Posts Tagged With: Centro Mediterraneo Pintadera

Pronounce Those Endings!

Hmm, I wonder where the forks are?  “Dove sono le forchett….”  Le forchettE sono lì.   LE FORCHETTE!  Errrrrr how embarrassing to have my pronunciation corrected by a five year old in a fancy hotel breakfast room.  Of course we were in Tuscana the birth place of the Italian language.  Learning Italian has been challenging for me. It has also provided the entire village of Pontelandolfo with comic relief.  From school children to shopkeepers to old men playing scopa – everyone corrects me and giggles.  Some also roll their eyes and wander why they have to repeat a word 5 million times in order for me to remember it.  Yes, it does take a village to teach this old dog new tricks.  Hmm, that adage, “You Can’t Teach an Old Dogs New Tricks,” has really never resonated with me.

First of all – DEFINE OLD!  Go on – I dare you.  Secondly, learning a new language keeps the brain young and active.  Thirdly – well – I started to learn Italian when I was 50.  It has been 17 years and I’m still learning.  I hear you – why didn’t she listen to her grandmother?  Why didn’t she learn Italian as a child?  Why?  Because growing up in rural agrarian Somerset County, New Jersey I never heard Italian.

86950-PH-GFB1-034 Unlike the kids growing up in urban pockets of Italian families, I never heard Italian.  Not one of the five Italian families in Flagtown, New Jersey spoke Italian within my ear-shot.  My grandmother, aunts and uncles – all born in Italy – spoke unaccented standard American English.  I thought that was the norm.  I didn’t know that some kids grew up in duo-lingo Italian American families.  DUH!

When I was older I asked Zia Caterina why not one member of our family spoke Italian to us.  There were two reasons – one was survival.  They needed to assimilate to get jobs and not be picked on.  Aunt Cat recalled the taunts of dumb dago or wop and the smack she got on the head from her first teacher in Dundee Lake (Passaic County) because she had just arrived and didn’t understand English. Simple, they had to be American so they had to learn English. The second reason infuriates me.  I was born just after World War II – that period of time when Italian Americans were put in interment camps.  Yup, just like the Japanese.  Fear of Mussolini’s ties to Hitler and Fascism ignited the ignorant and Italian immigrants – many of whom had sons serving in the American military were whisked from their homes and locked up.  No one talks about it. Italo-Americano refer to it as  Una Storia Segreta – the Secret Story.  Italian Americans couldn’t have a wireless radio.  They had curfews. My Uncle Nick, who was too old to be naturalized with my grandparents, was threatened with deportation.

I’ve seen a few documentaries on this period and they incite me.  Today, when I hear politicians talk about opening up interment camps and building walls I wonder how many Americans know their history and understand what that means?  Not every person of a race or a religion is evil.  Hell, my family wasn’t evil.

enemy

My family took the signs to heart and “spoke American.”   Actually, they spoke English better than lots of folks I have known.  They were so good at it that Italian may be in my DNA but it isn’t embedded in my cervello. Studying Italian is a challenge that grounds me in my past and opens doors to new beginnings.  In New Jersey, I study with other Italophiles at Dorothea’s House in Princeton.  For total immersion in a fabulous ocean front city, I head to Alghero, Sardegna and Centro Mediterraneo Pintadera.

Learning the language has introduced me to parts of my heritage that I have embraced and history that has both saddened and intrigued me.  My Italian – as rough as it is –  has helped me research my family tree, become part of the fabric of the village and make new friends on both sides of the Atlantic.  I figure, I am not too old to learn and if I wasn’t learning and exploring my brain would turn to mush.

Ci Vediamo!

 

Categories: Practical Matters - Living Abroad | Tags: , , , | 6 Comments

Wine Tasting with Giuseppe Izza

Agronomo – in English it is an agronomist – one who studies agriculture. Dr. Giuseppe Izza has indeed developed a career based on the wonderful edibles that grow in Sardegna.  I met him – not talking about slow food or tasting the fresh vegetables brought to Alghero by local farmers – but DRINKING WINE!  The event was organized by my favorite Italian Language School – Centro Meditteraneo Pintadera.

