Fell in Love with Italy

Posted by in Travel | May 15, 2013

Acquedotti di sera Blog 5.15.13A mutual friend introduced Sara and I shortly after my relocation to Chicago. Originally from the Windy City, Sara was then living in North Carolina after a stint in Italy.  During our first phone conversation we found we had more and more things in common and our hour on the phone was definitely not enough, so we continue to talk and email until Sara returned to live in Chicago in the early winter. Sara is a true Italian living in an American body and offers a unique perspective of my country based on her frequent solo travels to Italy:

Chiara: Sara, tell our readers a little about yourself and how you fell in love with Italy

Sara: It was serendipity. A colleague of mine was about to start taking Italian lessons and asked me if I’d like to join her. I said yes, even though I had never even thought of it before! My first lesson felt like I was going “home.” I loved the language and never wanted to stop learning it. So I booked my first flight to Italy about 6 months later, and I have not stopped going back since. That was 13 years ago. Every time I go back I feel like I am going to my rightful home. Every time I return to the US, I cry a little. Italy is magical. It has captured my imagination and my senses and won’t let go.

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Traveling In Style

Posted by in Tips, Trends, Custom & Lifestyle, Travel | May 10, 2013

Noelle Cellini  blog 5.8.13 picby Noelle Cellini, This week Allure Italia is happy to have Fashion Expert Noelle Cellini as a guest blogger. Noelle, founder and owner of My Best Foot Forward is an accomplished Personal Stylist. She’s helped women in Chicago “put their best foot forward” for over 10 years. Her goal is to make her clients’ life easier and to show them that having great style isn’t something only the stars get to enjoy! And so, who best to tell us how to pack and dress with style when traveling than Noelle?

Dressing chic while traveling.  I know this may sound like an oxymoron, but it is possible!  With a few well-chosen pieces, you can navigate your vacations in style. When you’re traveling, comfort is a must, but you also do not want to stick out as a tourist and you want to make sure you’re appropriately dressed for any situations. All of this packed in a small suitcase. So, It’s extremely important to change up your neutrals, pick stylish, yet comfortable shoes and don’t forget the accessories.

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Of Driving and Parking in Italy

Posted by in Tips, Trends, Custom & Lifestyle, Travel | February 20, 2013

Pic 1 Blog 2.20.13A car rental can be an excellent choice when visiting Italy. If you are planning a countryside vacation or a ski trip for example, a car is a necessity.  ; Likewise, when you are making a “home base” somewhere outside the main cities and want to  take day trips to explore the surrounding areas, a car will make it much easier.

Aside from the stereotype of the Italians driving like maniacs (Italian drivers can be perceived as fairly aggressive if compared to the average American driver -constantly flashing their headlights at any car driving in the fast lane at he speed limit for example), there are a few useful acts you should know if you are planning to drive a car during your next trip to Italy:

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Do You “Apericena”?

Posted by in Food and Restaurants, Tips, Trends, Custom & Lifestyle | February 13, 2013

Blog 2.13.13 pic 2 In the ‘80s a new trend emerged in Italian social life: meeting friends and family for an “aperitivo” (aperitif).

This idea of a pre-meal drink, consumed most often with company in a café’ has since then become the natural end of an evening stroll into town. It’s also a great way of filling the time gap between the end of the Mass and the family lunch on Sundays; the perfect option for friendly gatherings.

When the trend began, having an aperitivo went like this—you’dorder your drink of choice (sodas, campari, prosecco or wine for example) and snack on complimentary mini pretzels, salted peanuts and green olives.

To keep it fresh and to compete with each other, cafes’ have gotten more and more inventive over the years, not necessarily in the cocktail selection but accompanying them with an ever increasing amount and variety of finger foods.

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A World Without Nutella?

Posted by in Food and Restaurants | February 06, 2013

The food history buffs will be pleased to know that Nutella was invented by Pietro Ferrero – master baker and founder of Ferrero, the chocolatier – in the early 40s. Due to WWII, cocoa and chocolate were in short supply in Italy. Using hazelnut (abundant in the Piedmont region) for Ferrero’s chocolate spread allowed Pietro to extend his company’s slim chocolate supply and stay in business. Several decades later, Italian kids and adults alike would not be able to imagine a world without Nutella. The best way I have to describe how we feel about this breakfast and snack staple is asking you – my American readers – to think about the role Peanut Butter has played in your childhood and allergies permitting, your current lives.

