Castagne, mondine, caldarroste, marroni, ballocci, bruciate, mosciarelle... Who would have ever known that Italians refer to chestnuts in so many different ways? Yes, caldarroste are roasted chestnuts, mosciarelle are dried chestnuts, mondine are peeled and boiled whilst ballocci are boiled whole, bruciate are cooked in a frying pan with large holes. Well, "le Castagne" are clearly part of Italian tradition and October is the month when they are celebrated the most! If you happen to visit Italy in October, don't miss out on one of the many local "Sagre" that celebrate this Autumnal offering with dancing and traditional products.
Between the 19th and 20th centuries in the island of Sardinia there were as many as 400 different traditional costumes. Nearly every village had its own typical outfit, which was worn with pride as this was part of people’s local heritage and also reflected people’s place in society. Although individual costumes varied greatly, they had certain features in common: women wore a veil, a shawl, long pleated skirts and embroidered blouses, whilst men wore a knit wool cap with a long tail, a close-fitted jacket and loose white trousers. Traditional Sardinian garb is extremely colourful and features elaborate embroidery. Embroidery is still a thriving craft that is evident in the beautiful traditional shawls boasting different flower patterns.
These days, Sardinian traditional clothes are worn during folk festivals and major religious holidays but you can admire them all year round in the many ethnographic museums.
The Italian language is full of colourful sayings. These may sound bizarre when translated literally but they represent an integral part of Italy’s culture.
“La gatta frettolosa ha fatto i gattini ciechi”. Literally, “The hasty cat gave birth to blind kittens”. This is probably not the most refined way of saying that things done in haste tend to turn out badly. An English equivalent might be “haste makes waste”.
When I visit a new place I absolutely adore sampling the local products!
If you are heading to Molise you should definitely sample the local goat's cheese. Caprino di Montefalcone del Sannio is one of the most famous cheeses of the area. It's a semi-hard cheese with a wrinked rind and a soft interior. It is aged using a wooden tool called "cascera", which hangs from the ceiling.
Enjoy it on a fresh slice of ciabatta bread together with some juicy tomatoes!