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Dr. Izza conducts an incredible workshop on the wines of Sardegna, wine tasting, wine history, wine glasses, what to eat with wine – well just about everything one needs to know to appreciate a good glass of a beverage that starts in the vineyards of Sardegna. Some of those vines have lineages that go back to the Romans in 238 BC.  For example the white Nuragus goes back 3000 years!!!  Other grapes began their journeys a wee bit later and came with the different peoples who controlled Sardegna during its history. For example – the Vermentino – white – from France or the Torbato from Spain.  These grapes have lineages much more noble  than mine.

We were all chomping at the bit to start tasting the wines that Dr. Izza had brought with him.  But NOOOOOOOOO!  First we had to learn how to really taste – not just gulp down that red for a quick thirst quenching buzz.  Babies, he said, have the best sense of taste.  They don’t think about it – now he was not talking about the 3 year old who wouldn’t eat anything green.  His point was that adults are choosy.  Babies eat with their eyes, hands, noses and mouths.  They explore their food – look at it, smell it, taste it.  He encouraged us to – at the first tasting of something – to exam its look, really smell it, then slowly taste it.

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Look at Jack – he’s all excited.  Dr. Izzo is opening a bottle for us to taste.  What?  We have to wait?  Chill Jack – first one has to pour.  We were told to only fill a wine glass to where the glass starts to get bigger – open wider – that allows the smell to evaporate up.  Hmmm. Next, really visually examine the wine.  What is the color?  If you tilt the glass does that create “unghia” – nails in Italian but we would say legs. What are the color undertones?  Then, rotate the glass and evaluate the fluidity and arches.  We all put our glasses next to our handouts so that we could really see the color – it was hard – some of us were staring at the sunset on the Alghero harbor.

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We went through the process with a number of both red and white wines.  It was interesting how our individual tastes and experiences created diverse perceptions of each wine.  I might think something had undertones of oak and cherry and Jack would laugh and say – not at all.

Dr. Izza is an enjoyable presenter.  He is a great communicator and had us thinking, laughing and of course drinking. The hours whizzed by and we all left the table with a better understanding of not only the heritage of the local wines but also how we can all be more discernible tasters.  I would recommend any of Dr. Giuseppe Izza’s classes.  You can follow his food adventures on his FaceBook Page or e-mail him at g.izza@tiscali.it.  Find out where he is doing a lecture and go!  The easiest way is to work with him is to join me in Alghero, Sardegna this October on the  Nonna’s Mulberry Tree Trip!

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Ci Vediamo!

Categories: Food - Eating In and Out!, Stops Along the Journey - Sites Off the Tourist Track | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments

Alghero’s Angelina Demartis

Angelina Demartis è una brava donna anche una insegnante di cucina meravigliosa!  Con lei ho imparato a prepare Malloreddus alla Campidanese, Culurgiones, Cozze Gratinate e Bianchini. Durante questa classe abbiamo parlato solo in italiano!  Gulp….

Angelina Demartis is an incredible cooking teacher. Even though she only spoke Italian and some of the people in our class only spoke English, her non verbal communication skills, animation and love of cooking conveyed the techniques we needed to make some scrumptous Sardegnian fare. 

Whoa, I’m getting ahead of myself. You are wondering where I was when I found her, how I found her and what we made.  Sorry for letting my enthusiasm for her class and the incredible food I tasted in her kitchen get in the way of linear storytelling.

This October a group of thirteen of us headed to the best Italian language school ever – Centro Mediterraneo Pintadera.  As part of our language lessons, we had the opportunity to practice our linguistic gymnastics in the kitchen of Angelina Demartis.  She is a graduate of the Instituto Professionale per Operature Dei Servizi Di Ristorazione – Settore Cucina.  Then went on to university and now by day teaches Italian and History. By night, she cooks and cooks and helps other folks learn to do what she loves to do – cook.

We climbed the three flights of stairs – yes I paused on landings – wondering where we were going, who our teacher would be and what we would be eating.  The what we would be eating was on everyone’s hungry mind.  This gorgeous, smiling bundle of energy and love – Angelina Demartis – opened the door and we at once knew we had entered foodie heaven.  The working space is a large kitchen that leads into a larger room, that leads out to a great roof top patio with a sea view.  Ahhhhh.  After lots of hugging and kissing and putting a glass of sparkling water in each of our hands she began to tell us what we would be making.  Lucky for us, she had prepared handouts in both English and Italian. 

