Category Archives: Cultura Italiana

Il presepio napolitano

Molto sentita soprattutto nel meridione d’Italia, la tradizione del presepe che la rappresentazione scenica della nativita’ di Gesu’ Bambino e in quasi tutte le case accanto dell’albero di Natale, lo si prepara con molta cura. Tutta la famiglia partecipa allla sua realizzazione dove oltre alla grotta in cui insieme al bue, all’asinello, a San Giuseppe e alla Madonna viene posto Gesu’ Bambino alla sua nascita’, ci sono anche scene di vita quotidiana come la contadina che munge le caprette, il falegname che pialla il legno, la donna che porta una cesta piena di pane, i bambini che giocano, il vecchierello che fuma la pipa, il pescatore che tira la rete, il tutto illuminato da piccolissime luci che rendono questo piccolo paesello molto suggestivo.
Via San Gregorio Armeno una stradina di Napoli, famosa in tutta Italia dove si costruiscono dei presepi bellissimi e in questo periodo quasi impossibile andarci perche ci sono tantissimi visitatori.

Ylenia Mino; painting for peace and joy

Ylenia Mino is an Italian artist who has exhibited her art at La Piazza di Carolina. She was born in a small village at the foot of the Italian Alps, and had a strong inclination towards art at a young age. This artist developed her talents working with an Egyptian oil painter and broadened her horizons through classical studies. As she started to emerge with her own style, for which she is quoted in Arte e cultura as “often very close to reality but sometimes they have a touch of impressionism”, Ylenia began to showase her work around the world at different exhibitions. Drawing her inspiration from the works of several well known artists like Van Gogh, Degas, Leonardo da Vinci, and Klimt, she also pulls from the reality of the world around her; landscapes, everyday life, photographs, and her own faith in God. But Ylenia does not only spend time working on her paintings, she is also known to have collaborated with different galleries and support global charities. Her vivid, colorful, and observant work is a true expression of her passion and dedication to bring joy to others through art. 


To take a look at Ylenia’s work and to learn more about her upcoming exhibitions click here!

Una bella italiana

Ciao, everyone! Italy is a place where people are well aware of how they look, and people definitely put effort into their appearances. Just take a look at how people are dressed (pardon my blurry photography).

Pink pants and a denim jacket (not to mention that handbag)?

I pretty much applaud any woman who can wear heels while walking in Rome. It’s not exactly a heel-friendly city.

I’m diggin’ the red leather jacket.

Of course, more goes into Italian beauty than just clothing. This week, I’ll be telling you about where to go and what to look for if you want to be una bella italiana (a beautiful Italian (female)).

There are many different negozi (stores) you can go to to find your beauty products, depending on what you’re looking for. Il negozio di alimentari (the grocery store) is a great place to go if you’re in need of your typical shampoo or balsamo (conditioner). Looking for a new belle color (beautiful color) for your hair? You can get that here too.

Maybe you’re looking for something a little different or more specific though. For different creams, lotions, and other beauty products, head on over to la farmacia (the pharmacy). You can spot a pharmacy by looking for the green cross out front.

If you see one of these, you’ve found the pharmacy!

Pharmacies usually have some sort of window display out front. Look at the variety of products!

And then there’s the corner store that pretty much has anything and everything you could want. Here you can get cosmetici (cosmetics) like mascara, il rosetto (lipstick), l’ombretto (eye shadow), and la cipria (powder).

And here are some other phrases you might find useful if you’re looking for beauty products in Italy! Some phrases are either taken from English or are easy to figure out, but I figured they’re still popular phrases that are worth mentioning!

doposole: This literally means “after sun” (used on different types of lotions).

anti-lacrime: “anti-tears” (found on shampoo).

gratis: “free.” No, the product isn’t free. Think along the lines of “50% more product in this bottle for free!”

rilassante: relaxing.

dermatologicamente testado: dermatologically tested.

colorazione permanente: permanent hair color

naturale: natural

t verde: green tea (used as an ingredient).

l’anti-age: anti-aging

una nuova luminosita: “a new brightness”

il trattamento dermatologico: skin treatment/dermatological treatment

risultato: result

So if you’re in Italy and you can’t find something you’re looking for, remember: there are many different stores selling beauty products in Italy, so if it isn’t at one place, that doesn’t mean it isn’t at another. Ciao, bella!


Ciao, everyone! I’m here to tell you about my second out-of-Rome adventure: Sicilia (Sicily)! One thing that is important to me while studying abroad is making sure I see other parts of Italy besides Rome, and this past weekend was a great opportunity to do just that. Palermo was our home base, and we definitely took advantage of everything it has to offer! The owner of the hostel we stayed at, Giuseppe, was very helpful and gave us a map with pretty much everything we would want to do.

