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Le Tradizioni Italiane Continuano anche in Irlanda…

Le Tradizioni Italiane Continuano anche in Irlanda… 

Italian traditions

Le pasta fatta in casa… le tagliatelle

La Pasta Fatta in Casa

Last Sunday I asked my son Kevin what he’d prefer to have for dinner and he immediately answered:”La pasta, mamma… quella che si succhia” (pasta mom, the one that you can slurp)! Certo, of course, I answered… buona idea! Our pasta ‘che si succhia’ is actually our home made tagliatelle. You might think that it takes long time to make tagliatelle from scratch, but it does not. We

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Ecco 2 cucchiaini di Xantham gum

discovered ourselves that this event brings our family together, it is fun and it takes only half an hour. In the old times it took much longer, though. I remember my grandmother making it all the time as I remember my mother making it…. sometimes (she was working). 

Italian home made pasta

Il Magimix, regalo di Natale molto utile!

BUT we do have our ‘asso nella manica’ (ace up the sleeve). Guardate le foto e scoprirete i nostri segreti (take a look at the pictures and you’ll find out our secrets). 

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L’impasto! Dough!

I almost forgot that during the time we made the pasta… we cooked our ragù (you call it Bolognese…)… yes, we cooked our ragù in half an hour. This is a great recipe from my father… I’ll tell you about it soon possible!

Ps: la ricetta per la pasta is also coming soon! Carolina

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Gira la manovella! Turn the handle!



Italian pasta recipe

Mamma sto pulendo la macchina della pasta!

Finalmente dopo tanto lavoro... ecco la pasta che si succhia!

Finalmente dopo tanto lavoro… ecco la pasta che si succhia!



Gesù Bambino and the Presepio

Gesù Bambino and the Presepio

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Once upon a time there was no Babbo Natale (Christmas’ father or Santa as you call him) in Italy, but Gesù Bambino (Baby Jesus)… he was the one in charge of bringing presents to children and parents, too. He would arrive on the 24th night at midnight and everyone would find their presents in the morning, nearby the presepio or presepe (nativity scene) or, more recently, nearby the Albero di Natale(Christmas tree). Gesù Bambino made sense for all of us… in fact we were celebrating his birthday and we knew that he loved us so much!

In my house and in many others we used to prepare our presepio or presepe (nativity scene) which is much more than the 5 figures I usually see here in Irish houses. Our presepio used to be very accurate in every detail. The lights, for example, would come out the ground (cardboard covered with moss, sand and pebble) in the right places, such as red for the shepherds’ fire, yellow for the houses and the crib, blue for the lake. The figures would move day by day until many of them would be in front of the crib on the 24th night. It really creates the magical atmosphere of the Advent.

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As I loved it so much when I was a child, I decided to pass it to my son, Kevin. Last summer our Nonno (Grandpa) gave us our old figures (about 30, including sheep) and we built our little presepio… We had to make our own houses and inns as they were not with the figures and the postage from Italy would have been too expensive. It is not perfect (look at the pictures), but it’s our first in Ireland and I’m sure we’ll improve over time…I wish you all Buon Natale ed un Felice Anno Nuovo,

Con affetto Carolina


Liguria… In conclusion some ‘not to be missed’ cose

Liguria is a strip of land wherein the Apennines meet the sea, therefore men adapted their habitations and villages to this spectacular, but also rather inhospitable land. the results are its beautiful small villages crossed by webs of cobble stones with their peculiar houses.

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This could offer a great option to those who love hiking, trekking or simply walking and taking some rest, maybe getting a great coffee and reading a page of their book in the cool air of the Apennines overlooking the coast, the islands and the sea. As you read in our previous posts, many are the writers and the artists who found their inspiration right here near to Le Cinque Terre. Besides visiting Le Cinque Terre and Porto Venere, I would strongly recommend that you see some of these villages, such as Fiascherino, Tellaro and Monte Marcello. I had gone many years ago to Fiascherino and Tellaro, but Anna and Carlo really insisted that we should go to Monte Marcello, which is a Unesco World Heritage site. It has been a lovely trip and we’re happy to share some pictures with you…

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Papa’ il cuoco



If you are one of my students and you’re interested in visiting these places, remember that my father and Anna would be really happy to take care of you and to show you around and give you a ‘Carolina’s student, special treatment’… which also includes a discount… Among the other things, my father is an exquisite cook and he’d love cooking with you and showing you some of his recipes… he’d tell you all his secrets in Italian while enjoying your dinner together! If you’re a beginner… do not worry, Anna can help you with the translation!


