A Rainy Day

Tonight, there was a big thunder storm. Directly above our house... at least it sounded like it. And it sounded like in a bad sound study, too loud, too much echo, unreal - but still scary! Lot's of lightening. Power failure included at some point. And lots of rain and wind from Northeast.

Usually these summer storms are heavy and short. But even now, 2 pm in the afternoon, the sky is still grey and temperature low. And laundry has to dry inside, as raindrops keep falling...

It is good for nature, it was not raining here for many weeks. They say, it has not rained since May! And I am spending a cosy and relaxed (even more relaxed than usual) day at home.

The flowers (above) are from CC, who cannot sit still at home like me, so he went to the fruit and veggie vendor. Oh, and they are not for me, they are for his mamma, to be cooked for lunch. They are zucchini blossoms and will be fried in a pan. It's an appetizer, called  fior di zucchine.

So, while CC and Angelo had to discover the countryside, I spent time with our son, playing, painting, reading, browsing the Internet, and blogging (while CC is on a mission, I can use his laptop).

I rediscovered some of my interior books, like "Italian Living", which unfortunately is not available via Amazon anymore. But I found "Italian Rustic" instead, which seems quiet interesting if you are renovating a home. No matter if in Italy or in the US, the Italian craftsmen techniques seem well explained to DIY.

I added the book to my blogroll as well as the "Bergamotto di Calabria" (Eau de Toilette) by Aqua di Parma. I am sure you can get it cheaper somewhere else than via Amazon. And maybe you prefer the other scents of the Blue Mediterraneo line better, at least they all have great names (great marketing): Mandorlo di Sicilia, Fico di Amalfi, Arancia di Capri (getting hungry?), Mirto di Panarea and last but not least Bergamotto di Calabria - a typical product of Calabria. All these scents sound and smell like sunshine and holiday! - I also love bergamotte marmalade, and latte di mandorla (almond milk), and onions from Tropea (but not as a scent!) - Mmmh, it is still raining...

I also finished a book, that I cannot recommend. In German it's called "Ein Haus in Italien" and in English "A Valley in Italy" (by Lisa St. Aubin). I bought it as I was interested in reading another house renovation story in Italy. The author is a strange woman, who for sure can write, but among others, she needs two "au pair" girls for her six year old son and a housekeeper who prepares his school bag in the morning... waste of time to say more about her attitude (if interested, read the low rated reviews on amazon). But more disappointing than her lack of parenting for me was that the lack of description of the renovation project. It was large a large project, since it was a big palazzo with almost three times more windows that we had to do. But she does not only once say something about her flooring, wall colors, tiles, how they choose a kitchen, or where she found bathroom equipment. At the end she builds a small chicken house. The only thing she seems to have been creatively involved. - Well, time for me to write about my project! ;-)

Oh, yes, I published a book already! I forgot to mention. And it is about our renovation, 2006-2012. And it was dedicated to Angelo, and his birthday present. More about it another day, promised.

Waiting for Summer

Before lunch at Palazzo Pizzo (oil on canvas)

This is a very cold February, and the snow has even reached Southern Italy. This is less fun than in more Northern parts of Europe. In the South, the houses are not as well prepared for cold winters. Furhter more, heating costs are very high in Italy. So it happens sometimes in winter, that outside in the sunshine it is warmer than inside the homes.

So, let's think some warm thoughts.

When I look at my newly finished painting (above), I think of summertime in Pizzo. I enjoyed last summer very much, especially the aperitivo "Aperol Spritz" between beach and lunch. I had to paint it in oil on canvas. The view is the one from our kitchen or dining table.

I love rooms with sea view (who does not?). One artist, who's artwork I admire a lot, is Henri Matisse. He actually painted a few rooms with sea view. It is facinating how he captured the atmosphere inside and outside the room.

And that's why I will add this book to my collection. It's all about Matisse' rooms with a view:

Inspired by Living in Argentina

It is not Italy, but maybe the South American country with the most European touch. Many Italians came here to live and you can feel the influence.

walls : grey, floor : black, column : gold, lamps : 6, accent colour : coral
wow ! what a glamorous eclectic mix !