Our first stop of course, was food. Giuseppe told us about l’arancina bomba (which I suppose would literally be translated as an “orange bomb”), a typical Sicilian food. It’s a fried rice ball, and different kinds come with different fillings. I was a fan. I had three over the course of the weekend: con carne (with meat), con funghi (with mushrooms), and con salsiccia (with sausage). And for only

Ostia Antica

One of the reasons I love study abroad (studiare all’estero) is because I get to travel to all sorts of places, both within and out of Italy. But one thing that’s great about Rome in particular is that there are so many possible day-trips from the city so I still get the feel of going on a grand adventure without all the stress of traveling! My most recent adventure: Ostia Antica, the harbor city (la citt) of Ancient Rome.

I went with one of my friends, and not only was this day particularly adventurous due to being able to run around an ancient, ruined city, but it was also my first time taking the metro in Rome!

I was particularly amused since some of the cars had a lot of graffiti on them, which you don’t really find on the busses or trams! I took a close-up shot of it just for you!

After about 20 minutes on the metro, we had arrived. Ciao, Ostia Antica!

At first, we weren’t sure if we were allowed to walk through the ruins, since, after all, they are ruins. After seeing some other people do it though, we realized it’s kinda of what they expect you to do here. So walk through the ruins we did!

Ostia Antica is pretty big, and we didn’t even get to walk through the whole thing before it closed for the day. But we were still able to see all sorts of stuff like floor mosaics,

statues (le statue),

the theatre (il teatro),

and the marketplace.

Ostia Antica is definitely one of my favorite things that I’ve done so far and has made me realize the value of a day trip. Ciao for now!

Il Portico d’Ottavia

Ciao, everyone!

As you may recall from my last post, I had been experiencing a whole myriad of technological problems (aka my computer died), but I am pleased to report that it is back and better than ever so it should no longer take as long in between blog posts! The only thing is that now I have an Italian hard drive and keyboard set up, so now my computer says everything in Italian and I don’t know where to locate some things on my keyboard (if anybody would like to tell me where I could find the “at” sign, I’d very much appreciate it).

Moving on, I’m here to share with you something I’ve become quite fond of since arriving in Rome: randomly stumbling upon ruins (le rovine). For instance, when I was walking around last week, wondering what I should post about next on this blog (I’m completely serious. It’s actually a little too perfect that this is how it went.), I walked down a little street that I assumed would lead to another little street, since it looked like this,

but after I walked through I was surprised to see that it opened up to a larger area, and I thought I spied something interesting a little farther ahead. Can you see it back there?

Well, it turned out to be this, the Portico of Octavia (il Portico d’Ottavia). The Portico is currently undergoing some restoration, and this isn’t the first time. Originally built in 146 BC, it was rebuilt by Augustus sometime between 27 and 23 BC. It took some damage due to a fire in 80 AD and was rebuilt again by Settimus Severius in 203 AD. (All info courtesy of the wonderful signs placed around the site.)

The Portico is part of the former Roman Ghetto (Ghetto di Roma), and part of it was eventually incorporated into the church of Sant’Angelo in Pescheria, the site of a fish market (un mercato del pesce) that was held during the Middle Ages (il Medioevo). I’m not quite sure what this says but it was outside the Portico and I thought it looked pretty cool. If you know what it means, let me know in the comments section!

Needless to say, I was pretty pleased with my find. I strolled around the area for a bit and took lots of pictures like a true tourist (una turista).

I can’t wait to see what I stumble upon next! A dopo! (See you later!)

La Neve!

So I’ve been in Rome for about two weeks now. Late last week, people started talking about how it was supposed to snow. But wait a minute…I didn’t think it snowed in Rome.

Well apparently, it doesn’t. At least not that often. But all of a sudden I wake up this weekend and see this! (Photo courtesy of my roommate.)

According to Reuters, this is the most snow Rome has experienced since the 80s. Some parts of Rome apparently got around 15 inches! No wonder people were so eager to have snowball fights and make snow creatures like these guys:

Even though it may have been fun to watch, it wasn’t exactly the best weather for exploring. It was a little more difficult to get around, as the trams stopped running for a day. I’m not exactly sure what was going on, but I did see these people power washing the tracks the day they were closed.

Sites like the Colosseum and Largo Argentina (also known as “The Sacred Area of Largo Argentina”), pictured below, were also closed. Largo Argentina also serves as a cat shelter, so people were pleased to know that the cats had been taken care of.