Here are some pictures from Montemarcello, La casa sul mare e dintorni…


Our logbook: Le Cinque Terre

Le Cinque Terre

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Would you like ‘prendere due piccioni con una fava?’: literally means ‘take two pigeons with a bean’, but you’d probably say ‘catch two birds with one stone’ (poor birds). If so, follow Anna and Carlo‘s recommendations and get the ferry boat from Lerici which will take you to Porto Venere and Cinque terre tour: you will have a wonderful sea and sightseeing experience. This is probably the most evocative and effortless way to see and visit these beautiful and enchanted medieval villages which have been declared a Unesco world Heritage site. In addition, it is also relatively cheap (here are prices and timetables) and stress free as you won’t have to bother looking for a parking spot under the Italian sun (remember that you can’t travel through the villages by car), but you’ll enjoy a cool breeze on the ferry, this is a certainty. It is also a great experience for children who love watching the captain manoeuvring at the helm and all the rest. They could not possibly undertake the long walk and would probably get bored in the car. 

If you decide to take the ferry in the morning you’ll be able to get off the boat at each village and spend lots of time there, while taking the afternoon boat you will be able to stop at only one of the villages and enjoy the others only from the ferry. Remember that if you decide to go in the afternoon, you have to get off at Monterosso in order to see all the others villages. 

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Isola Palmaria


On your way out of Lerici’s marina you’ll see the Palmaria Island. It appears that the name Palmaria comes from a Celtic dialect spoken in Liguria and it means cave as there are many located there. You’ll also have a chance to view the other two smaller islands Tino, Tinetto (those 3 islands are also Unesco world Heritage sites) and the curious fortress built on a rock which used to host Napoleon’s officers school (Terra Scola) and that has been transformed into a light house more recently. You can see beautiful pictures of these places at this link

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Torre Scola


Let the waves rock you while enjoying this wonderful view, and breeze. After crossing this crystal blue sea you will be enchanted by the view of Porto Venere which is even more beautiful from here, with the great Castle of the Doria family and San Pietro’s church which was firstly built as a temple dedicated to Venus in 150 A.D. 

From Rio Maggiore you’ll see the train which is an alternative to the ferry boat or the foot path and it hugs the coast by the sea for most of the time. We decided to stop in Vernazza, therefore we got to see Porto Venere, Rio Maggiore, Manarola and Corniglia; this one is on the mountain, so it can be reached only on foot, but it is nevertheless beautiful from the sea. 

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Rio Maggiore

Once you stop at your destination you’ll have the time go for a walk, a bit of food and a swim if you want. You’ll have about an hour before the boat comes back to collect you and bring you back to Lerici or to the next stop.

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We have had a wonderful day and this is why we decided to share this experience with you. One of my friends and students went there last year and she said that the sentiero dell’amore (the love path) is a beautiful path and the sights are breathtaking from there, too… Morale della favola (moral of the fable/story) on foot, by boat or by train these are wonderful places which you shouldn’t miss!





Our holidays in Liguria…first stop: Porto Venere

Finally (I mean the Italian meaning of finally -finalmente and said with the intonation which means it was high time) our so longed for holidays have arrived! 

This year I will bring you a taste of our wonderful Liguria about which you already know something ( and We are in la Serra a small and beautiful suburb of Lerici, in county La Spezia (see map). Therefore we are ‘ad un tiro di schioppo’ (a shot of rifle, it is an expression to say that we are very close) to the most famous ‘Cinque terre’, ‘Porto Venere’ and many other beautiful villages, such as Fiascherino, Tellaro or Montemarcello.

We are staying in ‘La casa sul mare‘ a lovely apartment with the most marvellous view overlooking the Golfo dei poeti (the Gulf of the poets); in fact, several poets, writers and artists loved finding their inspiration in the villages facing the gulf. Among them we remember the writer David Herbert Lawrence, the writer and painter George Sand, the poet Lord Byron and the writer Percy Bysshe Shelley in whose memory a beautiful garden was built.