We learned how to make two typical Sardegnian pastas. The first was Culurgiones – it is a filled pasta formed to look like a shaft of wheat.  Of course mine looked like a blob of dough but I kept on trying.  What makes this pasta interesting is that it is made with three types of flour.  Regular farina 00 – flour, semola rimacinata – finally ground semolina, and integral – whole wheat.  The Culurgiones were stuffed with mint, potatoes and two kinds of Sardinian cheeses.  Malloredus alla Campidanese  is a pasta made with semolina flour, saffron and water.  Simple and delisious with a simple tomatoe and sausage sauce. 

Angelina is not only a foodie but an incredible actress – we really didn’t need a translator to understand what she wanted us to do.  Besides the pasta, some of us cleaned mussels, made the stuffing for the mussels and the lucky ones got to make the super sweet and yummy Bianchini – meringues.

Guess what we did after we made all this glorious food?  We sat down, drank wine and had an incredible dinner that included not only what we made but other tasty morsels made by our hostess.  Buon appetito

What you thought I was  going to share the secrets of how to make the pasta and sauce?  Watch the video and you’ll pick up a few tricks.  Better yet, next October join us on our second Nonna’s Mulberry Tree trek to Centro Meditterraneo Pintadera.

Cooking With Angelina Video

Ci vediamo!

Categories: Food - Eating In and Out!, Stops Along the Journey - Sites Off the Tourist Track | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

Eating My Way Through Alghero

The historic center of Alghero, Sardegna is chock full of eateries serving everything from tourist drek like crepes and waffels to exquisite Sardinian fare.  Guess where we ate?  Yup – if it was Algherese style food – or any Sardegnian traditional yummy – you would find us there.

Jack and I are incredibly fortunate because our pal, Nicola Schroeder – one of the administators of ace language school Centro Mediterraneo Pintadera – has lived in Alghero for over 20 years, knows we are foodies and has never given us a bad recommendation.  Pintadera is not just a school it is a bastian of information on all things tasty in Alghero.

As part of our two week language immersian course, Nicola oranized a welcoming dinner at Tratoria Lo Romani, Via Principe Umberto 29. The menu was a wonderful introduction to artigianal Sardegnian fare.


Owner, Gigi treated us like family. We started with antipasti della casa (selezione dei migliori salumi e formaggio sardi) – think platters of antipasti including melted cheese, fried red peppers, roast pork with carrote e zucchine, sardinian prosciutto two kinds of hard sheep’s milk cheeses, roasted vegetables and cubes of vegetable frittata. We groaned and kept on eating. Next ravioli with cheese, potatoes and mint. Gulp, I asked is there more?  Of course. Mallereddus alla campidanse – Sardegnian mini gnocchi followed.  Carafes of local red and white wine were constatnly filled. Burp. What? Now he is plying us with Sardegnian digestivi – two types of Mirto and limoncino.

To see if if our love for Lo Romani was true love or just starving tastebuds kicking in, we went back on our own. Gigi recomended Granchione with linguine.  Granchione?  Hmm – in my best Italian I said “non capisco”.  Gigi replied – linquine is spaghetti.  How about Granchione – big crab.  Crab is my favorite food in the world and the thought of big crab had me salivating.


This dish was so perfectly prepared that I danced out the door and have told everyone I’ve bumped into to head over to Trattoria Lo Romani at Via Príncipe Umberto, 29. Yup, true love!

Nicola also recommended La Botteghina. You will notice that I have absolutely no photos of either of the two dinners we ate there. Why? Because it was all so incredible that we ate every bite before Jack looked at me and said “hey, you didn’t take any pictures.”

On our first visit I had absolutely the best piece of beef I have ever had in Italy. I’m not kidding. No one ever seemed to understand rare. This was a perfectly cooked fillet drizzled with red wine sauce. Jack had a tuna carpaccio that kept him up all night. Not because he was sick, but because he kept thinking about it. Our dinners that first night were so good that we went back with a large group. What a pleasant surprise! The restaurant has a rooftop terrace. Of course with my shaky knees that was a bit precarious but after we got up up up there the view was great and the sampling of sea foods we had was even greater. La Botteghina is also on Via Principe Umberto,63. (Labotteghina.biz)

Oops, it is 4 o’clock here in Alghero. You know what that means! It is cocktail hour! I better write about my third favorite restaurant and head on over to the bar for an apertivo.

