Sunday, February 7, 2016

2016 Italy Colours Calendar by Margaret Cowan

It is not too late to enjoy wonderful 

photos of Italy with a

2016 Italy Colours Calendar

by Margaret Cowan

You may have visited Italy before, are planning 

your next trip or enjoy arm chair travel,  the 

photos Margaret features in the calendar may 

transport you.   


2016 Italy Colours Calendar

Calendar January 2016 (12 Months) 
2016 Italy Colours Calendar
Love Italy? Immerse yourself in photographs of some of Italy's most beautiful, colourful wine hills, coasts, beaches, food and architecture in Tuscany, Amalfi Coast, Bologna, Piedmont, Puglia and Sicily.
2016 Italy Colours Calendar-

Every day enjoy a view of Italy from your home or work place and dream of your next trip Home to Italy!


Saturday, February 6, 2016

Experience Italy with Locals in Puglia


Ylenia Sambati is the owner/operator at COOKINPUGLIA, PUGLIA WINESCHOOL and YLTOUR PR.

With an extensive experience of over 15 years in the tourism and culinary fields, she designs some exclusive cooking and wine experiences and programs in Puglia that showcase the most authentic lifestyle of this incredible area.

Her cooking and wine school in Squinzano (in the Salento area which now proves to be the trendiest part of the region) is unlike any cooking school you will have encountered in Puglia. If you are looking for a partner to create unique cooking and wine experiences, rich in cultural and lifestyle insights, she could be a great fit.

Ylenia is also the curator of bespoke trips in Puglia and experiences for local 5 star Hotels and Masserie: once you get in touch with her, she works with you to create a perfect cooking lesson and wine + olive oil experience, creating exceptional cooking lessons and wine tastings unique and crafted with just you or your clients in mind.  She is also famous for her special picnics in an olive grove with a country chic flavor.

Her cooking and wine school is just 15 minutes from Lecce and from Brindisi, a perfect place to include in a Puglia program for a half day experience.   The school is located in the magnificent northern Salento area with spectacular vineyards and olive groves around.    It is a unique in style venue that can welcome from 2 to 40 people comfortably accommodated. The Palazzo with spacious rooms for cooking, tasting or just relaxing on the sofas enjoying the view, overlooks an almost cinematographic square which is a postcard of the most authentic Salento slow life with colors, architecture, great atmosphere and old men still playing cards.

Learn with a mamma in Puglia
A view from the school window
The cooking class is hands-on with the preparation of a four course meal, an informal wine tasting and lunch or dinner to follow, while listening to Opera music and getting to know the many aspects of this magnificent land.
As a lifestyle expert,  passionate in fact – she also writes on a lifestyle blog on her website – she shares with the guests all the most incredible information and insights not just about the food and wine, but also about the region, traditions, local culture.

 Wine tasting parties are arranged with the presentation and tasting of a great selection of not commercial wines and paired with great local foods, cooked on spot by the local women of the town.

Ylenia Sambati also works with travel agents and she designs exclusive travel experiences to craft any specific vacation: your Puglia trip planning begins the minute you send her your private enquiry.

You tell her the dates and preferred ingredients of your exclusive cooking class or wine experience and she develops the perfect program for you, your small groups, your clients. Her cooking and wine school can be a wonderful addition to your Puglia program.

Visit her websites and contact Ylenia Sambati:

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Oggi Cucino Vegetariano: pitteddhe, a great desert!

                 Pitteddhe:   dolce della cucina povera


250 g di farina di frumento integrale
60 g di zucchero di canna
50 g di olio extra vergine di oliva
1 arancia (o scorza di limone) e il succo di 1 arancia
75 g di vino bianco
Marmalade (arancio, fichi, albicocche, limone)

1) Prendete una ciotola e versateci la farina setacciata con una scorza di un'arancia o limone. Mescolate
 2) Versate il vino bianco e l’olio extra vergine d’oliva           
3) Unite l'olio e il vino all'impasto e mescolate, quindi versate il succo di un'arancia, lo zucchero
4) Impastate a lungo fino ad ottenere una pasta omogenea ed elastica

6) Stendete una sfoglia sottilissima di circa un paio di millimetri; 
 7) create dei cerchi di circa 5 cm di diametro e mettete un cucchiaio di marmellata nel centro di ogni disco

9) Pinzettate il bordo con le dita in modo da formare dei cestini
10) una volta cotti i cestini, riempirli con un cucchiaino di marmellata
Informare a 180° per 30 minuti circa

spolverate con un po' di zucchero a velo e servite, altrimenti conservatele per un paio di settimane in un barattolo per biscotti

The English Version:

Ingredients :
250 g whole wheat flour
60 g brown sugar 

50 g extra virgin olive oil
1 oranges (or lemon zest) and the juice of 1 orange
75 g white wine
Marmmelade (orange, figs, apricot, lemon)

1) Take a bowl and pour the sifted flour with a zest of one orange or lemon. Stir 2) Pour the white wine and extra virgin olive oil
3) Combine the oil and the wine mixture and stir, then pour the juice of one orange, sugar
4) Knead long until you have a smooth paste and supple
6) Roll out a thin sheet of about a few millimeters; 7) created circles of about 5 cm in diameter and place a spoonful of jam in the center of each disk
9) Pinzettate the edge with the fingers so as to form baskets
10) when cooked baskets, fill them with a teaspoon of jam
Inform at 180 ° for about 30 minutes
sprinkle with a little 'with icing sugar and serve, or store them for a few weeks in a cookie jar

Monday, January 25, 2016

Are you a Vega or Vegetarian and LOVE Italy? This is for you!

Ylenia Sambati

Veg Puglia Tours for Vegans and Vegetarians

Ylenia Sambati promotes healthy lifestyle habits through food, outdoor activities, meditation and dance, cycling, travel.

She’s been a vegetarian since she was a little girl and once her parents realized that unlike her brother and sisters she could not eat meat or fish for the only reason was she loved animals, they simply added into her food program more legumes and natural proteins.

She’s very compassionate and caring with animals and has rescued many of them all the time. All the pets in her house in fact have been rescued from the streets and her horse is another love of her life.

When talking healthy lifestyle, Ylenia actually promotes a more consciousness way of living that does not only include food but also sport, art and all those things that bring balance and fullness into one’s life.

Her travel company YLTOUR PR and cooking school COOKINPUGLIA, also provide extraordinary programs for celiacs, vegans and vegetarians.

Spreading love and compassion also through travel and lifestyle is the essence of her business and daily inspiration:   starting this year in fact, Ylenia has launched new travel adventures in Puglia for vegetarian and vegan travelers.


Ylenia Sambati, Vegetarian and Coordinator at YLTOUR PR, explains the company’s philosophy:
"Our philosophy is to make it easy for both vegetarians and vegans to travel around Puglia without having to worry about food and immerse fully in the area all the while feeling part of the destination.  Being vegan or vegetarian is not a limitation.
It has never been for me, nor will it be for my clients."

So, how does your company design a trip for a Vegan or a Vegetarian?
Being vegan/vegetarian can be a dietary choice or a lifestyle dedicated to treating all living beings with respect and care.
We listen to our unique clients needs and make it easier for them to have their Puglia experience vegan or vegetarian Puglia style.
Puglia is a paradise for our vegetarian and vegan friends: it is the land of organic fresh food, plant – based, super healthy and delicious, cooked with love and attention paved to healthy benefits. The food is planned ahead of the arrival of the guests so that guests are assured of their vegan/vegetarian meals.

Where do guests stay?
Years of experience in the travel section and preferred local connections enable YLTOUR PR to arrange stays for guests in authentic Masserie (renovated farm estates), hotels for any budget or charming B&B.

What else does the tour include?
The Veg Puglia Tours includes cultural programs and activities such as yoga, meditation, dance cooking classes, hiking, biking, photography.

How is the tour conducted?
YLTOUR PR conducts tours preferably in small groups with a maximum size of ten/twelve guests. Talented local guides and a YLTOUR PR Leader accompany the group from the time the guests arrive at the airport till the day the tour ends.

Who do you contact to enroll for the tours or design a private small group tour?

You can find out about YLTOUR PR trips for vegetarian and vegans on the website and send an email to Ylenia Sambati to with your preferred voyage details, when to book the travel, cost involved, any specific requirement.

We conclude our story today with the announcement of a  Veg Puglia Tour for Vegans and Vegetarians  in partnership with YLTOUR PR and Home to Italy

Details will be published very soon.  

See some of Yle's online cookbook here at Home to ItalyNew recipes offered monthly.



for the Animals, for human health, for compassion, for the planet, for love

For veg trip planning in Puglia please send an email to

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Expats in Italy: Have you thought of moving to Italy?