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If you ever happen to be around here, I strongly recommend going to Porto Venere an ancient and picturesque small town in front of Palmaria island. Its name comes from Venere (Venus) the divinity worshiped by the first inhabitants. You can walk along the cost, enjoy the view of the ancient and colourful houses which used to belong to fishermen and get to the small church erected right on the cliff''Italian lessons in Cork''

This is San Pietro’s church today, but it used to be a pagan temple. The view is breathtaking. From there you could also admire Byron’s bay; this is the place which used to inspire this poet… it is a stunning location. I was inspired myself… I didn’t write anything, but I went for a lovely swim. On your way back to your parking spot or to the ferry you could pass through the centre of the village which is just as beautiful as the coast. The village is like a web of quaint cobbled streets and stone stairs which link houses and local shops. Cars are not allowed and neither could they fit there, so people walk up and down eating their gelato or pizza or farinata (to know more about this local plate just click). You may call this place ‘timeless’ and I couldn’t agree more.''private Italian tuition''

Back home Carlo and Anna took us to a great place for dinner. This is a place that only locals know about (Dal Luci, Via degli Stagnoni, 94/E, La Spezia). Therefore, I would advise that you to save the name and the address of this ristorante as we had the most beautiful fish ever. No problem if you are coeliac… they cooked for us ‘fritto misto di pesce’ (pan fried fish, including octopus) with gluten free flour and ‘spaghetti all’astice’ (lobster spaghetti) with gluten free pasta. Everything accompanied with a ‘vino della casa’ (wine of the house) a lovely and firm white wine called Vermentino. My friends went for beautiful desserts… I was just fine as I finished my fritto misto. I can’t wait to go back to this place (prices are also reasonable). Carlo and Anna have ‘di piu’ in serbo’ (more in stock) for our hols … I will keep you updated!''Italian holidays Cork''



Are you ready to go? Here are a few phrases for you…

Italian in CorkAre you finally ready to go to Italy? Did you pack everything? Your sun screen, your books and your portable dictionary? Bravi! Here are some quick pieces of advice, just in case.

If you’re reading this, you are probably studying Italian and, therefore, you might not need these notes, but, again… just in case! 

Italian people will be delighted to see that you have a few words and they will definitely appreciate your effort. Here I have prepared a few useful and essential phrases. Please let me know if you need more help or more sentences! 



BUONGIORNO (goodmorning formal) 

BUONASERA (goodevening formal) 

CIAO (hi/goodbye informal)



How do you say____? WATER SI DICE ACQUA



What does ______ mean? ACQUA SIGNIFICA WATER


CHE COSA E’ QUESTO/QUELLO? What is this/that? (use your finger to point to the object)


NON HO CAPITO I didn’t understand 

PIANO PER FAVORE slowly please 

SCUSI, PUO’ RIPETERE PER FAVORE? Can you repeat please?


MI PIACE _______E.g. MI PIACE la PIZZA I likepizza 


I like spaghetti



I would like pizza please


Siamo IRLANDESI (We’re Irish)


GRAZIE (thank you) 

PREGO (you’re welcome)


Those who already studied some Italian should remember that ‘vorrei’ is very nice and polite, while ‘voglio’ (I want) might sound rude.

For those who never studied Italian, here is a short presentation on Italian essential pronunciation rules. Remember that Italian vowels don’t change their sounds. This is probably the reason why Italian pronunciation is very easy to learn… Buone vacanze a tutti (literally have a great holidays everyone, but you’d probably say enjoy your holidays!). Ciao, Carolina 



Off to Italy? La Perla del Mediterraneo

La Perla del Mediterraneo (The Mediterranean Pearl)

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Have you ever heard of Portofino? It is a small village which never changed: with its tall, narrow and colourful houses rounding the bay, so that they can be seen from far away in the sea. 

Walking through its narrow lanes, the famous carrugi, the perfume of sea mixed with wild berries and flowers will transport you… and not only you. In fact, many are the painters who try to put on a canvas the mixture of this experience.Italian lessons Cork

So precious and somehow elusive, this enchanted village became a stop for many yachts and their owners who like spending time in Portofino, to go for their shopping or have beautiful meals.


Restaurants are from fairly expensive to extremely expensive… Therefore, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that our ex Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has a villa there… as you can see from the picture it is not exactly a tall, narrow and colourful house, but it still can be seen from far away…Italian for children Cork

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Off to Italy? Yes… Dove?