One morning in Italian class my nose started twitching. The incredible smell of garlic being tossed in olive oil was wafting up from the restaurant below through the open windows of Pintadera. Who could think about Italian grammar. All I could think about for the next two hours was ho fame!!

Our Italian classes get out at 1 PM. Jack and I raced down the steps and slid in an outdoor booth at Al Refettorio.  The restaurant is located on Vicolo Adami,47. I had an insalatina di polpi – octopus – that was so fresh I thought I was swimming with it. Next I had a creamy baccala montecato. I had discovered this awesome dish on Murano and eat it whenever I see it. Jack loves tuna and had both carpaccio di tonno and grilled tuna. He raved about both.

What?  You think all we do is go out to eat?  Nah. We love our Italian classes and don’t cut them for a nosh. Besides if we didn’t go to class I couldn’t ask Nicola for restaurant recommendations.

Ci vediamo !

Categories: Food - Eating In and Out!, Stops Along the Journey - Sites Off the Tourist Track | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

Come With Me to Sardegna!

Forget the tours. 

Ignore the guide with the raised umbrella. 

Travel Independently With

Nonna’s Mulberry Tree.  

 Why aren't the lights in Flagtown this cute?

Come to Sardegna.

Jack and I like to travel and we are particularly partial to Italy.  Friends enjoy our tales of traveling sans a big bus and a tour guide.  Yes, we find our own hotels – sometimes we can’t fit in the shower.  Yes, we figure out how to get fed – once Jack stared at what he ordered and gulped .  Yes, I make language snafus and am often surrounded by lots of laughing folks who haven’t a clue as to what I am saying.  Those experiences are stories to share and learning adventures to build on.  Join us as we improve our Italian language skills at Centro Mediterraneo Pintadera.  I wrote about the school a few months back – http://wp.me/p3rc2m-oW – and readers have asked me if they could study with us next time.

This October 3rd – October 17th 2015 is the “next time” and we are inviting you along.  The trip is restricted to only 15 adventurous people.  People who want to learn or improve their Italian Language Skills, immerse themselves in Italian Culture, live like a local, shop the market and stroll Alghero’s sea wall.

We’re partnering with Centro Mediterraneo Pintadera, a world class Italian Language school, to facilitate our adventure. Check out their web site. (http://www.pintadera.info/home)

Here’s the deal – You make the Decisions!

Language and Culture      €550  (Time to learn how to convert $ to €)

First night Welcoming Gathering at a local bar.  First glass of wine is on us.

Through shaky lenses we discover it might just be...

Jack is waiting for you!

Sunday – October 4 – Un Pasto e Conversazione at a local restaurant.  We’ll share a meal and plan the week.

Monday – October 5 – You start your 2 weeks of Italian Language Classes with a native speaker. These are full immersion classes and I think the best way to learn.  The first day you will be given a placement test at 8:30 AM.  This insures everyone is grouped appropriately.  Classes run from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM Monday thru Friday with a midmorning coffee break.

Included Cultural Courses:

Alghero – Walled-City walking tour with a local. Discover the ancient city, through the history and architecture of the old town center. (OK, this is the one time you might follow an umbrella – but it’ll be a whimsical one.)

Finding your Family – I’ll tell you my tales of researching my family,  visiting the village my family is from and reconnecting with relatives that I didn’t know I had.  Genealogical short cuts, services and hints will be shared by all.

The Dark Side of Sardinia – Banditry   The origin of banditry in Sardinia from the Spanish colonial period up to the end of ‘classical’ banditry. The link between the isolation of the island and criminality, and the culture of vendetta and kidnapping.

Dolce Vita or Is It?   Ex-pats share their stories of what works for them and what drives them insane.  I will be joined by other ex-pats who spend all or a great deal of the year in Italy.  We will hit topics like health care, daily life, taxes and of course money.

If you want to take even more classes – for an extra fee – you may.  Here is the list: http://www.pintadera.info/course.html#cultural

Travel to Sardegna – You Decide How and How Much

Use your air miles.  Look for the greatest deals.  You book your own transportation to Algerho planning on arriving on Saturday, October 3, 2015.   At the airport you can take a taxi to your apartment  .