Buenos Aires, the Paris of South America

curtains used as closet door and room divider

countryside house in Argentina (reminds me of a "maison de campagne" around Fontainebleau)

All above beautiful images and many more can be found in this book :

available via :
Amazon.com (19.79 USD)
Amazon.de (19,99 Euro)

I browsed this book online here because my blogger friend N. was so excited about Buenos Aires after she spent a couple of weeks in Argentina. And I heard other people saying that Buenos Aires is a mix of Paris and Barcelona. So I got curious and checked this book by Taschen (language: German, English, French) which of course is not a travel book but purely about interiors. However, these eye-candies make me want to travel to Argentina right away.

And that's what the editor says: Argentina considers itself the most European of South American countries as Argentineans have a strong connection to the old world. When it comes to decorating, they have a great talent for bringing together the old and the new, with subtle touches of color and rich textiles.

FYI : in case you order this book or any other product via my amazon links I receive about 5% commission through their associate program. In this case about 50 cent ... so if you order 10 copies, it would buy me a coffee !! (ha ha! thanks !)

Photo source: Taschen

Mediterranean Escapes - online eye candies by TASCHEN

Leaf through "Great Escapes Mediterranean" by TASCHEN - online !

click on "leaf through"

302 pages of eye candy online - better than any magazine !
Although the writing is too small to read the book online - my eyes are more than happy !

Hotel Stella Maris, north of Portofino, Liguria, Italy
(click on above pictures to enlarge)

 Mykonos Grace Hotel, Mykonos, Greece

Did this excite you ? Please help yourself and browse this book at TASCHEN.

Taschen was founded in Cologne, Germany in 1980 by Benedict Taschen to sell his comic collection. Today his company is known internationally for producing great value coffe table books about art, architecture, lifestyle and design. I will introduce you to more soon.


Travellers CalabriaIn my hands I am holding the brand new Thomas Cook travellers guide about Calabria, written in English by Lara Dunston and Terry Carter. The photography is by the later. What a team!

And how lucky am I to have won one copy that I found in my mail yesterday ! Just in time before our holiday in Calabria. Thanks to Michelle from Bleeding Espresso, who has organized a lucky draw on her blog after having interviewed Lara for five days in a row. Grazie tutti!

I am so excited to read about Tropea and Pizzo and the restaurants and trips they recommend. I am surprised about some photo selection (by the editor?). The guide does not feature the common postcard motives - which is fantastic! So I had to look twice to recognize the road winding down to Pizzo's waterfront (p.65). Interesting new angles, and a statue at the piazza of Pizzo that I have missed so far (p.64).

But of course, I found already something to nag about :
What has a mafia crime to do in a history sheet of Calabria (p.11, 2007-2008) ?

I deem more interesting that in the past years tourism and real estate business are awakening slowly from a long sleep which is mentioned in the guide.

And as we are "Pizzitani", I need to be fussy about Pizzo's history:
The French general Joachim Murat who was shot at the castle of Pizzo in 1815 was King of Naples and Sicily at that time. He was Napoleon Bonaparte's brother-in-law and on the run after Napoleon's fall (p.11, 65).

By far I do know less about Calabria than Lara and Tery, the guide writers, know by now. However, from the few locations I know that worth a trip, I think Seminara deserves to be mentioned. This little village is a shopping must for ceramic lovers while in Calabria.

And what about the Holy Grail in Badolato ?

Okay, enough nagging. I love that guide book!

Pizzo is no. 2 in Lara's top 10 of highlights in Calabria - right after Tropea! And thanks for the "elegant piazza" in Pizzo, which is slightly exaggerated (p.21). The piazza is not that elegant, however the lively heart of the village.

The introduction to Calabria is pinpointing exactly how I feel about this region, its landscape, people, food and customs. Great writing !

Lara recommends not to travel to Calabria in the month of August (remark: I would underline that! Italy's coasts are far too croweded in August, especially mid-August).

That's all for now. I just started to read. And I will try the restaurants in Pizzo that are mentioned in this new Calabria guide book: Le Castellane, La Lamia and Toscano. From the later I know that they serve great pizza at a cosy corner with great sunset views. (Update summer 2011: Le Castellane is the best restaurant in Pizzo, a bit more pricy though than the others; Toscano has "upgraded" and does not serve Pizza anymore. Try La Ruota and SPQR for great pizze).

CONCLUSION: this is a great comprehensive guide, handy and light, ideal for anyone who spends a long weekend or summer holiday in Calabria. Definately a must have!

UPDATE : Now available NEW 2nd Edititon: