! There is a great café on the strip to the beach, as well as clothing shops. Sandra- my fondest memory was watching some Italian women swoon over Joey’s “body builder” physic lol. It was flattering and funny at the same time. They knew he was American right away.
The history behind this particular monastery is that the Germans used it as a fort during World War 2, primarily during “the battle for Rome”. With such history, this historic site is worth visiting if not for its past but for its art. The monastery has seen its fair share of war, sadly, and has been redone several times since it was built originally. If history isn’t really your thing, perhaps the views will captivate you.
We could go on for days. We didn’t even touch base about all the shopping there, because most of you are fully aware that Italy has the best designers. And we weren’t going to talk about the cars because you know that whatever they have there we can get here. We did want to take you a little beyond the ordinary. And we did want to do right by Italian Americans and really share a piece of the culture that so many people never get to experience.
So we are going to wrap up our “Joey and Sandra’s Guide to …” series with a little advice… it pays to be adventurous, and to take risks. See the world. And above all, enjoy your life. We have been many places, but when certain places stick out for certain reasons, tell your friends, family and even strangers to go there. We plan on seeing a whole lot more islands and countries; we really just like to travel.
So what’s next? We do have some news that we’ve been sitting on. Get ready for some good old’ fashion Joey and Sandra. Because the whole “being a Newly-wed” thing is turning out to be an interesting experience…