Over the years Italian have become inventive on how to use Nutella not only for spreading but also for baking and here’s one of my favorite Nutella recipes: the Rotolo alla Nutella (Swiss Roll with Nutella).

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Food—The Italian Way

Posted by in Food and Restaurants, Tips, Trends, Custom & Lifestyle | January 30, 2013

blog 1-30-2013 pic 1Food and cuisine are such an integral part of the Italian culture that not talking about them would be a travesty.

To be honest, I’ve never heard in Italy the “mangia, mangia” that seems to be such a standard expression in Italian-American families. BUT I’ve also never visited anybody’s home there and not have been offered some type of food (sweet or savory depending on the occasion and the time of day) along with the ubiquitous offer for a “caffe’” (espresso that is – always!).

While traveling to Italy and depending on your choice of accommodation, a certain number of your meals will be taken in restaurants. Everybody is so used to eating out nowadays that I’m sure the idea doesn’t frazzle you, but while traveling in Italy there are two factors to consider: the language and the menu structure.

Let me explain:

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Cure your Winter Blues with Saffron

Posted by in Food and Restaurants | January 23, 2013

It’s winter and it’s cold here in Chicago and it’s time for hearty dishes and comfort food. One of my comfort foods of choice is the Risotto alla Milanese. Despite the fact nobody in my family is from Milan, this dish has been a staple in my mother’s kitchen forever. Most probably because it’s a fabulous way to put “leftover” chicken broth to use.

Here’s the recipe I’ve always used when making Risotto alla Milanese:

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Happy 2013!

Posted by in Tips, Trends, Custom & Lifestyle | January 01, 2013

The holidays have come and gone and together with the Christmas decorations I’ve also put away all the Christmas cards we received this year from close friends and family. Quite a few of them enclosed a “letter” and given the amount of changes that the second part of 2012 brought to our family, we were particularly happy to receive them and to catch up on all the things we may have missed in the lives of the people we love and care about.

So, in the spirit of the holiday letter, let me take this opportunity to write one to you all and briefly catch you up with you on what happened to Cives Urbe in 2012:

Let me start saying that 2012 has been an incredible year marked by discovery, evolution, growth and tons of changes. Which in my book, is all good stuff!

The number of clients that chose Cives Urbe in 2012 increased significantly over 2011 thanks to the generosity and support of all who referred us relentlessly since Cives Urbe was founded in late 2010.

More than 90% of our clients referred us to their friends and family. We consider this an outstanding result. It’s the most gratifying and at the same time most humbling experience I’ve ever personally had in my professional career.

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What I “re-learnt” about Italy

Posted by in Tips, Trends, Custom & Lifestyle, Travel | October 18, 2012

I spent most of September in Italy working. I visited with trusted, long standing business partners and brainstormed new ideas. I learned about all their fantastic new offerings, (for example a full day trip from Florence to visit the Ferrari Factory & Museum near Modena) and forged new relationships with outstanding service providers such as Michele, owner of Il Mangia Viaggi in Sienna. I also explored new locations and met up with some of my clients who were in Italy at the same time. What a treat!

But whenever I’m in Italy I also get to see my family and friends and spend time simply “living an everyday life” in my home country. So I get to enjoy the lifestyle I grew up with, like catching up with my friends for an “aperitivo” (before dinner drinks), and do mundane things like a grocery store run for my mother or a trip to the post office to ship off a package to my dear friend Maria.

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Elaine speaks Norma (Pasta alla Norma)

Posted by in Food and Restaurants | September 27, 2012

Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of introducing to you Elaine Trigiani and her passion for Italian culture and food. Today’s recipes are her “gift” to us as we slowly transition into the Fall.

I’m personally not a fan of tomato sauce, so her option of Norma in bianco is definitely a favorite of mine!

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