Every trip home to Italy I think about living the dream in a village or city here in Italy.
I have met several expats who have done just that and they share their stories: 

Italian American Expat in Florence

Italian American Rachel Vermiglio Smith Mason 
lives in Florence and is contributing to the Expat Series.   
I met Rachel in Florence while doing interviews for a blog project last year.  She generously shared her favorite pizza restaurant with me,  Mama Napoli pizzia.  

Her Italian American Story:

"I first fell in love with Italy when I was a little girl.  My grandfather, a winsome southern Italian man who  called every woman a 'broad', shared stories and tidbits of a magical country, a faraway from his typical American home.  As I grew up, sometime between dancing to the Tarantella and stealing my parents' wine, Italy became my Disneyland."

"To say I am (and was) obsessed with all things Italian is to put it mildly.  Then one day when signing up for my first college classes, I took my infatuation from childish enthusiasm to serious stalker status and declared my major as Italian language, literature and art history."

"Since 2005, I have lived on and off in this beautiful, mystifying, welcoming, harsh country.  It is a land of contradictions, both maddeningly frustrating and achingly gorgeous. "

How long have you been an Expat in Italy?
I first came to Italy for an extended period of time when I studied abroad in 2005.  I was here for 6 months and knew then that I would be returning to live here someday.  I did return as panned and was here from 2009-2010 and again for a part of 2011.

What made you decide to no longer be a visitor, but to be a resident in Italy?
I have always loved Italy.  I loved it when I had never even seen it, from hearing about it from my family.   I loved it before I spoke the language or had friends here or a life here.  Now, I voe it even more for all of those things.  For me, at the state I am at now I really cant' imagine living anywhere else.

Any reason you wish  to share, for selecting the city/town you live in?
I studied abroad in Florence in basically a dice roll between here and Rome.  I think the fates chose correctly, because it was love at first Cupola.  I still remember seeing the Duomo for the first time and just being in awe of the sheer size of the place.  I had never seen a church so big or beautiful.

I was a die hard adopted Fiorentina from that moment on.  In the end , it has worked out great since I have a MA in art history with a focus on the Italian Renaissance but if I am honest, I fell in love with Renaissance as I fell in love with Florence.

Did you speak Italian before you moved to Italy?
I was an Italian major in college and my family spoke dialect, so not really.   I studied a lot in school but studying and speaking are two different things.

What is or was the most difficult part(s) of expat life?
A lot of tourist say, "I could live here"  when they visit Italy but they have no idea what living here is actually like.   In many ways it is a hard life.  People work all the time, for very little pay, for example I have 5 jobs and am constantly running all over the city.

Simple tasks, like going to the doctor, calling a plumber or going to the post office can turn into all day, confusing, frustrating affairs.  Nothing is easy' here, you have to work hard all the time- not just at your job, but at home.

I am lucky to live in a modern luxuries, but still everyday, I climb 84 steps just to return home.  I carry groceries for blocks and blocks, navigating tourists and motorini.

I wait in long, disorganized lines.  I hang my clothes out to dry, then do the wash again when a pigeon poops on them.  I deal with bureaucracy that would make any sane person want to cry and then do it again and again when they lose, misfile or "misplace" my inform.

People come here and see the beauty, the art, the food, and these are of course part of life here, but when you're in the trenches of the day to day, there is just so much more that goes into having a real life in Italy.

What is the most rewarding parts of expat life?
So despite my long list of difficulties, I actually enjoy working 5 jobs.  Unless I am exhausted, being on the top floor of a 15th century palazzo has it's perks, and while many of the other things I will never learn to love, I have learned to let go.  My life here is more honest and authentic than it was in the US.  Every day I do things that make me happy.

I feel like I live my life for me now, and no one else.  It's rewarding in a way I had never found in the US.

Do you have dual citizenship with Italy?
Yep.  Thank goodness- it makes my life a lot easier.

To stay long term in Italy, what documentation is needed?
Americans can stay up to 90 days in Italy in any 180 day period, without a visa.  This means, 90 day in 90 days out.  There are a lot of misconceptions and terrible information out there saying if you leave for a few days outside of the Schengen region your clock resets but it DOESN'T.

I can't stress this enough, it is very clear, 90 days in, then 90 days out.

You can stay any combo of 90 days in any 180 day period, but that is it.  If you want to stay longer, you need to get a visa.

Do you plan to remain in Italy long term?
Let's just say, I have no plans to leave.  My life here is just what i wanted it to be.
Sure I wish I only needed three job instead of five, or that electricity didn't cost more than some mortgages (add that to the dislike list) but my life is really beautiful in Italy and I don't plan on changing it anytime soon.

Most recently as of 014, I have been living permanently in my family's homeland and making a serious go of turning Italy into a real 'home'.
I have also started a new website, launching soon,

There are a ton of expat websites out there, but I find that they are often lacking in some of the harder, meatier aspects of life here.

It's great to know places to eat and how to do simple things, but what about the tough stuff?
I didn't find any resources in English when I moved here so I am hoping to create a space for that online plus share aspects of Italian culture and daily life as seen from a slightly different perspective of an Italian American Dual Citizen.

Contact Rachel at:

twitter:        theitalianista
instagram:  theitalianista
pinterest:    theitalianista

Today meet Kelly Medford

Kelly is an accomplished, professional painter who I met several years ago in Rome.  She was kind to let me 'shadow' her around while she was painting one day.  Kelly, as you will read in her bio at the end of this story, paints outside.  She paints in ALL kinds of weather.  
We have stayed in touch and I have watched as her reputation has grown as she has added teaching workshops in the USA and in Europe.  

 Hello Kelly, thank you for agreeing to this interview.
How long have you been an expat in Italy?
I moved to Italy in January of 2004, it's hard to believe that I've now been here just over 11 years. 

Prior to becoming an expat did you live in Italy for any length of time?
No I didn't. I did come on a landscape painting course with my teacher at the time, who suggested that I apply to study in the drawing program at The Florence Academy of Art 

What made you decide to no longer be a visitor but to be a resident in Italy?
After completing a year of drawing in Florence I realized that the majority of that year was spent focused on studying, closed in the studio. 
I wanted to stay and learn Italian, eat more good food, travel and just get to know Italy better.
I started taking my easel out on the street to paint, which seemed like the best way to accomplish my goals and indeed it's what I'm still doing over 10 years later. 

 Any reasons you wish to share, for selecting the city/town you live in?
I moved to Rome after having spent 6 years in Florence. While Florence is a beautiful city, it is small and offers less opportunities to working artists today. 
Rome being the capital city is much larger with loads of opportunities, galleries and artists of all different genres and the big spaces just suit me- not to mention the whole aesthetic of Rome which is very different from any other Italian city.
It is where the old meets the new and everything in between.
I love the chaos interspersed with quiet found at the numerous spacious parks around the city. 

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Oggi Cucino Vegetariano: two special treats

A cooking school with a view!

Today we Cook Vegetarian
Vegetarian recipes in Italian and Inglese

from Cook in Puglia:  Yle Sambati


1 kg di patate piccole
60 g di semi di sesamo
50 g di burro
rosmarino (un ciuffetto)
Lavate bene le patate e fatele cuocere per 25 minuti con la loro buccia. 
Tostate in una padella i semi di sesamo. 
Nella stessa padella fate sciogliere il burro: saltatevi le patate, aggiungete il sale, conditele con il rosmarino e il sesamo e servite accompagnando con formaggio fresco, insalata o altre verdure.

POTATOES WITH SESAME AND ROSEMARY1 kg of small potatoes60 g of sesame seeds50 g of butterrosemary (a bunch)salt
Wash the potatoes and cook for 25 minutes with their peel. 
Toasted in a pan sesame seeds. 

In the same pan, melt the butter: saltatevi potatoes, add salt, season with rosemary and sesame seeds and serve accompanied with cheese, lettuce or other vegetables.


400 g di piselli freschi
20 cl di panna da cucina
30 g di burro
1 cucchiaino di olio extra vergine d'oliva
peperoncino rosso in polvere
alcune foglie di menta fresca

Lessate i piselli in poca acqua salata per dieci minuti circa.
Quando saranno pronti lasciateli raffreddare. 
Quindi metteteli nel mixer per ottenere una purea finissima insieme ad alcune foglie di menta. 
Fate fondere il burro in un tegame a fuoco moderato e unitevi la purea di piselli.
Aggiungete la panna, il sale, un cucchino di olio extra vergine d'oliva, il peperoncino.
Mescolate bene e decorate con foglioline di menta fresca, 


400 g of fresh peas
20 cl of cream
30 g of butter
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
chili powder
some fresh mint leaves

Cook the peas in a little salted water for about ten minutes
When they are ready let cool
Then put them in a blender to get a fine puree along with some mint leaves.
Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat and add the mashed peas.
Add the cream, salt, a cucchino of extra virgin olive oil, chilli. 
Mix well and decorated with fresh mint leaves,

Interested in learning more about Vegetarian Cooking?  Now Cook in Puglia will add a Vegetarian cooking class for 2016!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Florence: Mail Box Etc has a new look

One of the rare times ALL members of MBE stop working for a quick photo!

In November there was a complete redesign of my favorite 
Mail Box Etc

The same great service for shipping, storing luggage by the week and even receiving packages and documents.

I have used their services for the past 5 years and feel they are like 'family'.  When traveling for a month or more, MBE will ship my bag ahead to my next location or even store it for me until I return.

And I always ship one bag home so I dont have to drag 2 bags to the airport or pay the additional bag fee!

You can read the original story here: 

This location is very close to the train station, just off the Santa Maria Novella church piazza.

Mail Boses Etc:  MBE212
Via della Scala, 13
50123 Florence,  055 268173 
Mail Boxes etc Firenze 212  


When you stop by, tell them Home to Italy told you about their new store.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas Recipes From Sorrento Italy

Olga Stinga sends Italian Christmas Recipes from Sorrento Italy

Christmas Recipes From Sorrento Italy:

Discovering Sorrento Christmas Tradtions and Learn Italian At Sant'Anna Institute with Olga Stinga

In Sorrento, cooking is a family matter.  In the past, recipes were verbally transmitted from mothers to daughters.

In my family, cooking is a way of life, it is a way for us to connect, share and bond.

My mom still keeps an old copy book where her mother (my beloved Nonna Pasqua) wrote recipes and now I am doing the same.

I have my own copy book where I write recipes, especially the ones for Christmas cakes.

In my family Christmas time means Struffoli and today I'd like to share with you my recipe.

Below you will find the English and Italian versions of my recipe so that you will be able to practice your Italian and, maybe, you will consider a visit to Sorrento to learn Italian at Sant'Anna Institute ( where I am the Director and the Head of the Italian Department (with the passion for food and cakes!)

Buon Natale a Tutti, Happy Holidays.....and....See you in Sorrento!

(by Olga's Grandmother, Nonna Pasqua)

1 kg of flour
16 grams of salt
100 grams of sugar
8 eggs
greated zest of 2 oranges and 2 mandarins
120 grams of butter

To decorate:

mixed candied fruit
tails and aniseed mixed
honey orange blossom
orange zest
candied cherries

For Frying:
lard and olive oil (peanut oil)

Dough flour, sugar, citrus zest, salt and 4 eggs

Stir for a few minutes and then add the butter and the other 4 eggs

Mix all ingredients to obtain a dough.  Work the dough by hand so as to be smooth and elastic.  

Divide the dough in half and then in other parts........

........spinning each piece to obtain sticks not too thick. Flour thoroughly and keeping them close cut small cubes, the size of chickpeas.  

Flour also and gradually pour into a colander, shake until no extra flour.   

Then fry them in hot oil.

Once the struffoli float up in the oil, please take them out of the oil immediately.

Once fried place them on paper towels and let cool.

At this point, add the candied fruit, orange peel and honey.  Mix evenly....and transfer to a plate and then decorate with colored candies, candied cherries and aniseed mixed.

Struffoli are ready!  Delicious!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Vegetarian Italian: Cook in Puglia

 Oggi Cucino Vegetariano     
The past three years Ylenia Sambati has been a great collaborator with Home to Italy, sharing the unique and the beautiful 
Italian life in the Salento. 

Home to Italy is proud to launch her new online Italian Vegetarian Cookbook.   ©yleniasambati2015  

Yle is the CEO of the only Wine and Cooking School in Puglia and we have created this platform to share her program for cooking Vegetarian Italian food.    

Video cooking lessons and more will be available soon.    
You can also practice Italian since all recipes are featured in our native language.  

Oggi Cucino Vegetariano 
Vegetarian recipes in Italian and English

Click each link below to see our most current postings.






Home made Stracciatella Cheese                                     

Tomato Sauce                               

Bocconcini di Zucchine 
 Zucchine Balls  

Spinach and Spelt        

Interested in learning more about Vegetarian Cooking?  
Now Cook in Puglia will add a Vegetarian cooking class for 2016!