It is time to think about our holidays and many of my friends and students are asking me about Italian places and what I would recommend. Therefore, I have thought that some posts on this subject could be beneficial for all those interested in planning a holiday in Italy. You will read about my personal experiences and, thus these are what my advice and recommendations are based on. Last year, for example, I went to Emilia Romagna and you can read about my first hand experience right here Emilia Romagna.

As some friends and students are going to have a base in Nice for their holidays and hope to be able to see something in Italy… I will have the opportunity to introduce a beautiful region and some of its wonderful towns: Liguria. As you can see on the map, Nice is very close to Liguria. Some beautiful towns such as Bordighera, Ventimiglia and Sanremo are very close to Nice. They are located on the Riviera di Ponente, so called as it is the west coast of Liguria. Sanremo is also called ‘Citta’ dei fiori’ (town of flowers) and once a year, usually in February, it becomes a major attraction as it hosts the ‘Festival di Sanremo’ the most famous singing competition in Italy started in 1951.

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I would strongly recommend to visit two little medieval villages which are not too far from there. I went there many years ago and I still have beautiful memories of these places. The first one, Dolceacqua (which means sweet water) it is not too far from Bordighera and it features a beautiful medieval castle from one of the most important kingdoms in Liguria: the Doria. You will be fascinated by the castle, the history and the ancient and narrow lanes (carrugi) which run throughout the entire village. Dolceacqua is also famous for its vineyards and wine ‘Rossese di Dolceacqua’ appreciated by no less than Napoleon himself.

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Apricale is a beautiful medieval village inland. You have to leave your car outside the village as it is not possible to drive throughout the narrow lanes (carrugi). It is incredibly picturesque during the day, but at night time a magic atmosphere permeates the whole town. When you walk up and down through those quaint cobbled streets illuminated only by old lampposts you really have the impression of being back in time. You get to the little square at the heart of the village, happy to have some traditional food in the light of some candles. If you are lucky you will probably become a living part of some festivals. This ancient town hosts theatrical performances all around its magical corners, arches or old stables. Years ago I saw a wonderful performance of the tarots… I won’t ever forget it! I hope you’ll enjoy the pictures I found for you and let me know if you need any help to get there!



Ultimo lettorato … removed

Thank you all for the lovely comments on this article. I have been asked to take this post down by someone involved and so I have done. My apologies to anyone who didn’t have the chance to read my review on this wonderful lecture.


A Carnevale ogni Scherzo Vale (any joke is allowed for Carnevale)

Carnival North of ItalyA Carnevale ogni scherzo vale (any joke is allowed for Carnevale)!

We have been celebrating Carnevale for a while in Italy and today is martedì grasso (fat Tuesday), last day before il mercoledì delle ceneri (ash Wednesday). Therefore, celebrations get wild and children are on school holidays all week, they didn’t have the mid term break, though! 

You already know about famous Carnivals (Carnevali), such as Venezia’s or Viareggio’s or Ivrea’s. They are incredible world famous attractions, but Carnevale is very important throughout Italy. In any town and village, Carnevale is celebrated by masqueraded children and adults who welcome or take part in parades on big carts among tons of streamers and confetti. The majority of Italian towns have their own masks or characters, such as Colombina and Pantalone for Venezia, Brighella and Arlecchino for Bergamo, Pulcinella for Napoli, Gianduia for Torino and many many others (presentation). Many of them were a representation and mockery of the society and its roles and rules. In fact, Pantalone (Venezia) represents a merchant who is very greedy and always complaining about something, while Colombina (Venezia) is a servant, but very clever and funny. Through il Carnevale the rules and roles were criticized and made fun of. It is the same today, in fact many carts are carrying giants made of papier-mache who are representing and mocking Italian politicians… take a look at the picture above (do you recognize him?) …Learn Italian in Cork


BUT above all, children love Carnevale with streamers, confetti, bugie (it is one of our typical pastry for Carnevale) and scherzi (jokes).

This is why we are celebrating Carnevale here at Piccolitalia this Saturday and we are going to dress up, we’ll have our coriandoli and stelle filanti, our dances and our pignatta to beat up! Lots to do for our children and lots to do for us to keep Carnevale alive!


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