Even though it was a bit cold and snowy, I still went out and got some gelato over the weekend. It’s never too cold or too snowy for gelato! Hopefully it’ll warm up again soon though so I can get back to exploring the city!

Benvenuto a Roma!

Ciao! For those of you who don’t know, this is your intern, Tyne. I post on Facebook and Twitter and this blog about all things Italian, and this semester I just so happen to be studying abroad in Rome! For the next couple of months, I’ll be keeping you up-to-date on all of my Italian adventures, from the food to the traveling to the actual learning of the Italian language.

I’ve been here for less than a week and am still getting settled into my new apartment. For now though, here’s a taste of what is to come!

Here’s what I get to see every day when I look out of my apartment.

The first hearty meal that I had in Rome: rigatoni alla cengo.

Walking through Rome at night.

And I’ll leave you with a fun fact: Did you know that it’s illegal to hail a taxi in Rome? You either have to call the number of a cab company or wait by a taxi stop. On the other hand, sometimes if you don’t hail the bus, it won’t stop for you.

Let me know if you have any suggestions for me while I’m in Rome! Foods I should try? Places I should visit? Ciao for now!

L’Epifania e la Befana

Sure, Christmas and New Year’s are in the past, but you didn’t think that the holiday season was over, did you? We told you a little bit about the Feast of Epiphany (L’Epifania) and la Befana in our , but the holiday season and Befana are so popular in Italy that we thought we’d tell you a little more about the tradition of Befana and how she came to be.

Just in case you forgot, l’Epifania is celebrated on January 6th and commemorates the Wise Men’s visit and giving of gifts to the Baby Jesus. Although it is becoming more popular to exchange gifts on Christmas, the main gift-giving day is January 6th, and some say more people celebrate this holiday than Christmas!

So who is la Befana? There are many different stories and descriptions of her, but in general, she is described as an old witch who rides a broomstick (una scopa) the night before January 6th, delivering gifts into the stockings of all the good children and coal into the stockings of all the bad ones. She flies through keyholes or goes down chimneys to get into the houses to deliver presents.

One version of the story of Befana says that one night, the Wise Men arrived at Befana’s home to rest before they continued on to the manger to visit the Baby Jesus. They asked Befana if she wanted to go with them, but she said no because she was so busy (many say with cleaning). Later on, a shepherd stopped by her home and asked the same question, but she again declined the offer. That night, she saw a light up in the sky and decided to try to find the Wise Men and the shepherd, bringing presents along with her. Befana never found the Wise Men or the shepherd, which is why she now flies around on her broomstick each year on the night before the Epiphany, giving gifts and hoping she’ll find the Baby Jesus.

Befana has been a part of Italian culture for quite some time now, and although there are different theories regarding her origin, the first appearance of the actual name “Befana” came up in a poem by Agnolo Firenzuolo in 1549 describing the witch and her travels. Her name is a version of the word “Epiphany.”

Besides exchanging gifts, people celebrate the Epiphany and Befana by reenacting her story, attending festivals and parades, and watching living nativity scenes (presepi viventi), in which people act out different scenes of the Nativity.

So if you want to extend the holiday season a little more, go ahead and read stories about la Befana and celebrate l’Epifania! And tell us, do you know any other versions of the tale of la Befana?

Benvenuto nuovo anno!


December 31st marks La Festa di San Silvestro, followed by Il Capodanno the next day, and Italians have many ways to commemorate the New Year! Read on to learn about some of the most common ones:

Food. Of course, it wouldn’t be an Italian celebration without food! On New Year’s Eve, Italians tend to eat a big dinner, and many foods make an appearance due to their symbolic value. Lentils are popular as they symbolize financial luck for the upcoming year, pork cotechino (a type of sausage) or stuffed pig trotters symbolize general good fortune, and grapes symbolize good luck. Some people eat dried fruit as a snack, and around midnight a popular regional cuisine is served along with Italian sparkling wines, either spumante or prosecco.

Activities. You won’t be bored on New Year’s Eve if you’re celebrating it Italian-style! A popular game played is Tombola, which is similar to bingo. There’s also public dancing and music and outdoor concerts to be found, and when midnight finally arrives, people enjoy plenty of fireworks. Some small towns also have bonfires. You better not get tired too early because parties can last until sunrise, as Italians enjoy staying up to see the first sunrise of the New Year. If you want to channel your inner Southern Italian, you can also throw all of your old stuff out the window, which represents your acceptance of the New Year!

And of course, don’t forget to wear something red for good luck (usually underwear)! Have a Happy New Year and tell us, do you take part in any Italian New Year’s Eve traditions?