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Medieval Celebrations

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October 25, 2006

Cara Diario!

I’m sorry I haven’t written in so long, but I’ve had quite the adventure these past few months. I traveled all over Italy from August through mid-September. I first celebrated Ferr Agosto, which is a European summer holiday that dates back to Roman times. It marks the end of summer and is usually celebrated with vibrant fireworks off the coast.

Then, I was the special guest in the parade for a medieval festival known as Il Perdonanza Celestinia. This roughly 700 year-old festival occurs in the city of L’Aquila, and was begun by Pope Celestine to begin a pardoning ceremony to stop the wars in Europe. During the ceremony, many people wear medieval costumes and a special ceremony is held at the Basilica di Collemaggio.

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There’s this wonderful world-famous café known as Fratelli Nurzia. There is a factory in the back of the coffee bar that produces an Italian candy known as “torrone.” For the festival, Fratelli Nurzia concocts this sinful drink called “café torronata.” To make this delicious drink, you place a chocolate-covered torrone in the center of a martini glass and pour espresso over it to fill the glass. Then top with panna, or whipped cream, sprinkle with powdered cocoa, and serve with a spoon. By the time your guests take their first sip, the torrone candy has already melted and the drink is so creamy and smooth. You can swirl the chocolate around in the drink and then eat it!

I also had the opportunity to be featured on the 10! show on NBC. I made my Italian bruschetta for their cooking segment!

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Don’t worry, my trip wasn’t all work. I went to a wedding in this tiny town called Loretto-Aprutina, which is in the region of Abruzzo in the province of Pescara.

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This town is famous for olive oil. I also visited the island of Ischia, where I do a cooking program from the vineyard and olive grove.

The magical beauty of Italy stunned me, and I came home filled with inspiration for my cooking.

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