Housing and Sustenance 

Pintadera will provide assistance choosing the right housing arrangement for you.  Want to live with a local family? Want your own apartment?  Want to meet new folks and share an apartment. Depending on what you want, the cost will range from about €400 to €600 for two weeks . Check out this link to the service Pintadera offers us. http://www.pintadera.info/accommodation.html#costs

Last time I swim with the dolphins.

Fresh Tuna Tonight?

This is a chance to explore the restaurants and markets of Alghero.  Shop the markets and cook in your apartment!  Or grab another student and hit the local eateries.  You decide where to eat, when and how much to spend or whether you want to stay in and cook your own meal with fresh ingredients purchased at the market.

Registration and Payments

This trip will only happen if a minimum of 10 people register to go.  Send me an e-mail, call me or leave a comment telling me that you are definitely in.

To summarize the cost –  A €550 language classes and cultural actives fee. €400 – €600 housing for two weeks.  Pretty Cheap!

After I am sure we have the minimum of 10 people joining Jack and I, I will then send you the information needed to send a €200 deposit to Pintadera using the easy and inexpensive wire service: https://www.xoom.com/how-to-transfer-money-using-xoom  This deposit is for the Language Classes and Cultural Activities.  On the first day of class you will pay the remaining €350.

Then you coordinate with Pintadera on your housing.  Upon your arrival, the housing cost will be paid in euros.

You will need to have your debit card handy and bring euros with you.  We use our debit cards in every country and have never had a problem.

Any Questions?

Send me an e-mail with your phone number and I’ll give you a call.  As we get our group organized I will be sending additional hints and information.

Buon Viaggio!

Categories: Stops Along the Journey - Sites Off the Tourist Track | Tags: , , , | 10 Comments

Learning Italian in Sardegna – Centro Mediterraneo Pintadera

Learning a language can be an onerous activity – especially if you are in your garret reading your verb lists by candle light.  I studied French for 4 years in high school and can barely buy bread in Paris.  Italian wasn’t spoken to me at all – well pass the mapeen and sta zitta – but that was it.

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My first real brush with the language was after my first trip to Pontelandolfo – in a year when the dinosaurs roared in tongues over the earth.  I was twenty-something and had come to visit the village of my heritage with my Aunt Catherine and two cousins.  We assumed that since Aunt Cat was born here and left when she knew the language well that she would be our translator – NOT.  She spoke the arcane dialect of Pontelandolfo.  I knew we were in trouble when we landed in Milano and she asked a question to be told “we don’t speak Spanish here.”  Thank the Universe I had a trusty Berlitz phrase book with me. 

I played with learning Italian but didn’t get committed until 1999 – the year I returned to Pontelandolfo with my family tree in hand and found my dad’s first cousins.  When I got home,  I went to Brookdale College, Somerset County College and finally Dorothea’s House in Princeton.  All experiences had their pluses and minuses.  Next, to nudge Jack into learning the language I researched immersion schools in Italy.  I would go to websites, send an e-mail and hear nothing.  Or worse, I would call – all saying they were multi-lingual – and no one spoke English and could tell me about the place.  Than I found Centro Mediterraneo Pintadera!  The school is located in Alghero on the magical island of Sardegna.

Love the school. Could I win the lottery and stay here?  I spoke with one of the directors, Nicola, and was assured that the classes were small – which they were capping out at about six people.  She speaks multiple languages flawlessly.  She told me about the teaching staff  – think Ph’ds who aren’t yawners.  The facility was up a flight of stairs in the heart of the old part of the city.  That location puts the school in the middle of the art and culture that makes Alghero fabulous.  It also means you are within walking minutes of the sea.  When she told me the price – I was sold!

On a sunny May day, Jack and I packed a notebook and pens and headed for Sardenga.  The sea surrounds the city, May means fewer tourists and cheaper airfare. We were not disappointed in our choice of schools or the location.  

Why didn’t someone tell me when I was younger that studying language in the place the language was spoken not only makes great academic sense BUT – you meet really cool people.  People who like to travel like we do – sans reservations, sans itinerary.  Just go, explore and do!  The people we met in our classes – Jack and I weren’t together – I was a bluebird and he was – well – on the little bus – anyway the people were GREAT. 

Jack has no idea what Mascha is saying.

Jack is studying – but who – I mean what?

We met two smart pithy women from Germany, a tall handsome Dutchman, and a really interesting guy who lived in Dubai but was from Tasmania!  Instantly, we all bonded over caffè, were forced to speak Italian or – gulp- English.  Since of course, everyone else spoke their language plus English. 

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Caffè and Conversation Between Classes

Since I can’t keep two languages going in my brain at the same time, the small full immersion classes worked for me. The faculty not only had advanced degrees in languages but I swear were all actors.  You have to be a an actor to communicate with six wildly wicked adult students who want to learn your language but really don’t understand a spoken word. 

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Jack gets personal attention from a great and talented teacher.

The classes focused on both grammar and conversation.  The homework did not make me pull out my teeth.  Every moment was very interactive.  No one wanted to put their head down on the desk and snore.

Smile guys the audienc is clapping.

Check Out Who Sings With the Professional Classical Group? – Yup, our teacher!

Not only does the school have a great graded curriculum, but they made all of the living arrangements for us too.  We rented a charming house for the two week course that was right in the heart of the historic center of Alghero.  That meant close to world class bars, restaurants and shops.

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Our New Dutch Pal Cooking Dinner at Our House.

Marion, another Berliner, sows up fo the last pizza party.

In a great local joint with our new found school pals.

Every morning, following the narrow cobblestone streets, we would walk to the school.  Classes ran for about four hours every morning – with a break to speak to the locals and have caffè.  Then we would find a charming place for lunch, Jack would go for a walk and I would sit, stare at the sea, pretend to write and drink Prosecco. The school also ran cultural immersion classes I took a cooking class that was scads of fun.  The hunky chef owns one of the local restaurants.  We started out shopping and then back to his kitchen to prepare a meal that we then ate paired with fabulous local wine.

Last time I swim with the dolphins.

The Tuna Was Really Fresh!

Note our Chef/teacher in the backgound  - cute too.

We Were Shucking and Yucking in the Kitchen.

Jack and I were so in love with the place that I convinced pals from Dorothea’s House to come too.  We went back one January – which means during Epiphany – the city was alive with holiday spirit and the staff of Pintadera made sure we knew what was going on and participated. 

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La Befana Was Everywhere!  Even Lots of Women Dressed as La Befana!

I would love to be in Alghero every January – anybody want to send me?  Huge gangs of men dressed in black and sporting berets moved as one up and down the narrow streets singing in tight harmony.  Children raced from one La Befana to another asking for treats.  The spectacular theatre featured free live entertainment.  The Living Manger Scene really touched me, the actors were all persons with disabilities who took their roles seriously and were applauded by all.

Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH

Living Manger

There was so much to do and experience that sometimes “my dog ate my homework” for the next class at Pintadera.  The extras that the school provided included a wonderful walking tour of the historic center filled with tales of the season.  Another fun filled extra was a class on the use of your hands when speaking Italian.  No – we did not learn how to flip the bird – that is not – OK maybe they do it  – but it is not Italian.

Chiara uses those gestures when we are BAAAAAAAAD.

How About A Class in Italian Hand Speak!

Through shaky lenses we discover it might just be...

Great Bar Beneath January Apartment – All LOCAL Wines and Foods

In May the city is filled with sun and walking on the sea wall is magical.  In January it gets dark a lot sooner but walking on the sea wall is still magical.  I felt like a princess wrapped in a cloak an walking the castle walls looking out to sea, waiting for my prince to return.  There was so much life in the city during the holiday season that it was impossible to feel cold.  Also, it wasn’t as cold in Alghero in January as it was in New Jersey.

Why aren't the lights in Flagtown this cute?

Sea Wall At Night!  During the day I stared and stared.

Go to Centro Mediterraneo Pintadera and create your own story.  http://www.pintadera.info/

Associazione Culturale
Centro Mediterraneo Pintadera
Vicolo Adami 41
07041 Alghero (SS)
Tel: +39 079 917064 / +39 079 983311
Mobile: +39 328 885 7367
Skype: pintaderalgheroP

Categories: Any Day in Pontelandolfo, Practical Matters - Living Abroad, Stops Along the Journey - Sites Off the Tourist Track | Tags: , , , , , , | 12 Comments

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